Yoga isn't only about all the cute outfits, Instagram-worthy poses, and stretching. It's also a total-body workout that helps you tune into your mind-body connection, and its principles can be applied to our lives not only on the mat, but also off of the mat.
We sat with yoga instructor, Dany, who shared how her life journey brought her into practicing yoga, and how she believes many of yoga's principles are things we can easily apply to better peace of mind—in both work and play.
Dany is wearing Ellie October outfit, Go Thyme.
How did you first get into yoga?
My first encounter with yoga was, as we may say, serendipitous. I was looking to introduce something new to my daily routine and I was planning to enroll in a gym. One afternoon in 2014 while I was living in Cuba, some friends invited me to their house and there I met a man who was a yoga instructor. It was the first time I’ve ever heard about yoga, a whole new world completely unknown to me. The next afternoon, I attended my first practice. I fell in love forever.
How do you incorporate yoga into your day to day life?
Everything I do during the day, from the very first moment I open my eyes, is related to yoga. This practice goes beyond being present on the blanket. Yoga must be taken outside the mat, bringing everything we learn about philosophy, culture, and asanas to our daily lives. Being grateful for a new day is the best way to start a work day. To have healthy meals without excess. Taking time for small breaks, or as I say, moments we need to do a reset. Be kind, empathetic, respectful, and sincere with ourselves first so that we can transmit that same energy to others. To be honest with our emotions. To understand that showing that we are sad does not mean weakness, it means courage.
Without forgetting the importance of asanas, I use them a lot during the day, both at work and at home. Even when I’m cooking or cleaning. Have you ever reached a pot in your kitchen closet in the tree pose? Well I do! Yogi life!
What aspect does mindfulness play into yoga for you?
In this society, we live surrounded by constant information (and disinformation) in social networks and hooks that trap you online. We look like zombies without realizing the path we are traveling, missing the wonders of nature, or even more importantly, losing real connections with our friends and family.
Once I learned what mindfulness was, I tried to be more present in every moment. Sometimes it's difficult. Other thoughts sometimes insist on disturbing and won't pass. But when I’m on my blanket and in nature, there’s not a second that passes by that I don’t enjoy. Conscious breathing helps a lot to bring our attention back to what we are doing. There are also some very useful and simple exercises to bring our mind back to the present moment. There’s one that I do often and is to sit in my garden to feel the breeze on my face, touch my plants, talk to them, clean their leaves, be with them. That makes me happy because makes me be more present.
What is your favorite quote?
I think this is the most difficult question. There are so many favorites that if I tell you only one it is like despising the others. Since I opened my account on Instagram, practically all my captions have phrases. Phrases with which I identify too much. It has become a way of expressing my emotions or stages of life that I’ve lived or I’m living. It’s a way of transmitting knowledge and personal growth. It’s not just putting a phrase and turning around waiting for the likes or comments, no. I live it and also would like my followers to do so.
What significance do butterflies have for you?
Freedom. It all started hen I was a little girl. I used to dream that I was flying and spread my arms like wings. I could see the buildings from above, without obstacles in the journey, just enjoying the fly and the view. I love making analogies of my life with nature and my biggest connection is with the Monarch Butterfly. They are fragile because their wings can break easily, but they can fly long distances, even migrating to other countries. Some live for weeks, others for months. I’ve been able to experience the entire process. It’s something fascinating. From seeing the butterfly lay its eggs on the plants, to releasing them once they are ready to fly.
Our lives are like the process from an egg, to caterpillar, to cocoon and finally to a beautiful butterfly. We all want to be free, but just a few are capable of living the transformation process and embracing each stage.
What advice would you give someone just starting yoga?
Do not judge yourself or compare yourself with others. Many of those who write to me are interested in starting to practice and the first thing they tell me is that they cannot do the same as me, that they will never be able to because they are either overweight or because they are not young enough. In yoga, there’s room for everyone and every body. There are practices such as Hatha Yoga, Yin, and Restorative, in which variations are sought and many props are used to accommodate all postures. Pregnant women can also practice Prenatal Yoga after consulting their doctor. For the elderly you can use a practice called Chair Yoga. Even the children! It’s wonderful to work with children. To summarize, the practice of Yoga is for everyone. (However, I recommend something important: if you suffer from a chronic disease such as high blood pressure or heart disease, first consult with your physician just for safety reasons.)
What inspired you to start on your spiritual journey?
“When you get to 30 you will understand”, some people used to tell me. When I turned 30 I couldn't escape the famous crisis of entering in my third decade of life. But today I live happy with my years and the experiences I gained. I needed a booster in my life that enriches my emotional intelligence and changes my past strict thoughts, a new way of seeing things, a bit of resilience, and empathy. I needed to reconnect with my essence, to remind myself that life is not always in full color, but even in gray days, rainbows are drawn in the sky. I was urged to love myself, listen to myself, spoil myself and learn to say no. I needed a little more of self-love.
Now I’m a Certified Yoga Instructor because since I began to practice, it was always a dream to acquire all the possible knowledge. That way I can share it through my practice.
Cardio or Weight-Lifting Yoga!
Sweet or Savory
Matcha or Coffee
Fall or Summer
World Traveler or Home Body
Friends or The Office
Dany is a Certified Yoga Teacher who is not just passionate about yoga, but also butterflies and the freedom they represent. On top of that, she has a passion for taking care of others' oral health, as she's been a dental hygienist for 11 years, and plans to become a dentist one day. Want more inspiration? Find her on Instagram @dany_yogalover.