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Yoga Teacher Interview with Xanadu Yoga

Talk to me about “Let Food Be Thy Medicine”. I love this and want to know all about it!

When I was deciding what to choose as a career path, I wanted to help individuals live a healthy life, so that they can enjoy their lives fully. Initially, I was going for medicine, but as I started to learn more about what was making America sick, most of it was diet/food and lifestyle related diseases that can be prevented. That is when I decided to choose the preventative path of nutrition. With nutrition we can “Let food be thy medicine and let medicine be thy food.” Hippocrates said this and he is considered one of the most outstanding figures in the history of medicine. Hippocrates believed that disease was a product of environmental factors, diet, and living habits. What is interesting is, that now, medicine has steered away from environmental factors, diet and living habits to be used as medicine, and now we just want to get rid of the symptoms fast by taking a pill, without taking care of what is causing the disease or problem in the first place. We are currently just taking care of symptoms rather than creating true health.

What is an easy and yummy meal you recommend?

I love avocado toast. Choose a sprouted organic bread, mash avocado, drizzle good quality olive oil, sprinkle salt and pepper and you have a delicious nutrient dense meal.

Why the marriage of yoga, nutrition, and psychological coaching?

I hope this is a happy life-long marriage =). This quest started out with nutrition, I always believed that with good health you can be who you were meant to be and do what you were meant to do here on planet Earth. My nutrition practice created a strong foundation to build upon health, but I also knew, that nutrition was not the only answer to good health and that is only one part of the equation.

The majority of my clients come to me for weight loss and when I listen to their stories they have gone through so many diets that have helped them to lose weight temporarily only to regain all the weight back. When I started my nutrition practice, I noticed how incredibly unhappy a person may be when it comes to weight, and some individuals might be at their healthy weight but remain trapped in a prison of negative body image, self-judgement, self-hate and unhealthy relationships with food.

The psychology of eating coaching certification has served to understand connections beyond nutrition, physical activity and healthy habits. Oftentimes, our eating challenges are connected to work, money, relationship, family, intimacy, life stress and so much more. As an Eating Psychology Coach, my approach is positive and empowering. I don’t see your eating challenges merely as a sign that “something is wrong with you” – but as a place where we can more fully explore some of the personal dimensions in life that impact food, weight and health. Instead of seeing such challenges as the enemy, they become opportunities for growth and self-improvement. In my training at the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, I’ve learned to help clients reach their highest goals not by strategies that punish, but through strategies that nourish. As an Eating Psychology Coach, I look to support clients with coaching strategies and nutrition principles that are nourishing, doable, sustainable, and that yield results.

What I have learned is that “by choosing a path, you choose a destination” so if you choose to start your health journey based on self-hate, self-judgement, and punishment, that is what the end result will be, even if you lose the weight you will still live in self-hate, self-judgement and punishment. This is when the teachings of yoga helped me to discover how to be more kind, compassionate and loving towards myself and my body. To embrace, to love, to nurture all of who I am. So I help clients cultivate self-love, self-compassion along their journey to make happy long lasting changes.

I have seen many clients that can eat the healthiest diet on the planet and exercise your brains out and can still be a very unhappy person with a negative body image and unhealthy relationship with food.

So for me health is a means to living your life not your life goal. My next finding is how to best help clients get where they want to go- the greatest, most expressive, creative version of themselves.

What do you love about being the founder of your own yoga business?

It’s been a very rewarding experience to start from zero, with no established students in a gym or studio, only from my own advertising, word of mouth and from people coming by and trying the class. Now to be able to have class every week with regular yoga practitioners, which most were new to yoga has been a rewarding experience. I love making yoga accessible to the community.

What does a yoga teacher need to know about teaching a donation based class vs. a normal class rate?

I chose a donation based class to start up my yoga practice because that is how I started to really get into yoga. When I truly saw the benefits of yoga was during my dietetic internship which was a Monday thru Friday, full-time unpaid internship for ten months! I was working weekends to get some sort of income. So I had little income and lots of stress! Additionally I was passing through a hard break up. My friend introduced me to Yoga To The People- Brooklyn and we would go frequently, I was only able to practice frequently because it was donation based. That is when yoga transformed me. That was when those three words from my company came to me EMBRACE LOVE NURTURE. Yoga helped me to EMBRACE all of who I was and embrace the present moment; mess and all, depression and all, it taught taught me to LOVE my body, myself, my life, and finally showed me to NURTURE my self, doing things for me, not waiting for others to do it for me, to finally take care of myself from the core. That is why I feel I want to give the same opportunity back to the community. The challenges as you may anticipate will be uncertainty of income, but as yoga practitioners, we learn to be with uncertainty and trust that things will work out, they always do.

What is a tip you can give to someone who is just starting their journey to a healthy lifestyle?

Take the opportunity to get to know yourself better. Pay attention to your patterns, be curious as to where those habits started, why do you do the things that you do and why do you want to change? Second, once you have figured out the why then you can take steps to begin your journey to health and when you steer away from your goals think back why you are doing this, to inspire you back into your journey. And, third, focus your attention not on what is wrong but what you want to build and take one step a time. We are not in a health journey to be perfect but to improve our health, and a great opportunity to get to know yourself better, to get curious as to what works for you and your body, and what doesn’t.

What is the most authentic and important piece of advice you can give to yoga teachers who are just starting out in the yoga world?

Don’t stay on your head. Just do it. The only way to get better as a teacher is teaching, if you wait until you are “good enough” you will never give yourself the chance to be who you are meant to be.

Practice with Diana- Founder Of: Embrace Love Nurture.

Diana is a New York City based yoga instructor who dreams of opening a yoga studio that provides empowering workshops for women to help them find and trust themselves and live the lives that they are meant to live. You can find Diana teaching donation based Vinyasa Yoga classes at Reflexion Dance & Fitness Studio.

Her current life mantra is: “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.” – Thoreau

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