Natalia and I studied together. We were both television journalism students with prior TV work experience. You might expect something interesting with such a background, right? Natalia, now 29 years old, first worked as a translator and then as a PR-manager in a foreign company before eventually ending up as a yoga instructor.
In Natalia’s words, everything in her life has flowed naturally: twice living and working in the USA, a second higher education degree at the Department of Oriental Studies, teaching yoga, studying Japanese in Tokyo for three years and working in a show business. But I don’t think people’s lives are determined by luck. Natalia knows how to dream, and perhaps more importantly, how to make her dreams a reality.
Me: Why did you go to the East, to the origins of yoga?
It had always been my dream. After living in America I could speak English pretty well at the age of 22 and I decided that one foreign language was not enough for me. I had always wanted to visit Japan that is why I chose Japanese. This language is interesting and pretty hard to learn. Plus, three years of living in Japan is a fantastic experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything. I’ve experienced and compared European, American and Asian ways of thinking. And it’s been fascinating in speaking of our perceptions of the world.
Me: Did yoga change you?
Yes, it did. Nothing would have happened without it; I couldn’t have earned enough money for my education and I wouldn’t have had the strength to change my life so radically. I feel it gave me the belief that no matter what I chose to do everything would be fine.
Me: So how did it happen?
My plan was to learn Japanese and to get to know the country but sometimes things do not go according to a plan. So I first worked as a translator, then as a model, and then finally found my place in show business. I met many famous people and went to the gigs of rock bands that I’d been listening to since I was a teenager. I never thought I would see them perform live!
Me: Wow, how do you combine yoga and rock music?
Easily! I’ve loved rock music since I was 14 years old. This is one of the reasons why I was so lucky to be able to work with rock musicians in Japan. When you’re able to tell Fred Durst from Limp Bizkit: “Hey dude, I was listening to your songs when I was a teen, thank you for your music!”, you can understand each other pretty well. By the way, there is a popular American yoga instructor with black eyeliner and leather bracelets whose motto is, “Rock your pose! Rock your body!”
Me: Does she practice with rock music?
No (laughing). I’m also true to my temperament and I prefer dynamic yoga – ashtanga vinyasa. This yoga is for energetic people; it suits better to people with western cost of mind. Madonna, Sting and many other successful people do practice it. Yoga helps them to balance their eventful life and prevents them from getting bored during practice.
Me: When you just getting started, which way is better – to practice yoga with instructor or to do it by yourself?
I recommend to practice with professional instructor for the first months. As soon as you get the basics and learn how to feel your body you can try to do it by yourself. Goes without saying that practice with instructor cannot be compared to practice with videotape.
Me: Some beginners have health problems after yoga. What do you think about that?
It happens, and it is quite normal. When you are doing yoga all your muscles are working really hard. Some of them cannot actually be trained on any gym machines. So when you touch some previously stabilized old problems you can feel some pain. Your old injuries can “wake up”. You can even feel something than have never bothered you before. Do not panic. Just tell your instructor about it and he or she will help you to deal with it. You should not endure the pain or give up doing yoga. Your task is to find your optimal load. After that the pain will be gone and will never disturb you again. It applies to musculoskeletal system. But if you have some problems with your blood pressure or headaches, it is better to see a doctor and find a cause.
Me: Who comes to practice yoga?
Yoga is intellectual training. It is usually the choice of educated and successful people. Some people are doing yoga for muscle stretching or because of health problems and they are getting more than expected. Yoga means strength and flexibility of your body, balance and calmness of your mind. If your spine is healthy, you are healthy. Many people cannot live without final shavasana relaxation. It is an ideal asana for having rest after a workday.
Me: That’s right! I’m ready to see my Vietnamese instructor anytime only because of shavasana with stroking and head massage!
Yeah, I use this technique too. And I learnt it in Asia. It is not actually “stroking” (laughing). It is the way your instructor can help you to relax and take more comfortable position. Sometimes you cannot lie down comfortably by yourself, and it is very important. And also an energetic aspect should not be excepted.
Me: Can yoga be combined with gym workouts?
Yes, but not at the same day. You should not underestimate the exercise stress of yoga. If you combine them, you will just be tired. It is really cool to do yoga with run or any other cardio exercises.
Me: What about your nutrition?
My basic principle is to listen to the body. If you want to eat some cake: find a reason why. And then let yourself to eat this cake easily and with pleasure. If you want to eat cakes every day, you should definitely find a reason. Maybe it is lack of glucose. You should check it with a dietician. Do not eat something that makes you feel heaviness; eat the food, which you are enjoying to eat. My diet is based on a principle of inverted pyramid: I eat most of the food in the morning and noon. In the afternoon I eat less, proteins prevail, and I exclude carbohydrates and floury food.
Me: Do you eat meat?
I used to eat a lot of meat. In the last six months I eat only white meat and it is not because any ethical issues. I realized that red meat makes my body heavier. Sometimes I have up to 5 workouts a day so I need proteins. That is why I prefer to eat fish and chicken. My only weakness is Korean cuisine.
Me: How did you come to love Korean cuisine while living in Japan?
It happened accidentally. My language school was in a Korean district of Tokyo.
Me: What is the conception of your life?
I like yoga principles in respect to modern life. In every period of life things should happen when they are supposed to be happening. You should not give up your youth for enlightenment. If you like to drink with your friends, do it even if you practice yoga. Do stupid things, gain some life experience. There are many limitations in our life, don’t make more. Practice yoga and try to feel your body. Do no harm. Give more than you take. Don’t wait for anything in return. “Practice yoga and you’ll have everything”. I am the best example of this saying.
Me: What is your ideal of beauty?
It is when everything is real and natural. You have to do a lot to look naturally beautiful. I mean sport and healthy nutrition. It is much easier to do make up.
Me: What is the freedom?
In my opinion, freedom is wrong idea. What kind of happiness can be found in the freedom? For example, it is so good to be depending on your beloved person! Or find your place in society. Friends and job are limiting our freedom but give us a lot more instead
Me: Why did you come back to Russia?
I decided that it was time to progress in yoga. Neon lights of Tokyo led me a bit away from my main goal. I have just passed through selection into international fitness holding company “Citrus” fitness-club. So now intensive training is in process. Now I’m on the way that I’m going to be on for all my life. I had to change something. It is always a regress without a progress.
Me: What’s next? What are your plans for the future?
I’m going to go to California soon to have a 200-hours class of yoga instructor and get an international level certificate. In my greater plans I’m going to create my own unique approach of yoga practice.
That is so awesome! Will you come to our production studio for some pictures and videos before you go?
Yes, with pleasure!