Tell us where you are from, the early years of your childhood and what influenced your direction towards yoga?
I was born in Santiago, Dominican Republic. I grew up in a countryside, near a big river and a place full of children. I was intrepid, climbing up trees and swimming in the river. When I was six, my father died, so my mom, two sisters and I moved to an apartment in the city. Since I was around concrete then, I wasn’t allowed to go out often. I took painting and ballet classes.
Since I was a kid I have suffered from scoliosis. A year ago, I felt a lot of stress which led to a lot of pain. Yoga was an alternative that helped me get better. Since then I haven’t stopped practicing.
What is yoga to you?
Yoga is my everything, a lifestyle. Yoga is enjoying the present, being aware of your breath, acceptance, finding joy and admiring whats surround you. Yoga is keeping the mind calm and living the now, without thinking about the past or the future.
What was your first yoga experience?
I was introduced to Yoga by a friend who opened her own yoga center. We made a collaboration. I took care of the graphic design and advertising, and in exchange I was allowed to take classes in the center.
Were your family and friends always supportive of your work?
I left my family at age 19 to work as a fashion stylist/wardrobe director for advertising campaigns and graphic designing and branding for small businesses. My decision affected them a lot. At the beginning it wasn’t easy, but my mother always supported me and accepted that was what I wanted to do. So when I began teaching yoga classes it wasn’t any different. I had and still have all the support from my family.
How often do you practice; hours, days a week, etc…
Before having surgery this past December 2014, of a benign tumor in my ovary, I practiced one hour three times a week at night, usually monday, wednesday and friday, although it could vary. I meditated five days a week and pranayama every day. Now I’m in recovery, I meditate every day and practice Restorative Yoga and Qi Gong three times a week early in the morning.
Tell us something about the art of yoga we may be unfamiliar with
Yoga isn’t one hour of asanas two times a week. You can do yoga even in the subway on your way home. Yoga is how you feel in an asana, not how far you bend. Is a state of mind that makes you see everything from another point of view. That’s yoga.
What advice would you offer to someone who is interested in yoga but may be intimated by the practice?
If you can breathe, you can do yoga. Yoga is for everyone and the goal is feeling good. You don’t have to bend into the more difficult asanas, that’s just part of the practice. Living the now, being in harmony with yourself and the universe, that’s yoga! Everybody is different. Just do what feels good for you.
How do you determine when your body is ready to advance to the next level?
I don’t thing there’s such thing as “next level”. As I said before, everybody is different and the response is different. The next level, I think, is when you learn to accept yourself, that’s when you discover how far can you go.
Tell us about your diet and the impertinence of it Favorite dish?
I do not eat meat or drink alcohol or take drugs. I love pizza, I just love to eat, it is one of the pleasures of life. I eat healthy, like 80% of the time, so I can have cheat days now and then, hahaha!! I like a lot the taiwanese food, I found it delicious. I think the dishes I enjoy the most are pasta. Chow Mein with soy and vegetables.
What would you say to those who don’t have the positive reinforcement of family or friends when pursuing a passion?
People have to do what makes them happy. You must enjoy every second, so you must follow your feelings and do what you really want to do, no matter what they say. Maybe it won’t be easy, but at the end of the day your satisfaction and good vibes will be transmitted to the ones that once didn’t suport you. You may even become an inspiration to them.
If you could could spend the weekend with any anyone (past or present) who would it be and why?
I think that the same people I am with right now.
If you could only choose one place to live for the rest of your life, where would it be and why?
Most humorous or strangest reaction/story regarding your work
During one of my classes, a man came late into the studio, he looked desperate, and was wearing cycling suit and shoes. Without saying anything he did the downward dog pose without knowing what he was doing. I went to him to say he couldn’t take the class because he was late, but he could come to the next session, but he said again and again “I am a cyclist and and actor”. “I know”, I told him “but you can take the class, you’r late”. He got up and kept saying he was a cyclist. I was in shock at that moment, meanwhile, the class were in downward dog wondering what was happening in the back of the studio. Nobody understood what that was about! HaHaHa! At the end of the class we shared some tea and the guy was there chatting. Guess what he was talking about? “I’m an actor, I’m working in a movie, I’m cyclist.” It was a bit surprising but very funny.
Yoga practitioners that inspire you
Set the mood of your work space; do you listen to music, enjoy silence, turn off your phone etc…
Usually I listen to different music for different moods. Classic music for writing. It depends on how I feel, I can enjoy noise or silence as much as a soul and funk session. I get inspired in a quite space, away from everything.
Current music playlist
Soul, funk, some indie songs…
Describe your personal fashion style
I love the basics. A top with shorts, black stockings with jelly sandals. 80% of my closet is vintage, lots of patterns, denim jackets. I love boho chic style too. I like to combine textures with my afro, I think it is fun. I wear my worn out vintage boots or my Birkenstocks most of the time. I go for the normcore look sometimes, too.
What is the best piece of advice or life lesson you have learned?
We are what we have in front of us right now. We must love every heartbeat, every breath, every sensation and we must feel compassion.
Future projects, classes
I am very excited about my first Yoga retreat! I am thinking about writing my very first book this year, also to and travel outside the island to teach classes overseas.
How can we find you (website, social media links)…
You can find me at my website; Ondiyoga.com where I share yoga routines, recipes, inspiration and more. In social media you can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Everything is mostly in spanish, but I am launching an english version of my website very soon, so stay tuned!
Love, forgive, be grateful, be the present.
What makes you an Urban Bush Babe
I think what makes me an Urban Bush Babe is my effort to make people feel better. I want you to discover the inner power you have inside. Set aside money, career, religion or social status, just being you with the universe. People must enjoy nature without damaging it, and the need to teach about it fulfills me and gives me joy.