Gabi joined the Yogalife Studios family in November 2014. She's brought along an awesome, bright energy and a unique skillset with her training in therapeutic yoga. Her classes are fun, energetic, and informative. You can check out her class schedule here and read more about her therapeutic yoga classes here.
How did you get your yogic start? Who brought you to your first class, what was that like, and where was it?
I took my first Yoga classes in Vancouver from a pretty woman named Susan, in 1997. I took the class at the advice of the personal trainer at the gym where I went to work out. The class was in a beautiful spare room, and luckily, Susan was an excellent teacher, so I kept going. From the very first class, I knew I wanted to become a Yoga teacher. I felt the power of yoga coursing through my veins, my heart, my soul. The great tragedy of this moment was that I was in my mid-twenties, had a lot of student loan debt, and was just starting my career in Marketing. I knew that yoga would be in my future, but at that time, I could not afford to pursue it. It was difficult to find yoga classes, never mind a teacher training. Thankfully, that has all changed. Almost 10 years after my first Yoga class, in 2006, I became a Certified Hatha Yoga Teacher. It was a life-changing moment in every way. I do not know of any other job that could bring me as much joy and contentment and gratitude. I absolutely LOVE teaching Yoga, and I love everything about our field. I think it is the best job in the world!!
Share a favourite quote, lesson, or teaching that inspires you.
My own beliefs about life are to: “Treat everyone you meet with love and respect, we are all equal.” “Be humble, be kind, be open, be soft, be sincere”. “Make goals, write them down, and never, ever give up.” “Do less, live more, breathe, stop and smell the roses.” “The way you treat those closest to you, says everything about you.” “ When you start living your truest life, the people and circumstances to help you make your goals and dreams come true will magically appear. “ Learn from your mistakes and past, only you can decide to treat them as lessons, and the reasons for your success, rather than reasons for your failure.”
And some famous quotes that have inspired me:
“If you judge someone, you have no time to love them.” Mother Theresa “The meaning of Life is to find your gift. The Purpose of Life is to give it away”. African Proverb “Live as if you were to die tomorrow” Learn as though you were to live forever” Mahatma Ghandi
What's your favourite music to practice to (or do you prefer silence?)
I love to practice to great music, and my tastes run all over the place- world music, Afro-cuban, Latin jazz, Bohemian ethnic music, Canadian alternative, instrumental, singer/songwriter,etc. One of my secret disappointments is not being a musician myself. I must content myself with being able to make a great playlist, and being able to use music to inspire, energize, and relax students in my Yoga classes. That said, I think the best yoga practice is when there is no music, but the steady and sweet sound of my own Ujjayi breath.
Your favourite books, yogi-inspired and fiction.
I read voraciously, and always have. I like to read about Yoga, Travel, Cooking, Nutrition, Food, Farming, and Healing. I tend to choose books that are funny, wise, and inspiring. I enjoy memoirs, some of my favorites were Mahatma Ghandi, The Dalai Lama, Mother Theresa, and Nelson Mandela. I have read some great Yoga memoirs: Yoga Bitch, by Susan Morrison, May I be Happy, by Cyndi Lee, Warrior Pose, by Brad Willis, Do your OM thing, by Rebecca Pacheco, Light on Life, B.K.S. Iyengar, Yoga and the Quest for the True Self, by Stephen Cope, and Hell-Bent, by Benjamin Lorr.
Tell us about your first teacher training.
I was lucky enough to study with a true Yoga master, Karen Claffey, in Montreal. She had certifications in practically everything, and was very wise, thoughtful, and supportive. She taught us more than just yoga, but a way of life, as she lived and breathed the teachings and philosophies of Yoga. It was a life-changing experience, and I feel very blessed to have had Karen as my first teacher.
Where's your favourite vacation spot?
Every year, I travel to Sivananda Ashram, on Paradise Island in the Bahamas. It is very different from staying in a resort. It is incredibly beautiful, and rustic. I go alone, stay in a tent, connect to nature, meet amazing new people who become life-long friends and enjoy the healthiest vegetarian food. I take programs and spend my days learning. Everyone at the ashram must attend the two daily Satsangs, which are made up of meditation, Kirtan, (group singing in Sanskrit) and presentations from the many visiting program teachers and spiritual leaders at the ashram. Our days start at 5:30 am, and are busy until 10pm. I always make time for a couple of daily swims in the breathtakingly clear turquoise ocean, and walks on the pristine fine white sand beaches. My yearly trips to the ashram are completely rejuvenating, nourishing and life-changing, both mentally and spiritually.
What is your favourite meal to make and share with friends?
I am a huge foodie, and love to cook many ethnic foods that require hunting for exotic spices and ingredients. I love Vietnamese, African, Japanese, Brazilian, Indian, Mediterranean, French, Turkish, Lebanese, and Czech cooking. My meals can best be described as simple, very fresh, well-seasoned, very tasty and healthy. I could easily be a Chef, if my own Mom (herself a European-trained Chef) did not constantly dissuade me from a life of cruel hours and intense pressure.
What's the coolest experience you've ever had with a student?
I have been lucky enough to have formed some strong and very honest friendships with some of my yoga students. Many of my students have hugged me and told me that I had changed their lives. I am grateful to be able to teach Yoga therapeutically for people in recovery in treatment centers and people suffering from eating disorders, severe PTSD, and intense anxiety and depression. I have been lucky enough to have influenced many people on their path in life. Each of these experiences has taught me about the real meaning of life, how to love, how to forgive, how to heal, how to overcome great tragedy, and become all that you are capable of.
What's your favourite pose/sequence/area of the body to work on?
I could never just pick one! But, I do love inversions, and I’m pretty sure I spent more time upside down than right side up as a child.
Who inspires you?
I find inspiration everywhere, in my closest family and friends, complete strangers, and even in a bad situation, I try and see what I am meant to learn from it. I think it is so important to live consciously, mindfully, and to surround yourself with inspiring influences and people, and to constantly step outside your comfort zone and grow into the person you are meant to be.
If you could study with one person who would it be and why?
Hmmm…that’s a tough one. There are so many wonderful and talented teachers. I would have loved to have studied with the great masters of Yoga, B.K.S. Iyengar and Sri K. Pattabi Jois. However, I would love to study with Kathryn Budig, and Kino Macgregor. They have qualities as teachers that I greatly admire. Tenacity, kindness, honesty, acceptance, humor and how to be humble. I would also love to study with some well-known Therapeutic Yoga teachers, Bo Forbes, Amy Weintraub, Timothy McCall, and Kelly McGonigal, among many others.
What is the best concert you've ever been to?
Jake Bugg, who is an almost unknown but very gifted and dynamic singer/songwriter from the U.K.
Where's the next place you want to travel?
Share your favourite self-healing practice.
Yoga, meditation and pranayama has always been my way to heal, whether it is body, mind or spirit.
Share one of your life goals.
To consistently make the goals and choices that will lead me to living the life that I have always dreamed of. To live consciously, simply, and from the heart.