Favorite part of yoga?
The holistic nature of yoga: the movement and the stillness, the breathing, the philosophy, the shared energy in the class, how it applies off the mat… Regarding the asana practice, I need the centering, those first few minutes to transition into the practice; and savasana/closing, when we absorb the benefits of the practice.
Where did you grow up?
Born and raised in Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain. (I know, I know… “What are you doing here!?” … I’ve heard that a lot).
Leo the African, by Amin Maalouf, and The Physician, by Noah Gordon. Both tell of geographical journeys that are also deep personal journeys and I loved them both when I read them long ago. On April 23 we celebrate the Day of the Book in Spain and for the past thirteen years I have been sending 3-4 reading recommendations to a group of friends from graduate school on that day of the year, in addition to these two books. Then the others respond with their own book recommendations and some update on their lives. Often this is the only contact we have during the year, but the books keep us in touch. The joke among us is that the day they don’t receive the Day of the Book email, they will get worried.
Favorite piece of art?
Well, I named my cat Sofonisba after the Italian painter of the Renaissance Sofonisba Anguisola. There weren’t that many female painters at the time; I liked her life story and her work and thus the name of the cat. A famous painting of hers (of the painter, not the cat, obviously): The Chess Game.
What inspires you?
Nature. My uncle was the founder of the Scouts in Tenerife, so all the kids in the family were automatically recruited to be members of the Scouts and to go hiking on weekends… Also, as a kid, I would sit in the couch with my father in the evenings to watch nature documentaries. That exposure to nature at an early age stays with you for life.
Dream vacation or favorite vacation you’ve ever been on?
Going to my home island, where my parents are a fountain of love and there’s a mix of nature and culture to enjoy (mountains, volcano, beaches, parks and flowers, concerts, art). My father still brings me a fresh-squeezed orange juice to bed in the early mornings, as he did when we were little kids, together with the headline of the day. I still remember the morning when he came in saying: “The black guy won in Iowa!”, referring to Barack Obama winning the primaries that year (he couldn’t pronounce his name at the time). All those day-to-day gestures of affection we exchange at home are invaluable.
I would love to visit Iceland, to see the Northern Lights, hike in the volcanoes and bathe in the Blue Lagoon, and also Australia, where the nature must be amazing, Sydney has a beautiful harbour and I could also see koalas, my favorite animal when growing up.
Favorite yoga pose and why?
Uhhh, ohhh, so many to choose from! I love the restorative benefits of supported bridge and also half moon pose, as I often find myself smiling when I see the moon at night over my head.
Three people, living or deceased, who you’d invite to the same dinner party?
Sofonisba Anguisola, the Renaissance painter mentioned earlier; Hypatia of Alexandria, Greek philosopher and mathematician in 5th-century Egypt; and Alvar Aalto, Finish architect with a certain humanist view of his work.
If you could take a yoga class from any teacher in the world (living or dead), who would it be?
Judith Lasater, what I’ve read from her has made me very curious, and a workshop with Jenny Otto, my feet would be oh-so-happy! (Note to Siobhan: do you think we could invite them to the studio?)