Since we started the site four and a half years ago, we’ve gotten to talk to some really rad people. And what I’m struck by, especially when it comes to talking to people who “do” fitness for a living, is that they are really, really passionate about it. And that passion shines when you ask them questions. A recent case in point? The 10-minute interview with Shiva Rea that I did recently.
In her yoga DVDs (we’ll be reviewing her new one, Core Yoga, tomorrow in fact!), Shiva is so peaceful and positive and, well, not to sound too hippity-dippity (too late!), but she’s like a smiling light you just want to be around. She tells you to twist, you twist. She tells you to intuitively move and—without really knowing what that means—you do it. Her workouts challenge the body, quiet the mind and all have a fun element of play in them that rocks. And, I’ll be honest, I thought talking with her might be a bit of a letdown. Can someone really be like in real life? Turns out yes! Shiva is just like she is in her yoga DVDs: upbeat, real (no perfection here!), knowledgeable, encouraging and super passionate. Read on for my Q&A with the one and only Shiva Rea!
Interview with Shiva Rea
- FBG: Why did you decide to create the Core Yoga DVD?
- SR: I’ve been offering core work form a yoga perspective since my first DVD Creative Core. So this compilation of all of the core work I’ve done is basically like a workout jukebox. You can select the order you want to do things in—30 minutes, 10 minutes, an hour. A lot of people who have loved the core work and have been a fan of DVDs, wanted it all together on one DVD if traveling. My forte is “creative core,” which means, not less effective but less mechanical core work. When I was first doing this, it wasn’t as predominant—changing it up from every different angle with much more functional movement. I think now people are really appreciating that approach. I’m bringing a yoga attunement to the process, and the music and the aesthetic, and the voice has a different quality. Our core is also made of all the different layers: inner layer, mental emotional and spiritual space. It’s where we stand inside ourselves and where we move into the world.
- FBG: How did you get started with yoga?
- SR: I started off more through meditation when I was 14. A lot of people think, unfortunately, that I like was given this name by a guru or I changed my name, but my father gave me a name that is connected to yoga. All of the postures come from Shiva lord of the dance. When 14, living in Memphis at the time, I started meditating and doing certain postures. When I was 19, I started Ashtanga practice and did that for 10 years. The Vinyasa I do today comes from studying from other teachers, and I’ve been doing it for 20 years.
- FBG: Does your son do yoga, too?
- SR: He does when I teach it at school, and he does meditation. He’s 14, and he knows how to do yoga but doesn’t do it. He did it in pres-school through 5th grade, twice a week, so he has it in his body. But he’s a cool teenager now. I let him be.
- FBG: People are always asking us what to eat before and after workouts. What’s your advice for what to eat before and after a yoga session?
- SR: It really depends on the person. Some have slower metabolisms and slow digestions; others eat every two hours. The best thing, if you’re of the high metabolism and if you’re hungry before you go into yoga and your lunch or breakfast is off, a smoothie is a really great thing. Or there are some bars that I’m okay with, an organic greens bar that’s also mainly raw (raw almond butter and some dates) and still in a whole food form. In general, fruit is okay unless you have high glycemic. I’ll often do almond milk, almond butter, a little hemp protein powder. But really just eat. If you’re hungry, eat! The main thing is hydration after.
- FBG: What’s the one misconception people have about yoga?
- SR: The funniest one, when people say I’m not flexible enough to do yoga. Like it’s some prerequisite to do yoga. As if somehow a yoga teacher is going to judge you if you are or not. Your consciousness and your evolution of your consciousness is integrated in your body. I’m never looking at their flexibility but rather how they’re doing it and how they’re engaged, moving out of any stress or disconnection within their body. Another misconception is that, whatever one way you’ve experienced yoga, is the one way there is. There’s so much diversity—slow meditative core work and really dynamic rhythmic type of movement. So if someone went to power yoga and didn’t like it—too hot or too fast—there are so many ways to do it. I would say you have to go to at least three to four different types before you find the spot where you go “ah-ha.” Find the practice that’s for you. Then it’s a life-long gift.
- FBG: What’s your best tip for yoga beginners?
- SR: Practice yoga as if you already know the state of yoga. It’s the state of flow where you’re in the presence and what your’e experiencing is connecting you at a deep level. When you’re hugging your dog, your beloved, your child and you’re in that state of love. That’s yoga. Yoga is the inner state of flow; come to yoga knowing that you already do yoga.
- FBG: Anything else you’d like to add?
- SR: I really feel good about my mission. My mission is to empower people in their home practice. Going here and there is not so easy, and I want people to learn how to make yoga part of their personal life. I feel really good about what I have created with Acacia over the last few years. People sending me email or coming up to me at a conference and telling me the stories of what has happened to them in their own homes has been inspiring. This is not a commercial venture—it’s a life mission.
“Yoga is a state of inner flow.” Love that…who else is inspired to do a few yoga poses? Like right now? Drop and give me down dog! —Jenn