Never-ending beaches, high palm trees, and crystal blue sky.
No doubt the city of Miami has a lot to offer, but, in fact, it’s not just about the breathtaking landscapes or a lively cultural scene of the city. In today’s interview, we talk with Luis, a yoga teacher, about both yoga and his teaching journey surrounded and inspired by the ocean waters in Miami, Florida.
Can you please give us a brief introduction of yourself?
My name is Luis Jimenez. I’m originally from Miami, FL and I’m currently 29 years of age.
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WORKSHOP ALERT 🚨: Intro to Arm Balances and Inversions + Transitions • • This workshop will provide students with the skill sets to safely get into Sirsasana (Headstand), Bakasana (Crane) and Pincha Mayurasana (Forearmstand). Each pose will be explained and practiced with the use of a wall and softly padded props. Students will be shown how to transition into and out of poses in order to build a more dynamic and free flowing practice. Join me @floyo_coralgables October 3rd from 6:30-8:30 pm to experience the many benefits of inversions and arm balances! • • #tallerdeyoga #balancedebrazos #equilibrio #yogamiami #pinchamayurasana #sirsasana #bakasana #yogaarmbalance #transitions #powervinyasaflow #crowpose #cranepose #forearmstand #headstandpractice #padmapinchamayurasana #visamapinchamayurasana #lotusforearmstand #unevenforearmstand #maksikanagasana #dragonflypose #beyondbalance #yogisofig #yogainspo #asana365 #stayfit305
For how long have you been practicing yoga, and how did your journey as a yoga teacher begin?
I started practicing yoga in 2012 shortly after I was involved in a motorcycle accident. After pretty much-doubting yoga my entire life and dismissing it because I thought it was “too easy”, I was surprised by just how challenging my first yoga class was.
Aside from it being one of the most challenging things that I had ever done up until that point, I had a moment in the class where I broke down in tears; not because I was sad but because I had what I believe is a release of stored up energy and emotions that needed some letting go of.
After that day, all I wanted to do was share the practice of yoga with everyone that I knew. It was at that moment that I knew I would someday become a yoga teacher.
What kind of certification did you have to obtain to become a yoga teacher?
I received a 200 Hour Yoga Teacher certification from Greenmonkey Yoga in 2016. I’ve since taught for over two years and have over 2,000 hours of teaching experience. I’m currently in my second teacher training, this time it’s with Skanda Yoga in Miami, FL.
As as a yoga teacher, you run classes in various studios in Miami and provide private options for students as well. What type of yoga do you teach, and what do you enjoy about this particular form of yoga?
I teach many styles of yoga like Vinyasa flow, Yin Restorative Yoga, meditation and I also teach handstand and arm balance privates for students who want to move their practice in that direction. I love the different styles of yoga because I feel that practicing only one style of yoga can put someone at risk of injury and boredom. The above-mentioned styles of yoga are in my opinion beneficial for everyone and should be practiced in order to achieve a balanced state of mind, body, and spirit.
How do your classes differ from other workouts out there?
Yoga to me is the most complete form of exercise that exists. All of my classes start with a brief meditation where students lock in their intention for the class, cultivate mindfulness of breath and center themselves for the practice. Meditation is followed up by a 10-15 minute warm-up where we go through several sun salutations to get the blood pumping and the breath flowing. Warm-ups are followed up by several challenging sequences that test each student will, determination, concentration, strength, and flexibility. All of the above is of course contingent on the level and duration of each class.
I’ll always invite students to explore their edge but I’ll never force anyone to do something that they are not comfortable or willing to try on their mat.
Yoga is a very individual thing although it’s usually practiced in a group setting. At the end of the day, I’m simply a guide for the students and nothing more.
Acroyoga plays a big role in your practice. How Acroyoga varies from other styles of yoga? Is there anything challenging in this particular style?
I got into Acroyoga because I would often hear complaints from female students about how they couldn’t get their husband, boyfriend or significant other to take a yoga class with them. I figured that guys would be more easily swayed to practice with their partner if it was in a more informal setting where they could basically take the lead in helping their partner into both therapeutic and acrobatic like yoga poses.
Acroyoga is all about communication and trust between the base (partner on the bottom) and flyer (the partner on top which is doing most of the postures).
After practicing yoga almost every day for the past six years, I was surprised by how challenging and physically demanding Acroyoga was and still is for me. It’s definitely similar to yoga but it also has a lot of cool things that yoga doesn’t offer.
The best way to learn about Acroyoga is to try it out! There’s a free Acroyoga jam at South Pointe Park, Miami Beach every Wednesday and Sunday which starts at around 6 pm. There’s also an amazing Acroyoga couple in Miami called Slacroduo (Rob and Megan Newman’s) who offer Acroyoga classes at Budokon University every Monday from 8-9 pm. Please be sure to check these spots out if you live or are ever in the Miami area.
Do you think all the styles of yoga are for everyone? How can I decide which style is best for me?
It all comes down to what the student wants and needs.
I always advise students to check out yoga classes online before deciding what style of yoga suits them best.
I say this for many reasons. Number one is that yoga is expensive. I wouldn’t want someone to spend a lot of their money on something that they had a different expectation for. The second reason is that yoga can be a very healing and life-changing practice but it can also lead to injury if not practiced with the right teacher or correct alignment principles in mind. There are many, many resources online that will dispel any doubts or questions that students have about yoga. Please be sure to check out some videos and read up on the different pros and cons of each style of yoga before signing up for a live class.
In your opinion, what’s the most challenging part of being a yoga teacher?
For me, the hardest part about teaching yoga is keeping track of everything going on at any single point in time during a yoga class. This difficulty is multiplied when I teach a multilevel room. I like this at the same time because it requires me to think about everyone in the room and offer many options (option 1 being the most beginner and option 3 being the most advanced).
What factors do you value the most in successful yoga teachers?
I love teachers who challenge me and teach me something new every time I take their class.
This can be in the form of a cool new transition between one posture to another. It could also look like them sharing something interesting or motivational with me. I also like teachers who give space between their words. I like teachers who guide me in the practice and then allow the yoga to do its work. Silence is GOLDEN.
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Do you have any yoga idols?
My teachers Anand (Ken Von Roenn) and Sadhana Shakti (Lina Vallejo) who are the founders of Skanda Yoga.
What kind of advice would you give for aspiring yoga teachers?
Take as many yoga classes as possible. Study as many styles of yoga as possible. Practice at as many yoga studios and with as many yoga teachers as possible until you find the teacher, yoga studio and style of yoga that resonates with you the most. Teach often and don’t ever forget to do things that fill you up like meditation, workshops and healing sessions!
You have been participating in various workshops and retreats. What do you find the most valuable in those kinds of events? Which one did you like the most, and why?
I love to share what I know with anyone who is willing to hear me out. My arm balancing and inversions workshop in one of my favorites because it adds a whole new dimension to my students’ practice. I also love teaching my yoga philosophy workshop Beyond the Asana because it’s been my experience that most students don’t know; the amazing mythical stories behind the poses that they practice each day.
One of my goals for 2019 is to lead more yoga retreats and workshops around the world.
I love to travel and I love to teach yoga. I also know many people who love yoga and love to travel so these experiences are an exceptional way to combine our two passions.
How does your daily practice look like? What’s your favorite posture, and what are the benefits of this particular posture?
I mainly practice Skanda Yoga these days. Their level 3 classes are my favorite because they incorporate a lot of cool Vinyasa and arm-balance transitions. I don’t know if I have a favorite pose but I definitely gravitate more towards arm balances and inversions. Basically, any pose that requires me getting upside down is my favorite. Inversions are great for the following reasons:
1. HEALTH: Being upside down reverses our blood flow which improves circulation and introduces more oxygen into the brain improving concentration, memory, and mental alertness.
The lymphatic system plays a key role in keeping our body healthy. As lymph moves through the body it picks up toxins and bacteria to be eliminated by the lymph nodes.
Because lymph moves as a result of muscle contractions and gravity, getting upside-down allows lymph to move easily into the respiratory system, where many of the toxins enter our body.
2. RELAXATION: While inversions like Handstand and Headstand act as a way to energize and heat up the body, inversions like Shoulder Stand and Waterfall activate the parasympathetic nervous system and produce feelings of relaxation and calm.
3. FUN: Inversions bring out my inner child and remind me that although yoga is a very serious practice, the asana practice is also a time to be playful and have fun!
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“Wherever you go, go with all your heart.” -Confucius • • Loving my time here in Bogota so far. I can’t wait to try some of the yoga studios around town tomorrow! DM me if your know of any cool Yoga, cultural, historical or nature spots around town! • • #urdhvamukhasvanasana #uowardfacingdog #openheart #leadwithyourheart #travelingyogateacher #latinaamerica #colombiatravels #bogotacolombia #yogaencolombia #yogisofig #yogainspo #yogasupps #warrioraddict #menatyoga #ashtangavinyasa #vinyasayoga
What does it mean to you to live yoga off the mat?
Remembering that how you do one thing is how you do everything and that things are always happening for us, not happening to us. Always come back to the breath of you ever feel stressed or out of sorts. Smile and remember that NOW is the only moment that we can do anything about.
Where can everyone keep up with you to learn more?
Thank you for your time!
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