Lifestyle Diaries: Trust The Yogi

I
‘ve stretched enough throughout the years and in different cities around the world to recognize a good yoga teacher when I see one, and when I came across Paola Cruz’s Ashtanga practice, I was certain she was the type of spiritual gangster that could inspire me to contort my body into the most intimidating poses, all of course, for the sake of inner peace.

After spending quite some time in Rishikesh, India developing her practice, Paola is a certified instructor and teaches Ashtanga yoga around several studios in the city.

What’s the life of a yogi like? We investigate below:

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 Viparita Virabhadrasana My favorite Warrior pose. 

What does a day in the life of Paola Cruz look like? 

PC:  A day in my life is filled with versatility, spontaneity, randomness, learning, teaching, and a whole lot of yoga.

What does your day to day look like? 

PC: My day to day is typically a long one.. anywhere from 15 to 18 hours. I wake up energized and with a wave of thoughts about the day’s agenda or about things I need to take note on. Warm lemon water or a cup of green tea usually accompany me while I organize my thoughts.

I
try to squeeze in a half hour of personal reading in the mornings. (I am devouring Cosmos by Carl Sagan at the moment, new suggestions welcome). Mixing workout routines is a practice I have held since I can remember. I currently go for a run right after my morning reads. Once I am back home I shower and pamper myself with a mostly organic and natural based selection of toiletries and body care. (Some of my favorite brands are Malaya Organics, -CO2, Doterra, and Botanicals).

 

By now, it is around  7am and if I don’t have a yoga class to teach at 8 am, I am either running to teach a Yoga Kids Camp, a vegetarian eating workshop, or partake in a photoshoot. I eat 6 times a day and prefer to bring my own snacks wherever I go – I love munching on Ame Food For The Soul protein balls, shakes with homemade almond milk, nut mixes, vegan treats by The Pretty Eats or all of the above.

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 Performing Natarajasana as a guest teacher in Puro Surf, El Salvador. 

Lunchtime is spent either at home or elsewhere, depending on my whereabouts in the city and time – I allow myself simple carbs if I am craving them over lunch and seafood if I am eating outside my house. In the afternoons, I usually teach two adult yoga classes and have meetings for different projects and collabs. I love to squeeze in tea time at Blendor Teas with my best friends. By the time I am done with work for the day, I head home for dinner and keep working online or I head out to dinner with my friends. Also, Lune (my indoor cat) is the first and last thing I like to see during the lapse of a day.

How did your passion for yoga come about? Was there some sort of AHA moment?

PC: I was first drawn to yoga when I was 19 and a freshman in University. My school in Georgia offered yoga classes at the gym and even a yoga elective class and it was love at first sight for me. The yoga classes were vinyasa flow – a fast paced sequence where you move from breathe to breathe into different postures. I did not realize I wanted to teach it until nearly ten years later when I had brushed on and even immeresed myself in some of the different aspects of yoga such as ayurveda, pranayama and meditation.

What defines a healthy lifestyle for you? 

PC: A healthy lifestyle to me, is more inclined towards one side of a balance than to keeping it uniform. For instance, I have been pescatarian for two and a half years, cutting out every animal from my diet aside from fish (when I am not at home). I believe in a demanding workout routine and a lot of self controlmental and physical. You can’t go crazy half of the week and act extremely healthy the rest of the week.. the entire week should be inclined towards staying healthy. Sure I drink wine here and there and could use more meditation and alone time in my life. It is important to recognize your weaknesses and work on them – we are partaking in a lengthy learning process.

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My favorite place in the world, The Himalayas. Here midday a ten day trek at 5250 masl. 

What would be your number one tip for someone who has been trying commit to a more healthy lifestyle?

PC: If you are trying to commit to a healthier lifestyle, my number one tip would be: remind yourself of why you want to do it several times a day. When you wake up, mid day, mid afternoon, before bed… talk to your self about it, convince your body and mind that it is the best decision for you and start from there.Once you have realized this, your daily choices will become a whole lot easier.

Are there any dietary restrictions you adhere to? Are there any workout regimes you adhere to?

PC: I stopped eating meat and poultry of all sorts by accident, – I got food poisoning from shrimp mid way through a three month long trip in Asia. I decided to eat a vegetarian only diet for the rest of my trip. When I arrived in America, I challenged myself to extend my vegetarian period for a total of six months. It became surprisingly easier every day to remain on a meat and poultry free diet. I researched on diet tips, read about the meat and chicken industries and their impact on the environment.

My impressions were so strong that I decided to remain vegetarian, mainly for environmental reasons. If I am home, I love cooking and have learned to balance my meals appropriately, ensuring a substantial amount of protein (natural) in every meal. If I am eating out, unfortunately, in San Pedro Sula, it is difficult for me to find vegetarian dishes with a balanced nutrient composition – hence why I opt for fish at times. I do not like packing meals because it is no longer a fresh meal in my opinion so if I must eat out – some of the places I enjoy in the city are Kebablicious, Puro Juice, Hasta La Pasta, Bistro 188, and C Bari.

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Ustrasana before teaching Power Yoga at The Central American Yoga Congress 2018 in Yoga’s Garden, Tegucigalpa.
I
am annoyingly strict with the products I buy at the grocery store. I read all of the ingredients and if there is something I am not familiar with I place it back on the rack. I  opt for organic and fresh produce, and avoid preservatives in my food. Absolutely zero sodas, artificial juices or fast food. My diet consists in low simple carbs, no sugars and no sodium. I use a bit of honey on shakes and think most food is already salty enough. Fortunately, I do not have a sweet tooth and I typically dislike fried food.As for workout routines, I like to vary – run, box, hiking, spinning, tennis.. I think the best results occur when you mix it up. I am a huge fan of cardio and also incorporate it in my yoga classes.

What is your go-to when you are feeling overwhelmed, un-zen’ed in the city? 

PC: My go to in San Pedro Sula, whenever I need a break from everything and everyone, is my comfy bed and a good book.

What is your current mantra right now? 

PC: My current mantra is “Do Good, Think Good, Be Good.” I read it graffitied on a wall in Rishikesh, India (where I trained for Yoga) and it has haunted me ever since.

Namaste,

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Purvottanasana on my favorite mat : An eco friendly Go Kiss The Sky mat.

Can’t get enough of this yogi? You can follow Paola’s practice here:

INSTAGRAM: @paola.dennisse 

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