I first met Felicia last summer and I was so drawn to how friendly and talented she was. We have become great friends and often spend time talking about all things yoga, teaching and food. Through my journey as a yoga teacher, Felicia has been an inspiration to me. Her yoga classes are fun, playful, challenging and always leave me feeling inspired and happy.
How would you describe what you “do” as a yoga teacher?
I like to think of it as offering people access to their own bodies. I come from a dance background, so for me the concept of body-awareness has always been built in to my life, but there are so many people out there who are not encouraged to stay in tune with their bodies, and perhaps don’t have the tools to do that. Something that I always speak to in my classes is doing what feels good to YOU, rather than looking around the room and copying whatever other students or I am doing. I truly think that the “post-yoga glow” (that buzzing feeling of awesomeness and relaxation you feel as you walk out of the studio) comes from spending time with and caring for your physical self. Your body is your home for your whole life, so naturally taking care of it makes you happy!
Where do you find inspiration?
At the risk of sounding cheesy, my students. I was trained in power yoga and like a sweaty, challenging class, but when I first started teaching I had students who couldn’t kneel, had balancing issues, or other physical considerations that I hadn’t expected and had no idea how to work with. Having these students in my classes and having to adapt to their needs has taught me so much, not only about building sequences that serve a wide range of bodies, but about accepting people who are physically different from me and practicing non-judgement towards all students regardless of their background. I also draw a lot of inspiration from other teachers, and I like to keep up my own practice as much as my schedule will allow- the best teachers are also the best students!
What advice do you have for someone that is new to yoga?
Let go of your expectations. Your body is an amazing and beautiful thing and there is nothing wrong with it. No matter what type of class you walk into for your first time, don’t worry about what other people are doing. Open your ears, your eyes and your mind and if something doesn’t feel good, choose a different option and be confident that you have the freedom to do that. After class connect with the teacher about anything that was unfamiliar or strange to you. Teachers absolutely love hearing from their students, at least I do!
What is your favorite quote or mantra you love right now?
I think my all time favorite yoga sutra is “Undisturbed calmness of mind is attained by cultivating friendliness toward the happy, compassion for the unhappy, delight in the virtuous, and indifference toward the wicked.” The last part is so amazing to me because it’s so counter-intuitive. When someone does something wicked, it is SO easy to hate that person and wish terrible things for them. But hate is what brought them to do something wicked in the first place, so if I reflect that in my reaction towards them I’m just creating more hate, when what is really needed is love. Anytime I hear about something terrible in the news I think of this mantra and I try to practice indifference. This does not mean condoning wicked actions, or letting go of compassion for the victims of these terrible things- to me it just means choosing love over hate. Anger, hate and separation are easy emotions to feel, forgiveness is much harder, but also much more rewarding.
How would you describe your philosophy behind food and what you put in your body?
I could write a book on this question. I was raised with a macrobiotic lifestyle; because of that have always been hyper aware of what foods I eat and taught to think of food as preventative medicine. On top of this I’ve had an extreme taste aversion to meat and most dairy since I was born, so I’ve been a lifelong vegetarian/borderline vegan, which is not easy in America. For most of my childhood what I ate was considered weird, but in recent years whole and organic foods have become sort of main stream, and it’s becoming easier to find things for me to eat outside of the grocery store. When Chipotle came out with sofritas I was like yaaaaaaaaaassssss.
Because of my diet I’ve had to really learn how to cook, and luckily this is one of my favorite things to do. Through lots of trial and error, watching plenty of cooking shows, and some sound advice from Alton Brown (the ultimate food guru) I’ve started to get a good handle on things and even try experimenting and making my own recipes from time to time! I always like to make food that’s simple, flavorful and speaks for itself, aside from using tofu I don’t dabble so much in mock meat or cheese, I think vegetables and whole grains can be amazing with the right sauce or seasoning and the right treatment. The more love you put into your food the more love you put into your body.
Do you have any new natural beauty rituals that you can not live without?
I recently discovered oil cleansing as an alternative to face wash and it’s absolutely amazing! I used to use a 3 step skin care system with face wash, toner and moisturizer, but found that my skin was dry a lot of the time, on top of that I hated the process of washing my face morning and night, not to mention it was really expensive. Enter oil cleansing, and boom, problem solved. Basically you mix up a bottle of castor oil with another type of moisturizing oil (I use jojoba, but a popular one is olive oil), then you can add a few drops of essential oils, I use tea tree (a natural antibacterial) and lavender (a natural anti-inflammatory)- these are optional. Then you massage a little bit of that goodness all over your face, run a clean wash cloth under hot water, squeeze out the excess and rest it over your face. The heat from the washcloth steams open your pores, and when it cools you just wipe off the extra oil and that’s it! Pros: my skin is never dry since I’ve started this, I only have to do it in the morning, it feels like a mini facial and best of all I don’t have to spend money on three different products. Another thing I wish I would have discovered sooner!
What makes you laugh, smile and happy?
My boyfriend recently got a Siberian Husky puppy and everything she does is adorable. I get to spend a lot of time watching her when he’s at work and even after seeing her almost every day for six months, I am still amazed by how beautiful she is and the goofy things she does! And even though she’s chewed up her fair share of my precious things I love that little nugget to pieces.
How can Minneapolis locals find your classes? Where do you teach?
I teach at CorePower Yoga throughout the week. CorePower offers a free week of yoga to all new students, so I love to invite people to try it out, especially those who wouldn’t normally do yoga or can’t afford to take regular classes. As of right now I’m at one of the CorePower locations every single day of the week, so you can always find me teaching or practicing there!
Felicia is also a dancer for the Zorongo Flamenco Dance Theatre and this weekend they have a performance at The Cowles Center for Dance & The Performing Arts. If you would like to check it out, the performances are on Friday June 26th and Saturday June 27th at 8:00pm. Felicia would love to answer any more questions that you may have for her in the comments section. Please share with us if you enjoyed this interview; I hope you all love her as much as I do.