As we continue learning more about the practice of yoga and how to choose the right yoga instructor for you, I would like to introduce Eva Montalvo. In addition to being a certified yoga instructor, she has been an AADP (American Association of Drugless Practitioners) Certified Holistic Health Practitioner since 2013. Eva has a passion for healthy living, and a desire to make a difference in people’s lives, addressing the person as a whole. You leave her class wanting more of what she has to offer.
What is your personal philosophy as a yoga instructor?
My philosophy is that yoga is for EVERY BODY, regardless of shape, size, age, or physical condition. If you can BREATHE, yoga is for you! That is why I love working with beginners, seniors, and anybody who believes that their body can’t do yoga. In my opinion, yoga is not about getting into a pose, but mindfully exploring your body, breathing, and mind as you discover what a pose can do for you.
Can you tell us a little about your training and practice?
Although I have been practicing yoga for over 13 years, I became interested in teacher training in 2014, when I took a weekend Level I training with YogaFit. I immediately began to practice teaching on my coworkers at a nonprofit organization near Dallas, a local gym, and on my husband. I even taught female prisoners right in their jail cell, through a nonprofit that provides tools for reentry into society after incarceration. I then went on to a wonderful 200 hour training at Yoga From the Heart, which I completed in January 2016.
My personal practice has evolved from a very physical practice in my late 30s to more inward-looking mindful movement, focusing on breathing throughout. One day I may do many different powerful poses; another I may just move slowly about in any way that feels good, or even just put my legs up the wall!
What do you like best about teaching?
What I love about teaching is that I get to tap into my intuition and creativity to connect to students, as each class is a different group, mood, and experience. In my former career as a CPA, logic and analysis were valued the most; in teaching yoga, connecting to people and helping them to make it their own practice is most valuable and satisfying.
For someone who is interested in the practice of yoga, how should one approach instruction?
This is such a great time to explore yoga! I would encourage anyone interested in yoga to first identify what they are looking for, their “why.” Are they looking for stress relief? Increased flexibility and balance? Or just curious as to what it’s all about? Check out local studio websites and see if they have the “feel” you’re looking for. Then, get out there and just try classes in your area, especially those geared to beginners. Try classes at different studios, gyms, meetup groups, even online videos about different styles of yoga. Talk to the yoga instructor leading the class. Many dedicated yoga studios include the more philosophical and lifestyle aspects of yoga along with the physical practice, and can offer a variety of styles and formats. A new student doesn’t have to know what these are, but just be open to experiencing new things and deciding what works for her body.
Do you have special advice for women over 50 who are considering yoga?
Yes: start now! It’s never too late to enjoy the multitude of benefits from yoga. Start with a beginner’s or gentle class, especially if you are nervous about starting, or concerned about any limited mobility or medical issues (of course seek your doctor’s permission first). Let the yoga instructor know you are just starting out. Regardless of the pace and type of poses being taught, take your time and mindfully feel your way through each movement at your own pace and comfort level.
Do you combine yoga with other exercise or recommend it to others?
Personally, I also enjoy weight training a couple of times a week, and regular cardio exercise in the form of walking or bike riding (or elliptical if restricted to indoors). There is evidence that yoga alone may provide enough to keep us fit at a functional level, providing strength training using our own bodies, and even improving cardio-respiratory fitness levels. Of course, that may depend upon the style and intensity of your practice. I just enjoy mixing things up a bit for variety, but yoga is my go-to when I’m limited on time.
Do you feel there are certain benefits for women over 50 that maybe in your 20s or 30s you didn’t get from yoga?
What I have noticed in my 50s is that I need yoga to help me manage daily aches and pains, especially in the lower back, hips, and upper shoulders. As we age, the natural strength and flexibility of youth begins to diminish as we lose muscle mass, and our muscles and connective tissues tighten. We may also have pain and loss of mobility from trauma we have experienced, such as injuries or surgery.
In addition to the physical relief, I find that I “get” the mind/body/spirit connection now that I didn’t fully understand when I was younger. I feel that my inner wisdom is easier to access and trust as I still my mind during yoga and turn my attention inward.
What is your favorite yoga pose for beginners?
My favorite “pose” for everyone is simply taking a cleansing breath in any comfortable position: inhale deeply and slowly through the nose, then exhale through the mouth with an audible sigh. This can be combined with rolling the shoulders up toward the ears (inhale), then rolling the shoulders back and down (exhale). It feels great in almost every situation!
If you’d like to contact Eva Montalvo, her email is: [email protected].