I’d love to introduce the next partner in my “Real People, Real Fitness” series: Mirna. I met Mirna about 6 years ago when we both worked at Deloitte and her life has changed so much since then. Check out this inspirational athlete and learn how she made a positive switch in her life through yoga.
(1) Tell us about yourself?
My name is Mirna, and I am 29. I was born in Croatia and I moved to California 6 years ago. I always had aspirations to be active in life, but had not actually started any sport until a year after I came to United States. Subsequently, I trained kickboxing for about 3 years before I even heard of yoga. After I took my first Bikram yoga class, I was hooked. I went to teacher training 9 months after and have been teaching yoga now for about year and a half, and I love my job. I have since been back twice to help out at the trainings.
(2) What is your favorite part of doing yoga?
My favorite part of doing yoga is the challenge: the challenge of the heat, the breath, staying in the room, the grace. I love everything about yoga, so it’s hard to pick just one. Even with my experience, I have yet to fully understand just how much it has done for me, but the challenge of it has certainly changed my life immensely.
(3) How can doing yoga regularly help someone (physically, emotionally, and mentally)?
I think yoga practice is very personal, and it really differs from person to person. I want to talk about how it’s changed me. When I first moved to the States, I was still a smoker (heavy, with 2 packs a day for many years), I didn’t exercise, I ate unhealthily, and I was constantly very unhappy with myself and where I was in life. So for me, practicing yoga regularly has helped me in all those aspects–I’ve lost weight/toned up, started eating more healthy foods, and learned how to use my lungs again (I had quit smoking 5 years ago). Yoga has also helped me mentally, to find my focus, my balance. Nothing works as good as seeing yourself in the mirror, melting away in the heat, falling out of postures and picking yourself up again. It heals you mentally, and emotionally. It inspires others, and in my case, it began to inspire me, until I finally saw myself. Yoga teaches you how to accept yourself, love yourself. It’s quite amazing how it works. Quite simple too.
(4) What are your top 3 tips?
1. Be patient. It’s so important to learn the patience with the yoga practice. Nothing happens overnight. Every little incremental improvement adds up. Just a matter of giving yourself and your body the time to get where you want your body to get, in terms of flexibility, strength, or balance.
2. Hydrate well. Hydration, hydration, hydration. Our body runs on water, you have to maintain it. It takes more than just water though. It’s important to take electrolytes daily, replacing any of those valuable minerals lost in sweat. I’m a big fan of juices and smoothies. Great way to keep your body hydrated, and it tastes so refreshing after a practice.
3. Listen to your body. The nice thing about yoga is, it keeps you honest. You are not fooling anyone if you slack in class. In Bikram yoga, the sequence is always the same; however, you never take a same type of class. It’s all about listening to your body, and doing the best you possibly can for that moment in time. There are many regular practitioners out there that are mentally super strong. So strong, in fact, that they go past their physical capabilities and risk an injury. So this tip is for them.
(5) Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I see myself doing exactly what I am doing right now—spreading the yoga. I would love to own a studio one day, maybe even move back to Croatia. I plan on visiting as many trainings in the future as I can, continue to learn every day, and continue to inspire and be inspired.
Thank you, Mirna, for sharing your amazing story and great tips. Over the years, I’ve switched from thinking that yoga is such a “hippie” thing to do to believing that it is one of the most healthful practices for everyone. As intimidating as it sounds, yoga is accessible to everyone at different levels. So, no matter how novice or experienced you are (or if you’re inflexible as I am), everyone can successfully do yoga. I remember hearing a great quote once: “If you know how to breathe, then you can do yoga.” True that!
I hope you give yoga a real chance because it may change your life.