This is the post I have been waiting to share with you the last few weeks. I don’t even know where to begin, but to say that I am so excited, grateful, thankful, and proud to be able to introduce to you someone who has made such a huge impact on my life. When I started my yoga journey two years ago I blindly went into it not really knowing what I was looking for. That is until I happened upon DoYogaWithMe.com and found Fiji McAlpine’s videos. I soon fell in love with her classes, the way she instructed, the words she said, the beauty she brought to the art form and expression of yoga. The first video of Fiji’s that I tried was her Advanced Backbending from the Base class. It was absolutely stunning! This is also the practice that inspired this post of mine! Another one of her videos, Power and Precision, is one of my all time favorites as well. It took me awhile to actually build up the strength and courage to complete this practice in the beginning, but now has become one that always leaves me feeling strong, beautiful, and confident. Through all of Fiji’s videos I have learned so much about myself and my practice. I have gained so much confidence and self-love. She really is the reason why I fell so in love with yoga and the beauty and power it has. She taught me how to actually focus on my breathing and allow my self to let go and fully accept Savasana at the end of my practice.
For my college Common App essay I even wrote about my yoga journey and Fiji’s impact on it. I hope some day I will be able to actually take a live class with her and meet the woman who inspires me everyday! When I say her on Facebook I ended up sending her a friend request and to my surprise she accepted it! I had to then message her and tell her who I was and just how awesome I think she is. I then asked her if should would like to come on the blog and do an interview so we all could get to know her better. She accepted and is now here to tell us all about herself and her yoga journey! I hope you all enjoy this and are as excited as me to learn more about a truly inspiring yogi.
Rebecca: “Tell us a little about yourself and your background.”
Fiji: “I just turned 33, which is great because 3 is my lucky number, as it turns out this year has already been a great one! I recently married my soul mate and we are expecting our first child, a baby girl, this May. I am a yoga teacher in a few great studios here in Victoria, BC and teach to students around the world via the videos posted on doyogawithme.com. In addition to yoga, I am Vice Principal at a private school called Eaton Arrowsmith School that offers a program to help students with cognitive learning difficulties through neuroplaticity.
I was born in Victoria but raised in California, I knew in my heart from a young age that I would return to the pacific northwest as that was the place that always felt like home to me. I have been teaching yoga since 2002 and have taught in California, Costa Rica, Mexico and BC.”
R: “How, why, and when did you start practicing yoga?”
F: “I first started practicing yoga in 2001, after a back injury that left me in chronic pain despite efforts to heal through phisio and chiropractic care. I took the advice of a friend and sought out a yoga class to see if that would help at all. The practice gave me small periods of relief from pain that over time increased to full days and eventually weeks without pain. I was amazed at how the body could heal the body through movement and breath.”
R: What was your first practice like? Were you nervous, scared, excited? Was it a home-practice or did you start in a studio?”
F: “Like many new to yoga, my first class was actually run out of a gym. This is of course not as serene and relaxing as a great studio can be, but I must admit that the instruction was so great it took me into my own world so the surroundings were of no importance. Such high quality instruction is not usually what you find at a gym but at this time there were only two studios in the town and many instructors were teaching at a gym to try to get students to follow them into a studio.”
R: “You said you are a principal and you are also a soon-to-be mom! Congrats! But how do you keep yourself from going crazy and finding the time to do it all?”
F: “Life if busy there is no hiding that! I choose to look at it as vibrant, bull of energy and vitality and in honesty it gives me energy most days and is not draining. The key to a well balanced life is to find things that recharge you rather than draw energy out of you, for me this is maintaining my joys and passions alongside my work and obligations. You know when your life is out of balance, you feel it right away. Feeling you have a purpose, a community, are supported and support others are all key factors in keeping you happy and sane when things are coming at you in full doses.”
R: ” Give us a run down of a typical day-in-the-life for you.”
F: “I start my day walking my two small dogs, Oscar and Bean, this always brings me joy and is a nice way to have some silence and time to mentally set a framework for the day. I work with fantastic students and staff from 8-4 each day and am privileged to witness some miraculous growth in these students which always makes you feel great about what you do. After school I head to the studio and teach a 75 minute vinyasa flow class to my second group of students, I love this and find it is a great way to disengage from the previous part of the day. After class feeling recharged and relaxed I head home to have dinner with my husband and enjoy the rest of the evening together. The day feels complete and each chapter has so much richness and diversity to offer.”
R: “When did you realize the true beauty and power yoga had for you?”
F: “I was only a few classes in when I became a true yoga lover, it is all it took for me. I was amazed by the relief from my back pain and was so relived by the mental reprieve I would experience during the class. At this time I was a busy university student who desperately needed some stress relief!”
R: “What are your tips for strengthening/deepening your practice?”
F: “Consistency. A dedication to practicing as frequently as you can. We can not expect to develop strength or depth in body, relationship, character unless we are willing to put in the necessary time required. We have no problem filling our schedule with things we consider a priority, this must become a priority to you. You must think of your practice as an essential part of daily living such as eating or sleeping. Find some way each day to connect to that sacred space either through asana, meditation or relaxation. A good combination of all three in a weed would be ideal.”
R: “Who is your yoga inspiration?”
F: “Arlene Bjork, a fantastic jivamukti teacher and human being. I studied with Arlene for a month in Costa Rica, I learned so much from her and grew so much as a person in her presence. She was one of the most talented practitioners I have ever me and did so with a Harrington rod in her back due to scoliosis. She taught me that you show up to the practice as you are and then through dedication you watch the magic mold you inside and out. Arlene was passed tragically and far too young due to a rare blood clot in her leg during a flight home. She will always live on in my heart and the hearts that she touched before she moved on.”
R: “What is the most important lesson practicing yoga has taught you?”
F: “Be grateful for everything, the full richness of life. Remind yourself often to see, feel and be present more!”
R: “I have read that you have dealt with body image issues and anorexia. How has yoga helped you find peace?”
F: “I often say that yoga saved my life and I firmly believe it to be true. I did not go to yoga with the intention of healing myself and finding freedom from my eating disorder but in the end that is one of the gifts that yoga has provided for me. Yoga has a way of shifting your perceptions, understandings and even asks you to reevaluate your values to some degree. This all being said is true when you practice long enough and are open to taking that practice on an inward journey. Over time I learned to be for receptive to change, flexible mentally as well as physically and this made it possible to see my situation with more clarity and to see options rather than constant rigidity. I learned to love my body, to honor it and to once again connect to it. When you have an eating disorder you are removed from your body in so many ways and learn to ignore all the inner wisdom it holds. Reestablishing this connection is the foundation to recovery and that is what yoga does so well and does so without you even knowing it.”
R: ” In your videos you talk a lot about strength and stability. I absolutely love these words (hence the name of my blog). Why do you think they are so important, not only in yoga, but also life in general?”
F: “Life comes in waves sometimes they feel like tsunamis, in order to prepare and maintain the ability to be resilient is to develop strength in every aspect of our being. Stability can come from strength, when we make an effort toward a foundation upon which we can build with trust and confidence. In our asana practice this prepares us for the poses that require stamina, power or even surrender. In every other aspect of our lives this gives us essential to maintain a perspective that helps drive us forward toward our dreams while maintaining strong roots to stand firmly for what we believe in.”
R: “When you are not yoga-ing, what other hobbies or activities do you love to do?”
F: “I love the outdoors! I live near the forest so I can run, hike and swim in the wilderness as much as possible. Connecting with nature is one way I take time to nourish my soul, it makes my heart sing.”
R: “I am looking into getting a 200 hour teacher certification this summer. I have read so many amazing experiences from other bloggers about their training and would love to do it myself. What should I expect, especially since I have never practice at a studio?”
F: “Expect a lot at once! do not let yourself get overwhelmed, try to enjoy and absorb instead of stressing to master it all at once. Especially be present to the bonding that takes places between the students, this is essential in developing as a teacher. You much understand the importance of the human connection and why the group practice of your students is so nurturing for them.”
R: “Do you have any tips for overcoming fears of trying a new pose? I still have not had the courage to try headstand. I have forearm-stands and hand-stands, but whenever I try headstand I feel like I am going to die! Haha!”
F: “Baby steps frequently, do not avoid that which you fear or you will always fear it! There is a liberation and a huge hesitancy when introducing inversions of all sorts. Headstand is one much more about focus and balance than power so make sure you are clam when practicing. Use tools to help you get started! Take it to the wall and get a friend to spot you!”
R: “What is your favorite pose? Your least?
F: “These days I am loving half moon and all of its variations, such a light and free feeling asana. I do not have a huge personal love for the full splits, Hanumanasana, only because by hips are set in a way that I never get into the full variation and miss out on the sweet stretch I can sense is there for others!”
R: “What is the most interesting class/teacher you have ever encountered?”
F: “Peter Sterios, a close friend and mentor! Check him out online and in person if you can, he is an amazing person who has the ability to see right into you and bring you to your own personal edge in so many ways through practice. Once you practice with him you are never the same.”
R: “If someone is looking to start a practice, where would you tell them to start from? What should they do? How should they make that initial leap?”
F: “I think that the online option is a good one for those first few classes, especially because there is now some great options out there. This gives a person the ability to learn the basics before jumping into a class and perhaps feeling lost. Joining a class after a few weeks is great because you get to connect with a teacher and learn more bout your body and how to move safety in the poses!”
R: “The yoga movement is continually growing each and everyday! Yet some people think it is just a fad. Where do you think the yoga movement will go?”
F: “Those who think yoga is a fad are simply ignorant to history, it has endured for thousands of years and has done nothing but spread through the world! What yoga offers never fades, those who get hooked are hooked for life as it becomes part of living so I do not think it is going anywhere!”
R: “What is next on your yoga journey? Will you ever come to the states to teach at a retreat/convention/festival?”
F: “I am starting to get more and more invitations to teach abroad because of doyogawithme.com and I will actually be teaching my first 7 day retreat in Tulum, Mexico this coming January! The information will all be posted on my website, fmyoga.ca, and on doyogawithme.com in the next month. I love to travel and meet new people so I am always open to coming to teach a workshop if an opportunity arises!”
R: “I have to ask, since food is such a big part of my blog. What is your favorite go-to meal?”
F: “Having been raised in California I love tacos! Fish or chicken tacos in soft corn tortillas with lime and salsa fresca are a huge favorite for me and super easy to make!”
Thank you so much Fiji for taking the time to chat with me! You are truly a beautiful role model, yogi, and inspiration! And I hope you all enjoyed reading what she had to say.
Fiji has her official Yoga Alliance certification as well as well as he recently added prenatal certification. Her practice and teaching focuses on Vinyasa and Power yoga. You can find her teaching at these studios. Also for all of you soon-to-be mamas out there, whether you already do yoga or not, you have to give Fiji’s most recent Prenatal Power Flow video a try! She just released it last week so check it out! You can find Fiji’s other videos and pose breakdowns here and also stay in touch on her official website!
So tell me:
Who is your yoga inspiration?
(All photos curtsey of DoYouYoga.com’s Facebook page and Fiji!)
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