ME. In an interview by DagnyDay

ballet stintino.jpg

me.

In an interview by DagnyDay

Name: Francesca Golfetto

    > Age: 29

    > Live: Oslo

    > Do: Retired Ballerina / Yoga teacher

    >

    > 1. How do you prefer to spend a Sunday:

In an active way. I am not very good at relaxing, I am afraid… I wake up super early, have a yoga practice and then I am ready to do anything that involves experiencing something in the sweet company of my Love.

    > 2. What does beauty mean to you:

I would lie if I said that external beauty doesn’t matter. It does…quite a lot.

As a ballet dancer, it is a part of the package. We are exposed to many people, who expect to be entertained by traditional beauty, in all aspects of the job. It is also one of many criteria for being “picked”, which I believe is not unique for ballet dancers.

Having said that, I believe that the focus on external beauty alone creates unhealthy pressure and behaviour. Without falling into a number of clichés, beauty needs to be defined through a combination of a person’s strongest preferences. That combination for me, is when I feel happy…

    > 3. What does success mean to you:

There are so many ways to succeed in life.

My ambitions have always been to win. To be the best at what I was doing. No matter what.

Already now, having a little one in my tummy makes me have the feeling that THIS will probably be the biggest success of my life.  

I mean, what is greater than actually creating a life??

 

    > 4. What does balance mean to you:

I wish we were only speaking about the “physical” kind of balance…

I find it much easier to stay up on my toes or upside down on my hands than to keep it in real life…

So yes, to be honest, I tend to be totally out of balance… When I get into something, I throw myself in, forgetting the whole world around me (very goal oriented!).

Thankfully I always had a family behind that kept my feet on the ground and “forced” me to actually have a LIFE outside of my bubble…Balance to me is to generate enough challenges to create continuous improvement, but not too many (or the wrong ones) to drive me into my bubble for too long.

    > 5. How would you describe your style?

Random!! And for sure Animal inspired…😉 Haha. I can go from dressing up like the most classy girly girl (and loving it!) to a hippy, rocky, boyish, casual style. I must say that after becoming a yoga teacher, living in my beloved yoga pants made my “style” suffer quite a lot… I need to step up my game 😉

    > 6. Motto:

Good is the enemy of great

    > 7. The first thing you do when waking up in the morning and before going to bed:

The first I think about when I wake up is..FOOD!!!! I am a  morning/breakfast person, which doesn’t really suit my new Yoga practice routine… #hardestsacrificeever!!!!

Even though I always wait to eat until after practice, no one can take away my coffee 😉

Knowing that the struggle is real in the morning… before going to bed, I always make sure I have a little snack.

Once in bed I always like to think about how the day has been and what my plans will be for the day after.

I used to do journaling, but that was more when I was struggling mentally with many different things.

If I did it now, I think it would automatically bring me back to those memories… so I would rather focus my thoughts in the mind.

Maybe I will go back to it…just not right now!

 

     > 8. Inspired by:

People that I admire and respect. People who dare, have drive and want to make a difference, keeping a humble and easy attitude.

 

    > Tell us a little about your history:

    > What was it like being a ballet dancer?

It was everything from being the most wonderful fairy-tale to the worst nightmare…

Have you watched the movie “The black Swan?” Well, take away the “Hollywood” part of it, that comes very close to reality… at least for me.

My life was my job.

I felt like I lived in the theatre, and anything that didn’t have to do with it, came as a distraction.

In my free time (which already wasn’t much) I went to the gym to lose weight, sewed point shoes, watched videos of myself dancing and, many times, I ended up in the studio alone rehearsing something that, in my eyes, wasn’t just good enough.

Fun life hey?

I am not saying that it is like this for everybody… like I mentioned before, I am not very good at keeping a balanced life… and obviously back then, I totally lost it.

I guess that’s what happens when you want/love something so much that you are willing to do anything to reach it…. Because dancing and owning my stage was, at that time, all that mattered.

 

How was your life different then? Do you miss it?

I miss dancing a lot and there is still not one day that passes when I don’t think about it.

Until not too long ago I could not even walk by the Opera without starting crying, and any ballet talk, classical music, photos or “ballet” friends would be way too much to handle.

It has been extremely hard, but looking at my life now…. I will never change it or go back there!!

Before my life was in the theatre and eventually home to sleep. Even then, you have no idea how many times I wished I could just sleep in the changing room couch instead…

I did not have time to enjoy anything else really…

Now I love my life. I love meeting new people. Have time to spend around the city, go for walks, enjoy the nature, take care of the house and most of all have time and energy to spend with my Love. Now I know that this is what makes me really happy.

> What happened when you hurt your ankle? How did you feel when you had to quit ballet? How did you move on?

It was like a terrible death. I felt like my life had been taken away from me. I did not have energy or will power to react… I was in a very dark place for a while.

I tried all kind of rehab, injections, physiotherapy, surgeon consultations, long resting periods… nothing worked.

It took a year before I decided that I had enough of hospitals, doctors and ankle speeches…

The Injury was not caused by a traumatic fall or accident.

I was just in a lot of pain for a long time… but we (ballet dancers) all are really.

Considering that I had danced on broken toes and bones before.. I should have known that the situation was similar if not worse.

But, like always, I felt that the schedule was too busy, so with the daily help of a lot of “drugs”, I just kept going… until I couldn’t anymore.

It was during a classical performance in November that I felt that something really happened. The pain became completely unbearable. I finished the show with tears running down my face and after being told off from my director that I had not been up to my standards…I decided it was time for a break. Oh yeah, and I was not believed that I was in pain or injured…

I knew something was bad, but I obviously did not realize how bad it was.

My ankle was a like a cocktail of all kind of ingredients that went from fractures, to chronic inflammations to a nerve damage.

It didn’t take too long before I understood that getting up again, on my beloved point shoes, became thin medical theory (squeezing out the few positive statements from all the kind professionals who helped me), rather than a realistic target.

    > How come you started practicing yoga?

I have always been attracted to yoga in one way or another.

I started practicing when I lived in Zurich over 10 years ago, as a supplement to my ballet training and to benefit from a change of environment.

I practiced when I could after moving to Oslo, but It was not until my injury that I decided to really dive into it.

   

> Did yoga change your life in any way and in that case, how?

Yoga saved my life!!

I went from not being able to move from bed and constantly crying, to the happy person I used to be, and that I am now.

Every day, no matter how I felt, I knew that after practice I would feel better.

I was very lucky to meet my teacher Basia, who never asked me what happened or why I was crying. She didn’t show pity for me in any way. She just told me to move on, she guided me through the Ashtanga practice and she expected me to be there every day.

In no time, I was hooked with a passion I didn’t think I could feel anymore.

I spent every morning on my mat and afternoons studying Yoga philosophy, Sanskrit and Pranayama.

Not too long after that I was asked to teach and just like that, my new life started.

    > What does yoga mean to you?

Understanding. Support. Freedom. Love and happiness.

I see my yoga practice as a mirror of how I am doing mentally and physically every day.

It supports me through the ups and downs, challenges me daily and teaches me how to deal with those challenges in “real” life.

It brought back the too loud, daring, fearful person I always used to be, because on the mat, I became stronger and freer.

I practice and I get happier, and by teaching a lot of people now, I can see that everyone gets happier…

So why not doing it??

 

    > Imagine talking to someone who never tried yoga before; What would you tell them yoga is and why should they try a yoga class?

I think the idea of yoga as something too spiritual and deep scares people off at the beginning.

I am not afraid to share what yoga did for me, but whatever the motivation is that get people on the mat, I believe is right. Because from my personal experience, I know that the “package” will follow.

If I have to challenge someone that is “against” yoga I usually ask: “when was the last time you were breathing properly?”. Then I make them try… the rest comes 😉

    > Stress is a huge problem for many people today, why do you think that is? What is your relationship to stress? How can people overcome stress?

I spent some energy on thinking about stress. My thoughts are obviously not the truth, but it helped me personally to write a blog about it. Here are a few of the thoughts I put down on paper:

“Today’s society requests a lot. It’s always about “Constructed Perfection” and rarely about what’s good for you or me.

We live a life through social media, where everything looks shining and perfect.

We compare ourselves too much.”

Personally, I have a huge amount of unprocessed stress in my body and mind. When you have hit the bottom, I believe it is hard to avoid slipping again… and it is also totally normal!

In fact, no matter how happy and grounded I feel now, I can be completely thrown off from the smaller happening without reason.

The difference is that now, I am aware of it, and through Yoga and breathing I know I have the best tools to overcome it.

And you know what? The day I decided “Now I am just gonna be me” everything changed.

 

 

 

Pregnancy yoga: benefits, tips and tricks ;)

Pregnancy yoga: benefits, tips and tricks ;)

When I first found out I was pregnant (past the awful time being constantly nauseous and exhausted) I remember living my yoga practice being scared..

Scared I would too much. Scared I would hurt the baby. Scared I would do something I shouldn’t have done.

I remember constantly texting friends and teachers asking “can I do that? And that? What is it that I shouldn’t do etc…”.

The answers were always basically based on the fact that my body was gonna know, so to do everything that felt right… and that definitely wasn’t a clear enough answer for me!!

Thinking about it now, it all came down to the fact that I did not trust my mind to know what my limits were and what my body was doing in the inside.

(Yap, not being in control on how nature was “making” my baby drove me CRAZY… I actually almost passed out when I had the 19 weeks Ultrasound check - great yoga teacher in control of her emotions right??).

It didn’t take too long before I gained sanity again and realized that THE trick was to USE my Yoga rather than being afraid of it.

 

So, based on my experience, here a few points on how practicing Yoga can benefit during pregnancy, some basic rules on what NOT to do and a few of my very favourite Asana that can be done daily and safely practiced while expecting.

 

Benefits of prenatal yoga:

 -Prenatal Yoga can help support moms-to-be emotionally and physically

 -It can teach you and remind you how to breathe properly and consciously relax in preparation for labour

  -It can create a deeper connection with your baby and your emotions

  -It balances energy levels

  -It helps you stay in shape, it stimulates the cardiovascular and lymphatic system, improves balance, stretches and strengthens the body.

-It is also proved that problems such as tiredness, back pain, nausea, anxiety, headaches and many other common complaints of pregnancy may be eased by practicing yoga and often may disappear altogether.

 

What NOT to do (or suggested to avoid)

·       Avoid lying on your back, especially after the first trimester. Lying on your back can put pressure on your inferior vena cava (the vein that returns blood from the legs to the heart) and reduce blood flow to your uterus. It can also make you feel dizzy and cause shortness of breath and nausea.

·       Skip headstands and shoulder stands. "Pregnancy is not the time to START an inversion practice," The risk of falling or feeling faint from having your head below your heart makes these poses unsafe for most pregnant women. If you do have a strong inversion practice keep the position safe and not holding it for too long.

·       Skip positions that require extreme stretching of the abdominal muscles. Deep forward and back bends as well as deep twists can lead to injury. Avoid stretching moves that feel uncomfortable or cause muscle soreness.

·       Avoid doing yoga in hot, humid conditions. Don't take Bikram or hot yoga classes (in which the room is heated to 30 degrees or higher) because this could cause dangerous overheating

·       Do not hold your breath (kumbhaka/breath retention pranayama). Remember you are now breathing for two!!

·       Do not exhaust yourself! Already from the first months of pregnancy there is between 40 to 50% extra blood in our bodies, which is already a huge extra amount of work for our system on top of “building” a baby!! Avoid activities that push your body and breath too much, rather replace them with nice walks, good swimming and gentle yoga classes!!

 

Breath

Take a few minutes every day to connect with the breath, deep inhalations and exhalations – My favourite Pranayama these days is the GOLDEN BREATH: inhale through the nose, exhale opening the mouth slightly as if a threat was coming out from the lips (great for labour!)

Also take time to connect with your baby…place the left hand on the heart and the right into the babies heart. Connect and send the breath between the two hearts.

 

 

My FAVORITE ASANAS

·       Sufi circles or Sufi Grind

HOW TO: starts in sukhasana, or easy seated pose with legs crossed. The torso then moves in circles around the mid-line, inhaling as the body moves forward and exhaling backward. Generally, they are practiced in a clockwise direction first then counterclockwise, for up to three minutes each side.

BENEFITS: In addition to improving mobility in the hips and spine, Sufi grinds can be used to re-energize the body and mind. They can also have a meditative effect for the yogi practicing them. This can help to bring focus and awareness into the body, cultivating a sense of stillness.

Traditionally, Sufi grinds are said to be beneficial in activating and balancing the lower chakras of the body. As such, they are associated with improving digestion (and constipation) and treating conditions that affect the reproductive organs, such as endometriosis. They are also said to positively influence the adrenal glands, which help with managing the yogi’s stress response.

 

‘ SUFI CIRCLE

 

 

 

·       Cat cow

HOW TO: From a hands-and-knees tabletop position (place the hands slightly wider than the shoulders and the knees slightly wider than the hips to make enough space for the belly), begin cow pose with an inhale. The belly sinks toward the ground, creating a slight arch in back and a good opening in the chest, and the head lifts as the gaze is directed upward. On an exhale, ease into cat pose. Hug the baby in toward the spine as the back rounds and the head releases gently toward the ground.

BENEFITS:

In addition to easing spinal tension, this pose sequence calms the mind and relieves stress. It is also believed to:

  • Strengthen the arms, wrists and shoulders

  • Stimulate the abdominal organs, kidneys and adrenal glands

  • Open the chest

  • Tone and strengthen the core muscles

  • Stretch the neck and spine

  • Improve circulation

  • Align the spine and prevent back pain

CAT COW VARIATION

 

 

HIP CIRCLES

Continuing from all four, start to draw circles with the hips trying to maintain a stable position with the back. Make the circles bigger and bigger if comfortable. Let the breath flow freely with the movements.

*BENEFITS: To relax, loose tension, stretch and lull the baby into the tummy.

 

 

 

 

 

·       Malasana

HOW TO:

-Standing in Tadasana (Mountain Pose), place the feet a little wider than hip distance apart and bring the hands to the chest in Namaste.

-Slowly bend the knees and squat down, being careful not to let the knees extend forward beyond the alignment of the feet.

-Squatting down, wiggle the shoulders in between the knees, using the elbows to push back against the inner knees, keeping the hands at the chest in Namaste with the back straight and feet flat to the floor

BENEFITS

Even though it may not seem like it, the yoga squat has a truck load of benefits.

Doing Malasana: -

  • Stretches the ankles, groins, back, torso and sacrum.

  • Tones the entire lower body (quads, hamstrings, gluts, and calf muscles).

  • Tones the core.

  • Stimulates the metabolism and the digestive organs (helps the body eliminate waste).

  • Strengthens the lower back and abs.

  • Is a good preparation for childbirth.

  • Helps relieve period pain.

OBS: *If you know that the baby is not turn in the correct way you are advised not to keep the position for longer that 1 breath after week 34!!!

The position can be done sitting or lying on the back (happy baby pose).

 

MALASANA TWIST: place the hands down into the mat in front of you, inhale lift the right arm up looking up at the hand, exhale sink the arm down. Other side. Modification to bind behind the back.

 

•   Bali Seal

HOW TO:

from a balasana (child’s pose) position, inhale use the legs to lift together with arms and body up into the knees, exhale back into Balasana, inhale come forward to the hands and knees into a mini Upper dog position (keeping the back long and opening the chest), exhale back into Balasana.

*BENEFITS: To warm up, increase circulation and stamina, build strength and open the body

 

 

 

·       Toe balance

HOW TO:

starts from Tadasana (feet hip distance apart) -inhale lift the heels off the floor and the arms above the head -exhale sink down into Tadasana.

Next step -inhale lift the heels off the floor and the arms above the head -exhale drop the hips into a deep squat position keeping the heels off the ground -inhale lift yourself up to the previous position -exhale sink down, Tadasana.

Pay attention to lift up on the toes keeping the ankles straight and strong.

*BENEFITS: Strengthens and improves flexibility in the ankles, toes, knees and thighs, Stretches the upper back, Strengthens the core abdominal muscles, Improves concentration and focus, Proves relief for flat feet

 

 ·       Goddess pose

HOW TO:

begin standing in a wide stance with the toes turned out and the knees bent, bringing the lower body into a wide-legged squat. (If you feel for it.. for a stronger variation, the heels may be lifted off the ground):

A variety of hand and arm positions may be used for this pose, including raising the arms overhead shoulder-distance apart or with the palms touching. The hands can also be placed in prayer position at the heart center or may rest on the hips or thighs. In another common arm position, the arms extend out at shoulder height and are bent at the elbows so the forearms are vertical, with the palms facing forward and the fingers pointing up.

BENEFITS:

Goddess pose is considered highly beneficial for the body because it strengthens the muscles of the legs, glutes, calves and ankles. It simultaneously stretches and opens the hips and chest and lengthens the spine. It is a powerful, warming and energizing posture, stimulating the respiratory and cardiovascular systems.

Due to the effect of this posture on the pelvis, and particularly the muscles of the pelvic floor, this posture is especially beneficial for pregnant women. It is said to help create more space in the pelvis, easing pregnancy and labor. It may be helpful for pregnant women to use a wall or a chair to support their balance in this posture.

Various modifications are possible for this pose such as placing the hands on a chair or practicing with the back against a wall for support.

 

·       Viparita Karani

HOW TO:

kneel next to the wall, facing AWAY from the wall. Sit the right side of your butt on the floor, and slide your right hand out in front of you as far away from the wall as you can get it. From this position, you should be able to easily roll so your back is on the floor and swing your legs up the wall with no wiggle worming. Roll keeping both legs together, place a bolster under the hips and under your head, use a  strap around the legs if you want to relax completely and keep the position longer.

 

BENEFITS:

Legs-up-the-wall pose provides a number of benefits for the body and mind. Ancient yoga texts state that this pose will destroy old age and offer anti-aging effects. Modern teachers agree that the pose has many benefits, including relief from:

  • Anxiety

  • Headaches

  • Migraines

  • Insomnia

  • Mild depression

  • Arthritis

  • Digestive issues

  • Swollen feet and legs

  • Eye and ear problems

  • Respiratory ailments

  • Urinary disorders

  • PMS and menstrual cramps

  • Menopause

  • High and low blood pressure

This pose also stretches the back of the legs to relieve cramping and swelling in the ankles, calves and feet.

 

So, I hope this little “mini guide” helped a few of you that are in my same situation…

Having said that I think it is very important to remember and be aware that everyone is different and react to pregnancy in very different ways.

Learn to listen to the body and his needs, eat good food and be happy.

Pregnancy can be a very tough time both physically and emotionally but it is also one of the most special and important time in a womans life…make the best of it, for you and your baby!!

 

 

 

My favourite poem

 

 

Nothing could have prepared your heart to open like this.

From beyond the skies and the stars
This echo arrived inside of you and started to pulse with life
Each beat a tiny act of growth,
Traversing all our ancient shapes,
On its way home to itself.

You know your life has changed forever,
For in all the days and years to come,
Distance will never be able to cut you off
From the one you now carry
For nine months under your heart.


John O’Donohue

 

When I met my worst enemy...

When I met my worst enemy...

When I was young, I was the typical “performance animal”.

I loved the challenge, I loved the adrenalin and if I had a competition, a test or an audition, you’d be sure I’d deliver, no matter what…

I still remember “that feeling” of becoming one with my body. That feeling of the excitement and nerves kicking in, making my tummy squeeze; but not in a bad way, actually more in an unbeatable and addictive kind of way.

My mind got stuck on one thought. I had to do as best as I could. I had to impress. I had to win. And, as a matter of facts, I believed I could and I did…

When, at a later point in my life, performance nerves became my worst enemy, I remember looking back at these days thinking; “beata giovinezza” or “blessed youth”.

I believed that my outrageous courage during challenges when I was younger, was purely due to not being mature enough to understand the “pressure of things… I now believe I was very wrong…

A few years from my worst days, I am determined to find out what actually happened to me…to be better prepared for the future and in order to maybe help some others.

So, what is actually stress?

Stress is your body’s way of responding to any kind of demand or threat. When you sense danger—whether it’s real or imagined—the body's defences kick into high gear in a rapid, automatic process known as the “fight-or-flight” reaction or the "stress response".

The stress response is the body’s way of protecting you. When working properly, it helps you stay focused, energetic, and alert. In emergency situations, stress and adrenaline can save your life—giving you extra strength to, for example defend yourself or make you slam on the brakes to avoid an accident.

Stress can also help you rise to meet challenges. It’s what keeps you on your toes during a presentation at work, sharpens your concentration or drives you to study for an exam when you'd rather be watching TV or scrolling on Instagram…

When you look at it from “this side” we understand that stress is something that we actually can’t/shouldn’t live without.

But what happens when stress becomes a chronic state in life?

Beyond a certain point, stress stops being helpful and starts causing major damage to your health, your mood, your productivity, your relationships, and your quality of life.

To me? It made me become the worst version of myself… both the inside and the outside.

I can promise you that my closest did not have the time of their life when they were with me back than…

I was angry. Annoying. Boring. Moodie. Constantly aggressive and pissed off! The funny thing is that I knew they had nothing to do with my troubled mind, but I couldn’t help it. I was feeling miserable and they had to deal with it…

I still have no idea how they coped with me, to be honest…. The only thing that I can think of is that it must have been deep love!! (Sorry Baby, sorry Mamy)

On the outside my body was rebelling.

My hair thinned. My skin cracked. My nails broke. My body filled up with water. My period stopped and my thyroid totally gave up on me…

In other words… I got sick!!

And all of this for what??

Because I wasn’t getting what I thought I deserved at work? Because of my insecurities? Because I had to deal with people that I didn’t like? Because I had to do things that I didn’t want to do? Because I lived in a country that I didn’t quite get?

 

Seriously??????? What the hell was I thinking? Weak, spoiled, stupid me!

 

But then again… I might have considered myself stupid, but I am sure there is a “little” more to it, when so many other people are affected by the same “stress syndrome”??

Today’s society requests a lot. It’s always about “Constructed Perfection” and rarely about what’s good for you or me.

We live a life through social media, where everything looks shining and perfect.

Where women can look like the best mums, on top of their career, still with time to walk the dogs, look like models, make dinner and love to their husband, and of course, be cool and social at the same time!

We compare ourselves too much.

We set goals, we reach them and we are already into the next one without taking time to appreciate and be proud.

From when we were young, teachers, bosses and coaches always pointed out what we could have done better or what wasn’t good enough. But then you’d hear comments like “What happened now? Last time you were soo much better!!” or “look at her/him… they know how to do it!!”.

There’s no interest of knowing people’s stories or understand their characters. All you need to do is to be best and deliver, ALWAYS!!

And if you ask me.. that’s how it ALL begins.

 

The worst thing is when you have been under chronic stress for a long time, it isn’t something that just disappears easily. You can learn to control it, breathe through it and avoid it from taking you over, but the truth is that it won’t leave you easily.

I am not saying this to scare you, but more to share my (and others’) experiences.. in simple words, if this happened to you too…you’re not alone!!

In fact, even after years of daily yoga practice, meditation and pranayama (special breathing technique), stress/anxiety attacks still turn my world upside down when less expected.

Even now, when I feel confident and happy in what I do and who I am, I still carry a huge weight on my shoulders, or better a bad shadow that comes, scares me and takes my smile away.

 

As a Mummy to be now, I see myself stressing already for little things, taking away the enjoyment and magic of this moment.

When my Husby sees me thoughtful, he likes to “bully” me a little by asking if I am finding something else to stress about…

And you know what? He is so right.

I make my life so much more complicated than it is.

I say that I avoid dramas but what actually happens is that I run after them like candybars.

I also believe that if I’ll be stressed as a mother, my baby girl will not grow up any different.

We then create a circle of life which is so OFF.

I practice yoga to find balance and peace within myself.

But if the yoga stops when you leave the mat, that isn’t yoga anymore. It’s just another way to sweat out and workout the body.

 

For now, the practice helped me gain awareness, it brought my happiness back and helps me balance the ups and downs.

But there’s a long way to go.

So…next time the cliché “keep (…) close, but your enemies closer” appears, I’ll remember how close the worst enemy is…

I have a bun in the oven!!!

I have a bun in the oven!!!

I just came back from India, full of love towards my new life and gratitude for being able to share this practice around the world.

I LOVE travelling, but I also love having a base to come back too. So, after 3 weeks away I was very excited to be home, spend time with my Love, come back to my routine and my practice.

The days were flying by, being back teaching in the Shala was soo nice and giving, but even though everything was going great, my body felt kind of weird… (Being so in contact with it, can sometimes make you go a little crazy if there are minor deviations from normality…)

I felt heavy, stiff and…there was just something different.

The differences were obviously explained (in my mind) by the jet lag, change of weather, routines, food…

So, I started to wear my “sweat gear” during practice, asking for extra “pulling help” from my teacher during mysore and went for a drastic change in diet.

When all that didn’t work, I thought it would be a good idea to do a “juice detox cleanse”, 3 days, only greens…usually helping to reboot the system.

Even though I wasn’t so “in sync” with my body, my mind was stronger (or maybe totally closed), and my practice was full Ashtanga intermediate series followed by a pretty big slice of AdvanceA and all the handstands\tic tocs sequences to close it off (if you are not known with the Ashtanga sequence, just imagine something really really hard 😉 ).

 

In the meantime…I realized I was late (yes, the typical “girls” kind of late)…and my boobs were getting pretty “important”…But then again…that was nothing that hadn’t happened in the past…

It was when my Mum’s flight got cancelled to come and visit, and my total hysterical / non-stop crying crash reaction from it, that made me understand I had start considering alternative reasons for the changes.

I took a test (or 2 or 3) and the result was…“gravid-gravid-gravid”.

Phone - Call Husby

No answer

Call again. And again. And again until…

“I am pregnant!

What?

I am pregnant!!!

Are you kidding me?

DOES IT SOUND LIKE I AM JOKING WITH YOUUUUU?????

Silence…

After a little while…”Babe, that’s amazing!!!”

 

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t in total shock at the beginning.

I know that motherhood is the most precious gift, but… my whole life already changed completely in the past year, am I ready to change it again?

And what about my dreams? My goals? Travels? Studies?

I totally freaked out. I was an emotional roller-coaster before I managed to calm down.

 

My body was fine in beginning, I kept my practice going and tried to act like nothing was really happening.

And then, BOOM. It hit me like a slap to my face.

There was no way I could stay awake, EVER!!

Me, the hyperactive-multitasking-energy boosting woman… I didn’t manage to do anything at home, going for a walk without passing out before I reached the door step, or even getting out of bed.

And then…the nausea...24/7.

Everything I always loved eating and drinking was a “NO GO”. All the things that I avoided for years said “EAT ME!!!”

And then, the practice, my only way to stay “sane” through this, became an impossible thing to do…

Even with gentle calm movements, my eyes would get dark, I would feel dizzy and at every downward dog the nausea would come up to my ears.

I had to let go.

I couldn’t work, I couldn’t practice, I couldn’t make any plans or drink my beloved coffees…

Everything was topped up with a huge level of frustration, a good dose of loneliness and weather that would scare Madre Teresa…

Why didn’t anyone tell me about this???

Am I worse or unluckier than others, or do women just feel the pressure to play the super-woman and extra gifted mum card??

I can promise you that, no matter how happy you are with having a little angel growing inside you, the feeling of not being totally in control and very sick for weeks, does not make the pregnancy a beautiful thing!!!

At least in the beginning…

Don’t take me bad…it’s not that I am not really happy about this, or that I don’t find myself super lucky to have this amazing gift in my life, I am aware that getting pregnant is not something to be taken for granted.

I just wanted to share the fact that pregnancies not necessarily are easy walks in the park, or just an excuse to take some time off work and eat a little more…

If only women learned to support each other, rather than always play the card of “who is best? Who is prettiest? Who is happiest?”, life would be a much better an easier place to live in. I know this sounds like a cliché, but…it doesn’t help when you are flooded with pictures and stories of pure happiness in our “world of sharing”.

When I am not able to do what I should be doing, I feel like a total looser. I feel like I let people down. I feel I’m gonna be forgotten and that my “time” is up…

And it’s exactly during these times that I understand how hard, self-obsessed and attached I am…

The biggest learning from these past months is that it is totally ok not to be at the top all the time. To be scared and to be moody.

Being pregnant is really teaching me to let go and to accept.

I am sure there will be many more lessons coming up…

On those I’ll keep you posted!

 

 

My Diet jungle

Low carb diet, Mediterranean diet, Paleolithic diet, Atkins diet, Dukan diet, Raw food diet, Vegetarianism, Veganism, Pescetarianism, Juice fasting, Intermitting fasting….and these are just the first ones that popped up in my mind…

And then honoured books and documentaries, articles by respected news providers, social media feeds…which, of course, all prove each other wrong.

They all promise to make us lose weight and keep us skinny forever, make the world a better place and drive happiness…in addition, and first of all, they will improve life expectancy and decrease the risk for serious illness, such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases. All in completely different ways.

How on earth can we manoeuvre in this jungle and trust what a good diet is? Or even, simply, what we can eat or not…

Being a ballet dancer with a slower metabolism and an obsessive mind…I can tell you that I have explored the jungle…

I was not at all concerned with what was healthy or not, at the time… I had one focus, which was to be skinny.

When I was 13 years old, in the hottest time of my puberty, my Russian ballet teacher liked to tell me that I was FAT, every day.

I just moved away from home, I lived alone, danced all day and attended highschool at night. There were no Mum and Dad to help and protect, not any warm good foot waiting for me when I came home and no one holding my hand when I needed it…

What happened then? I went nuts. I realized I had 2 options; quit or really do something about it and…yes, I basically stopped eating.

My diet was fruit in the morning, most of the time no lunch (a large portion of caffeine was involved) and a vegetable soup in the evening.

Did I lose weight? Yes, a lot.

Was that good for me? For sure not.

On top of slowing down my metabolism for the rest of my days… I later suffered from stress fracture, amenorrhea (loss of menstruations), hair loss, and at the age of 18, I was diagnosed with having the same level of osteoporosis as an 80 years old Grandma.

Something had to change!!

Forced by my Mum, I started integrating more proteins into my diet…to then fall into the exact opposite.

The Dukan Diet, created by Dr. Pierre Dukan, consisted of pure lean / fat free animal proteins without any carbs, vegetables or fruits. The different components had to be slowly reintegrated during the following weeks.

I must say that the results were very impressive at the beginning, thanks to the obvious immediate water loss in the body, but I remember my stomach got stuck for days due to the lack of any kind of fibres.

Was that sustainable?? NO WAY!!!

In later years, before I studied any yoga philosophy or knew any “yogis”, I read a book: The China Study. (a book where Dr. Colin Campbell presents "a new framework for understanding nutrition and health, a framework that eliminates confusion, prevents and treats disease and allows you to live a more fulfilling life." This broad purpose is partially achieved by summarizing the evidence that favours eating only plant-based whole foods.)

Through this book, my interest towards food and diet changed drastically.

I was now concerned with finding a Healthy diet, rather than a skinny diet. I did enough searches and gathered enough information to believe it was worth a try.

I became Vegan.

At the time I was dancing between 8 and 12 hours a day, living in cold Norway and without enough time or energy to prepare good and balanced meals that could support my nutrition needs.  Especially at that time, there were not many vegan options, other than a green salad if you wanted to eat out and about… and that’s what I ended up having most of the times.

In a few months I became so anaemic, I barely escaped the risk of being recovered in hospital…and instead of feeling good, light and full of energy, I was extremely tired, swollen and miserable.

For these reasons, I obviously had to give up my veganism and introduced a few animal proteins again.

It felt like another disappointment and added more confusion.

 

In the yoga world nowadays there is a big “pressure” on diet. It almost feels that being a vegan is a MUST. If you eat meat / fish, drink normal milk or love eggs… you’ll get “the eyes”!!

Many ancient texts of yoga stress the necessity of a meatless diet, and one that is free from alcohol or stimulants.  From the Hatha Yoga Pradipika which clearly directs the practitioner toward a sattvic (balanced) diet of nuts, grains, milk, and ghee, to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali that emphasize the importance of non-harming through the practice of ahimsa (non-violence), the bulk of the yogic compendium advocate vegetarianism and purity. 

The book “Yoga Mala” from Sr. Pattabi Jois actually says that vegetables should not be consumed much as they’re unpleasant for practitioners, as well as sour, salty and spicy food.

So, where does all this “yoga veganism” come from when, in none of those Ancient texts, is it even mentioned or suggested to be one?

Having said that, I believe that a vegan diet followed and supported with enough nutrition and supplements (vitamin B12 and iron) is a very healthy lifestyle to follow.

A few weeks ago, I had a conversation with a good friend who has been struggling for years with his health due to inappropriate dieting.

Despite Doctors telling him that he was totally healthy, he knew that there was something wrong…and he kept trying and experimenting.

Finally, after years of hard work and disappointments, he found his way and he finally feels (and looks) like a million dollars…;)

He introduced me to this book “The plant Paradox” where another Doctor (Dr. Gundry) believes that what makes us sick is “lectin”.

Lectins is a type of protein abundant in raw legumes and grains, and most commonly found in the part of the seed that becomes the leaves when the plant sprouts but also on the seed coat. They’re also found in dairy products and certain vegetables.

What the real important thing is; apparently Lectins are resistant to human digestion. They are a in fact a toxic nutrient, making our immune system work to create antibodies to protect against them.

Once again, everything makes perfect sense, but how about all the vegetarian and vegan people that feel GREAT and overeat all kind of legumes at all time?

Once again, another contradiction.

I obviously didn’t come up with what is good or not to eat and I definitely don’t consider myself an expert in the area, but I do have a lot of interest in it…

What I believe, is that we are all different individuals, with different needs and different habits.

Living in India is very different from living in Norway, working in an office is different than running marathons, living a happy and relaxed life is different from being anxious and stressed all day.

There are so many extra factors that we don’t consider, which I believe take a huge roll on both our health and how we react to food.

Stressing on following a strict diet itself can be counterproductive to finding stability and real happiness.

My conclusion is to find balance, learn to listen to the body and its different needs, try out different things and most of all accept changes and don’t expect immediate results.

Move and be happy.

Let’s create our own “healthy and happy life” recipe.

 

Bulldog or butterfly?

GOALS. I have always considered them the fuel of my engine, the carrot along the way.. my biggest motivation and drive in life.    Something that I only just realized is that my kind of goals were not just little approachable obstacles to overcome, they have always just been giant mountains to climb…    And that’s already where everything starts to go wrong: SETTING GOALS TO HIGH!!    What happens to our body and mind when Goals become disappointments?     I start raising my shoulders up to my ears, closing my chest to protect what’s in and grinding my teeth until the jaw catches on fire…     Our moods will switch several times a day, making our body presence change.     We turn into grumpy Bull Dogs ready to bark, where we see everything wrong and everyone against us, or into delicate and fragile Bambies, putting all faults and other’s disappointments onto our shoulders.    And it is exactly those Disappointments that make us sad. And being sad and frustrated can easily lead us to depression (it might sound dramatic but it does..).    Instead of falling into a dark bubble… How about finding a way where we could all just be butterflies?? Wouldn’t the world be a better place then?    I do know that we all want to be the best version of ourselves (hopefully).. and life isn’t always as easy as we wish it to be.    I also believe that there are a few techniques that personally helped me during these times… (Yes, I definitely can say that my inner Bull Dog usually takes over… but most of the time because my Bambie doesn’t wanna show herself to life…).    How about:     BREATHE :     Did you know that conscious meditative breathing is the fastest way to calm you down? Deep, slow inhalations and exhalations are proved to induce calm and tranquillity.      LAUGH:    Let’s say that one day everything goes wrong, or that we understand that our famous “goal” is not even close to become reality…     We have 2 choices: 1- cry our heart out and hate life or… 2- laugh about it!! Get out, meet your friends, see things from a different perspective and laugh about your disasters!!      MOVE:    You like running? Run. You like walking? Walk.  You like swimming? Swim. Exercising is known to help fight depression and boost our mood. And on top of releasing endorphins, bursting out during a hard workout can also help burning out an awful lot of “bad stuff”.     LOVE:    Yourself first!! Take a warm bath, go for a good massage, have your nails done… whatever makes you feel good and loved… do it!!    And last, but for sure not least     YOGA:    Personally, my best way to breathe, move, sweat, love and laugh in a full all-in-one package.    I like to think of yoga like drinking coffee: you never love the first cup, and before you even realize, you’re totally addicted. And not only as a physical practice, but the whole lifestyle that comes with it…    So, take time to go on your mat. Connect to the breath. Listen to the body and move through your problems.    It may not be all flowers at the beginning… but past the struggle, the tensions in the body will let go creating space for new positive emotions to take over.    You’ll feel alive, empowered and ready to conquer the world!    So, set reasonable goals, learn to manage your fears, embrace the ups and downs…    I have been looking to reach perfection all my life and you know what?? There is not such a thing!!    I now decide to be perfectly imperfect and enjoy life… who is in??     

GOALS. I have always considered them the fuel of my engine, the carrot along the way.. my biggest motivation and drive in life.

Something that I only just realized is that my kind of goals were not just little approachable obstacles to overcome, they have always just been giant mountains to climb…

And that’s already where everything starts to go wrong: SETTING GOALS TO HIGH!!

What happens to our body and mind when Goals become disappointments?

I start raising my shoulders up to my ears, closing my chest to protect what’s in and grinding my teeth until the jaw catches on fire…

Our moods will switch several times a day, making our body presence change.

We turn into grumpy Bull Dogs ready to bark, where we see everything wrong and everyone against us, or into delicate and fragile Bambies, putting all faults and other’s disappointments onto our shoulders.

And it is exactly those Disappointments that make us sad. And being sad and frustrated can easily lead us to depression (it might sound dramatic but it does..).

Instead of falling into a dark bubble… How about finding a way where we could all just be butterflies?? Wouldn’t the world be a better place then?

I do know that we all want to be the best version of ourselves (hopefully).. and life isn’t always as easy as we wish it to be.

I also believe that there are a few techniques that personally helped me during these times… (Yes, I definitely can say that my inner Bull Dog usually takes over… but most of the time because my Bambie doesn’t wanna show herself to life…).

How about:

BREATHE :  Did you know that conscious meditative breathing is the fastest way to calm you down? Deep, slow inhalations and exhalations are proved to induce calm and tranquillity.

LAUGH: Let’s say that one day everything goes wrong, or that we understand that our famous “goal” is not even close to become reality…

We have 2 choices: 1- cry our heart out and hate life or… 2- laugh about it!! Get out, meet your friends, see things from a different perspective and laugh about your disasters!!

MOVE: You like running? Run. You like walking? Walk.  You like swimming? Swim. Exercising is known to help fight depression and boost our mood. And on top of releasing endorphins, bursting out during a hard workout can also help burning out an awful lot of “bad stuff”.

LOVE: Yourself first!! Take a warm bath, go for a good massage, have your nails done… whatever makes you feel good and loved… do it!!

And last, but for sure not least

YOGA: Personally, my best way to breathe, move, sweat, love and laugh in a full all-in-one package.

I like to think of yoga like drinking coffee: you never love the first cup, and before you even realize, you’re totally addicted. And not only as a physical practice, but the whole lifestyle that comes with it…

So, take time to go on your mat. Connect to the breath. Listen to the body and move through your problems.

It may not be all flowers at the beginning… but past the struggle, the tensions in the body will let go creating space for new positive emotions to take over.

You’ll feel alive, empowered and ready to conquer the world!

So, set reasonable goals, learn to manage your fears, embrace the ups and downs…

I have been looking to reach perfection all my life and you know what?? There is not such a thing!!

I now decide to be perfectly imperfect and enjoy life… who is in??

 

Falling in love

 

So, ballet is now part of my “previous life”, but then…why yoga?

Did I hear a “calling”? Did I feel my Kundalini energy rising?? Well… as a matter of fact…I actually did!

Me, with the rational, mathematical mind… I felt something different pulling me in one direction, and I decided to follow.

Then it was Yoga Love.

I have always been attracted to the practice. I am not really sure why.. I guess it just made me feel good, and plus it was a little “get away” - new people, different places, something outside my “ballet bubble”… And yes, stretching felt good and familiar, but breathing was actually.. something new.. so, why not?

I started off in Zurich, very basic yoga in the gyms around the city.

I managed to get my best friend involved and it became a “Sunday thing” , we practiced, we laughed (sorry OM..I did not get you at the beginning…) and then went for a nice Spa day.. nothing could beat that!!

All my past experience with the practice was nothing compared to the “need” to learn  more that came after my injury.

As you can imagine, those days were not sunshine. I was CRASHED. DEVASTATED. I literally felt broken into pieces inside as well as outside.

Even though I had everything else really going for me.. I couldn’t dance anymore and life let me down, that’s all that mattered.

I had two options. One was to stay miserable for the rest of my days. The other was to follow the “pulling” and give that little voice a chance…

I heard there was a new studio that just came up, close to home, a Teacher Training starting soon with apparently a very good teacher. 

And then I met her; this very tall, strong, secure, stunning and energetic woman called Basia. You have to know that with Basia, there is not such a conversation made of questions and answers. It’s mostly statements from her side... and i guarantee you that somehow anything she says... you just end up doing…

Towards me, there was not any pettiness for what happened. All I got from her was “it’s a shift", followed by “go practice”.

At first I was a little confused or shocked?? But that feeling was very early replaced from the deepest curiosity, excitement and interest…

And without even realizing, the practice became my daily mantra, the yoga mat my mirror, Basia my mentor and Hiyoga my new family.

And, like my Mamy always tells me “Si chiude uni porta e si are un portone” -

yoga was my new door.

 

The teacher (Basia) and Assistant (me) showing off in Goa's beaches during her last retreat in Purple Valley yoga.

The teacher (Basia) and Assistant (me) showing off in Goa's beaches during her last retreat in Purple Valley yoga.

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My "ballet" life

No, I never dreamt to be a ballet dancer when i was little.

And no, I didn't like dresses, fairytales, or any “normal” girly stuff!! 

What I did love was doing flips and tricks, motorbikes and to beat my boy friends in arm wrestling competitions…

So at the age of 10, my mum, concerned i would turn into a little boy, made the decision for me and brought me to my first ballet class…

Me before class: “Ballet?? Please Mamy, everything but ballet…

”My teacher after class: “She doesn't have anything to become a ballet dancer!”

Me: Ok, I´ll. show you!!!

THAT´S HOW IT ALL STARTED…

But it didn't take long before I was completely in love…

Dancing soon become my passion, my life, my everything.

At the age of 13 i moved to Milan, leaving everything and everyone behind.

At the age of 15 i was in London . After that, Zurich and Oslo.

On paper, it sounds like the perfect life right?

I was paid to do what i loved the most. My job was my passion.

Reality is that despite the dazzling tutus and tiaras, the life of a ballet dancer is anything but glamorous.

The amount of training it takes to reach the top of the ballet world almost requires to give up your entire life.

You wanna know how a “normal” day looked like?

I would wake up around 6.30, short breakfast and than gym (running and strength training).

8 hours of ballet practice after, I would probably go to the gym again (I couldn't miss my pilates/physio/yoga/stretching exercises). 

By 19.00 i would roll myself home, eat a salad, ice my feet and go to bed.

If I had a show, I had the luxury of having a lunch break that didn't last 30 min and a power nap before spending quite some time in the make up department, getting dressed and start the routine all over again.

Home by 11pm/ midnight. Sleep. Repeat.

Oh,  and Voltaren is our best friend, we spend more time with our physios than our partners….and complaining about everything and everyone seems to be “the thing” to do.

Does that sound glamorous to you?

 

Having said that…ballet is and always will be the LOVE of my life.

I can still remember the excitement before going on stage. The lights, the smell. 

And once you’re on..it’s you. 

You feel light. You feel beautiful.

The orchestra is  playing, the lights are shining and you get lost in your dream.

You become the Princess, the Fairy, the Juliett, the Clara. The music leads the movement and the eyes of your partner guide you through whatever you need to do.

You trust. You share. You love.

That’s when all the hard work, unfairness, pains and tears suddenly don’t matter any more.

What i felt in these moments is something impossible for me to describe with words…it is memories I will never forget.

 

I wish this complicated love story had an happy ending… 

It was 2 years ago that in a snap of fingers, or more precise…of an ankle… that I was woken up from my dream and thrown into a reality that i didn’t know anything about.

Was that easy? No, it was devastating actually.

Did I ever accept it? I am working on it.

What I do know, is that I can now look back and see how lucky i have been. Life will challenge you with upsets and downs, but the good memories are the strongest. And then…new opportunities arrive when you work for them. Maybe even triggered by something learned from the past, making the memories useful for more than own joy…

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REMINDER TO MYSELF:

 

BE GRATEFUL

 

How often do you pause and appreciate what you have in life?

I, probably like many women out there, never feel entirely happy or confident about myself.

Looking back at my ballet dancing carreer, I have realised that most of my time and energy was spent complaining and comparing myself to others.

I just never felt “good enough”.

On top of that..the more I had, the more i wanted. The bigger the expectations, the stronger the disappointments.

And you know what… Does life get any better from doing that?

Do you get any further? Do you appreciate it more?

We all know what the answers are… but we still don’t - or can’t - do anything about it..

It was through a bad injury and the yoga practice that my discovery of gratitude actually started.

I learned to appreciate myself through physical movement and exploration of the body

I learned to enhance my body’s health, intelligence, grace and beauty

I learned that yoga is the union of mind, body and soul 

I learned to be thankful everyday for being able to participate in such an amazing practice

I still have a lot to learn - and the hard part is to live it

I believe gratitude requires awareness and appreciation of all normal cycles of life. The highs, the lows, the blessings, the lessons, the setbacks, the comebacks, the love, the hate, the everything.

Dark places can make you grow stronger and become a better person if you learn from them.

So, remember to enjoy the little things in life. Measure the highs and lows.

Respect yourself. Listen to your body. 

Love your family. Be passionate of what you do. Share and spread your energy.

Yoga taught me gratitude. For that, I’m forever thankful.

 

From last retreat in Goa, India!

From last retreat in Goa, India!

LIVE. LAUGH. LOVE