An Interview with Tatiana Uprimny

Joyful, Heartfelt, Goofy

Where are you from and/or where do you live?

Born in Miami, grew up in Bolivia, living back in Miami

How did yoga come into your life?

I wanted to learn to do a headstand and found my way to a vinyasa yoga class.

Who were you before you started practicing and how have you changed, evolved and transformed?

I was not firm in my beliefs, very easily influenced, and living with a lot of self-doubt and always questioning myself. I never felt good enough and like I always had to work hard to be loved and accepted but always molding myself to what the people in my life needed of me. I never really put my own needs or desires first. I felt frustrated and unhappy with the life I was living. When I started practicing I became stronger in mind and spirit, as well as physically. I found that my practice showed me what areas in my life and my persona I needed to work on. I found a sense of spiritual guidance, realizing that the difficult moments in life are unavoidable but how I faced them was entirely in my control, and I needed to take control of those moments urgently. Yoga helped me design a life I am happy with, helped me heal how I related with my loved ones, and how to help myself set healthy boundaries in my relationships.

Why did you decide to start teaching yoga and what qualities do you feel are important to build and work on as a yoga teacher?

My passion and belief in the power of yoga is my driving force in teaching yoga. And my mission as a teacher is to show people that yoga is accessible to you, no matter what age or body you have. Yoga can go beyond the physical practice of asana, and ashtanga yoga specifically does not need to be as scary as many think it is. I find that my ability to modify, break down poses, and make Ashtanga accessible makes me a better teacher. I am continuously studying my own practice and my own body, maintaining a curious nature to my practice allows me to stay flexible in my approach to teaching, meeting each student where they are in their journey, and cater to their own obstacles and struggles.

What has been your biggest struggle and your biggest milestone in the practice, in teaching and within the yoga community?

My biggest struggle was my first class, learning that my body was not as strong and healthy as I thought it was, and that this was going to be hard work to get healthy inside and out, physically mentally and spiritually. That first class taught me that this is a practice, something I am continuously working on and even though I get stronger and more flexible with each practice, there will always be something to work on. But the belief in myself became the driving force behind my journey, to show myself I can do this if I dedicate myself to it. So my biggest struggle was also my biggest milestone because it was the first moment that yoga taught me that the mind is just as important as the body. And this defines my teaching style, I want students to learn to believe in themselves, and to also understand that nothing comes for free in this journey, you have to dedicate yourself to yourself in order to help yourself. But that it ultimately starts with each person, within their heart. In the same way, this approach to yoga allows me to maintain an open mind within my yoga community, meeting each teacher or student as who they are, without getting triggered by them but understanding that we are all here because of a deep-rooted choice to bring yoga into our lives, but that doesn’t mean we think or feel alike, we share a journey on the path of yoga, but each of our journeys are unique and I cannot impose my belief on anyone nor can anyone impose theirs on me. We have to hold space for each other and allow each other to follow our unique paths even if they mean we agree to disagree.

What has been the most inspirational moment you’ve experienced as a yoga student?

There have been moments where I’ve had to step away from my asana practice because of injury, or I’ve even had moments of disconnecting from a daily practice…but I always come back and when I do I notice how my energy changes immediately, as does the energy surrounding me. Everything becomes more fluid, situations that had felt blocked for a long time suddenly open and start flowing and it almost feels as if I’m back to being aligned with a cosmic path, and the universe kind of speaks to me, saying “see, when you come back to your spiritual path all your struggles become more bearable, all your doubts become quieter, your thoughts clarify and your emotional turbulence settles, I have your back, Tati”. Every time, without fail, if feel this “alignment” and I feel like I am back on the right path for me.

What has been the most inspirational moment you’ve experienced as a yoga teacher?

When I see that sparkle in a student’s eye when they reach that “aha moment” and they realize they are in fact able to do that asana. Also when a student understands how a yoga pose can actually reflect a thought or an emotion they keep experiencing in their life, and how thru the yoga pose they can work thru that thought or emotion that has caused them strain. When they understand how yoga is just a tool to be used in your daily life, I can see that the deeper meaning of yoga has become clear to them, I feel like my job there is done.

Why do you practice?

For love, love of myself and love of others. I truly believe that my own journey has an effect on the collective experience of life, it is out of my devotion to a better world.

Why do you teach?

Because I want as many people to have the tools I have been gifted thru yoga, so we all have this amazing box of tools to deal with life with more love and compassion for each other.

What is the single most defining issue facing the global yoga community today?

The definition of “true yoga” and which yoga is better. We are so busy in defining “my yoga is better than yours” that we’ve lost the bigger picture of why we are here to practice and teach yoga in the first place.

Do you have any recommended yoga reading?

How Yoga Works by Geshe Michael Roach and Christie McNally

Through your own personal journey, what do you feel is your path and offering to the community- local and global?

Compassion and an open heart and mind, acceptance of your own journey.

Are there any current projects you’re working on that you can tell us about?

I’m working on a book that outlines how yoga, specifically the ashtanga philosophy helped me traverse thru one of the most emotionally difficult moments of my life, divorce. I relied heavily on the wisdom of this philosophy to guide my decisions and actions with as much compassion for myself as for everyone involved and affected by them.

What’s your Favorite Book?

Night by Elie Wiesel

What’s your favorite meal at a restaurant?

Pizza and Tiramisu

What’s your favorite meal to make at home?

Pasta with fresh pomodoro sauce

What do you like to do for fun that’s non-yoga related?

I loveeeeee the beach. I can lounge all day under the sun and have not a worry in the world. And I also really really love to dance, like big time. I hear music and I just start to move to beat, it just runs in my blood because of my Colombian parents.

Who is your greatest inspiration?

Anyone on a spiritual journey who can walk the talk and stay true and humble.

Do you have a favorite podcast?

The Man Enough Podcast. It’s so important to start breaking down these gender barriers and what it means to be a man or woman. We need to live genuine lives, stop blocking our emotions because it could be taken as a vulnerability. I find vulnerability to be the most inspiring. It takes great strength to be vulnerable and so many men in my life struggle with their emotions and mental health because they were taught to restrain certain emotions so they don’t appear weak. Mental health is a huge problem, and some men need all of us to hold space for them.

If you were stranded on an island what 3 things would you bring with you?

An endless supply of fresh water, a copy of the Gita, a multi-purpose tool.

When you were a child what did you want to be when you grew up?

an actor

What’s your favorite movie?

The Lion King

What’s your favorite TV series?

Friends

Do you have a favorite band/singer?

I can’t really narrow it down. I love all sorts of music.

Favorite song to dance to?

Anything Hispanic oriented like salsa or merengue

What’s your favorite quote/affirmation/mantra?

Strength Courage and Clarity

What is your life’s biggest question?

Am I _________ enough? (so many words can fill in the blank)

By Tatiana Uprimny

Tatiana Uprimny began her journey into yoga in May 2016 and from her very first class she felt a subtle shift inside, as though she had found a missing piece of her puzzle. In March 2017, she was introduced to Ashtanga and that piece finally fit. By January 2018 she had taken MLC’s Ashtanga Intensive Course and thru her devotional approach to her practice she came to understand how important it is to listen to your inner voice in all aspects of life, and how this voice is always guiding us from a deep and intuitive knowledge we all have and can tap into. This message has become her focal point when guiding practitioners thru their practice, always remembering that the essence of yoga is what we do when we find ourselves off our mat.