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Interview: Juliana Belinko

Interview: Juliana Belinko

Juliana is one of our most beloved teachers at Iam Yoga! Read on to learn more about her and get inspired.

Tell me a bit about your yoga teaching background and your arrival in Toronto.

I’ve been teaching yoga for roughly 15 years. Prior to becoming a yoga teacher, I taught dance and movement within New York City’s public school system.  As an adolescent and teen, I worked for organizations teaching dance, as well as academic subjects.  Both of my parents are teachers. Suffice it to say: I am very comfortable in this role.

In November of 2008 I took my first trip to India. I arrived alone and began study at the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute in Mysore.  About six weeks in, I was having banana pancakes at a floor café called Chakra house, discussing macrobiotics (which I had been studying just before arriving in India).  In walked none other than Jonny Belinko, who incidentally had long hair at the time.  He wiggled his way into the conversation, hung out till I was ready to leave and offered to walk me home.  A friendship turned romantic pursuit ensued. About six months later, in August 2009, I began to spend the bulk of my time in Toronto.  Wait… Was this a question about when I arrived in Toronto or how I met my husband?

What are you working on in your life and/or practice right now?

A lot of what I’m working on now is parenting, as well as redefining who I am at this stage in my life and what direction I want to move in. In terms of my practice, I am working on how to create a daily practice rather than having abstract goals. Maintaining a consistent physical practice is much more challenging with two children, so right now, my goal is to get on my mat more frequently while shifting the structure of my practice to whatever I can do: showing up rather than deciding that I need to go for a specific script or a specific length of time.

I do still yearn for the physicality of the practice, but now, my greatest interest is to allow my practice to influence my speech, awareness, and bigger picture life choices, like facing my fears and allowing for change. I also just applied for grad school in psychotherapy and I’m hoping to begin in January!

What do you think or hope will change about the yoga world in the next five or ten years?

I genuinely hope that, whatever motivates a student to explore yoga, that student can access the endless benefits of the practice because they’re finding great teachers that teach in a safe, honourable way. I hope that teachers continue to dive into and offer the depth of yoga rather than just the calisthenics, because I think that people are looking for that and we do them a disservice when we leave it out. I also think that yoga will continue to benefit from overlapping with diverse fields – for example, our upcoming Hawaii Teacher Training is really strengthened because of the cross-coverage of neuroscience and yoga. One last thing that I think is that people are and will become less dogmatic in terms of categories and styles of the physical practice.

Who would you cast as yourself if they made a movie about your life?

Well, people think I look like Charlotte Gainsborough, but if I had my way, it would be Maggie Gyllenhaal.

If you had a superpower, what would it be?

Always thinking before I speak!

Do you have any advice for people trying to practice with young kids around?

Well, your practice will definitely depend on your partner and the support you have around – but it’s beneficial to really think about the why. Is your practice actually supporting you rather than depleting you? Also, don’t put pressure on yourself in terms of a timeline. This is a good time to practice diligence and non-attachment: diligence in showing up in a way that works but practicing not being attached to a specific look to your practice.

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