Name: Katia Grodecki
Studio: Opening soon – 3118 Yoga
Years teaching: 7.5
Years practicing: 20 – I had to ask myself whether it truly has been that long, and it certainly has. I was only 16 when I started practicing.
Favourite yoga style: A blend of Vinyasa Flow, Pilates (it’s not traditional yoga, but I love to incorporate it into my practice), Yin, and Restorative.

Favourite time of the day to practice?
I do my best to practice at 5:30 in the morning. I am not naturally a morning person, but I find that it is most sustainable for me to practice as early as possible before the demands of the day set in. I also find that I have much more energy for the day ahead when I start my day with mindful movement and meditation. The tricky part is getting out of bed early.

Why did you decide to become a yoga teacher?
My yoga teachers have played a pivotal role in my life, inspiring me in both my formal practice and in other avenues of my life. I can’t think of a greater honour than to continue to learn and, in turn, inspire others.

What has been the most significant part of your yoga journey so far?
At the centre of my yoga journey has been my parallel journey as a mother. I practiced throughout both my pregnancies and completed my initial yoga teacher training after giving birth to my older son and before my pregnancy with my younger son. I often say that my children are my greatest teachers, reminding me to slow down, to evaluate what is most important for me and my family today, and to take care of myself in order to be of better service to others.

Is there a book you think every student should read?
As a voracious reader, I’m never short of book recommendations. One book that I particularly enjoyed is Judith Hanson Lasater’s Living Your Yoga. If I may recommend another book, Bernie Clark’s Your Body Your Yoga specifically illustrates how yoga can be adapted to each person, regardless of his or her physical abilities, and is a great reference for all practitioners.

How important is the philosophy behind yoga in your teaching?
I believe that the philosophy behind yoga is simple and universal and it underlies every practice that I guide. Although I feel that it’s important to read about the lessons behind yoga, it is essential to continue to implement those lessons in our daily lives, perhaps especially during challenging times. That’s how we can go from striving to become more compassionate and respectful toward ourselves and others to actually living that truth.

What would you hope every student takes away from one of your classes?
Before every class I guide, I set the intention for every person who joins the practice to walk away from it having received exactly what he or she needs today; this varies from day to day and from person to person. If people leave the class feeling more grounded, breathing more freely, and feeling better in their bodies, I consider that a successful class. Anything else is a bonus.

Do you have a regular meditation practice?
I find that it works best for me to sit for at least five minutes at the conclusion of my physical practice. That is as formal as I get. I do my best to also sit for a few minutes at various intervals throughout my day, but this changes depending on my schedule.

What has yoga brought to your life that you are especially grateful for?
Perhaps the most important lesson to which I return over and over is that nothing in this life is permanent. This notion reminds me to work to be fully present and intentional about how I choose to spend my days.

Special meal or snack you love at the moment?
I am of an Eastern European background and love to cook borscht, a traditional Russian beetroot soup. The way I prepare it is not in the least traditional.

In a large pot, sautée chopped onions and garlic, then add a few shredded carrots and beetroot. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle a bit of dried oregano and basil while simmering the vegetables, stirring occasionally. I like to also add a bayleaf, a bit of turmeric, and sometimes smoked paprika. After simmering the vegetables for a few minutes, add a full bottle of tomato passata and enough water or vegetable stock to cover the vegetables by about two inches. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes.

Once the vegetables have softened and the soup is fully cooked, squeeze [over] half a lemon and serve with a sprinkle of fresh coriander or parsley. Sometimes for additional protein I add beans to the soup. I also like adding chopped spinach or kale, as well as green beans.

What do you love about your part of NZ?
In Papamoa Beach, we tend to enjoy plenty of sunshine year-round and live within close proximity to beautiful places in which we can enjoy nature walks. Often, my family and I like walking up Papamoa Hills or Mount Maunganui (the Mount), or riding our bicycles along the local reserve. The beach is our local playground and is a beautiful place for a long morning walk.

Thank you so much, Katia!

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© The Yoga Connection 2018