2.20.15

This month is all about relationships, so it’s only natural to give some TLC to most important relationship of all: your relationships with yourself. Rolling out your yoga mat can be a great step towards self love, but sometimes that critical inner voice can get in the way of your practice. With picture-perfect yoga poses plastered all over Instagram and the media, it can be easy to get down on yourself in down dog. In reality, every single yoga body is beautiful, not just one narrow stereotype.

Enter Brigitte Kouba, yoga’s biggest body image advocate and body-positive pioneer. Brigitte, better known as Gigi Yogini, inspires people (especially women!) of every age, shape, size, and look to love their bodies exactly as they are. Her passion for positive body image helped spark the Yoga Body Image Coalition, an action-oriented community of doctors, yoga teachers, experts and advocates of the Body Positive cause. No body shaming, no stereotype-filling – they’re determined to create safe spaces for all body types to be their most courageous selves. She’s also the mastermind behind YOGAudacious, a blog that diversifies the faces of yoga and shows what courage looks like from the inside out.

Gigi’s style of yoga teaching promotes confidence and courage that lasts long after you roll up your yoga mat, empowering her students to find the strength in who they are and how they are in that very moment. Always encouraging and compassionate, her classes are a fresh breath of air in the midst of mixed media messages telling us what a “yoga body” should look like. Gigi helps you realize that your “yoga body” is the one you have now. Get ready to get inspired…

Name:

Gigi Yogini

Studio(s):

YogaWorks/Secret Studio.

What originally drew me to yoga:

My mom took me to a Maha Yoga class when I was in 8th grade and I am so grateful that she did. I still remember the feeling of departure and non-attachment in the first savasana. It was pure heaven.

Biggest inspiration:

Stories of courage are my fuel to keep doing what I do. I love to hear about people who acknowledge their fears but continue to move forward anyway.

When I'm not on the mat, I’m:

Walking or hiking with my dog, writing articles, on conference calls with members of the Yoga & Body Image Coalition, FaceTiming with my best friend, or having an adventure with my fiancé, Antonio.

Favorite pose:

I adore tree pose. I love finding balance with asymmetry.

I wish that more people realized that yoga…

Is available to people of all ages, shapes, sizes, backgrounds and abilities.

Project or cause I am most passionate about:

I’m on a mission to debunk the “yoga body” stereotype and spread the message that every body is a yoga body. I am endlessly inspired by all the amazing individuals who make yoga more accessible for all.

Biggest lesson yoga has taught me:

Show up, breathe and trust the process.

Biggest lesson I hope to teach through yoga:

You are stronger than you give yourself credit for and you are worthy of love. Yoga is not a competition, it’s an opportunity to practice compassion. You are divine, as you are.

Most rewarding yoga-related experience:

In 2008, I quit my job and took three weeks in Central America to write, rest, do yoga, surf and explore a new land. It was that trip that changed my life’s trajectory and gave me the confidence to come home and begin my first teacher training at YogaWorks.

5 things on my Bucket List:

1. Be a phenomenal mom.
2. Hike Patagonia.
3. Bike through New Zealand.
4. Produce a documentary film.
5. Host a Body Positive yoga conference.

Advice I would give my 16 year-old self:

Learn how to sit with your breath. Allow yourself to slow down and breathe with your emotions. When you can control your breath you can handle anything.

Personal mantra:

Love your body. Shine your light.


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