Rise and shine

Even though I've practiced yoga now on an off for the past few years, I have only taken 10 lessons at the max. I have always preferred doing things alone. I am not a fan of group activities, and especially not such where a bunch of people are crammed into a small room, which often is the case with indoor yoga classes. At least the ones I have had the misfortune of attending in the past. I need space; mental, physical, spiritual, and so it has only fallen natural to me to practice by myself on the boat, or in the splendid room that I used up in MA. But arriving in Miami, I knew I had to attend my friend Ewa's yoga class on the beach. A class she holds twice a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays on 3rd st & the beach. Her class begins at 7 am, so I woke up at 5.50 to be sure to get there on time. A 45 min walk on the beach for me to get there, and 45 min back. Perfect exercise!
Sure I've practiced yoga on the beach before on many different islands in the Caribbean, but always alone so this was something new to me. And I did like it, a lot! Primarily of course because someone else guided/made sure you went through all the poses and stretches that are so good for waking the body up after a long nights sleep. But I also did not feel congested and the air was as free and neutral as a windy outdoor space near water always is. The other peoples presence didn't distract me as they might have done indoors, but rather it felt like all flowed easy and smooth and any possible noise was washed away by the calming sound of waves crashing on shore.
Ewa has a very calm and gentle voice which is all you really want this early in the morning.
This is Ewa. Although we used to call the same Swedish city "home" and have many friends in common, we actually met in New York the first time, while we both worked in fashion many years ago. I like her personality so I figured I ask her a few questions in a new interview series I will begin here on the blog.

Ewa, you have lived in the US now for 8 years… why America?

I had just turned 25 when I left the Swedish city Gothenburg for New York, I had lived my whole life in Gothenburg and knew that a change was needed. This was 2006. After three years in New York City I had burned out from working too much but wasn't ready to go back to Sweden so I moved to Miami instead. Honestly I thought I would go back to New York soon, that I only needed a bit of relaxation before I could return but once here I changed. I started practicing yoga daily instead of weekly. I became a yoga instructor. I think Miami beach is a wonderful location for this lifestyle, in New York I was wining and dining and woke up late, here I'm in bed early and wake up to watch the sunrise on the beach.
What is the biggest difference between Sweden and the US, would you say?

The biggest difference to me is that in Sweden people tend to find comfort in the idea that we're all the same, whereas in the US people find comfort in the idea that we're all different. If you feel different this is a wonderful place to be!
How did you slip in on the yoga path, coming from the stylist world you worked in previously?

When I started practicing every day I became aware of myself, my thoughts and habits. I saw myself objectively without any judgement: this is how I am and I am actually OK with that. I think that was the most useful realization I could have gotten at that point. From there on I could move forward without any animosity towards myself.
What gives life meaning, and what has your yoga practice given you?

I recently did a personality test and it said that I'm not driven by material things, security, or success, but by the urge to make a difference. I was often called naive in school, and my previous jobs, and I found it difficult to stay focused on things that according to me "didn't matter". But as a yoga teacher I get to focus exactly on what matters to me.
What does a normal day in your life look like, what gives you harmony? Also, what do you eat during a day?

I wake up early, go teach one or two classes then come home to my dog and we have breakfast, I make an acai bowl every morning. My mode of transportation is by scooter, and stand up paddle board! I love the mornings on the beach watching the sun rise! I eat mostly vegetarian and try to avoid too much grains and dairy. However I often eat wild caught fish, especially ceviche.
You are incredibly healthy and always look so fresh, but what not-so-healthy things can you not resist?

My hardest habit to kick was the cigarettes. I smoked for half my life and I still feel the urge all the time. I used to drink alcohol but realized I don't really like it.
Before you became a yoga instructor, you tried different things/lifestyles. Can you give any advice for the ones that are still searching for "their thing"? What should one focus on?

If you want to find your path in life you have to disregard your fears - these decisions are too important to be made based on what you've been told is practical, safe, or what you're expected to do. I always thought I needed to be an intellectual, use my brain more, funny thing is that once I started to listen to my heart instead I became so much wiser!
And a final tips for the ones that wish to live a healthier life, but might have hard to get the ball rolling? 

In order to be healthier you must first love yourself, find out how you can love yourself more. Yoga is one of the practices that really helps with that. A good way to start is to lay on your back with your legs up the wall, viparita karani, for ten minutes every day. If you're stiff put a pillow under your butt. Just be there. See what shows up. It's an enquiry, we spend our lives exploring the outside world but the inside world must be explored as well. Know thyself. Breathe deeper. Start to make a distinction between your thoughts and your soul. You are not every single thought that pass through your mind. You are the witness watching those thoughts. This is yoga. All the exercises we do are ways to try and grasp that.
Thank you lovely! Follow Ewa on Instagram here.

Besides the Tuesday and Thursday sunrise classes on 3rd St, Ewa also teaches at Green Monkey on Purdy Ave Monday and Wednesday at 10.30am and Sundays at 9 am. On Skanda Yoga Studio Mondays at 12.30, Equinox SoBe on Tuesdays 9 am, and at the Standard Hotel Spa Thursday evenings at 6 pm. 

I know how my Tuesday and Thursday mornings are going to look like from now on!