Bria Tavakoli: Wellness is the New Beauty.
Interview and Photo Story by Maxwell Alexander
Max: Hi Bria, thank you so much for the opportunity to shine the light on your life! I’ve known you for years, but please, tell us about yourself 🙂
Bria: I’m Bria Tavakoli. I have been leading yoga retreats in the Hudson Valley for nearly 8 years now. I teach yoga full-time in New York City. I also offer Reiki healing sessions and more fitness-oriented core/Pilates sessions.
Max: This is our wellness issues. What is wellness and beauty to you? How has your definition and understanding of wellness and beauty changed over time?
Bria: Wellness is health and vitality on all levels: physical, mental, and spiritual. Looking for the root causes of any issues, and going deep, if necessary, to heal. My definition of beauty has deepened over time. For me, it’s almost more of a feeling, an energy. It goes way beyond what we see on TV or in magazines. In fact, I got rid of my TV a few years ago, and have never felt more at peace with myself. One of the reasons I love spending time in the Hudson Valley is the beauty. Nature makes me feel more connected to myself. To me, true beauty is serenity, vitality, health, and centeredness. It’s being open to the good in myself, and to the good in others. When we cultivate the positive vibrations within ourselves, we radiate a different frequency. When we live in a centered, heartfelt place, others can see and feel it, and it shows up: in our eyes, in our skin, in how we are present. True presence is a thing of beauty.
Max: How did you find your way to teaching yoga?
Bria: I moved to NYC in July 2001 to attend Columbia University. A few short years later, I found myself stressed, unsure of myself, and burned out. I was becoming that stereotypical angry New Yorker. I decided that maybe becoming a bit of an asshole wasn’t the way to go. Ha! I’d dabbled in yoga before, but around 2003 or 2004, I really committed. In 2005, I happened upon the class of the man who became my yoga teaching mentor, Jojo Tyler. In 2008, he trained me and some of my friends as teachers. Perfect timing, as the economic downturn downsized me out of a corporate job in real estate about five weeks after my teacher training program wrapped. This seemed to me like a kick in the pants from the Universe to teach yoga. So I decided to give teaching a try. (During my training, I realized I enjoyed teaching and seemed to have a knack for it). Things just began to flow from there, and I’ve never looked back. I absolutely love and adore this work.
Max: What’s the best thing about being a yoga teacher?
Bria: Without a doubt, the people I get to meet and how we touch one another’s lives. It means the world to me when someone shares how something about the experience changed their life in a positive way. For me, a lot of yoga is learning to re-connect with the truth of who we already are: beings of love, light, peace, and wisdom. For me, yoga is a remembering. I love it when my guidance helps people remember.
Max: That’s awesome! But what is the challenging part?
Bria: Commuting around to different locations can be challenging at times.
Max: What is your personal yoga practice like these days?
Bria: Being a yoga teacher really is a lifestyle. It’s much more than a job. So keeping up my personal connection to yoga is key. As best I can, I try to practice what I call “the yoga of real life.” Staying present, even in challenging moments. When I get thrown off, I now know now how to find my way back to center. It’s really deep self-care. Loving myself is also a practice. I certainly have my struggles, but overall, life is more peaceful for me because I honor myself in a deeper, more profound way. That relationship we have with ourselves is the center of everything: how we see the world, how we relate to others, how we show up.
So that’s a deep answer. More practically:
I also study intensely with a teacher colleague of mine, about twice a week. Isaac really challenges me in my practice, while also encouraging me to listen to my body. I do a few stretches daily and also try to Reiki myself daily to keep my energy levels flowing in a healthy way.
I also practice restorative yoga and/or yoga nidra 2-4 times a week. My life is very active, so dedicating time to recharge is absolutely vital.
Max: How does the Hudson Valley fit into your life?
Bria: I come to the Hudson Valley as much as I can to rejuvenate, refresh, and reboot my body, mind, and spirit. The Hudson Valley is a refuge for me. It’s the place where I met my love. It’s also a place where I host yoga retreats, and these experiences have been a rich source of growth for my clients, and also for me as a teacher. I sense that as my career and life expand, I can spend more and more time here, both solo, with my loved ones, and with clients.
Max: What new projects do you have in the works?
Bria: I’m working on my first book, which is super exciting. (I had a pre-yoga career as a journalist, and it feels great to get back to writing and researching).
I also am developing a college level class on yoga, so soon enough, you can call me Professor Tavakoli.
More and more, I’m teaching other teachers, particularly as a teacher trainer.
As always, I’m hosting retreats. My next spring weekend retreat in Cornwall-on-Hudson is slated for April 20-22, 2018.
Max: What three words describe your top values?
Max: What are some of your non-yogic passions and/or guilty pleasures?
Bria: I love cooking. Persian food in particular. My dad is from Iran, and I love exploring my family’s culinary heritage. This is SO random, but I play a mean game of corn hole. I also really enjoy playing pool and re-finishing furniture. Wine intrigues me. I plan to learn a lot more about that someday. And I love to travel. This year, I took a solo trip to Berlin, Prague, and Krakow, Poland. I once spent six months in India and Thailand.
My guiltiest pleasure is fried chicken. It’s my kryptonite!
Max: How can our readers reach you?
@BriasWorldYoga on social media
Max: Thank You, Bria! I’ll see you at one of your next yoga retreats!