Interview: Let’s Get Physical

Talia Peretz is a yoga artist with over 31,000 dedicated followers on Instagram. Following in the footsteps of yoga studio founders like Kelly Morris, Sharon Gannon and Tara Stiles, Talia is the face of the next generation of yoga: challenging her army of peaceful warriors to find their own style on the mat.  As she integrates her artistic expression through the photos of breathtaking postures, you can’t help but want to join in on the movement.

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Where are you from originally? 

I was born in Tiberias, Israel.

When did you move to NYC?

I moved to NYC with my family as a part of a diplomatic mission when I was 10 years old.

How did you get into yoga?

Although my mom practiced yoga throughout my childhood, and I was always a dancer, I only got into it when I was around 22… My boyfriend really wanted me to quit smoking and so after months of disapproving looks from him as I lit up, I said “fine I’ll go to a stupid yoga class”.

When did you decide to start teaching yoga?

Honestly it just seemed like it would be fun to learn more about the yoga and really concentrate on my practice. My mom thought it was a great idea and encouraged me to do it. But I did not really imagine myself teaching, I just couldn’t imagine it! My first few classes were painful. I cried and cried and felt so unworthy. I looked up to my teacher Lindsay Dombrowski so much, I just couldn’t understand how I could ever be like her… She told me I would never be like her – I would be like myself.

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A few years ago you took home the title as Yoga Asana Champion of the Women’s NY regionals.  What role does competition play in your life now?

I’m grateful for the championships mostly because they introduced me to Jared McCann, who has been an amazing guide, teacher and friend. Jared believed in me and it never felt like we were training…we had fun. As of now, I don’t train specifically for competition. I just do my thing, I have a pretty well rounded practice so if I feel like competing again, I’ll compete.  I believe in putting myself out of my comfort zone and I think competition is a great practice in staying present.

Where do you prefer to practice? 

Alone, at home. Or at the park in Brooklyn with Jared McCann.

Do you have a favorite posture? 

I love to balance on my hands. It requires focus, patience, strength, flexibility and stamina.

How has social media played a part in sharing your practice on the mat? 

I love to make beautiful pictures and share them with the world. Instagram makes that #possible!

Where do you see yourself 10 years from now? 

Teaching, learning, traveling, writing, making art, fashion, film.

What are your philosophies when it comes to diet?

I’ve been vegetarian for more than 15 years and fully vegan for the last 5 years. I generally love very simple, raw fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds. I don’t like foods that are very smelly or spicy, too hot or too cold. I usually have (and enjoy) an almond milk cappuccino when I wake up. I don’t really have organized eating times because each day my schedule and location are very different and I respond differently depending on the situation.

Sometimes I make a green juice at home or a smoothie if it’s a hot summer day. Other days I like a plate of raw veggies like avocado, pepper and tomato seasoned with lemon, salt and nutritional yeast. If I’m out I might stop by Pure Food and have their amazing and enormous Caesar salad. At the end of the day I usually have more veggies, seaweed, maybe a salad or juice, in the winter I sometimes make a simple lentil soup.

How has your diet evolved since when you used to dance?  

I was always very sensitive and from a young age had a lot of feelings and thoughts about food and eating. I cared about food, asked a lot of questions and challenged everything my parents (who are not vegetarian) or any authority had to say. When I was six years old, I fasted for more than 24 hours just to prove that I could. When I was eleven, I was the only vegetarian kid in school. I used to give my friends the stink eye when they ate what I considered “junk.”  I guess what really changed is my relationship with myself.

As a kid, as a dancer, I really felt passionate about kindness to animals but found it completely irrelevant to be kind to myself. I was comfortable caring about big, far away things in part because they justified and intellectualized my embarrassing eating disorders. Day after day I stared and studied my every move in the mirrors of the ballet studio.

I had moments of bliss dancing… it felt like the whole beauty of the world was trying to be expressed through me… But these moments of bliss were attached to so many conditions and I usually felt pretty unworthy of dance. I loved the experience of movement, but also felt deep shame about my body and deep guilt about eating and craving food.

I still study my movements, but I no longer feel ashamed of my body or its fluctuations. I enjoy being present when I eat and consider food beautiful and sacred. There is less confusion in me. The yoga helped me see myself whole and so I am able to express myself more clearly than ever before…knowing that my body is bridge and never a barrier to the divine beauty I’ve alway been so fascinated by.

When it comes to having a positive body image, what advice do you have for young girls?

Your body loves you so much. Start loving it back. There is so much power in women who know and love their bodies. Practice yoga or move around in a way that connects you with your body. Get creative and wear clothes that make you feel awesome and inspired. Be present and grateful with each meal. Acknowledge the abundance of your life.

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What are your favorite indulgences? 

Fine and Raw chocolate and Blue Bottle coffee!!!!

How do you eat when you are in a hurry in between either taking or teaching class? 

In my bag I always have little packets of raw cashew butter, goji berries and raw dark chocolate. I also drink a ton of raw coconut water.

What sort of truths regarding your practice and everyday life do you swear by?

Remember that no one is responsible for your happiness or unhappiness. Remember that yoga owes you nothing. Do your practice with a love and devotion. Expect nothing in return.

Share your personal evolution with @Taliasutra and the yogis of instagram under #loveandalliscoming along with #yogaeverydamnday.

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