You know those people that when you’re around them you are immediately affected by the energy they put out? Like in a really positive way. Inma is one of those people. She infects you with smiles and laughter upon meeting her, and yet you simultaneously feel incredibly calm and relaxed.
I had the pleasure to meet Inma in person during one of Yoga Quota’s teacher training retreats that I was working. I got to sit down with her and get to know her a little bit more. This is something that doesn’t happen often before I photograph someone, but I’m so so happy that it did. A couple of months later and we’re in a park in London celebrating her birthday by photographing her practice and more importantly, Inma as an individual.
A lot of people think about yoga photography as photographs featuring asana and it is, but it is also capturing the individual. We all embody yoga differently and I aim to capture that through these photographs. Inma, to me, is a deeply caring person with the ability to really connect, create space, and instill within others a sense of lightheartedness, fun, and calm. I hope these photographs represent that.
When I got the photos they were so beautiful and natural that I event felt a bit overwhelmed! I’d been so nervous about what I would look like, what my body would look like, and it all melted away. It is me. In all my glory, with the good and the not so good. Perfectly imperfect. And I love it. They really show what a class with me would be like, full of smiles, of falling in and out of poses while laughing, building strength, but also finding time to connect to yourself and find calm and stillness.Inma
How did you get into yoga? :
I’d always been an over thinker and a worrier. In my late twenties I had a very demanding job and my personal life wasn’t that much different. I had a couple of health scares that were connected to stress and I started going to a weekly yoga class in a big meeting room in my office. It was my excuse to leave on time once a week and find a refuge, a place of calm. I wasn’t interested in having a very active practice – I would have happily been in savasanna for the whole class!
Over the following years I dealt with some important life events as my dad and a very close friend were diagnosed with cancer and later passed away. Yoga then became a self care ritual, and a practice where as well as calm, I also found immense strength and resilience, an ability to accept whatever was happening at the time and be with it.
What led you to want to become a teacher?:
As I fell in love with yoga and saw all the benefits it brought to my life I started using my holidays to go on yoga retreats, festivals or weekends to attend workshops and events. My practice deepened and widened at the same time. I was curious about different styles and learning from different teachers. I was fascinated by everything I started struggling to find a class locally that I enjoyed and relied much more on my own self practice at home, while still wanting to learn more. At that point I decided to enrol on a yoga teacher training programme, as a way of going deeper in my knowledge of yoga. There was a little seed deep inside me that thought it would be amazing to teach one day, and a few weeks into the programme it started growing and blossoming. How amazing would it be to share this practice I love with others? To create a space where people can find calm, strength and above everything else, self love. That is what drives me, what makes me say yes to opportunities when I doubt myself as a teacher. It is not about me, it is about creating that space for others.
What do you enjoy about teaching?:
I love seeing students smiling after savasanna. You see people come into the studio talking at a million miles an hour, feeling stressed, looking worried about something, or tired. After a little over an hour they look so serene. It is so beautiful to see. Being a yoga teacher is an absolute privilege. You get to witness people finding their own strength, their own balance, and be a part of it.
Where/when do you find space for yourself while spending time helping others?:
For me the trick is to really know what makes you happy and what activities top up your energy. I have a huge amount of things I can do that go all the way from making myself a gorgeous healthy and simple dinner, having a bath with essential oils and a candle burning in the background, going for a walk while listening to a podcast or spending the weekend by the sea. I love travelling to new places when I can. More often than not, an episode of Gilmore Girls will make the world a brighter place again!
What aspects of yoga challenge you on or off the mat?:
What I find most challenging is comparing myself to others, which always leads me to doubt myself. Social media is an incredible tool to connect with others and to be inspired by others, but you always have to look with extreme compassion towards yourself. When you are a yoga teacher you are likely to follow many yoga accounts on Instagram. You always have to remind yourself that some of the people in them have a gymnastics and dance background, and that whilst those poses are sometimes beautiful to look at, they are not accessible to most of us. It doesn’t make you a worse yogi. What can be a source of inspiration sometimes makes you feel inadequate. When that happens I try to remind myself of why I practice yoga, why I teach it, and it never has anything to do with the aesthetics of it. I also remind myself of the values of the teachers I admire, and it never has anything to do with how proficiently they demonstrated a pose. I love their warmth, their kindness, their ability to make a pose accessible for everyone. Because we are all different. It is so obvious and yet so easy to forget.
What does yoga mean to you?:
This is such a hard question, because I don’t see yoga as something separate – it is in everything I do. It is in the way I treat myself, in the way I treat others, in the way I approach challenging situations and in the way I feel grateful for and celebrate the wonderful things that exist in my life. Yoga helps me be present and able to find joy every day, know that when things get tough, not only will they pass, but I am strong and will be ok. It helps me be ok and still love myself when I make mistakes. It has helped me meet so many amazing and inspiring people from around the world, and is always there for me, no matter where I am, how much time I have… it is always there, in everything I do, everywhere I go, to support me, to lift me up. It helps me love myself no matter what, even if it takes a bit of work.
Do you have any advice for any new teachers?:
I am a new teacher, so I feel like I am also telling myself this, but be kind to yourself. You will make mistakes, you will say right when you meant left, you will lose your balance as you try to demonstrate a pose in front of your students. Be kind to yourself through all of it. I bet your yoga teachers did as well, and you never thought any less of them.
Remember that you are unique. What brought you this moment in your life, to this mat, to this place in front of the class, is completely different to anyone else. Don’t over worry about standing out, about being different. You already are. You are completely special, so look inside rather than outside to find what makes you you and share that with your students.