The Yogi Next to You: Briana Aguilar-Austin

Tree smilingMeet BRIANA AGUILAR-AUSTIN!

1. What’s your yoga story? 

I started practicing yoga in 2002 and immediately loved it! Yoga has been the perfect physical and mental complement to my long distance running. As one of my first teachers, Christina Hatgis, was an incredible influence on my yoga path, I am so excited to join the Mala community!

2. What pose do you want to do all day? What pose could you never do again?

I love trikonasana (triangle pose)! The extension of all four limbs, length in the torso, and openness of the chest make me feel like my entire body is expanding. It is the perfect pose after a long run.

I have always really struggled with hanumanasana (split pose). Of course, if I practiced it as much I practiced trikonasana, it’d probably come a lot easier to me! Because of a past injury, it is incredibly challenging. However, this taught me how great props are – uing blocks, straps, and bolsters can really help the body move toward more challenging poses.

3. What are your biggest yoga obstacles and how do you overcome them?

In 2010, I tore both of my hamstrings during the NYC Marathon. I was unable to run or practice yoga for months. Yoga shifted from a purely physical practice into one that was deeply healing. It took months of physical therapy to practice again, and when I returned, I couldn’t do many of the poses I had been able to do before. Rather than being competitive with myself, and thinking, “I used to be able to do this,” I had to honor where I was at. Yoga helped me heal, and I become both mentally and physically stronger because of it.

4. What was the last Dharma talk or quote that resonated with you?

“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.” I have used this quote for Dharma talks occasionally. I think it embodies what it is to be challenged. Often growth and change occur because of these challenges, in whatever form they present themselves. In yoga class, there are poses we hate. However, by practicing poses that are difficult, by persevering through our difficult times, we can grow as yogis and people!

5. If you could practice anywhere in the world, where would it be?

I would love to practice yoga more in Central and South America. I practiced outside in Nicaragua and it felt so refreshing! Practicing underneath the crisp, blue sky, with warm breezes and the smell and sounds of the ocean made me feel so connected to the environment.  I will be in Honduras for two weeks in April and I will definitely practice there! I’m very excited to feel so connected to a more naturalistic environment again.

6. How has practicing yoga shifted other aspects of your life?

Practicing yoga has grounded me. I have generally been focused on what is ahead and where I am going. Yoga has helped me slow down and focus on the journey, as opposed to just focusing on the destination. It has been liberating! All aspects of life have become more enjoyable. I relish the everyday moments. There are few things so beautiful as a walk through Prospect Park, a jog over the Brooklyn Bridge, kayaking in the Hudson, the aroma of freshly baked bread at a favorite bakery…these moments make life so lovely!

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About The Mala Yoga Blog

We are a Brooklyn-based studio that focuses on alignment, balance and community. Have a read, try one of our Practice Podcasts, or come in and say "hi" in person!
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