In the spirit of yoga week here at HBFIT, we decided to dedicate our #WCW to one of our favorite local yogis, Alexa Rae Ibarra. Alexa is a yoga instructor at YG Studios here in NYC and she just returned from teaching yoga at the Surf Yoga Beer retreat in Hawaii. Alexa’s bubbly energy and free spirit is exactly the reason she’s our #WCW this week, and we can’t wait for you to hear her story.
So Alexa, how did you first get into yoga?
Growing up, I was always into gymnastics and dance. I loved the feeling of physically moving on my own. So, when I was a junior in college and the time came to “adult,” I discovered yoga and it immediately caught my heart. I found that it matched that love for movement that I had while growing up.
Can you offer any tips to someone who’s looking to try out yoga for their first time?
Don’t give up! There’s a reason it’s called a “practice” and that’s because these asanas do not happen overnight. They take time, patience, and love. When you push yourself, it’s so rewarding to conquer your own goals. Once you find your purpose for getting on the mat, everything fades and before you know it, you are doing poses and showing flexibility you never knew you had.
What are some of your passions other than yoga?
Off the mat, I’m extremely passionate about music and fashion. As soon as I got to an age where I could stand on my own, music became my thing, and it still is. One of the common questions my students ask is “can you email me the playlist?”
When it comes to fashion, I believe that if you feel sexy, wear it. I love wearing big t-shirts, flannels, sweaters as dresses with thigh high Stuart Weitzman’s. I love comfort, so being able to mix big shirts and cozy knits with boots makes my “off the mat” style so much easier.
You seem to focus on the interplay between yoga and art. How do the two connect when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle?
Yoga is an art form to me, so I’m constantly inspired by various artists, athletes, and musicians. These influences play a huge role in living a healthy lifestyle. It’s super important to love what you do, and that takes the influence of artists to help keep a healthy outlook.
What are five things you’d never leave the house without?
Lip balm, Rosewater Toner face spray (necessary for post class), a sweater because I’m always cold, Beats headphones for listening to music on my lengthy walk home, and my S’well water bottle.
What’s your healthy living philosophy?
I get asked this question often, and my philosophy is ever changing because I am ever changing. I think when you’re living a healthy lifestyle, a lot of it is mental, not physical. So again, I love reading, listening to music, cooking, and staying up to date on current events. It’s important to eat clean but also to realize when it’s okay to indulge.
What does your typical morning routine look like?
Considering my mornings start at around 5:30 AM, I make sure everything is ready and packed the night before, including my outfit. As soon as I wake up, I brush my teeth and wash my face with rose water foaming wash. Then, I change into yoga clothes and walk my tush 28 blocks to class! After class, I usually grab breakfast and a matcha.
Who or what inspires you?
First and foremost, I’m inspired by my friends and family. I feel super blessed to have a diverse group of friends who are models, fitness enthusiasts, DJs, stylists, social workers, musicians, designers, business owners, and lawyers. I love seeing how hard we all work in our different environments. I’m also insanely inspired by musicians. I love digging deep into their albums and finding out why they chose specific beats, lyrics, or visuals. Beyonce is a constant inspiration of mine. I heard she films every rehearsal and watches it over and over again, which inspired me to start recording myself to see how I can improve. Thanks, Bey!
What’s the last thing you do at night before bed?
I moisturize my body, put on a face mask for five minutes, and apply under eye cream (one thing I will forever be self conscious about are the bags under my eyes…no fun!) Lastly, I rub my Buddha belly from Thailand and watch a show before falling asleep.
What’s one thing you wish more people knew about yoga?
Many people don’t realize that at one time, yoga was only allowed for the elites of society because it was viewed as a godly craft. When people take it for granted, I always tell them that a long time ago, yoga was only available to the absolute wealthiest, and now we get it on every street! Can we just take a moment to realize how blessed we are?
What’s your favorite post-yoga snack to refuel?
When I’m back to back teaching, I try to keep it light. I love Greek yogurt, hard boiled eggs, Cliff bars, and fruit. If I have time, I like to grab a fresh watermelon juice and a chicken salad wrap from Salud in Soho. It’s a hidden gem. And some days I ABSOLUTELY need a slice of pizza or a Shake Shack burger. Yum.
What’s one thing you do to relax when you’re feeling stressed?
Aside from yoga, one thing that relaxes me is laying my legs up against a wall. It’s super calming for the body. Sometimes I’ll use a breathing technique to calm the nerves, which is called our UJAYI breath—breathing in and out through the nose.
What’s your next adventure?
I just got back from teaching in Oahu, Hawaii, and my next stop is Tulum, Mexico on October 13th. I will be teaching yoga for The Soulcations Retreat. There is no better feeling than meeting new people, opening their minds to your artistry, and enjoying paradise together. It’s such a special week, and I get super sad to leave my clients when it’s over. It’s so rewarding when the clients want to take their practice back home with them!
If you want to learn more about Alexa and her passion for yoga, try out her Vinyasa classes or follow her on Instagram at @aribarra.