19 Jun - Meet Our Friend: Johanna Rodriguez
Say namaste to our favorite yogi, Johanna. If you’ve attended a yoga class at Freehand Miami, you might recognize this South Beach native as our fun and free-spirited instructor. If you haven’t, make sure to sign up soon! In between teaching yoga all around Miami and critiquing our warrior ones on Saturdays, Johanna found time to meditate over a cocktail with us by the pool.
Freehand Miami: What inspired your interest in yoga?
Johanna Rodriguez: I lived so deeply in my insecurities as a teenager that I believed the negative thoughts in my mind. I became so engrossed in my self-hatred that I only thought about myself. The yoga practice helped me get out of my head. The simple action of sitting and breathing saved my life. I realized that if I could focus on my breath for five minutes, then I was free from my insecurities for those five minutes. Five minutes of breathing slowly turned into 90 minutes of conscious breath linked with movement. I will never rid myself of negative thoughts, but now I can at least choose how I react to them… thanks to yoga.
Most of us find yoga as a way to move our bodies. Whether we start practicing in a yoga studio, a gym, the beach or a patch of green grass, we are lucky that yoga is in our lives. Although there are many more facets to yoga than just asana, I have constantly seen this yogasana practice change people’s lives for good. And slowly but surely, the practice starts to show in how you breathe, eat, live, and connect with others.
My yoga practice inspires me every time I step onto my mat. Through a few vinyasas or even just a seated meditation, I am reminded of the beauty around me. Life in the big city (or small city) can get you wrapped up in all sorts of distractions that pull your attention away from the present moment. Yoga reminds me to stop and appreciate what is around me; my family, friends, and fellow yogis.
FH: Where can we find you when you’re not teaching? Where do you like to relax?
JR: I teach everyday of the week, so you can always find me on the mat. But no matter how hectic my day can be, I always try to find me time at the beach or South Point Park. I enjoy the pool at Freehand Miami on Saturday mornings after teaching beach yoga and I love the spa at The Standard.
FH: What’s you favorite yoga pose and why?
JR: I love the yoga practice as a whole, but there are definitely some poses that I favor over others. Urdhva dhanurasana (wheel pose) is a favorite, but nothing feels better than a sweaty savasana (corpse pose). Traditionally, the asana was practiced as a way to be able to sit comfortably in meditation. Life these days is a little more on-the-go, so savasana is an amazing opportunity to release ALL of your tension and just be completely in-the-now.
FH: What advice would you give to someone considering trying yoga for the first time?
JR: My advice is to keep in mind that yoga is not a competition. Start slow! And it doesn’t matter if you can touch your toes. I encourage students to just literally be in the moment and get out of their own way. Each time we come to the mat we have an opportunity to explore limitless possibilities!
FH: Being a local, what are your favorite spots to eat, drink and shop in Miami?
Shop: I love to shop! I’m also known as the fashionista yogi of Miami. For active wear I love my friend’s organic line, YOGiiZA, and “Kino Yoga” shorts. For everyday wear I shop at Anthropologie, Blush Boutique, and Urban Outfitters. I’ve also been shopping at Fly Boutique for vintage goods for 8 years now.
FH: What’s one thing everyone should experience while in Miami?
JR: A yummy beach yoga practice with me at Freehand Miami.
FH: If you could hang out with anyone, living or dead, real or imaginary, who would it be?
JR: Mahatma Gandhi, Coco Chanel, & Cleopatra