Lisa Andersson Rhodiner is the co-founder of yoga studio Inspiro Yoga. Not only has she spent most of her life travelling and discovering herself, but has worked hard to encompass various motivational life choices – from training as a yoga instructor, radically changing her diet to encompass raw food and holistic nutrition, to starting her own yoga studio with her partner Nazareno “Naza” Grisolia. At Inspiro Yoga, they work and teach together in Ubud, Bali and more recently in the last year they have expanded to Sweden. Lisa is a truly inspiring person, and we were fortunate enough to pick her brain on her experiences, her journey, and tips and advice for people heading along the same path.
Where did your passion for yoga begin?
I started in Barcelona 12 years ago but that’s not when I became really passionate about yoga I have to say. It didn’t really become a passion until about 4 years ago but since then it’s really intensified very quickly. It was the combination of starting to get interested in raw food and experimenting with that. At the same time I changed from going to yoga in a gym and I walked into a real yoga studio, and I was like woah, what’s this? It was so different and I loved it. It was in Copenhagen while I was living there and I just felt amazing with the combination of changing my diet – it was a radical change going to eating completely raw food almost overnight and practising yoga 5 times a week. That was very intense. My boyfriend had already started his yoga teacher training in India, so it was my own little period to experiment with the two and I felt amazing! From there I decided to sign up to teacher training in Bali and half a year later, I quit my job and decided to go for my dream. To teach yoga and work with healthy food. I’ve been living in Bali teaching since then.
What does yoga mean to you?
I think that no matter how it comes into your life, even if you start as a physical practise, at some point you will realise that it’s something more than just a physical workout. For me it has changed my whole lifestyle. It’s about how you treat yourself, how you treat others and you become automatically more aware of your own body, what you do to your body and what you put in your body. You start to pay attention to what foods you eat and you start to notice your environment and the people around you. It’s not about having a gorgeous, fit body, but starting to question things about your life and find a fulfilling way of living it. It’s definitely a lifestyle for me, it’s not just physical practise every day but being mindful of where my body is at each and every day and to see what it needs.
You’ve practised many styles of yoga, but which is your favourite?
My teacher training was based on Vinyasa, but each and every week there was an aspect of different styles, which was really good for me, and really good in general for people who are becoming teachers. I don’t think you really know what it involves to become a teacher until you actually begin training. There are a lot of different teachers and it makes you question a lot about what actually works for you. I find Vinyasa is so broad – it can be a slow flow class or it can be fast-paced, it can be focused on back bends or hip openers – it’s so creative and playful so it’s definitely my favourite. I’ve also started to include Yin/restorative yoga in my classes so we can start slow in Yin poses and people can get a little calmer and relaxed. I think the combination of the two is really, really powerful.
How do you keep a class with a wide range of personal goals engaged and motivated as a group?
Its tricky sometimes, I teach open level classes so I don’t teach one level or one focus. We have beginners, intermediates, advanced and teachers, we have all kinds of ages and it can be hard sometimes but I try to encourage people to really listen to their bodies and I feel that it’s easy now for me to say but I know its hard when you are there on the mat and you want to do your best and you want to push yourself. Sometimes you get tired, but I encourage people to have fun because I think sometimes it can be so serious! I want people to be curious, try things out even if you have no idea why we do something or how it works – just have the experience. Of course I try to talk to everybody because everyone has different tastes and sometimes they might not like it, but you just have to encourage them to try many different teachers until they find a style that they like.
What is your philosophy, and what inspires you?
I grew up in a village where people my age now will have what are considered “good jobs”, and for years I questioned whether I was doing right just continuing to travel, (I’ve been travelling for twelve years now together with Naza, with whom I now teach), living abroad and working with some pretty bad and boring jobs at times. But those jobs gave me the opportunity to travel the world and that has for me been so enriching. I feel like it’s made me into who I am and has changed my values, and not caring what other people think about me for not having gone to university, and not having the ‘typical’ lifestyle most people have. So my philosophy is to keep questioning life, not to go and do something that someone else thinks you should do. Travelling has inspired me, and seeing different countries and cultures; it makes me value what I have and not complain about the small things.
So you and your partner set up your business, Inspiro Yoga together, what’s the story behind that?
We set up Inspiro Yoga about two years ago now. We were both teaching in a studio in Bali in Ubud, and we decided that we wanted to expand and be a bit more independent. So we just started to brainstorm, and its just evolved into us teaching together, and one of the things we teach a lot is a Vinyasa class where we teach together, we call it “double up”, so we take turns every 5 to 7 minutes and it was something we just really played with, but we’ve found a lot of people really appreciate it because we have two voices, and we’re a girl and a guy. I know when I’ve gone to take classes with a couple teaching it’s a nice balance between female and male energies and we can give some extra attention to the people. So its just grown that way, we started to teach here in Bali and now in Sweden since last summer, and we’ve managed to get a nice base there and some new friends. That’s what’s so great about yoga, you can go to a studio and you have a bunch of new friends, it’s so easy! So we’re just building on that. We are doing a retreat this yearin Sweden and also here in Bali, together with workshops and teaching at a bunch of festivals, so lots of fun things happening!
On the other side of your life, you work a lot with raw foods and holistic nutrition. Can you tell us a bit about that and the benefits for your body?
It started with myself experimenting as I’m a very practical person and I need physical proof. I went to a workshop about raw food and I was like, “oh I’ll have to try this”, and I have never felt as good as I did during the first five months. It was just about eating pure food. So there is no process around the food, it’s just the way we used to eat in the old days; we would grow vegetables in our garden or fields, and we would pick it and eat it. The reason behind it is to get maximum nutrition as when we heat up food more than 42°C it loses its nutritional value, so with raw food you keep as much nutritional value as possible. You realise that you need a lot less to eat because the food has so much nutrition. So it both evens out your weight and also gives you a lot more energy because you don’t get all those toxins in your body like preservatives or flavourings – they put so much weird stuff in food its scary. I’m not 100% raw food now, but it was a really good eye opener to know what I eat and where it comes from, and to buy organic where you can and avoiding processed food. Substituting white rice for quinoa for example is a simple and easy change.
Do you find it challenging keeping this diet up? Specifically for city dwellers, it can be difficult to stay motivated with so much available on your doorstep to tempt you away from a healthy diet.
There are so many resources now to get good food – you can order a lot online for example. I know many people that say it’s an expensive way to eat when only buying organic, in which case its good to think, where else am I spending my money? Do you buy cigarettes? Do you buy alcohol? Do you buy meat? It’s good to think about where you are putting your money and what you prioritise and maybe alter your spending to put a bit more value on what you eat. So for example you could buy fewer magazines one month and instead buy some healthy food. Also there are groups on Facebook, and lots of workshops where you can learn about food and nutrition. That was one of the things for me when I first started on raw foods – I felt really isolated and lonely. But then I realised that there are a lot of other people around the world who are doing the same thing, and it made me feel really connected to them.
What advice can you give to people who are lacking motivation to keep up their yoga practise and stay on track with their journey?
It’s very common to have a curve of improvement that slows down at some stage, and my advice to stay motivated is to try out different teachers and different styles. Like I’m having a period now where I’m practising Ashtanga Mysore (a self practice with a set sequence) and I’ve never done it before. It’s really challenging for me as I’m not doing all the things that I’m used to in Vinyasa. Also having friends that do yoga is great because you can motivate each other to keep going. Going to conferences and festivals where you can is fun and helpful, and also there is a lot of yoga help online if you find yourself with limited time or just need some inspiration.
Finally, what do you think is the secret to happiness?
Do the things you love, surround yourself with the people that you love, enjoy every day as if it’s your last one and never take things for granted.