I came across Julia Arteaga on Instgram a few months ago. Her IG page, Yoguineando, was so funny and truthful that it was easy to get hooked!
Natural from Spain and currently living in London, Julia’s yoga journey started a few years ago. Her practice has given her a life purpose, as well as a promising new career drawing engaging and funny yoga sketches with Yoguineando.
In your website you mention that you discovered yoga in 2013, how and why did you start your practice?
Back then, I was living in Miami and it was full of yogis everywhere, my twin sister -who was in Spain- did yoga already, and told me that I’d love it too. However, at that time, I was suffering from vertigo and, due to the US private health system, I could not treat it there. So I came back to Spain, went to a physiotherapist who cracked my neck and put everything in the right places… and then my vertigo was healed. That was the time when I thought, now it can start trying out yoga!
So you were back in Spain then…
Yes I was back, but the yoga I tried there was the yoga from my little village, but still, I tried it out. It was led by the typical woman from the neighborhood association (laughs), so there I started! It was very, very soft, but I loved it! I got more into it and then, I started to look and copy Instagram pictures. And I continued until today!
In 2016 you moved from Spain to London with the clear plan to improve your yoga knowledge, how do you remember that period? How are you feeling about making a career out of yoga?
Everything went very slow. Since I discovered yoga, I knew it was what I wanted – I found my passion. I remember in Miami I had lots of existential thoughts like “what am I doing here?” and it was precisely because I didn’t know what to do with my life. However, when I started yoga I knew I found what I needed to find.
Then, step by step… I was already 27, so I thought I was too old. I also thought that I spent years studying a degree that I was not going to use.
What did you study?
I studied a Humanities BA, then I did a Masters in Research, then another in Marketing… And of course I felt bad that I was not going to use them, but at the same time I couldn’t help following this (yoga) path. When I decided to come to the UK, it was because I knew what I wanted. I already did some UK courses previously in Indaba, and saw that the yoga training range in Spain was not as advanced; so I decided to come to the UK. At the beginning, it was just to take lessons, but then I found a job in a yoga studio and started to think also about teacher training.
When did Yogineando arrive?
That was strange, and very sudden! While I was working in the yoga studio I saw so many different people, did so many different classes… that all sorts of funny thoughts started to come into my mind, especially during the classes. I wanted to tell my friends, but none of my friends did yoga, so I thought I should capture them somewhere. I first did it by hand because I used to draw as a child, but the result was very bad, then I took the computer and, whenever I was bored, I started to draw… So I began just like that, and then I started to publish them.
“While I was working in the yoga studio I saw so many different people, did so many different classes… that all sorts of funny thoughts started to come into my mind”
They are very funny and original! And speaking about yoga… Which one are the asanas that you like the most?
I’ve always like inversions, even before starting yoga. Especially tripod, which was the easiest for me, then headstands… those are the ones I like the most because you feel very good when you are upside-down, it is simply adrenaline, and it is great! And I also like the arm balances, like crow or eka pada koundinyasana, and all the variations.
And the ones you like the least?
Flexibility! I’m zero flexible. In fact this was what put me off to start yoga at first. When I was a child I did gymnastics and, by the end of the year, everyone could do splits except for me! But the good thing about yoga is that you improve a lot your flexibility.
And can you do splits now?
No! But I will achieve it soon, I’m almost there! I fact, now I can go lower than when I did gymnastics as a child (laughs)
In terms of health and nutrition, how does your diet looks like? Are there any foods that you prefer or avoid?
Depending on the period… since I started yoga I think about it a lot more because you read so much about the type of food, the three gunas… If you followed all the books though, you could end up feeding yourself with air only! (laughs) To be honest, I don’t take a lot of care, but I don’t feed myself badly either. It is something balanced, a bit of everything, Mediterranean diet… even here in the UK! The one thing I try to avoid are sweets, but it is what I end up eating the most… chocolate!
You mentioned that flexibility is your weakest point when it comes to yoga. Out of all the yoga qualities, which were the ones that came easily in your practice?
The strength, and with that, the balance. You can tell the difference between my beginnings and now. All of us have strengths and weaknesses, so even though I was stronger than flexible, now I’m stronger than before. And you also come across other benefits, such as being more conscious of your body, your breathing…
For instance, if you get nervous, you cannot breathe well, especially if you are someone with a tendency to suffer from anxiety, such as I was. And now it is so easy. As soon as you get nervous about anything, scared, stressed… you go back to your breathing, and it gets better. It is great.
What helps your mind and heart when life challenges approach?
What really helps me is having yoga. What used to stress me out in the past was not having a purpose, not knowing why I was here. And now, if anything goes wrong I know can say – “at least I have my yoga”. I know this is something I enjoy: yoga, acro-yoga, and any variation from yoga. At a physical level, it is the breathing. The key to feel good or bad is in our breathing and in our mind. First, the breathing, which is that helps to calm the mind. And then having tools to manage those situation psychologically because, at the end, what get things wrong is that – our thinking.
“If anything goes wrong I know can say – at least I have my yoga”
We review books in BeLikeYoga, any book you would recommend? Yogi or not yogi-related… or maybe one of each?
Not yogi, I like Sergio Fernández, he has books such as Living in Abundance, or Living with no boss, I love them! And yogi ones… The yoga tutor from Mark Kan, and the book from the yogi who did my yoga teacher training called Sun Power Yoga Shala – it is very good. Normally, some yoga books can be very heavy; however, in that one, the key concepts that anyone needs to know about yoga are very well explained, short, based on her own experience, with pictures.. it is great!
Another one that I like which it is a classic, and not as hard as I expected, is Hatha Yoga Pradipika. It is a book that you have to read for any yoga teacher training. In fact, Dharma Mittra told one to one of his students once to read the book three times before asking him for doubts. It is essential and everything is there.
What advice would you give to someone who is just starting doing yoga?
Not to get stressed out, to take it easy. Yoga can be overwhelming, so it is imporant not to take it too seriously. And to accept that yoga has its stages. Sometimes when someone starts yoga, at the beginning, you make it very physical and you like it and quickly want to get better at it. But yoga is so broad that we are eternal students, both in the spiritual and the physical side. And this is said by someone who always wants to go fast!
Talking about yoga being overwhelming, what role do you think does social media play into the image of yoga?
If I’m honest, I go from being inspired to being disturbed. Because Instagram is purely graphic, if you see a picture that is not spectacular you might not even read the text, so it is hard to find someone purely inspiring. That doesn’t mean that people with amazing photographs and texts are bad yogis, but it is easy to get confused. I prefer someone having Instagram, but not spending the whole day there. It is easy to share too much.