A world renowned yogi, Talia’s physical talents are matched, if not exceeded, by her spiritual presence, her innate perception and her teachings. Although she is clear in her views that yoga is not a sport, Talia’s global outreach and dedication to her students make her one of the most admired ambassadors of the practice.
The One X Ten Interview:
1. Where are you from and where do you currently call home?
I was born in Israel and moved to New York before entering the fifth grade. Although I moved around quite a lot with my family growing up, I always found the changes thrilling, like being blindfolded and choosing to trust. I think I must have nomad blood, a gypsy heart. It has lead me back to Jerusalem, where I’ve been living quietly, almost hibernating, now for four months.
My heart is home. My body is home. There are people in my life that are connected to my body and heart like the earth is connected to the sun and the moon… and so where they are is my home too.
2. How did you get started in your sport and when did you realize you wanted to pursue it professionally?
Yoga philosophy recognizes the importance of a daily physical practice which includes pranayama- breathing exercises and asana- postures. Pranayama and asana are meant to connect us comfortably to our physical existence so that we may, in time, witness the eternal wisdom and endless love that makes up every atom of our being.
When the body is experienced as the astounding vessel it is, it is possible to live in its wisdom, to receive and to give from its depths. To live without sickness, fatigue or weakness allows for tremendous potential of emotional, mental and spiritual growth.
A sport is usually defined as a physical skill in which an individual or a team competes or entertains…and while yoga asana competitions have been around for hundreds of years; I wouldn’t define yoga as a sport.
That being said, I was first exposed to yoga and the yogic lifestyle through my mom, when I was six years old. I grew up studying to become a professional dancer so yoga asana was not my focus. I was practicing other elements of yoga including veganism and meditation from the age of 11.
When I was 21, I felt a pull to practice asana and learn more about yoga. The yoga postures were never my goal- I have always had a flexibility and strength practice. I wanted to connect and share what I knew. I had a deep need, like thirst, to teach well. I’ve taught thousands of classes in the past six years. Each class renews my desire, my thirst to be a better teacher.
3. What is the biggest setback you’ve suffered as an athlete?
I haven’t truly suffered or been setback. Everything--especially the more challenging moments--happen for a very important reason. They usher us into ourselves and reveal our truest intentions.
4. Best piece of advice for women starting out in your sport?
Choose to practice, learn and teach from a place of constantly renewed love. Never let yoga become settled, it should never become a wall. Yoga is an ever expanding bridge to the self, to the other and to the Divine.
5. What’s the biggest misconception people have about being a female athlete?
I think most people associate yoga with women and femininity in the west so I probably don't face the same challenges as women in boxing or soccer. I suppose there is a general misconception among non practitioners that yoga asana practice is “boring” ,“easy” and “not a workout.” While yoga is for everyone and can easily be made gentle, this would be a modification made by the teacher to best serve her students.
Traditional yoga asanas require a tremendous amount of will, discipline, strength, stamina, knowledge and focus. A daily yoga practice will challenge, strengthen, open and heal the entire body and mind.
6. Whom in your sport do you admire the most and why?
I admire the students who show up to class no matter what--the ones who push themselves, ask their questions or share with me an insight or a feeling. They are my teachers.
7. What’s in your gym/workout bag?
I don’t have a gym bag! I practice asanas most mornings after my Shacharit prayers.
After my prayers and asanas, I take a hot shower. It’s nice for the body to be warmed up internally and externally before eating. My meals are very simple but I do my best to vary them. Most breakfasts include raw avocados, bananas, dark chocolate, berries, nuts and tahini.
9. Favorite workout or workout tip?
Dedicate your practice to someone you love: to your kids, to your wife, to your friends, or to God. Don't just practice for yourself alone. Make it an offering of your highest love, poetry and devotion.
10. We define “The Wonder” as the state of reaching the truly extraordinary—the achievements that most people, including you at one point, could not fathom. What is your Wonder and what has it taken—or what will it take—to reach it?
I don’t see anything I do as belonging to me. If I have ever done something wonderful it is because I have witnessed the wonders of being loved: nurtured, fed, forgiven, heard, taught, accepted and embraced time and time again.
Love and All is Coming