Today we’d like to introduce you to Sandra Moreno Papadimitriou.
Sandra, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I am one of many successful immigrant stories, which I couldn’t be more proud of especially during these times of an anti-Immigration administration.
Colombian/Ecuadorian descent… My parents, Andres Moreno and Maria Petita Moreno and their 5 children, myself being the 3rd child, arrived in Miami, Florida in 1976 from Bogota Colombia as new residents of the USA. As a 10 yr old girl in a new part of the world, adapting to my new life and culture, I have to say what I remember feeling the most was the sense of opportunity, yes, I call it a sense because it was a new perspective a new way of feeling for me and it was something that definitely lacked and still lacks in my country today. I really felt like anything was possible.
I had a hunger for conquering all I wanted in my life…. which led me to the act of setting goals for myself and achieving them. This is the drive and the motivation that ignited this country to be what it is today. So grateful for my story which is what held me and reminded me of what is possible in times of doubt. Having lived a life of new beginnings gave me the strength and knowing that anything was possible. Seeing my parents at the young age of 38 and 40 yrs old coming to a country where they spoke no English and were uncertain of their future still baffles me. Their hard work, determination and JOYFUL way of living was a huge lesson of happiness. We lived in a humble 3 bedroom house in a humble neighborhood in Miami. I saw my dad come from the corporate workforce to cleaning carpets.
My mother had to work for the first time in her life. Living through harsh financial times but my parents always made life so full and rich. There was always laughter, family visits and camping travels. I learned how beautiful a simple life can be. Having had a very successful aviation career, I decided to take an early retirement at the early age of 40! I began to fly airplanes at the age of 18 and at 20 I began my training as an Air Traffic Controller with the Federal Aviation Administration. It was a career where I had to face experiences of sexual harassment and discrimination for being both a Latina and a female. That really began to take a toll and I found myself feeling unhappy with my work and my personal life.
My biggest wish was to be home and raise my 3 children, Emanuel, Alexi and Isabella. Thanks to Yoga I was able to sit with myself and calm and clear my monkey mind. I tapped into the depth of wanting to know more about my inner self, my inner knowing and also finding what it was that I needed to not live a life without essence. This was something new to me…. to sit. to meditate, contemplate and connect with this Divine source, Divine intelligence, God, call it what you wish. Through Yoga, I was able to connect my mind body and spirit. Spirit was the part that got me! I began to ask questions and soon the answers came. I fell in Love with the practice of Yoga.
I found my teacher Gaia Budhai in Miami Beach and I got certified in 2011.
Truly believing in this practice of Yoga, I felt an urge to pass this magnificent gift to others. I have taught pre-natal yoga, power yoga, hot yoga and yoga therapy but my passion has been Teen Yoga. Teens seem to not have a place in society, they have so many questions and dialogue. They need more tools to deal with life. I find them fascinating and that led me to create my non-profit organization YAAY (yoga for all-all for yoga) in 2017 The mission is to train teens to teach Yoga and once they are ready I take them to inner city schools and juvenile centers to teach. They become teachers to one another! I opened “The Yoga Room a place to Breathe” two years ago.
I highly respect this ancient practice and my classes are based on Hatha Yoga. Breathing is one of my strongest fields I love to teach and learn as it is the key to the Yoga practice. The 8 limbs of Yoga are the basis of my teachings. I offer group and private classes. I am living a life of service and I can truly say now that my life is full of that essence I so much missed.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The struggles I have to say was more of a personal deep level. I had to deal with the new emotions, thoughts, and changes that were arising as my new path began. Yoga is a lifestyle, therefore you begin to implement all you learn in your life and you will find yourself asking new questions and this leads to new beginnings which in return you will meet many endings. You begin a new relationship with yourself and with others.
Yamas and Nyamas are here to remind us of our ethical and moral codes. You will begin to make shifts in your life and sometimes that’s where you might run into all the yummy stuff that takes you only to more growth!!! Yes, they are growing pains. Letting go of stuff that no longer serves is one the hardest things to do, that is where the importance of asanas comes along. Inhales and Exhales are highly important.
Pranayama, controlling the breath in order to control your mind!! So many tools that will make your journey so much easier!!
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Yoga for All-All for Yoga & Bienestar Medellin (wellness retreats) – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
At the Yoga Room what I do best is hold space. I hold space with the intention of giving selflessly. It is the place where I get to practice what I have learned and where I get to be of service. All my students know that this is a place where we practice LOVE, where we sit and consciously breathe, where we send all the Love and Peace we feel after a class to the World!
We OM, we chant, we meditate together, we set intentions and most importantly we get to completely RELAX!!! I want everyone to leave with an open mind and an open heart!!! Everyone is welcome and all classes are donation based. Yoga has become a multi-billion business…. what is being taught out there is not Yoga. What sets me apart from others has to be my intention to teach an authentic practice.
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
Yes!!! I have finalized my new plans which is to Host Nature Wellness Retreats in my native country of Colombia. It has become my passion to guide students/visitors through adventure travels in order to disconnect so that we can truly connect with ourselves, mother earth and others. Pachamama is the cure! Our planet is divine and its energetic fields are all over ready for us to tap into.
Hiking and exploring these lands with yoga, meditation, breath work, nutritional meals, connecting with locals, reiki, massages, river adventures, horseback riding and so much more is what helps us build prana and make us feel more alive, rejuvenated and energized. Connecting with ourselves, mother earth and one another is the key to a wellness lifestyle.
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