Interview Of The Week with Victoria Gibbs: From Corporate American to yoga land

After Victoria parted ways from her job in finance, she honed in on her passion for yoga. Here is her story on how a hobby became a lifestyle and new career path.

Why yoga?

I began practicing yoga eight years ago. I’m a formally trained classical ballet dancer and once I stopped dancing, it took a few years before realizing that I needed a physical outlet. I walked past a hot yoga studio one day, tried a class the next day, and have been practicing ever since.

How did you become a professional yogi?

I don’t think or classify myself as a professional yogi, that could take a whole lifetime to achieve. Being a yogi is a certain way of life/existence that takes years upon years upon years to attain. However, I take my practice very seriously like a professional athlete. I train regularly and I am always looking to advance my practice. It initially began as a hobby and after realizing the added mental and physical benefits, it soon became a lifestyle. Yoga became a career path after leaving my job in finance in 2018. My practice gave me more joy than any corporate job, however, it took some time before I came to that realization. Once I did, I obtained my teacher training certification in 2019 and began teaching in 2020. I have never been happier.

You are also a competitive yoga athlete, four-time New York regional champion. Tell us a little bit about yoga competitions!

Competitive yoga is a way to assess your skill set mentally and physically. There are various levels and divisons to the competitive circuit; the regional, national, and international competitions, which are then broken down into male or female, youth, adult, and senior divisions. It’s an arena where yoga athletes come together and demonstrate their various skill sets, there just so happens to be a panel of judges scoring you, and there is always a winner. The competitions are set up a lot like gymnastics, you have three minutes to complete a six posture routine. What sets one athlete apart from another are the varying degrees of difficulty, time, and execution. At the end of the day, it’s a beautiful opportunity to share your passion with others and understand how much you’ve grown mentally and physically as an individual.

Is this the reason you love competing?

Competing helps you to become a better version of yourself. It’s never about winning, that’s just an added bonus. It’s more about appreciating your own practice, the practice of others, and the community. Competing helps you to focus on learning how to calm your mind and stay present through any given moment. I’ve learned so much about myself during my competitive years. I often defeated myself on stage by having too many expectations pertaining to my performance. I’ve learned to let go, just be, and enjoy. That’s what matters most, being proud of your demonstration and for having the courage to get up on stage. Through competing I’ve achieved a level of self awareness and mental acumen that I otherwise may not have.

What makes a yoga athlete is taking your craft seriously, learning from your journey, and putting in the work to be and do your best. Our body’s and minds are constantly changing, which is the beauty of yoga, just accepting what is at any given moment.

Yoga is one of the trendiest things these days? What do you think why is that?

Yoga has become more popular as people are taking more of a vested interest in their overall health and well-being. Also, yoga has become a lifestyle, it’s not just about your practice but it’s about what clothing you’re wearing, the accessories you are using such as mats, blocks, and straps, and the foods and drinks that you’re consuming. Overall, the mental and physical benefits along with all of the lifestyle components have become trendy because people have the time to care. It also gives people a wonderful sense of community, which is exceptionally important right now.

and this is why you find important to promote yoga?

It’s important for me to promote yoga as a lifestyle because it’s helped me tremendously and it definitely has the potential to help others. It’s taught me how to stay present in life, care for my body and mind, has given me a creative outlet, and has taught me how to be patient. Throughout the years, I’ve worked towards self acceptance and inner peace and I genuinely believe in its benefits. Likewise, the lessons that one learns on the yoga mat can be applied off of the mat.

What is your daily routine?

Oddly, I don’t have a daily routine. Everyday is very different! However, my days consist of any variation of the following: taking a virtual yoga or Pilates class, having a contortion lesson with my teacher, preparing or teaching yoga classes/private lessons, shooting content, email correspondence, admin, and tending to my social media.

How much do you practice?

I practice five times a week. My practice consists of vinyasa yoga three times a week, contortion with my teacher once a week, and pilates once a week. My body thrives on rest so on the off days, I go for a walk and just take it easy.

How yoga has changed you mentally, physically, spiritually?

Yoga has made me more aware of myself, both the good and the bad. It has taught me about the things that I’d like to work on and to accept the things that make me unique. It has helped me to let go of the things that don’t serve me and has allowed me to find a sense of calm and inner peace. Physically, I now understand how far I can push my body in its daily practice and what it’s capable of, and spiritually, I let go of everything and allow the universe to guide me.

What is the best and the hardest part of being a professional yoga person?

The best part of having yoga as my profession is that I get to do what I love every single day. The hardest part, right now, is not being able to practice with or teach people in real life.

What would be your advice to a someone who wants to start to do yoga?

My advice to anyone is to just show up.

What is your message to the world? What is your goal?

My message to the world is light, love, and positivity. Let go of expectations, take time to breathe, be patient, and just allow the universe to guide you. Learn to love and prioritize yourself. Take time for self care and do what makes you happy. Live life to the fullest everyday and pay attention to the connections that you make with those around you. It might be too airy but that is how I live my life.

What your plans are for the future?

My plans for the future are to keep teaching in every capacity possible, continue modeling, connect with yoga enthusiasts from around the world and fulfill my various wellness retreats that are currently scheduled; the first being in Greece, September 2021 and the second, in Morocco, March 2022. Also, I hope to continue my efforts in raising awareness and funds for lupus research. Lastly, a long term goal, partner with a brand and design some athletic wear.

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