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Images via Ashley Brozic
Never expect a dull moment in one of Sharon Aluma's yoga classes. Expect instead a lot of energy, Beyonce tunes, and a barrage of life lessons that all coincide with her feel-good Asanas or, more simply put, yoga poses. As the founder of Organic Vinyasa, this Lululemon ambassador and former Anthropologie employee has put her own spin on an otherwise traditional art, spreading the laughter and child's poses with her classes at Green Monkey, The Standard or any number of events she leads around town.
"I'm trying to create that space where people can just be themselves. Where you don't have to do this, or do that. Just be," she says. To wrap up National Yoga Month, we sat down with this Fort Lauderdale transplant over an afternoon cafecito at Miam Cafe in Wynwood to debunk yogi myths, get advice on starting and staying with your practice, and to learn once and for all what Miami's yoga instructors do on their off time. Click through to see what she had to say.
Yoga is a pretty traditional practice, however you've managed to put your own spin on it. What exactly is Organic Vinyasa?
In the yoga world, anatomy has become over complicated. Not everyone in the world needs to know where every muscle is, but everyone should know about neutral spine, the potency of breath and where their practice can lead. Organic Vinyasa is handing the practice back to the student, allowing them to explore more and in turn begin understanding from experience. The philosophy is that all of life is your teacher. We are constantly unfolding, learning and coming back to know our true selves. My goal is to reconnect people with their intuition, their natural sate of being.
With so many advocates for keeping the practice as traditional as possible, what's your argument for making your classes fun?
We live in a modern world and I'm going to speak to that. I'm not going to force past traditions. But although they're given in a different voice, they're still there. I grew up in a traditional Jewish home, and I found certain things worked for me and certain things didn't. When you do these traditions and these practices, it's just bringing you to something and your practice might look different than someone else's.
So what are your classes like?
Each class I teach is different, depending on the day and the time. My Thursday night class at Green Monkey is very alignment focused, where we'll pick one piece out and focus on that throughout the entire class. It's a very grounding practice. Then on Sundays, it's like a party. Half the room smells like tequila, the other half are people who rolled out of bed. It's fun.
How did you get into yoga?
I got into yoga my freshman year of college. I was attending art school in Maryland and I passed by this big sign that said 'yoga.' It was in an old carriage house, really beautiful. I walked in and took an Ashtanga class. I couldn't hold my downward dog for five breaths, so I thought I should go to the beginner's class, but I was 18 so it was too easy for me. I went back to the Ashtanga class and asked the teacher what to do. I was expecting her to be like, 'you have to do 20 pushups a day!' But her advice to me was to keep coming back. I've been hooked ever since.
Terms like Asana and Shivasana are thrown around constantly in yoga. What do they mean?
Yoga is life. Asana is the physical part of yoga. It's the posture, the movements. Shivasana is the ending pose, what you should always end with, but most people are like, 'yes! It's nap time!' That's why I lead people through guided meditations, because you don't want to be awake, but you don't want to be asleep either.
What advice do you have for people getting into yoga?
Don't go to one studio and think every teacher is going to be the same. Try different teachers and find one that speaks to you. I've heard so many people say they've gone to yoga once and didn't like it, and I think they've probably didn't like the teacher or the experience and have shut the door to it. Give it another try or two and explore. It's like a conversation. Is that teacher speaking your language?
Not everyone knows you're a painter as well. What is your specialty?
Traditionally I'm an oil painter, and landscape painting is my love. I got to travel the world doing that through college and after for a little bit. My first job was actually a display coordinator at Anthropologie. Now I graphic design, but I don't really like to tell people that. I enjoy it, but yoga is my passion. I say the sequencing is my art. It's how I express myself.
What do yoga instructors do on their off time?
I go through moments. There's sometimes in my life where I'm strong in eating clean, being a vegetarian. But there's going to be those nights where I eat a greasy pizza. I do love Pubbelly Sushi, anywhere that's creative. I love Wynwood. You just feel so much energy walking around. Yoga, beach, water, food- what we all do!
And what's your style like when the fold over pants come off?
When I'm not sporting Luluemon I tend to gravitate towards neutrals and casuals. I love an outfit that expresses ease and comfort with a pop of cool or feminine flair.
Tequila, whisky or vodka?
If you weren't a yoga instructor, you'd be…
8am or 8pm?
That's a hard one! Both.
What is your favorite yoga position?
Downward dog. You get so much out of it!
What is your least favorite yoga position?
Right now I'm working through my backward bend.
Red wine or white wine?
What's your spirit animal?
If you could be any fruit, what fruit would you be?
What's your favorite cheat food?
I love pizza, but I'm very picky. I love Lucali.
What's your next step for Organic Vinyasa?
My next step is really trying to get the idea of Organic Vinyasa out there with more retreats, immersions and teacher trainings. Building a way where people can explore.
· Organic Vinyasa [Official Site]
· Miami's Best Yoga Studios to Get Your Warrior Pose On [Racked Miami]
· All A Cafecito With Posts [Racked Miami]