Yoga for every body
María Jesús Ramirez, occupational health & safety officer
María Jesús Ramirez was born in Madrid and came to Ibiza as a young mother with her husband in 1976. Together they grew their family while living and working on a traditional farm, sharing the gains with the elderly widow who owned the land. “We were young. We were hippies!” she says of that era. She now lives in San Rafael and works as an occupational health and safety officer for Can Misses Hospital and local health authorities. At 64 years of age she is a dedicated yogi having practiced consistently for the last eight years. This inspirational grandmother unintentionally and seemingly naturally lives and breathes yogic principles.
What first attracted you to yoga?
I was introduced to yoga by my daughter. I had never done it before – it seemed like it would be relaxing, not at all like exercise. I went to a class and Sebastien was substituting for the regular teacher – that’s how I met him. Then he moved to his own studio and after I while I followed him. There are times when I do more and times when I do less. But I always go back.
Why did you persevere with the practice then?
It’s very good for stress; it’s very good on an emotional level. It helps me maintain calm, which is really important in my job and my life. I look after 1500 workers, helping them to work safely in lots of different positions and teaching them to take care of themselves in the work place. I love it, but I am tired. I’m ready to retire soon, and enjoy life with my grandkids. That’s why I go to yoga!
How do you see your practice progress?
Well, sometimes it feels like I’ve just started. It’s hard! Of course, there are times when you progress and other times when you don’t. I have terrible knees so there are some things I can’t do. I can’t put my knee down directly, but it’s okay, I do other things. I don’t get frustrated, I just breathe. Breathing always helps me in whatever I am doing. Who cares if it’s perfect or not? Even if the class is a disaster, something in it always serves you.
What do you like about Hot Yoga?
Hot Yoga suits me. I like the heat; I like to sweat a bit. It feels cleansing; it feels like it’s good for my skin too. Honestly though, often its about the timetable. The Hot Yoga classes fit in really well with my life and I just like it.
How often do you practice?
Now I do it at least three times a week. Sometimes more, sometimes less but usually I go three times.
What were some of the biggest challenges you faced when starting yoga?
At first it was really hard! If you don’t have a lot of physical discipline you suffer! We are masochists! You suffer, but later you feel better, so the suffering serves for something. You just have to breathe.
What kind of physical changes have you noticed?
I don’t know… it’s a slow change. I don’t pay too much attention to the physical.
What about changes to your health and mind?
Absolutely! Other then my knee problems I feel great! If I go on holiday and don’t practice I notice it, especially when I return to class, I notice that I have been a bit more anxious.
How do you feel if you miss a class?
I notice it straight away and I go back straight away! It’s like a drug. I’m addicted!
What do you know about the philosophies of yoga?
I was in India a couple of years ago, not to do yoga but to understand a bit of the culture. I visited Buddhist temples and monks – I didn’t go really deep but I saw it. It’s nothing like our Catholic upbringings. It seems much more authentic. Life and death is viewed differently. I would like to go back. It was so interesting, that way of life is so integrated into the natural world, in respect for everything.
How do you describe Sebastien’s teaching style?
He has a way of encouraging you that makes you feel really good. Each class is different, he puts so much effort into the classes, and he motivates you, gives you strength.
What is your relationship with him like?
Well, I never see him outside of the studio, but he is my friend, of course, after all this time.
Where do you see your practice going in the future?
The future? You never know what will happen! But of course, I will continue. I would like to try Ashtanga and other types of yoga. But for now, this is good.