Diana Vergueiro is a passionate South African yoga instructor living and working in London. After years of intense gymnastics, Diana discovered the ancient healing science of Yoga. We are thrilled about that because a class with Diana is inspiring, challenging and fun! We met with Diana in between her busy schedule of teaching classes and working for Disney in London, UK.
You were a gymnast when you were young and the transition to yoga in regards to the physical aspect came quite natural. How and when did yoga become more than merely a physical exercise? How do you transcend this in your classes?
Gymnastics definitely laid down the foundations for my practice – I have a very deep understanding of my body; my strength and balance and most importantly my limitations. I started doing yoga about 8 years ago, I tried several styles but found that Ashtanga was the style which most suited my need for the physical challenge which I only ever found when I did gymnastics. I stuck with Ashtanga for about 2 years but due to the nature of this strong and very structured practice, I started to lose interest as classes were repetitive and quite serious. About 3 years ago, I was late for my regular Saturday Ashtanga class and had to take the next class and as luck would have it, Mercede Ngoh was teaching a Vinyasa Yoga Class! This is when everything changed. I absolutely fell in love with the uniqueness of each class, the fluidity of movement and breath and the deepest focus I had ever experienced in any yoga class. This was no longer just a workout; it became a “sanctuary” where my mind and body met for some much needed 1:1 time. This kept ticking the boxes of uniqueness and challenge and ultimately presenting the path towards becoming a Vinyasa Yoga Teacher. All of my sequences are built up in a way to ensure the body is ready to move into a “peak pose”. I like to challenge my students, yet allowing them the space to find their way through postures. The benefit of a well thought out sequence gives people of all levels the opportunity to get involved and possibly try something new – the sense of achievement is something we all crave (not getting attached to that, of course), this encourages dedication to practice and gives us something positive to focus our energy on.
What do you enjoy most about teaching yoga?
There are so many things I enjoy about teaching that it’s a little difficult to narrow it down to just one. I would have to say that nothing fills my (yoga teacher) heart more than seeing someone develop both on a physical and personal level – taking the lessons they learn about themselves with them when they leave a class and letting them trickle into their daily lives. When I decided to become a yoga teacher, all I wanted to do was to share this beautiful gift with as many people as I could and hopefully they would get as much out of it as I do.
What you can do with your body is amazing to see, obviously not everybody can do the same postures. How do you motivate your students without the risk of injury?
I remind people at the beginning of each class that this is their practice, it is not a competition and that they must do what their body is allowing them to do on the day. Listening to your body is something that is essential in every yoga class – what might be right for someone may not be right for someone else so all postures can be modified to suit different levels. It is also important for student to advise of any injuries they may have or discomforts they may be feeling.
Besides yoga, what else do you do to take care of your body and mind?
I try maintaining a very healthy diet and positive mental attitude. Without a healthy mind you cannot have a healthy body and vice versa – this is something which you need to work on every day. I try surrounding myself with people and things which make me happy and add value and meaning to my life. I think it is very important to be true to yourself and highlight the good things in your life – this will reflect in every aspect of your life, including how you teach and how receptive people are to your classes. The occasional glass of exquisite red wine and tiny bit of dark chocolate also brings much joy to my life, it’s all about balance.
With all your teaching and other work, do you still find the time for your self practice? How important is practising yoga by and for yourself?
I’ll be honest, it is a struggle sometimes. I have a busy fulltime job and mornings aren’t great as I get easily distracted by my toes at 6AM. So I get my self practice in when I can and don’t beat myself up too much if I don’t get it done. I do try to take a class at least once a week – I like the feeling of community in a yoga class and practising en masse. I encourage my students to do at least 5 Sun Salutations a day so that they stay supple and improve their strength a little every day.
Who is your inspiration?
Many people inspire me but Mercedes Ngoh is my favourite yoga teacher – her passion for yoga is so genuine and her practice is so beautiful that you simply have no choice but to be inspired. I draw a lot of inspiration from my family and the lessons I was taught by my parents. I am lucky enough to have people in my life who may not necessary love yoga but love me which make my journey a lot more pleasant.
Do you have anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Yes, enjoy your practice; yoga is something that is meant to make you happy. Recognise your ability before you point out your limitations and most importantly, just have some fun!!