Monique Gil

    WHERE WERE YOU BORN/RAISED?
    Born in San Diego, California – lived in Las Vegas from age 2-10, then lived in Imperial Beach (San Diego) until I was 21. Since then I’ve lived in Humboldt, Carson City (NV), Mendocino and Ventura.

    TELL US A BRIEF HISTORY OF YOUR PERSONAL PRACTICE
    I started practicing when I was 17 (~13 years ago) at the Chula Vista Yoga Center. It took about five years for me to develop a daily yoga practice. Yoga gave me space to come into myself and find community when I moved to new cities.

    TELL US A BRIEF HISTORY OF YOUR TEACHING EXPERIENCE
    This is the first time I’m teaching at a studio – I shied away from teaching at a studio in the past because I struggle with social anxiety  and was scared that not being “good enough” would push me out of the yoga community. I feel like now, more than ever, our community needs people to step up and share the tools they have to get through hard times. I’m finally putting community before my own insecurities.

    I teach privates for friends/family & covered a few studio classes. I LOVE breaking down poses, thinking about alignment and exploring how our physical practice ties into the rest of life.

    In the past I worked as a fitness instructor at a weight-loss camp for kids, taught spin classes, and was a trainer for an outdoor workout company in San Diego.

    WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE YOGA POSE?
    Forward fold (Uttanasana)  – In forward fold I can feel what needs attention and what I want to focus on that day. It’s also the place I come to when I feel dizzy or need to rest. Standing forward folds are a huge place of release for me.

    WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE YOGA/SPIRITUALITY/SELF HELP BOOK?
    Hell-bent by Benjamin Lorr.

    Hell-bent talks about the Bikram Yoga craze & how Bikram turned his yoga into a toxic obsession in the community. I have social anxiety that presents as body dysmorphia. When I get overwhelmed, stressed or anxious – I tend to become hyper critical of my body and can lean towards obsessing over the asanas as a way to feel in control. The book is a great reminder that the 8 limbs of yoga work best when balanced & the physical practice (asanas) are a tool to tap into your body to help you understand where you’re at that day but should not be the only aspect of yoga we practice.

    ANY ADVICE FOR BEGINNERS?
    You have every right to be in the studio, on your mat, taking up space. Comparison is relative – take your focus within and embrace your place in the journey. I’ve found that in yoga, I will always be a beginner in some way or another. In one of my meditations, the thought “I am free to exist as I am” appeared. I repeat it often.

    WHAT DOES “COMMUNITY” MEAN TO YOU?
    One of my first big adventures was volunteering to work on a study that was looking at the interrelatedness of the rainforest ecosystem. Ecosystems have so many moving parts – whether it be a nutmeg seed or a massive system of underground fungal systems – all the different players come together to form a beautiful self-sustaining world. Community is our human ecosystem. We all have a role and a responsibility to keep our community vibrant and healthy. Everyone is important. A wise woman (Lauren Pendergrast) once told me, your community supports you and wants you to succeed. Without community, what is the human experience?

    WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT VENTURA?
    The location. Having access to nature is huge for me. I love backpacking and camping and try to get out as much as possible. I love living north of L.A. because we get SoCal weather but don’t have to drive through the traffic to access the rest of California.

    WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION?
    Women Who Hike & Surfrider – I’m big on inclusivity & access. Organizations that understand how to work with the government to create policy changes and work to keep open space public is key to improving quality of life for our marginalized communities.