You know her. You love her. One of our favorite instructors, NATA! Here for the first time on the Flow Blog.
Take it away…
FY: Please tell us more about your life in both Russia and here in the United States?
Well, it is truly hard to fit a full response in such a setting but I will try:
My name is Natalia (Natasha or Nata as my family and friends call me) Morozkina. I was born and raised in Saint-Petersburg, Russia, on a very cold night in December and because of that – as my mom always says – I got a strong character of a fighter and achiever and a stubborn “donkey” at the same time. I graduated from both high school and university “cum laude”, attended a music school, an art school, played tennis and did almost everything a kid could possibly do. I am very fortunate to have parents who did everything they could to make sure I would grow up a well-rounded person. During the 2nd or 3rd year of my university I got a scholarship to attend a school in Germany with an opportunity to eventually move and work there, but this was not meant to be and I found myself in the USA. Since my move to America there were a lot of ups and downs but as of right now I do what I love and things are going well for me – I work as a consultant full-time for a living and teach yoga part-time for “my soul”.
If you ask what Natalia is made of, please know Natalia is made of a good and kind heart, she is a super woman (that’s what they say), a goofy and a fun person, she loves travelling, doing yoga and sports, gatherings with family and friends, flowers, expensive shoes and wine and cheese. This year I am turning 30. It is kind of scary (as I feel pressured sometimes that I could have achieved more and do more (“monkey mind”) by then but I am looking forward to what the future holds for me.
FY: How does Loudoun County compare to where you grew up?
Saint-Peterburg is one of the world’s cultural capitals. It is breath-taking. It has so much to offer: its history, its architecture, its everything – it is a city museum. Lots of people, places to go, cars, very hectic… When I moved to America around 2007, back then, the Leesburg area was nothing compared to what it has become right now. And NO WEGMANS! Can you imagine?!. For some reason I clearly remember the toll road (267) that was still under construction with some parts open and I remember taking it as you could speed there and be a free spirit for only $4 or so a ride. I was amazed by the size of everything. Huge parking lots. Huge groceries stores which are “far-far” away. Huge everything. And lots of forests and parks. And nothing to do for a young girl from a big city. I tried to spend as much time as possible in Washington DC area to be reminded about my home city. It was quite a challenging period for me to adapt but as time passed I was able to learn things around and meet a lot of friends and life became easy. As I travelled around the States from time to time it was great to come back to Loudoun County – when you are away or no longer have something you start realizing things and be appreciative.
FY: How did you originally get introduced to yoga?
I don’t remember that a particular event or occasion or situation triggered my yoga journey. By the time I moved to America I have heard a lot about yoga and the world’s arising interest in it so I decided to wait no longer and check it out to understand what this “buzz” was all about. And this was love at first sight. It is interesting that my actual first yoga class was at Flow in Leesburg – I was so amazed by it, by people moving in synchrony, by breath, by shapes, by the teacher, by the spirituality brought into the physical aspect…the whole experience…even though most of the time I had to stay on all fours as I could not sustain holding even Down-dog. Since that first class, yoga has become an integral part of my life.
FY: What do you expect students to experience while practicing in one of your classes and what do you hope they takeaway from it?
I am hopeful that anyone who arrives on his or her mat and attends my class treats yoga as a disciplinebut at the same time one should not take it too seriously all the time. I always say “It is just yoga. Take it easy but try and challenge yourself”. It is kind of finding balance between the two – quite a controversial topic of the eightfold path according to Patanjali: on the one hand to reach Samadhi (a state of peace and oneness) we need to follow all the steps so there is something to work towards, a “goal” to reach in a way, and on the other hand, practicing non-attachment to things (poses in this instance) is also very important and be receptive to what is offered by the present moment.
Very often, some of us, especially those who are new to yoga, treat the experience of yoga practice as another challenging task at hand, another goal to achieve, pose to master and perform, “do” rather than “be”. And if something does not turn out the way we expect and/or want or we don’t look like someone next to us, we assume it is the end of the world, we punish ourselves, feel anxious, frustrated and sad. So natural in the world where we are driven by the results and always need to be achievers and succeed. This is not what yoga is about. I have almost a decade of yoga practice under my belt but still if you see me on my mat there are so many things I cannot do, I struggle with balance, I cannot put myself in a certain shape – my asana “picture” is far away from the ones in yoga magazines or social media. Don’t get me wrong, I am always up for a challenge and there is no better “high” than “work with the body, fail, fall, get up, work, wait and continue working” and one day something magical happens.
This process of allowing your practice to naturally unfold is what it is all about and patience is a very important component in this process. Almost every single time when I am being interviewed for a new job I am asked what are the areas of my improvement and I always used to say: “I am a perfectionist” whether leading a project at work or in a personal relationship or decorating the house or hosting a party. I had always had to be the best in everything. Practicing yoga made me reevaluate this concept and attend to any matter with patience. Things do not happen sometimes the way we want and it is absolutely okay. We need to learn how not to react but to accept what is offered and adjust but be the best version of ourselves at any time, do our best. Same on the yoga mat. I feel this is my yoga “credo” I would like students to take away.
FY: What’s your journey been like as both a student and a teacher?
I just LOVE IT!!! It all started with physical aspect of yoga and feeling good after practicing and having your “butt” being kicked but eventually transformed my inner world and the way I look at things. I became different, good different. I made changes in my life as I learned how to listen to my inner voice and take care of myself. With this I am hopeful I will be able to inspire others to follow this path through my teaching.
As a student, I am a human being and with that comes everything, the “good” and the “bad”. Every single time I practice it is a new experience for me. Sometimes I feel like 110% and am conquering the world on and off the mat and sometimes I am dragging myself to the mat at home or a yoga class. Sometimes I skip a yoga class or take a break – an important lesson I learned along the way to honor my body and rest when needed.
FY: What makes the perfect yoga class for you as a student?
NATA: As a student I really appreciate a thoroughly prepared and well-thought class. However, a recipe for a “perfect” class does not contain only good planning of a sequence of poses. Moreover, in my own experience, I realized that sometimes you completely need to change a class plan depending on who is actually attending the class. What truly makes a big difference is a teacher. I believe a lot in “energy” and if a teacher is truly passionate about yoga, carries good vibes, radiates positivity, smiles, creates a pleasant atmosphere, the students feel it – “the good” is contiguous and that is what yoga is about. And nobody really cares if a pose or two were missed or something is in a different order…
FY: What your all-time favorite yoga playlist song and why?
NATA: Uff, this is a hard one. Music is my passion and with that I continually update, change my playlists as there is just too much “goodness” out there. When I just started teaching I have never played any music but once “the floodgates opened” you are now “forced” to hear almost everything in my classes from classic to pop and rock – most of the songs are the ones that bring me good memories about events or emotions. If I need to pick one, I will probably go with Deva Premal “Aad guray” that I often play during Savasana, final resting pose. It is just something so perfect after a sweaty practice – so powerful and kind and gentle at the same time – sometimes I even get goosebumps listening to it.
FY: Do you all have any pets? What are their names?
NATA: Currently, I don’t have any pets as the pace of my life is too hectic. Having a pet is a huge responsibility and I am afraid as of right now I am not going to be there for my “baby” when it needs me and it will be very lonely when I am out. But I really-really want one. Or two…However, I was very fortunate to have a black German Shepherd, Donna, and a cat “Kosha” (which means a “cat” in a gentle way in Russian, not really a name but something we called her all the time). They were a huge part of our family and I have very great memories about them.
FY: Do any members of your family attend classes at Flow?
NATA: My parents still live in Russia and my sister recently moved to France. Every time they visit I always try to make them attend a few yoga classes with me. In general, many very close friends of mine or loved ones (I consider them my family as well) come to practice yoga at Flow and there is no surprise – Flow is always welcoming and simply a nice place to be.
FY: What’s your favorite color and why?
Probably white. Pure. Clean. Fresh. White color reminds me of summer… Tanned Skin. Salty air. Ocean. Messy hair. Feet full of sand. Freedom. Love. When I am older and it’s time to settle, my dream is to have a house no matter how small or big somewhere close to the beach, have a beautiful big porch that will witness gatherings of the family, friends, a big dog and of course white and light colors everywhere – walls, minimum furniture – I like it spacious, a kitchen with an island (not sure about the light color here I guess as I am messy when cookingJ) and me wearing white most of the time – did I mention that I look stunning in white?!:) This is my vision of “Pura Vida”….
FY: Thanks for catching up with us.
NATA: Have a great day, everyone!