The Buddha Spotlight introduces you to Yogini, Giesel Arnold!
Goddess Mena Love: When did you fall in LOVE with yoga?
Giesel Arnold: I don’t know when I fell in LOVE with yoga. I do know that I don’t know where I would be without it in my life. I found yoga in 2009 at a time when I was very weak mentally and physically. I was hiding an eating disorder from my friends and family, I’d recently moved from Belize and I had separation anxiety and depression from leaving my family, friends and routine back home, AND to top it off I was being treated for unbearable back pain induced by stress. Yoga became my escape from it all, it was more than a coping mechanism, and it brought so much light to my life and comfort within right when I needed it.
Goddess Mena Love: What style of yoga do you practice?
Giesel: I practice Vinyasa Krama yoga. I did my training at The Yoga Institute with Lex Gillian who teaches that method. I connected with that style of yoga and I am drawn to teachers with that same foundation; Shiva Rae, BKS Iyengar, Pattabhi Jois, and Indra Devi. The word vinyasa means: vi = order + nyasa = placement; and the word krama means “the uninterrupted sequence of events from beginning to end”; so combined, the entire term means “the ordered placement of the sequence of events.” Usually shortened simply to “vinyasa,” it refers to a flowing sequence of asanas linked by breath and intention. I strongly believe that without the breath and intention, one does not practice yoga, they are merely contortionists.
Goddess Mena Love: Do you have days where you just don’t feel like practicing yoga? If so, what keeps you motivated to continue your practice?
Giesel: This question touches me at a very core, because as teachers, we are humans. Of course there are days I don’t feel like practicing. But practicing and teaching is not about me. It is about everyone who showed up for their practice. They are my responsibility. They are my motivation. I remember clearly, at the end of last year, December 2015, I had a migraine for about 3 days straight. I lost sleep and cried because I was in so much pain. I was scheduled to teach yoga that Monday and I considered canceling. I pulled myself together and taught the class. I went through the sequence and my students had no idea I was ill. At the end of the class when I gave my students the final salutations, my voice broke and I cried in Namaste because I gave it all I had through the pain. My students depend on me to guide them through their practice. That keeps me going.
Goddess Mena Love: What is the biggest life lesson you learned so far?
Giesel: The biggest lesson I have learned so far is self-LOVE. It’s like we are conditioned to seek love outside of ourselves; in other people, ideals, and of course our beLOVED things. Yoga has helped me realize that true LOVE starts with you, right where you are, wherever that may be.
Goddess Mena Love: Do you have any advice for people who are just starting out on this path of awakening?
Giesel: For the yoga curious I say, don’t judge an entire practice based on one experience. Its like finding the perfect shoe, there are different styles of yoga, so try them all until you find one that’s a perfect fit for you, your personality or your spiritual journey. I don’t think I’ve told anyone this, but my first experience with yoga was horrible. I walked in a class and it was hotter than Belize in the summertime. In what felt like a lifetime, I couldn’t catch my breath, I was on my knees, in child’s pose, I was on my back, in savasana and I finally raised my hand and told the instructor I CANNOT breathe I need to leave. I went to the front desk for some water and found out I was in the class for only 15 minutes and I unknowingly walked into a heated advanced yoga class. I did go back, but to a beginner class and I’ve practiced ever since.
Goddess Mena Love: When you fully extend is when you fully release.
Giesel: When you fully extend yourself, in the any yoga poses or in life, your body starts resisting. Resisting comes in the form of holding your breath. It comes in the form of saying, there’s no way I can do that. When you release any form of resistance in your body and your mind, you are able to sink deeper into the pose, you are able to melt within yourself, you are able to let go…and then you fully release.
Goddess Mena Love: Finish this statement. Yoga gives me access to….
Giesel: Peace of mind. I used to be such a hot head, filled with anger just waiting for someone to push my button.
Goddess Mena Love: What’s your favorite song/movie/book?
Giesel: Favorite Song: Magic City by Buju Banton. The beat and the lyrics transcend me. This song was my first mantra. Every time I sing this song, I feel so elevated and everything becomes so small. How can any of your problems consume your life when the universe is within you. “I tell you once more, where the mystic is all around, you enjoy the sights and the sound, so high you don’t want to be down, this is where I can be found.”
Favorite Movie: Sweet November
Its about this woman with a terminal illness and gives her lover the gift of her verve of life for only one month. There are so many people out there and they all love differently. She never told them she had a terminal illness. Her last lover in November, loved her so deeply he was not willing to accept her terms and fought for her, and changed all her calendars to the month of November so they could be together forever. He fought for her LOVE and to spend the rest of their lives together, even though he knew it would be short lived.
Favorite book: You can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay
This book saved my life. In her book, Hay highlights physical ailments in your body as they are connected to emotions we are feeling and living. The first time I wasn’t ready to receive the message. I thought, no no no, don’t tell me what to do. These things I am going through are not my fault. As I went through the exercises and started practicing affirmations in my daily life, I began to heal my nose bleed, my anxiety, my eating disorder. I had a higher value of the things I felt and thought because they make up who I am and who I present to the world. To this day, I still practice affirmations. In traffic, at work, at home. They are everywhere. “All is well”
Goddess Mena Love: What kind of music are you listening to right now?
Giesel: This very moment, I am listening to I am by Nirinjan Kaur. Lately, I find peace listening to music, mantras, chants that come from Kundalini Yoga. I believe that your vibrations are raised by the music you listen to. Sometimes that might be as mainstream as Ed Sheran, Beyonce, Sam Smith, Taylor Swift- don’t judge me. I know you know the lyrics to shake it off in your sleep or as slow and conscious like some Bob Marley, Morgan Heritage, Lucky Dube, or cultural like the legends of Garifuna Music, Paul Nabor and Andy Palacio.
Goddess Mena Love: How important is it to change your diet while living a more spiritual life?
Giesel: I strongly believe when you know better, you do better in all areas of your life, especially with your diet. I remember coming out of yoga class and going straight to McDonalds for French fries and ice cream. I can really be philosophical, but I will keep it really simple with this classic example. Lets use a topic a lot of people wonder about… eating meat. Some might ask, do I have to give up meat to be spiritual? You can advance along your spiritual path and still eat meat. But know that when you remove meat and other lower frequency food from your diet, entirely new spiritual realms will be available to you. There are levels to this shit. I believe that the more you refine your diet, the higher your spiritual attainment.
Goddess Mena Love: What’s your favorite healthy comfort food?
Giesel: Hudutu luma falmou. Hudut with coconut gravy. This is my healthy comfort food. It is a traditional Belizean dish from the Garifuna culture and my mom would make this every Saturday. You use ripe and green plantain boiled and mashed together and the gravy is coconut milk with herbs and vegetables. It is traditionally served with fish, but you can omit that based on dietary preference.
Goddess Mena Love: What is LOVE to you?
Giesel: LOVE to me is infinite and truly unconditional. I believe that once you truly allow LOVE to blossom in your life, there is only acceptance. There is no measurement for a reason. I’m sure if someone could come up with a scale to measure how much one person LOVES another, just to prove it, they would. It is one of those wonders that you just have to let be and enjoy the miracles in your life it brings when you are open to it.
When I say LOVE is truly unconditional, I mean that it comes without judgment and without the lingering dot dot dots we are so used to. I believe that you should LOVE with your whole being, not just with what you are able to see. I found LOVE in the most unexpected place, in my beLOVED Cardessa Kerr. There were many thoughts going through my mind; one of which was, “what does this make me?” and thought of the only definition of LOVE I knew which was that between a “man and a woman.” Was I in for a treat! I found the most supportive, LOVING, friendship, partnership, relationship in her soul and it felt so fluid. I couldn’t deny that kind of life from myself in this lifetime.
Goddess Mena Love: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from teaching yoga?
Giesel: As a teacher, I wanted to give people of color a yoga instructor who looked like them, for them to feel its ok to come in and try yoga. My biggest lesson so far from teaching yoga has been that yoga is color blind that people come to class inflexible, no matter their race. My original motivation to teach was rooted in separation, that we are different, but yoga literally means union. I’ve learned that we are the same.
Goddess Mena Love: When you’re not at home, how do you create peace for yourself?
Giesel: The flow of my breath is the anchor post of my practice. It’s how I know to remain peaceful even when I am not home because I remember how I breathe in my practice, I remember how I breathe at home and when I am not home, I may not be in my space, but I always have my breath. I would drive and do breathing exercises. I would be at my desk and do breathing exercises and that brings me to a state of peace.
Goddess Mena Love: Share any experience that stands out significantly about the role of The Law of Attraction and how miracles have manifested in your life?
Giesel: I will share a Bible Verse to help illustrate: As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he. Proverbs 23:7. Its so important to understand what you think in your heart is how you really feel. When i thought about becoming a yoga teacher, I mixed them with feelings of a thought I wanted to teach yoga and here I am a certified yoga instructor.
Goddess Mena Love: Who or what inspires you?
Giesel: I am influenced by the strong women around me. I have nine aunts. And each one acts as a teacher in my life and influences who I have become today. What inspires me the most is the growth that occurs from the lessons learned from my family and apply them to make myself, and those around me- whether my friends, students, coworkers and so on.
Goddess Mena Love: What’s your favorite yoga pose? Why?
Giesel: My favorite yoga pose is Ustrasana- Camel Pose. This pose was the most challenging for me when I started my practice. I felt a lot of resistance, physically and mentally. I was a very reserved person and thought that if you open yourself up to people, to situations, you will get hurt. When I finally learned the art of Ustrasana, camel pose and I felt my rib cage open up and my heart expanding, it felt like a rose in full bloom. I felt a lot of emotions rushing to the surface and I was overwhelmed. Tears were streaming down my face as I came down to take child’s pose releasing every feeling of insecurity and fear I had towards life.
Goddess Mena Love: What’s next for you, in yoga and life?
Giesel: That’s a loaded question. Currently, I am teaching yoga at a nationwide gym. In yoga, my next step is to continue create awareness and about my brand, yoga and to integrate of the practice so that is multicultural rather than one dimensional. I took a leap to host international yoga adventures in my home country of Belize, so I plan to make that an annual event. Also, I recently engaged, so I have a wedding to plan.
Goddess Mena Love: Finish this statement. My life is so cool…..
Giesel: I get to do what I love every single day and make a difference to everyone I come in contact with through my practice and in everyday life. Also, I get to teach yoga and be a student of the world’s most renowned Yoga Masters.
Giesel was born and raised in Dangriga Town in Belize, Central America and is now a Houston, Texas based yoga instructor with a passion for holistic health and nutrition, and self-acceptance.
On her journey to share her passions through yoga, Giesel incorporates her Garifuna and Creole culture, yoga philosophy, and awareness to attain self-love.
Giesel specializes in Vinyasa Krama Yoga, which is a flowing sequence of asanas linked by breath and intention.
She is a registered member of the National Association of Certified Yoga Teachers.
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