Name: Laura Gavrilenko
Nationality: Belarus, Italy
Occupation: Model and Creative director
When and how did you start practicing yoga? Since childhood I've always been very active, spending lots of time outdoors, practicing different kinds of sports, taking dance classes… Then later for my work fitness became an essential part of my routine. Yoga came to my life rather slowly and quite randomly I would say. I was taking occasional classes here and there , my first yoga class was actually in NYC in 2014 and it was a disaster haha, I didn't seem to connect with teacher or group at all. Obviously I happened to be in the wrong place. In 2015 I went to India for work and I met some wonderful teachers there who shared their wisdom and experience in such a loving way, it encouraged me to keep discovering more about yoga practice. Then in 2016 I went to Bangkok and a friend who was already an ashtanga practitioner recommended me AYBKK Shala. After my first practice I felt overwhelmed and exhausted, I actually thought I wouldn't come back! But I did and I did it almost everyday for the next 3 months. And now it's just part of my life.
How did you first meet Kia and Mysore Yoga Paris? I returned to Paris after working and travelling in Asia, and started looking for place to practice Mysore. I've tried another Shala at first but somehow I didn't feel guided there, as a result my practice regressed. I started practicing more at home. One day I had an accident and broke a heel-bone. After taking off the cast few months later I realized I wouldn't be able to practice by my self and my search for teacher resumed. I saw MYP had “Open House” and I decided to try… I had an instant feeling that this is the place I want to be. Kia helped me to find myself in my practice again. She guided me through my healing process so intelligently, we had to revisit my entire sequence and this setback to the beginners´ mind was very beneficial as well.
Has a committed Mysore practice changed you, how? Definitely and in so many ways. It's a mission impossible to grasp all the ways it has transformed my life. But probably the biggest experience is that it brings my focus inwards. Otherwise in my daily life and work everything moves and changes so fast. I always need to act and there is no much time or energy left to reflect. Consistent practice brings me back to myself , 2 hours of Mysore are 2 hours of nowness. After my morning practice I feel purified physically and mentally, it is my reset button.
What is the significance of working so consistently with a teacher and method? To me these two are crucial factors if one is on spiritual path. Establishing a deeper connection with oneself, discovering more subtle levels of yoga is only possible by following the intelligent guidance of teacher and by surrendering to the practice method. Only then, with time, there is a chance for transformation to occur. At least this is my understanding.
Describe what the Shala and its community is to you? A microcosmos in its own way. It could probably be the model of what the perfect world should feel like - supportive , nourishing, trustful, loving, united and fun! It's almost a surreal experience of some sort of synchronicity that is felt in the Shala!
What inspires you to keep practicing? The beauty of understanding, accepting and experiencing things as they are. Practice brings me back to this state every single time. And you know, these days I don't feel like myself if I don't practice. So probably it became an inspiration in itself.
Does practice influence your work as a model and creative director, in what way? Absolutely! Besides being a visual and philosophical source of inspiration in itself for creative expression, it also supports me in so many different ways. Consciously and subconsciously I take lessons I learn on the mat into my life. All the by-products of the practice, such as focus, stamina, endurance, patience etc, have benefited my work immensely. But on a more subtle level it helps me to keep my mind and my heart open no matter the circumstances. Being open to the world allows me to stay inspired, to connect with world and myself in a deeper way - and then the entire process of creation takes a new turn.
You and your partner Rid made the beautiful photos from Mysore Yoga Shop´s Nowness collection - can you tell us something about that process and shoot? First of all, I can't overestimate our enthusiasm when we were given 'carte blanche'. For us it was just so precious, this trust and confidence we received from Kia & Magnus. I remember Rid was transiting from London to Mumbai through Paris so we basically had only one afternoon on our hands to make the shoot happen. The lack of time made it impossible to follow our initial plan, so we had to experiment with surroundings of our neighbourhood, which in the end was an excellent option too. Ideas were developing during the shoot, we were really just enjoying and embracing this process. Every challenge coming our way we accepted as gift - such as sudden blows of extremely strong winds or the ever changing light. In the end we were rewarded with a magnificent after rainy sunset with hues of orange , pink and red which beautifully translated in the photos. Nowness inside out :)
When and where do you experience Nowness..? Here and Now! Once I realize falling out of tune with the present, the easiest way to reconnect is through the breath.
Describe your practice in 3 words:
Luminous, Purposeful , Transforming.
Where do you go to find peace in Paris? I always find peace by simply being in nature. Living in any busy city makes it especially important and precious to reconnect with Mother Earth. I'm very lucky to live close to the forest so I can have my perfect escape in Paris anytime I want. Another special moment is sunrise and sunset time. Whenever I have a chance to catch it (in the city it's actually not that easy), I just stop doing whatever I was doing and have my little meditation watching the sun changing the colors of the sky.
Check out Laura & Rid´s beautiful work for Mysore Yoga Shop and Journal here: https://www.mysoreyogaparis.com/journal