In the second part of 'Learning to Thrive in Self-Isolation', Emilia speaks with Daria Germondari, yoga and meditation teacher and Thai massage therapist, to discover practical tips on self-care during challenging times.
Emilia: Hi Daria, welcome to Circles! I was curious to speak with you after my chat with Maya. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Daria: Of course! People often ask what led me to yoga, meditation, massage and the holistic road. The answer is that I needed to be healed. In my case, I was a healthy 27-year-old when I started feeling tired. Extreme tiredness, muscle and joint pain, cognitive issues, hyper-sensitivity to external environments and insomnia. Anxiety and depression eventually also ensued. It took a process of elimination to diagnose Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (sometimes called ME). Learning to view myself as a whole, instead of fragments made up of a mind, a body and a soul, allowed for healing to take place and for energy to flow back into the whole. It was through dedicated yoga practice, energy-based bodywork and mindful rest that I bounced back with a newfound mind-body response that was holistic and systemic. This is why I feel so passionate about sharing the gifts of yoga, meditation and massage. I use the word “gifts” because they serve to remind us that we are born blissful. During times of uncertainty, vulnerability, hardship we often forget this about ourselves. I want to remind everyone that their light is bright, vibrant, unique and there to elevate and uplift them during the darkest of times.
Emilia: You had a very unusual journey in the most literal sense due to the pandemic, a journey that has only brought you back home this week. Could you share your story?
Daria: Yes, I went on a trip around South America about nine months ago, before the pandemic. I visited seven countries, while continuing to offer yoga and massage where it was needed. I threw myself into the present moment, and nine months on, due to Covid-19 and travel restrictions, I have only made my way back home this week. I was visiting family in Spain on my way home when lockdown was imposed. I went from complete freedom to being forced to stay in. I responded by catapulting myself further into my passions. That connection to passion led to a big transition where I was hearing a very loud and clear message to support others by bringing my teachings online. I didn’t know how they would be received, but I knew it was something I had to do. I started sharing yoga and meditation practices on Facebook and Instagram, and was amazed at the global community that joined in. I felt nervous teaching to a “screen”, but deep down I knew that behind that screen were people looking for solace, for a deeper connection to themselves, and for a space to simple breathe. The gatherings started to take place on Zoom and have continued ever since to my joy.
Daria's 9-month journey during the pandemic
Emilia: What have you learnt from this experience?
Daria: We can plan for our future, and I believe it’s healthy to do so, but ultimately we cannot control what’s around the corner. I too had certain things in place for my return to London, all of which weren’t able to materialise or go ahead... We were thrown a disproportionate amount of change that’s been hard to digest. However, I also believe that every life experience serves as a lesson that we can either use for bettering ourselves or ignore. For me the lesson has been to be content with less, to simplify, to drop complicated lifestyles and clinging on to what we “think” will make us happy. If I were to condense my takeaway from this experience to one sentence, it would be LET’S GO BACK TO BASICS. And let’s take better care of our world.
Emilia: What are your top tips for thriving in self-isolation?
Daria: On a personal level, I feel it was my passion for yoga and wellness that kept me healthy during self-isolation. Passions allow us to express ourselves, to learn and grow, to find meaning in our lives. Think back to when you were a kid, what did you love doing? Those are your passions; they stay with you. I didn’t know about yoga then but my passion was dance, gymnastics and all form of movement. Today, movement is what allowed me to get my health back and in movement I trust. Movement of the body, the lymph, the subtle energies (Chi or Prana), circulation, synovial fluid... movement is my passion. What about you?
Emilia: That is a valid point. One of my passions is music and luckily, I got a guitar for my birthday this year, so I'm keen to immerse myself in a new hobby. Daria, what would you suggest anyone who is just starting to learn more about self-care, yoga and mindfulness?
Daria: I would say to approach every practice from a place of confidence; where you believe in yourself and celebrate yourself just as you are. Self-appreciation can go a very long way to reminding us that we are blissful beings. If you’d like to connect you can find me on @yogawithdaria on Instagram or visit my website.
Emilia: A final question to you, do you have a favourite spot in H&F?
Daria: I really love The River Cafe, and of course strolling along the river itself. It’s what makes Hammersmith so special.
The River Cafe in Hammersmith