Q&A with Maria Villella

I’ve started practicing Ashtanga yoga lately and feel so blessed to have met Maria Villella, a beautiful Ashtanga teacher. Whenever I see Maria, I feel an immediate sense of calm and zen…she’s got that certain quality about her that just makes you feel peaceful every time you’re around her. And she was so sweet to do a Q&A for my blog (which has been suffering from updates, I know!) So here you go:
Hi Maria. What do you typically eat in a day? Hmmm my diet!!! So I’m actually not a vegetarian, I’ve tried many times to switch to a vegetarian/vegan diet but I’ve always felt low energy and weak. The longest I made it was 2 1/2 years but it was a struggle the whole time. I do eat organic, free range, and wild as much as I can. Since I study Chinese medicine I’ve been integrating the philosophy of eating with seasons and using food as we would herbal medicine. I eat much more cooked food then I ever had before and I have to say my digestion is much better because of it. So I always start my day with a large breakfast around 9:30am when I finish teaching my morning classes which run from 6:30-9am. Usually I’ll have eggs, mushrooms, and greens cooked in a caste iron pan with black sesames seeds, ginger, coconut oil, sea salt. For lunch I eat very light because I practice at 4pm and I can’t practice with food in my stomach so I’ll have snack type foods like nuts, fruit or some kind of smoothie with superfoods. Dinner is usually a protein with lots of vegetables; kale is my favorite or I’ll have a soup or stew.
How do you stay in shape/what’s your exercise routine? I practice Ashtanga yoga about 1-2 hours a day usually 5 days a week. I enjoy walking, bike riding, and hiking. I really love being outside and in natural settings, living in LA I find it necessary to retreat to the serenity of nature.
What’s a typical outfit for you in and outside of a yoga studio? Any favorite yoga clothing labels? Other designers? I live in yoga clothes! They are so comfortable and because I’m always teaching or practicing they’re very practical. I don’t favor any brand, I like them all! Yoga clothes are actually pretty stylish these days but my favorite ones are my old ones that are faded and pretty beat up.
What are three things you can’t live without? Only 3!!!! Ok, since you asked about “things” I’m going to narrow it down to objects as opposed to people, practices, or love. My Manduka mat! The original black mat is still the best one I’ve ever practiced on. Raw honey is a staple in my diet and I have it everyday. Acupuncture needles and/or Korean spas!!!
If you weren’t a yoga teacher, what would you be doing? I’m studying Oriental medicine and when I finish my program I’ll be a licensed primary care physician. I love medicine but more specifically the eastern model of health and wholeness. I chose to study Oriental medicine because I wanted more tools in my toolbox to help bring myself, others, and the world into harmony. If I weren’t teaching yoga I would practice oriental medicine full time!

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