Meet Monica Latasha Graham who is a yoga instructor and the founder and creator of the the Yoga HIIT yoga mats. She shares how she got started practicing yoga and also the benefits.
FFFC: Tell our readers about yourself.
My name is Monica Latasha Graham and I am 48 years old. I have been involved in the fitness industry for over 20 years. I have one son and one granddaughter.
I currently reside in the San Francisco Bay Area but my hometown is St. Louis, MO.
FFFC: How did you get interested in yoga?
I use to lift very heavy weights and never did any stretching. I then started competing in half marathons and the only stretching I did was bending over side to side. I was always told that stretching was not necessary for powerlifting and running.
In 2012, I started having hip pain and lower back pain. It was so bad that I could no longer workout without feeling pain. Someone suggested I try yoga to help stretch my muscles out.
I attended my first yoga class in February 2013 and to my surprise, I got the best sleep of my life at that time. Even though it was extremely difficult for me because I had no flexibility, I did not stop.
Within a month, my body started feeling a lot different and those pains went away.
Initially the doctors suggested back surgery, but I was against it. After I realized how much of a benefit yoga was for my body, I never stopped practicing it.
FFFC: What do you enjoy about practicing and teaching yoga?
The simple answer to this is EVERYTHING. Allow me to explain. When practicing yoga, I feel free.
My mind goes into a place that allows me complete serenity and happiness. In those moments, there is no stress and I feel powerful.
I am so in tune with myself that I feel as though nothing is impossible and with determination, I can do any and all things.
Teaching yoga allows me to share a wealth of knowledge that was never given to me. I think back to when I first started fitness how different my results would have been if I only knew the benefits of yoga.
I love teaching beginners and showing them how to do simple movements utilizing their breath. When I see the growth in my students, it brings me a feeling of accomplishment that I cannot explain.
FFFC: What are some of the benefits of yoga you want people reading this to know?
The benefits of yoga are limitless. It is truly mind, body and soul. These benefits include:
- Mental Awareness
- Increased Mobility
- Elongation of muscles
FFFC: What’s your favorite form of yoga for weight loss?
My favorite form of yoga is HOT YOGA. It gives a deeper meditation and allows you to release toxins within your body. When practicing with consistency, you can and will lose weight!
FFFC: What advice can you give someone who wants to start practicing yoga?
The best advice I can give to anyone that wants to start practicing yoga is to go to a yoga studio for a beginner’s class. This is so very important because the form of poses are everything.
Many people try to do poses without knowing proper form and can seriously hurt themselves. When working with a knowledgeable instructor, he/she can guide a beginner and help set up the poses properly.
In addition to this, I would advise to give it some time and do not get frustrated. Recognize that this is a new place for your body and it takes time. The muscles do not get compressed overnight, so flexibility will not happen overnight.
Be patient. Be determined. Breathe.
FFFC: Tell us more about your yoga mats.
I wanted my mats to be different than what you would find in the store. I wanted them to stand out.
I wanted them to be a representation of me. These mats are extra long (72 inches) and the bottom is made not to slide when placed on wood floors. They are colorful and come with a yoga strap to carry the mat with you on your shoulder.
These are quality mats. I had a photographer take photos of me in various poses. These pictures were then given to a graphic artist to create a caricature image of me in these same poses.
Once the mats started selling, many people wanted images of men and kids. Soon these mats will be introduced as a Limited Supply on my website.
FFFC: What inspired you to create these beautiful yoga mats?
The idea of my yoga mats came to me in a dream after a close friend suggested I get my own website and start selling yoga products. Initially I was against it as I did not feel I would have time to add anything else to my plate.
I am a big advocate of supporting small businesses and I would always post about other products that people use within their businesses.
Since I always speak to people about yoga and have many people that have been following me for years, I felt it was necessary to offer a product that goes along with my personal yoga brand.
After months of putting together a business plan, YogaHIIT mats were born!
Strong Like A Girl
Smile Like A Scorpion
FFFC: Where are they sold?
FFFC: What other yogis inspire you?
There are so many yogis that inspire me. I follow so many of them on Instagram and it helps me become a better yoga instructor. If I have to name someone, I would say my biggest inspiration for getting started would be Laura Kasperzak.
She really kick started my yoga journey just by watching her on IG. She held a yoga contest in March 2013. I only entered the contest to help me with some of my poses.
To my surprise, I was one of the winners. That gave my yoga confidence a huge boost.
FFFC: How can folks find you on social media?
I offer FREE yoga classes on Facebook Live 2 times a month. Anyone that follows my page can join in.
Since I have started my journey with yoga, it totally changed my body. I am a work in progress and each day I practice, I become a better ME.