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Talking with Mirela Ivaz – vegetarian, yoga teacher and travel enthusiast | Veggie Stories is the blog of Mirela Ivaz, Yoga Teacher & Ayurveda Lifestyle Counselor, accredited by Yoga Alliance and STED Council (India). Mirela is vegetarian and on her blog you will find lots of useful info about Yoga, Ayurveda, veggie traveling and even recipes.

I met Mirela at the Food Bloggers Conference 2017, Winter Edition, on which I was also a Speaker. I was so happy that she approached me and talking with her made me realize we resonate very much and think alike. That’s when we set the date to meet again and even discuss a possible collaboration.

So, we started planning. 🙂 We’ll soon launch some nice projects together. First of all, she will be a guest blogger here on Gourmandelle and will write to you about Yoga, Ayurveda and her traveling stories. This Spring we plan on launching an online Yoga course together and this summer even organize some Yoga & Healthy Eating camps here in Romania. 🙂

How do these plans sound? Would you be interested in reading about Yoga?

Until then, I wanted you to get to know Mirela, find out the story behind her blog, what are her favorite recipes and how she discovered her passion for Yoga, Ayurveda and traveling.

P.S. In the Veggie Stories section on my blog you can find other interviews with some of my favorite bloggers. 

P.P.S. You can also follow Mirela on Facebook and YouTube

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Who is Mirela Ivaz from

I am passionate about the ways in which I can maintain myself in a harmonious state of health, integrating the structural, functional, psychological and social aspects that define my existence. I think that to be in a state of wellbeing and develop harmonious relationships, it is necessary to pay attention to all the essential parts that make up the whole, the I. Negligence leads to imbalance, illness.

This, I express through what I do. I’m vegetarian since the age of 15. Sports, outdoor activities, traveling are my second nature. As much as possible, I travel to authentic places, talk with the locals, observe their culture and traditions.

The encounter with the systematized processes of personal development is defining my path, allowing me to deeply address the feelings, emotions, patterns of destructive behavior and to build beneficial alternatives for harmonious growth and mental-emotional balance. For this, I use the traditional Yoga and Ayurveda systems combined with modern personal development processes, especially neuro-linguistic programming.

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You are a telecom engineer and have worked in multi-national IT / Telecom companies for over 10 years. Also, you are a yoga teacher, Ayurveda consultant, nutritionist and NLP Practitioner. How do your two sides, the pragmatic and the dynamic one, merge together?

I am a telecommunication engineer due to the pragmatism, the passion for the exact sciences and the desire to be part of a dynamic, creative and innovative domain. The 11 years spent in multi-national corporations shaped me, to embodying organizational skills, accountability, effective communication, surpassing the limits, patience, diplomacy and going beyond the office environment, creating friendships, traveling and spending time in the company of exceptional people: colleagues, mentors and trainers.

Bringing my passion to a professional level, I became an international yoga teacher in 2015, being accredited by the most powerful organization in the field, Yoga Alliance. The desire of going directly to the source led me to India and Nepal, where I studied Integrated Yoga Therapy – Yoga Applied in Individual Therapy, Ayurveda – The Science of Life and Meditation Techniques at Kopan Monastery in Kathmandu. The thousands of years of wisdom from Yoga and Ayurveda, I have integrated them with modern professional science, graduating as Nutritionist Technician and NLP Practitioner.

For a while, in parallel with the telecom engineer profession, I “functioned” as a Yoga Teacher and Ayurveda Lifestyle Counselor, organizing workshops and weekend retreats.

I’ve combined these two sides without considering them apart from each other, as the benefits from one side flowed into the other and vice versa.

To answer your question of how the pragmatic and dynamic sides get combined, I think that pragmatism allows me to focus on what is practical, useful, advantageous for the benefit of those I work with, while dynamism gives me that inner force to put things in motion and fulfill them.

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What made you change your lifestyle and how did you discover yoga?

You probably refer to my decision to leave the corporate environment. When I’ve discovered that I can offer something meaningful to people and give them more of my time and energy, I took the step and left the corporation.

Yoga has come into my life, probably at the right time: it happened in 2013 at a quite mature age, when I wanted to know myself better and deeper. Yoga came in and remained. At first, I’ve discovered the effects on myself, then I wanted to find out and understand more – it captivated me… and so, I graduated the International Yoga Teacher program and now I share this knowledge.

Why Yoga? Because, look at the world we live in: we pollute our minds every day with destructive thoughts, we eat on the run and often not the most suitable foods, we are exposed to stress, we meet challenges at home and at work – to do thing faster and better. Most of us lead a sedentary lifestyle, lack energy, vitality, or do not feel good in their skin, or lose the clarity of the things which are really important to them.

Where we think there is no more time, Yoga creates time and space, new perspectives, a break, a new breath, a connection with the true essence of us. It is what I have discovered through Yoga, an effective method to develop a harmonious body, to maintain and even grow its youth and vitality, to improve physical-mental-emotional health and spiritual evolution.

What impresses me about Yoga and Ayurveda is the applicability of a 5000-year-old science, now confirmed with studies in medicine, recommended as a method of prevention and treatment.

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How do your yoga sessions take place?

Whether working one-to-one or with the group, yoga sessions are built around a major objective, according to which the whole practice is built. I approach themes related to the health of the physical body, such as back and spine health, correct posture, immunity strengthening, digestion improvement, etc. as well as themes connected with the subtle mental-emotional-energy levels: reducing stress and anxiety, balancing the endocrine system, mental focus, well-being and vitality.

I carefully integrate traditional yoga techniques – asana, pranayama, nidra yoga, meditation, playfulness, etc. to address specific current needs:

  • Asana sequences bring strength and balance to the body, relieve muscle tension, improve mobility and flexibility of joints, activate metabolism and the digestive system, normalize the functioning of the endocrine and immune system, bring physical-mental-emotional balance.
  • Meditation and conscious breathing sessions aim to increase concentration, reduce stress and anxiety, balance the energy, achieve a state of inner harmony.

During group sessions, I focus on a topic, choosing it to be relevant to the environment we live in and on meeting different needs of the students, while also bringing the most suitable yoga style to achieve the stated goals. Hatha Yoga, Yin Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga are the styles that I specifically integrate for a dedicated practice.

The approach for one-to-one private sessions is slightly different because here I can meet the customer’s unique needs and address individual concerns, such as injuries, behavioral patterns and life goals.

In both approaches – private or with the group, the feedback I receive from the clients is that yoga sessions work for them as a therapy, helping them to better manage the effects of stress, overcome the sedentary lifestyle effects, getting better with the pressure of daily life responsibilities, reach and maintain a physical and mental tonus that allows them to put the right energy in achieving their personal goals.

When, how and why did the blog story start? appeared in 2015, out of the desire to broaden and strengthen the communication with those who want to improve the quality of their life. The blog incorporates the four essential aspects through which I grow and develop: yoga, nutrition, personal development and travel. For me, no one can exist independently and each interconnects with the other.

The blog brings to the readers the personal experiences and documented information as support for a certain life situation, vegetarian food recipes out of my kitchen, stories of travelling to authentic places.

Another way for enriching the experience shared with readers is through my youtube channel. I post here videos with yoga sequences for those who can not come to the sessions that I regularly teach at the studio or for those who want to develop a personal practice at home. Also, you find here the videos from my travellings (Nepal, India, the mountains of Romania, etc.) and recommendations for a healthy lifestyle.

fagaras ivaz

I know you travel a lot and recently you spent 10 days in a Buddhist monastery in Nepal. How do you choose where to travel?

Yes, last October met me in Nepal, being guided by the Buddhist monks in the art of meditation and then, climbing the Himalayas from 1400m to 5000m altitude. The beginning of the year 2018 catches me in India for another month, hosted by one of the most famous yoga schools.

I choose the authentic places, close to nature or the ones which are strongly impregnated with history. I seek to learn from every encounter: experiences given by the different places and the people, culture and traditions. I’m looking for opportunities allowing me to grow, develop, expand the knowledge of myself, the others and the world itself.

How did these “spiritual” journeys change you?

I’ve traveled knowing that the world will not be the same for me, which happened both along the way, as once I got back home. In my opinion, you need a fantastic courage to get out of the comfort bubble in which you feel relatively safe and walk into the unknown.

For me, spiritual means confronting yourself, refraining yourself from assiduous running after material accumulation and acceptance from others and asking yourself: Who am I? Where do I come from? Where do I go? Why am I here?

Spirituality also means to me having access to only certain facets of the things and own limited power to controlling life, that all our actions are subject to a superior governing power, called by many, God.

Spiritual can be almost any action, the difference is made by the act of presence, associated with the action itself, the ability to be truly aware of what is happening within you.

A spiritual journey begins where you stop evaluating critically whatever you see, comparing with what is known to you or familiar. Instead, you look beyond the images, absorb with an open mind, whatever is revealed to you.

India, Nepal, trekking to Moldoveanul Peak, a night spent in the wilderness, visiting old archaeological sites, living in a monastery, meeting with significant people, etc. brought me closer to the depth of the human essence, the things that really matter.

What are the three important personal development tips that you want to give to someone who does not find a role in our society or our own lives?

Finding the life purpose has given and continues to cause headaches to mankind and is one of the biggest challenges we face in life. After all, each chooses to address this subject differently.

That being said, below are my tips to help you find out why you are here, where your passions are hiding and where is the spark that allows you to shine meaningfully.

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There is not necessarily to “play” the role the society dictates for you.

Developing a career, getting married and having a family is considered by some people to be the meaning of life. However, it does not have to be the same for everyone, not everyone is meant to do that.

When living a life dictated by society or family, it is difficult to find your purpose in life. Parents say they know what’s best for their children, and often involve too much in their lives, wanting them to become doctors or lawyers. Many of these children do not listen to their own desires or are not encouraged to discover their talents and grow by rules that dictate they can not have what they want or are not good or capable enough.

And in time, children who have now grown up realize that they are not what they want or do what they want to do.

If it sounds like your story, then it’s time to get rid of the rules taken from society or family and start living the life you want. At the end of your life, you will regret what you did not do, even though you wanted to.

Once you realize that no one has to live behind a set of rules and that each is unique in his desires, aspirations and talents, then you will be able to better understand the meaning of your life and where to go.

Step outside the comfort zone.

Getting outside the comfort zone means progress, personal growth. Every time you get out of the comfort zone you get to know yourself better and the world around offers you more opportunities.

Lack of meaning arises from boredom, from a monotonous repetition that keeps you far from finding your way and approaching it with enthusiasm and courage. Fear of the unknown, the fear of failing or the fear of not being in control keep you from exploring and surpassing your limits.

Strong, happy, meaningful people are adventurers, have the courage to explore, to make decisions that take them out of the comfort zone.

It does not matter how small or big the step is; face your fears and grow!

Find out what makes you really happy.

What makes you really happy, what makes you feel, how do you realize life is beautiful and worth living with consideration? Do you like to travel, to help others, to be with family or all together?

Allow yourself to place in your life the activities that make you happy, that gives you a sense of joy and freedom. Explore and find out what makes you really happy and then you will know the purpose of your life.

Give yourself time, travel, engage in volunteer actions, change your job or even your profession, offer more credit to native talents and abilities, grow them.

There is nothing more satisfying than fulfilling your goal every day.

Bonus. Listen to your intuition and do things meaningfully!

There are periods in your life where you feel confused, you do not know what to do next, or you feel you’ve lost your direction. Here’s what helps you know. Remember that all the answers are within you. It’s that voice inside your heart that tells you what’s good for you. Only that sometimes the answers are covered by daily duties and responsibilities, by all those “do’s” and “dont’s” …

Going beyond a shallow life and wanting to find out who you really are is not an easy thing and it’s up to you to figure out what’s important to you. When you listen to your inner voice, you are connected to the vibrations of happiness, creativity, intuition and you are guided by an inner force to make those choices which bring purpose to your life and even to your death.

Do not let the fast-paced modern life take control of you. Society imprints now, perhaps more than ever, a rapid rhythm in which many people get caught, often serving their comfort, holding them busy and without time to reflect on the meaning of life, the good and the evil, almost desensitized from themselves and their fellows. Surprisingly, all of this is happening while a new threshold for manifested human consciousness is attained worldwide.

Remember that your emotions and feelings are real, they are not superficial and are part of your nature. Allow yourself to feel and really appreciate a moment in your life, give conscious attention and meaning to the time that passes anyway, treat yourself with compassion, tolerance, love and these will flow into what you do, in your choices, in the people you surround with.

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Describe an ordinary day in your life.

I am a great fan of early morning hours: with few exceptions, I wake up between 5:30 and 6:30. I like the idea of having a morning routine that sets the tone for a clear, active and productive day, a routine that mentally prepares me for what I have to do on that day.

The preparation for a new day begins the evening before: the last consistent meal is around 16:30 – 17:30 – after that I only take a light snack, I write down my tasks for the next day and try by 22:00 – 22:30 to be in bed. I’ve taken out exercising from the second half of the afternoon – an activity that energizes me too much. I let the fresh air to enter the room before bedtime and I use essential oil blends for a smooth and restful sleep. I am also careful what kind of information I bring to my mind before bedtime: therefore avoiding the news, choosing a relaxing movie, put my phone aside and close mobile data.

I have the advantage of waking up easy in the mornings and having a plan motivates me to get active and to be less tempted to get back on the other side and to fall asleep.

So in the mornings, I wake up, take a quick shower and put the water for the tea to boil. Meanwhile, I let fresh air into the room, roll down the yoga mat and put a few drops of essential oils in the aromatherapy lamp, a mixture that resonates with a certain desired inner state or which supports my activities during the day.

Meditation, prayer, asana yoga and pranayama are the ones that anchor me in the desired state and prepare my mind for what I want to fulfill on that day. Practicing yoga in the mornings also allows me to reflect on life situations that distract me or which I find annoying and objectively analyze them, or equally well, give me an energy boost that is beneficial at the physical level and mentally.

As time fits, after the yoga practice, I read or study. It is the most precious time that I personally give to myself.

At 10 AM, the Ayurvedic hour, I eat breakfast peacefully. Already up since several hours, with a nice sensation of being hungry, I have quite a large breakfast. I usually choose to eat plain grains bread with butter and home-made jam, sugar-free, or porridge.

After breakfast, around 10:30-11:00, starts my working day, I write, prepare the workshop materials or the yoga sessions, study, keep in touch with the people, go to meetings or offer consultations, etc.

My morning program varies slightly on the hot summer days. Then, about two or three times a week, I go out early in the morning to run in the park, while the weather is still pleasant, and running is transformed into a meditative practice.

Beyond all this planning, attracted to fulfill things that nurture and give me a sense of purpose, I accept myself as human being: to fail, to be lazy or simply not in the mood. Then I allow myself to be the way I feel, to take a break, to change my mind, to do something else. For a while, then I come back on track. More than achieving results, I’m interested in following my personal aspiration to be a better, wiser version of myself every other day.

Top 3 favorite recipes?

I generally like simple things and this is also reflected in the food preferences. I crave for sweet, mint ice cream with black chocolate!

One of my favorite desserts is also “papanasi”, a traditional Romanian recipe, which is like fried donuts, slightly browned and crispy on the outside, with a hot interior, served with cold sour cream and sweet cranberry jam.

I also love Indian, Nepalese or Tibetan vegetarian recipes, with lightly cooked vegetables, feeling their fragrance and natural flavor, slightly spicy and flavored with garam masala, with rice, lentils and coconut pulp sauce. There are some recipes I’ve “brought” home with me and included them into the menu, also helped by the spices I get from the source, ensuring the food’s specific taste.