A wine writer who always finds time for yoga

May 10, 2023 0 Comments

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In another life, Julia Coney could have been a travel agent. When we spoke, she was preparing for her upcoming trip to the Champagne region of France just days after returning from Rome. As a wine writer, educator, speaker and consultant, as well as the founder of Black Wine Professionals, Coney interacts with all aspects of the nearly $340 billion wine industry. she’s busy However, despite her constant travels and engagements, she always finds time to return to her mat, even if it’s from her hotel room.

Connie started practicing yoga in 2006 after the death of her brother. Instead of immediately putting her on antidepressants, her doctor suggested she try yoga to help her connect with her grief and start moving through it. He encouraged her to find a teacher and a form of yoga that resonated with her.

It was significant. As a runner and weightlifter, Kony expressed skepticism about whether this type of movement suited her. “Yoga [seemed] calming, and I have a fiery personality,” she says. “I was just making excuses.” However, she agreed to at least try her doctor’s advice and Googled “yoga hips.” The results led her to Kimberly Wilson, owner of the now-closed Tranquil Space studio in Washington, DC. Wilson’s class was not the flow Coney expected. “I remember thinking, ‘She’s playing Eminem?’ Is she playing Coldplay? I know it’s Lenny Kravitz in Savasan. At the end of her first session with Wilson, Kony was in tears. This was the beginning of her yoga journey.

Practicing yoga while traveling

Connie took 200 hours of teacher training from Wilson, but it wasn’t with the intention of teaching. Instead, she saw it as a spiritual training that would allow her to delve deeper into aspects of yoga that are not asana (posture). The training also allowed Kona to continue her practice on the road. “That’s the beauty of yoga,” she says. “You teach yourself how to teach yoga for yourself. You know which poses will work, which side of your body is tense.”

When Connie travels, she still takes private lessons. “I visit more studios along the way,” she says. “I find pockets of time.” (Pro tip: Connie says she relies on the MindBody app, which makes it easy to find classes in different cities where you’re unfamiliar with local studios.) That includes traveling abroad, where classes may not be taught in English. “I remember taking lessons in Zurich, entirely in German, but the teacher taught the whole lesson in Sanskrit,” she says. “Because I was going to [yoga] so much so that I knew most of the poses in Sanskrit.’

When she’s not running her own practice or visiting the studio, she follows Candice Cabrera Tavino’s classes on Instagram.

Based on routine

Connie’s connection to her practice begins as soon as she wakes up, but not in the way you might think. She moves in the morning very slowly “I do it on purpose,” she says. “As soon as my body goes up, everything goes really fast.” After sipping hot water with lemon, she usually starts yoga slowly, although she listens to her body. Some mornings she may feel the urge to move more and she will choose a more active movement.

She’s also settling back into a routine after long plane rides. Connie always brings a yoga blanket with her to use as a base for her classes. “I put it on the floor and do a full vinyasa—on both sides—to wake up,” she says. No matter what her plans are for the day or her travel schedule, Connie says all she needs is 10 minutes of yoga and she’s good to go.

Combining yoga with your work

The teachings and ideas of yoga manifest themselves for Kony in other ways as well. “I talk a lot about the intersection of racism in the wine industry and equality and DEI,” she says. “Practice off the mat is understanding that we all have many flaws. I try to be kind to myself and to others. There is grace for those who seek it.” It is this principle, Grace, that grounds the Horse.

The power of the breath also plays a role in her continued resilience. She often resorts to simple (but critical) deep breathing exercises to calm and focus. She hopes that others will also realize this understanding. “I think more people need to think of yoga as a lifelong practice,” she says. “You learn so much about yourself when you practice yoga… I feel like when I practice I surrender to myself before I surrender.”

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