What's your name? Grisel, but it is very difficult to pronounce, so I usually go by "Gri" for short. A Grigri is actually a good luck charm ;)
Where are you from? I was raised in New York City. My parents migrated to New York from the Dominican Republic. I identify as Dominican-American. I often spent summer vacations at my grandparents' farm in the Dominican Republic. My grandfather was an organic cocoa and coffee farmer. He taught a little city girl like me to be brave, and to respect and trust in nature.
What is your passion in life? I don't have one passion, but many. However, the underlying theme of all my passions is service. I feel the greatest joy when what I do benefits people and nature, be it through art, science, or yoga.
Your are a teacher, do you like school? I love school! Some of the best times of my life involve learning. I studied English Literature and Biology at New York University (NYU). I also did a Masters in Psychology at NYU. Now I study Japanese. I am always studying something.
What have you done after school? I initially studied Psychology for artistic reasons, I thought it would help me write better stories or discover interesting subjects to paint about, but once I got a taste for research and counseling, I was hooked. I loved research specially, and dedicated 8 years after graduation to mental health research, development of social programs, and counseling of vulnerable NYC communities.
What inspired you to do Yoga? I am very thankful to my first Yoga teacher and mentor, Amanda Zapanta. She introduced me to yoga in 2007 and held my interest through laughter, wisdom and kindness (and very challenging classes!). Since I started on this journey, I have come across other great mentors that have significantly influenced my path as student and teacher.
Before yoga, I was suffering from various physical, emotional, and mental ailments. Yoga saved me from spiraling down the dark tunnel of depression and anxiety. I have experienced yoga and meditation as a system of transformation that extends beyond the spiritual - universal tools for self-discovery and development. I believe yoga is a natural complement to the science of psychology for improving physical and mental health.
When did you become a yoga teacher? I became a Yoga Alliance RYT 200 Hour Certified Yoga Instructor in 2009 at Sonic Yoga in New York City. I studied with amazing knowledgable and inspiring teachers that have left their imprint in my soul. I have continued to log over 100 additional hours of continuing education, including trainings in prenatal Yoga, restorative yoga, and spinal rehabilitation yoga. One can never stop learning :)
What is your goal as a Yoga teacher and life coach?
My goal is to allow my life experiences in yoga, modern psychology, and art to merge into a holistic style of teaching and coaching that encourages people to enter a wholesome, safe, and playful realm of self-awareness. I strongly believe that when the body, mind, and heart are in balance one naturally gravitates towards true nature and contentment. In Japan, I have the additional goal of teaching English through Yoga, a new and exciting concept!
Gri Gri Yoga is based in New York, Japan and Belgium. So are you a traveller? You could say that. Learning about cultures and nature is one of my passions. Just recently I have lived in Belgium, Dominican Republic, Argentina, and now Japan. Natural landscapes, especially mountains, constantly call to my soul – I am serious about hiking and scrambles. The pursuit of direct experience with untamed nature has taken me to the tops of glaciers, volcanoes, snow-capped peaks, vertically challenging mountain scrambles.
Do you speak other languages besides English? Yes, I am fluent in Spanish too. I also speak some French. I am still working on Japanese. My 日本語 needs a lot of improvement! がんばって！
What are you up to now? I currently live between New York, Belgium, and Japan. I am mainly in Japan where I teach English, Yoga in English, and do Life Coaching for Gri Gri Yoga. I am also working on creative projects for the Gri Gri Yoga Lab which includes some of my personal artistic works and collaborations with other artists. I am also Vice President of a very exciting NY-Japan based think-tank, HYPER:, for the application of humanity driven innovation. Yup, I am kinda of busy, gotta keep breathing easy :)