Meet our muse...
Christina Ionno is a yoga teacher, model, and meditation guru based in New York City. She is dedicated to spreading positive vibrations through loving movement, studying ancient teachings, and a mind-body connection. through staying in the present moment. Get to know Christina and see what moves her.
Q: What is your history with meditation and yoga? Where did your journey begin?
My history with meditation and yoga began over a decade ago when I had first moved to New York City. I was modeling at the time so I was no stranger to various forms of exercise and was heavily into boxing, running and dancing, but, I felt that something was missing and I had this growing level of anxiety and stress that came along with living in the city that never sleeps.
I started taking yoga classes at my local gym and became obsessed with the “yoga high” attained after each class. Yoga would, without fail, draw me completely into the present moment - into my body and out of my head that was filled with obsessive thoughts of the past or future. This yogic discovery lead me to exploring many different yoga studios all over New York and I built a solid foundation for my practice. This eventually lead me to recognize the correlation between meditation and yoga asana and how they both work in tandem. The physical postures being the ultimate way to release distractions in the body to explore the depths of the Mind in meditation.
Long story short, over the course of the last two years I have gotten my 200-hour yoga teacher certification and 200-hour meditation teacher certification and I am currently enrolled in a 6-month meditation mentorship program. I teach and/or practice both yoga and meditation 7 days a week and I am a dedicated Tibetan Buddhist dharma philosophy student, which influences not only my practice and teaching style on the mat or on the cushion but my entire way of being in this world.
Yoga and meditation has transformed my state of Mind and I truly believe it has saved me in countless ways.
Q: Do you have a mantra you live by? Any new mantras of the moment?
- No matter what happens, I will never allow my joy to be disturbed.
Q: How does meditation and yoga influence your daily life?
- Both yoga and meditation are a part of my daily life - I am committed to a daily practice and do my best to align with the 8 limbs of yoga in body, speech and Mind. It’s especially important as a teacher to ground myself and continue doing my own personal practice. Teachers are vessels of knowledge with the skill set to imprint peoples mind’s and affect their lives dramatically and I don’t take that lightly.
Q: How has meditation helped your mental health throughout your life, and especially this last year?
- Meditation has assisted in keeping a calmer mind and slows my reactive behavior down, but I haven’t shied away from confronting my shadows in meditation either. I’ve struggled with depression, anxiety and addiction in the past and have dredged through some dark paths and painful periods of time. Meditation was that light at the end of the tunnel for me - that confrontation of personal responsibility I needed to take back control of my life and steer me in the right direction. I would say in the beginning I used meditation as a way to relax my nervous system and now I use meditation as a way to explore the capacity of my mind’s potential. I have a hunger to taste ultimate reality that can only be achieved through steady concentration and single-pointed focus. This last year I’ve been an explorer with a healthy curiosity to discover the unbeaten paths of my mind.
Q: What is your favorite way to decompress?
- I am trying out non-negotiable Sundays off of work where I do whatever my heart desires. I love reading, cooking, going to the park, getting manicures/pedicures, face masks and beauty treatments, catching up with loved ones and I’m kind of obsessed with watching stand-up comedy. Love a good laugh and I love being around people I feel comfortable being silly around.
Q: Do you have a morning routine? If so, share with us what works best for you!
- Yes! I am a total morning person. I love giving myself an extra 30-minutes before doing anything else for my AM routine. A typical morning routine for me consists of hydrating with warm water and half a lemon squeezed in with raw local honey. I take a daily probiotic supplement and make a strong coffee. I write in a journal/organizer and review what’s on the to-do list. Depending on how much time I have I will meditate anywhere between 15-30min. I also pull a daily tarot card for guidance.
Q: As the world opens up, where are you wanderlusting to first?
- I want to go to Greece in August - that is my happy place! I will probably wanderlust to Canada first to visit my family though. It’s been way too long and I miss them. The restrictions have been tighter there throughout the pandemic so it’s been challenging to go for visits.
Q: How do you practice self-love and self-acceptance?
- I try not to compare myself to others. I remind myself of how far I’ve come and give myself these mental pat on the backs for being diligent in doing this (sometimes challenging) self-love and self-acceptance work. I do my best to only say “yes” to situations that bring out the best in me and I often make dates with myself. Being able to tune out and spend time alone is essential.
Q: How do you align your mind, body, and spirit?
- By practicing yoga and meditation daily I feel centered and aligned and I believe that translates into everything I do. These practices allow me to stay focused, grateful, compassionate and mentally, physically and spiritually sound.