My journey into yoga – Ileana Muntean

apr. 20, 2019

We continue the series of our talks with yoga devotees. This time, only in text form :).


Ileana Muntean teaches yoga at her beautiful studio in downtown Bucharest, Mamaka Yoga. She is gentle and kind and so is her teaching. And here goes her love story with yoga.


How did you discover yoga? What drew you toward it?

I’ve started practicing yoga a long time ago, in 1992, with Mario Vasilescu. Like everybody else, I was astonished with the goodness of yoga, with the incredible feeling of calm and the sensation of being well centered within after a good practice. Then I’ve met Irene Zaarour and faithfully followed her for some years…  Then I gave birth twice, had the most demanding period of my life and stopped practicing for a few years, but longed to go back to yoga. Which I did.


How did you move from practicing to teaching?

Four years ago I followed a yoga teacher training course for kids that opened up a huge appetite for doing this. Somehow things aligned themselves;  soon after, I completed a serious 200 hours TTC with Julio Papi. All that I’ve learned along the way got structured in a powerful way. Plus, Julio gave us the best tools and the best examples of how to be a brilliant teacher.


What does yoga mean to you? Is it an evolving relationship?

For me yoga is the way to keep myself on track and well connected with who I really want to be. It’s a day by day miracle. I see clearer, I understand more, I do better. Yoga is an extremely vast subject: one’s lifetime would be insufficient to cover all of it. But I’m on this path; I’m going in this direction.


How is your yoga practice? Do you still go to classes as a student?

I practice what I teach. Any other way would be inauthentic. And I’ve been doing this for almost 3 years at my little yoga studio – Mamaka Yoga.

I will always go to yoga classes, I will always be a student of yoga. I follow Julio and his workshops and Iyengar yoga teachers that I am lucky to meet on my journey. I recently started to study Nidra Yoga. Sometimes, I envy my students and I covet to be on the mat – being taught can be so fulfilling…


There are two things I find contradicting each other: one is the principle of listening to your body, mind and soul, of respecting your own limits. The other is the drive to push your limits in order to perform the acrobatic yoga poses that Instagram overflows. What do you think?

Yoga is never about forcing something as ahimsa (non-violence) is one of its principles. Yoga is about observing, perceiving, becoming aware. This is how you work with your limits in yoga. There is a simple way to understand this: if you have a pain in the body, try to close your eyes, keep your attention on the spot, breathe through this pain and observe it dissolving, fading away. The same happens with the physical limitations. Go there – stay there. And be aware. That’s how the magic of yoga happens.You struggle to go into a posture for a long time, but then, suddenly, you effortlessly do it. And it seems so simple, so easy…

Yoga postures have this quality – they are photogenic, they are beautiful, attractive. I suspect that I planted in my head the idea of becoming a yoga teacher after buying Light on Yoga by BKS Iyengar. I bought it 8 years ago from a huge Canadian library. It was the last exemplary on the lowest shelf in a huge yoga section. It attracted me like a magnet, mesmerized me with its photos. Yoga pictures made with authentic, true intentions are a powerful incentive to practice.


What do you wear at yoga? How do you chose your yoga wear?

I have among my yoga clothes 3 colors of Suav Dog Pants 🙂 which I wear with undershirts. I feel best in thin but dense cotton clothes, not too loose, not too tight. I have an increasing number of yoga outfits that I also wear outside the studio, simply out of convenience and efficiency.