Been thinking about trying yoga or meditation, but haven’t gotten around to it yet? Tune into this episode to hear renowned yoga teacher Rosie Acosta break down the hows and whys, and she also shares how both practices drastically transformed her life (and can change yours, too!)
Yoga & Meditation Teacher
Rosie Acosta is an Inspirational Speaker, Yoga & Meditation Teacher, Yoga Teacher Trainer, and a Holistic Health Coach. As the founder of Radically Loved: Yoga, Health + Wellness, she is also the host of the Radically Loved Radio podcast. In all her work, Rosie teaches and practices being guided by RADICAL LOVE every day and connecting to that through yoga, diet, affirmation, self-inquiry, and curiosity. In helping others find their unique gifts and fire within, she aims to create practices and connect with people in a way that will help everyone live radically loved lives together. As a product of inner-city LA, gangs, drug-use and violence permeated Acosta’s youth. She overcame the prospect of prison through yoga and meditation and is extremely effective at using these tools in order to help others access their potential and overcome adversity. It is her driving belief that we are all born with limitless potential, that we all have a place in this world, and that it is part of our journey to be Radically Curious, Radically Inspired and Radically Loved. Acosta has a diverse client list ranging from Olympic, NFL and NBA athletes to at-risk youth and Afghanistan veterans. She is a featured teacher for Yoga Journal and Wanderlust, a featured speaker for SHE RECOVERS, and has also been featured in Yoga Journal, FOX News Latino, Mantra, mindbodygreen, Well+Good, POPSUGAR, and many more.
Maria Marlowe: [00:00:35] Welcome back to the Happier and Healthier podcast. Today’s guest is a friend of mine, Rosie Acosta, who I am just so excited and happy. This woman is in my life. We met recently through a mutual friend and just hit it off. And I just love so much about Rosie’s philosophy and style, what she does. And I’m just excited to share her wisdom with you guys today. So Rosie is a yoga and meditation teacher. She also has yoga teacher trainings and she’s an inspirational speaker. Once you hear her story and how she’s overcome a lot of adversity in her life to become what she is now, I think you will definitely leave feeling inspired. She is also the host of the radically loved podcast. So definitely go check that out. I was recently interviewed on it all about sugar and how do you give up sugar or some great swaps for it and why you should really consider it, especially with any hormonal issues. So you can go give that episode a listen.
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Maria Marlowe: [00:03:37] Rosie, I’m so happy you’re here.
Rosie Acosta: [00:03:40] I’m so happy that you’re here. I’m so happy that you are here. It’s true. I’m actually at Rosie’s house right now recording this. And after this, we’re gonna be making a delicious dinner and dessert to my incentive. That’s all she got, right? Yeah. She’s got to do this. That’s not true.
Maria Marlowe: [00:03:56] So Rosie is a yoga teacher extraordinaire. And I just took her class two weekends ago at my friend’s Sahara’s bachelorette party. And it was so, so nice. But I love that you your story and you told me that you weren’t always into yoga and meditation, all the things you’re into now. So can you share a little bit of your story and how yoga has helped you get to where you are?
Rosie Acosta: [00:04:21] Oh, yes. But it’s actually not a very common story. Um, it is common in the sense that yoga helped transform my life, but not comment in the way of how I got here. So I grew up in East Los Angeles during the L.A. riots. This was about the mid 90s. I come from an immigrant family, so both my parents immigrated to the US and my father’s from Mexico and my mom’s from Spain. And they met in L.A. and I lived in two bedroom apartment with like 10 people. And it was a very chaotic environment.
Rosie Acosta: [00:04:50] Like we were in an area where we were surrounded by a lot of gang violence, a lot of drug use, a lot of domestic abuse. And so for a child growing up in that environment, it creates a certain level of trauma. The type of trauma that when people come from other countries, even like third world countries or a lot of immigrants like in the area where I was, that type of trauma is common. So I wasn’t really raised thinking that it was anything out of the ordinary. It is very normal to me. And even the things that we would watch on the news, we’d watch Spanish television, news shows that if you’re not familiar with Hispanic television and the types of news stories that they show, I mean, you’re seeing like pretty gnarly things like decapitations and like evil. I mean, it’s pretty gnarly. Yeah. And and we were already in an environment where people were getting shot and there was drive bys. And so to me, it was just a normal environment. It was something that was just common. And it wasn’t until I was a teenager that these things start to manifest in my body. So my parents separated when I was about 10. And by the time I was fifteen or so, I started to suffer from debilitating panic attacks and depression. I was on medication and I was severely overweight because I was an emotional eater. Still am, not at that severe of a scale, but I still definitely have a lot of those old patterned beliefs and triggers. So that was where I started to realize that something needed to change in my life because I was in high school and I was acting out. I was getting in trouble with the law. I was basically becoming a victim of my environment.
Rosie Acosta: [00:06:52] And I don’t even like to use the word victim. But I was becoming a product of my environment. I was becoming a product of the predispositions of what I was surrounded by. And I had a pivotal moment in my life where I got arrested and I was basically given a choice. Either I changed my life and did things in a more conducive way to, you know, live my life or I could just be a product of the system. And so becoming a product of the system was something those very known to me because everybody around me was in the system. And it was kind of an easy thing to go into. And the way that the system is created, especially in Los Angeles, for the people that know the system, it’s like once you’re in, you’re in and it’s a really hard system to get out of. So when I was given the opportunity to either shape up or go to jail, I I chose to do what I needed to do. It came at a perfect time because I was already having these feelings of not really knowing why I was alive and not really wanting to be alive because it was just such a terrible place to be in and not having the right support system, not having any mentors in my life, it became really challenging. So part of my court ordered probation was to go to counselling and go to anger management, do community service and basically abide by all of these rules.
Rosie Acosta: [00:08:32] I had a curfew. I couldn’t leave a state. I had to see a probation officer every month. Things that basically kept me in line because I was so afraid of going to jail. And that really helped begin to shift my perspective because I saw that abiding by those rules was actually serving me. And by the time I was a senior in high school, I had gone through a lot of therapy and a lot of counselling that was making me see that I had potential and that it was possible for me to have a greater vision. And it felt more natural and more real to me at my core. But I was still suffering from anxiety. And my mom ended up coming home one day. She was working at the Children’s Hospital in Hollywood. And I talk about this story in yoga journal. So if you want to know more in depth of how that happened, you can read that article, but basically came home with these yoga pamphlets because she had been told by one of her coworkers that yoga was really good for stress and anxiety.
Rosie Acosta: [00:09:37] And so she came home with these little booklets, these little pamphlets from the Self-realisation Center, which is it was started by Paramanhasa Yogananda back in the 30s. And I really liked what it said. I was also really into esoteric things because my grandmother was and still is like a healer. And she was a midwife in her village. And her great grandmother was a midwife. Her mother was a midwife. And so I was raised around a lot of like esoteric, different like tinctures and herbs and different natural modalities to heal yourself and different prayers and mantras and all these things.
Rosie Acosta: [00:10:13] And so yoga just seemed like it really resonated with me as far as the philosophy that I read in the little pamphlet. So one day I decided to get on the bus and head into Hollywood and go check out this center. And once I was there, I instantly felt like I was home. And this was I was still maybe like 17. I wasn’t quite 18 yet. And when I went in to the main temple, there was a service happening. And I had seen on the little pamphlet that there was going to be a meditation. And so I said, okay, let’s try this very like woo woo thing. And I went and I sat on the benches and there was this woman who was giving a talk and she was talking about happiness and how we are responsible for making ourselves happy and how it was our birthright and all of these things that sounded really cool to me that I’d never heard anybody say before because I was raised Catholic.
Rosie Acosta: [00:11:15] And so I was told that if things go wrong, it’s your fault. And, you know, Catholic guilt. And basically, you’re a sinner and then you go to hell, you’re going to go to hell. And you know, all of these really traumatic things as if I wasn’t already living in hell. Right. So I was like, oh, geez, like, what am I supposed to do now, you know? So hearing this woman talk about this was so inspiring to me and it really was resonating as she was talking. I’m sitting there waiting for the guy or like the preacher, whoever was going to lead the meditation to come in. You know, this woman is up there talking.
Rosie Acosta: [00:11:47] And after about 15, 20 minutes, I realized like, no, this is she’s the guy. Like she is the person. And then that really sealed the deal for me because I felt so connected to what she was saying. And I was like, wow, here’s this woman who seems really confident and really peaceful and really open. And I wanted that like I wanted what she had. And so that was my introduction to yoga. So I started to buy the yoga books, learn about yoga philosophy way before I started the actual physical portion of the practice. A couple of years after that, I started to get into becoming healthier and I was still kind of that overweight teenager and I was studying all this yogic philosophy and vegetarian diets. And so one of my friends was a personal trainer and he was really into organic eating and again, coming from a largely Latino household. That wasn’t something that was talked about is very fat Latin foods were on the sad diet, right?
Maria Marlowe: [00:12:55] Standard American diet. Yes. I was on that, too. I think everybody was right.
Rosie Acosta: [00:12:59] And so his guidance really helped shape my perspective on changing the way that I eat. And after that, I signed up to run my first L.A. marathon. And it was history after that. I did my first yoga teacher training about two years after. And I got really into it. And it basically shaped my life like that mindset in that practice, really going inward and getting to know who I was. At my core, understanding that I was not what my environment set. I was really helped shape my new found perspective on who I was. And after that, I mean, the rest is history. I became a yoga teacher and there’s a lot of stuff in between that I’m missing. Ultimately brought me to a place to want to bring these practices to the world.
Maria Marlowe: [00:13:51] It’s so incredible that that brochure from your mom completely changed your tire life in your entire trajectory. And I’m really glad that she did that. Cause right now, you’re you’re bringing so much to the world and really helping people like when you’re saying like you used to have anger issues. I couldn’t even imagine that because you’re so cool, calm & centred right now. And I feel like you you know, you’re the type of person when something happens, you figure it out. All right. So it’s just amazing how yoga has got you to this place that you weren’t always there. Yeah. So I think we all know at this point yoga is good for us. And there’s so many benefits to it. But I know personally, before I got into yoga, I used to think it was just really slow, boring exercise. And I was like, this is just so boring. Why? Just like standing there, like, yes, this is too slow. Like, I need to sweat. I need to, you know, get my heart pumping. Right. So people have these reasons why they don’t want to try yoga. So for anyone who’s listening, who maybe feels like I did. Any words of wisdom and or how can we encourage them to just at least try yoga or find a yoga that they like?
Rosie Acosta: [00:14:58] Well, that’s a great question. First of all, because I was there as well. I felt like that the minute I went into the first yoga class, I was like I did not the kind of yoga class they taught at the Self-realisation Center because I was very hot. The base is very slow. And I was like, this is really freaking me out. Like, I don’t have the patience for this. But what’s really interesting is that there’s different types of yoga. And I want to say yoga asana in specific and also not just me. Well, the root word asana means comfortable seat. That’s like the root word of it. But asana is, as we know, that they’re just forms.
Rosie Acosta: [00:15:35] So there are many different types of yoga asanas out there. There are different types of yoga. There’s kundalini yoga and vinyasa, plow yoga. There’s hot yoga. There’s all kinds of different forms. And what I always encourage people to do when they’re just starting out is find what speaks to you first, because it’s just like food. You know, one person’s food is another person’s poison. It’s the same thing with yoga. You might be the type of person that your initial intro should be a more Vinyasa active physical form that you really connect with as opposed to doing something slow like yin or more restorative. And if you tend to be the type of person that’s really like into doing things slow and doesn’t want to really break a sweat. Well, I mean I can go into the whole ayurveda system of that because maybe that person needs the hot yoga and the person that needs the hot yoga is maybe the person that needs the slow yoga. We’ll go into that more in depth. But I think initially to start, just go with what feels best for you and what resonates with you the most because it’s just like anything else it do what’s going to feel best and what you’re going to do. Don’t go do something that’s going to create a level of stress because yoga is the complete opposite of that.
Maria Marlowe: [00:16:51] Exactly. If yoga stressing you out, then, then don’t. Right. Yeah. And just try. Just experiment. There’s no to yoga classes are the same. And then there are so many different types of yoga like you mentioned, hot yoga or Vinyasa Ashtanga. There’s all different types of yoga classes. And don’t just go to one and think like, oh, I hate yoga. It’s really boring. You have to try different classes and with even different classes like different teachers. Yeah, things differently.
Rosie Acosta: [00:17:17] Yeah. I’ve been to so many teachers and in the beginning I was really stuck on just going to my teacher and those of you that practice yoga. Know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s like that’s your teacher and you’re going to go to that same class. And I did too. For a while. But what I found is when I started to experiment with other teachers, I would always learn something new. And if it wasn’t something from them, it was something about myself. It was something that was either triggering me that I didn’t like. And our school of thought is how we do anything on the mat is how we do everything in life. And so it’s an opportunity. It’s always an opportunity to learn something new. And so if you approach it like being the internal student that you are, you’re always going to learn something. And now I can go to any class, anywhere, anywhere in the world and have a really great experience, because even if I don’t like certain things that the teacher might do or I get you know, I I a yoga teacher trainer. So I train teachers on how to get certified. And it drives me nuts when people are teaching wrong alignment or they’re not helping students become better within their own system, not better like it’s a competition which is better for their body or better for their temperament. It drives me nuts because we’re not being of service at that point. We’re just guiding somebody through moving their body and there’s no connection. And the route. Yoga, the root word. Yoga means union. It means to connect and it means to connect mind, body, spirit and space. And so when we do that in a very methodical way through yoga asana, we can achieve a deeper sense of connection, a deeper sense of clarity, and ultimately have that feeling of transcending all the obstacles in our life.
Maria Marlowe: [00:19:07] Right. I’m glad that you brought that up, because I think a misconception amongst people who don’t are not into yoga is that yoga is just a physical practice and it’s just an exercise class. And I think in some places they’ve turned yoga into an exercise class, adding weights and, you know, the hot room and all the sudden it’s become an exercise class. But really all the moves and the postures you’re doing. That’s just a warm up to get you really relaxed right before you do Shivasana, which is laying down. Right. So can you speak to a little bit, too, like the breathing part and even like the meditation and where yoga falls in there?
Rosie Acosta: [00:19:44] Yes. So we practice the physical forms to be able to sit and meditate for a longer period of time, which we don’t do enough. I’ve been so silent, especially why I’m in L.A.. Right. So I was that student for the first four or five years practicing yoga where I would leave during Shivasana cause I had go to work. And I’m like, oh, I can’t do that. I don’t have time to lay down.
Maria Marlowe: [00:20:09] It doesn’t do anything. Yeah, I think it’s so weird.
Rosie Acosta: [00:20:12] But that’s actually where the integration happens. That’s the most important part. The most important part is to be able to integrate all of the forms and all the movement. We have so much stagnation in our bodies, so much stagnant air, stagnant energy because we’re just moving or we’re stagnant.
Rosie Acosta: [00:20:30] And so moving the body in a very fluid and methodical way allows us to be able to come to a place of rest when we’re in a restful state. Our nervous system is calm. Our parasympathetic nervous system kicks in. We get to a place of homeostasis, and that’s when the body begins to heal. And when the body begins to heal, we’re able to really connect to our breath in a way to continue to detoxify our system and bring new air in new cells and to regenerate our body and our mind and our breath and our spirit. And when we get to that place, ultimately, we are able to achieve a state of transcendence where we can transcend the physical form. Right. Or we can. That’s what the yogis talk about, transcending to consciousness, you know, to our highest self. So if you think about it, we move our body to get to a place to be in a state of rest, the ultimate integration to then come out of Shivasana and then do a breathing exercise and then meditate. So my lineage is Tantra. And so Tantra, the word tan means to expand and tra means beyond limitation. So a lot of people are familiar with Tantra because a sting and like sex, they think Kamasutra.
Rosie Acosta: [00:21:50] But all yoga is tantra. So all yoga is to expand beyond our limitations. And so in my lineage and the way in in my practice, we do the forms first and then we do Shivasana to integrate. We come out of our Shivasana and now clear Clear Channel to do our breathing exercise, that we bring more prana, more vitality, more energy into the body, and then we meditate. So then once the vessel is clear, can we sit and regain or not regain, but gain that clarity of perception, clarity of thought, and really allow ourselves to be in a place of ultimate peace. And that’s when all the magic happens. So for me, it’s like that takes a while, right? That that’s like a 90 minute plus class. Unless you’re efficient and you have a good teacher, then they can take you there in a shorter amount of time. But it feels so different to be able to do a practice the way it’s supposed to be, because you really begin to feel the benefits and the integration of this like centuries old system of how it was meant to be. Not like we go to a hot yoga class and then like, boom, we feel good for a little bit. But then you get in your car and you’re back to having stress and your problems come back.
Maria Marlowe: [00:23:10] Right. Yeah. Those kinds of classes and I do enjoy those go to those. But those are more really I feel like an exercise class. Whereas when I go to a real yoga class and I do like the 90 minutes and I really concentrate on the breath and the movements and doing the Shivasana and I do nothing like I’ll leave the class feeling high, like, you know, it’s it’s crazy. I mean, the first time experiences, I was like, whoa, what is going on here? And I was actually meditating. I was like, how is this even possible? I you know. So once you you know, you do it from that whole mind, body spirit perspective and you take your time and you’re not rushing through anything and you’re being mindful while you’re doing it, like, wow, it really I feel like really, really it calms you and I find it easier to meditate.
Rosie Acosta: [00:23:56] Yeah, it makes it so much easier for you to drop. And that’s the idea. So I always admire the people that can just, you know, go straight into a meditation practice first thing when they wake up, because I’m the type of person that maybe it’s conditioning, but I need to move. I need to sweat. I need to just kind of wake up and wake my body up and give it a little bit of what it wants. And then I can sit for, you know, an extended period of time. And some people, it depends. Some people need longer movement. Some people don’t need very much. And they can actually stretch for five to 10 minutes and then sit, you know, in meditation and and connect and go into a deep, deep state of connection.
Maria Marlowe: [00:24:42] Yeah. And I know you like to get up early and meditate because we spent the weekend together and we were both up at like the crack of dawn. I was working. I was like on my computer. And she would be just sitting like very peacefully with her legs crossed and her, you know, her palms out meditating for 20 minutes. So I’m really convinced that the most successful people in the world are meditators. So what does your meditation practice? And yeah, I guess, how has meditation changed your life?
Rosie Acosta: [00:25:12] Oh, well, I don’t wake up in a great mood. I’m not that person. I’m definitely a morning person, 100 percent. I like to wake up even before the sun comes out. I don’t wake up in a great mood. I wake up kind of a little just irked sometimes, you know, not all the time, but I would say 90 percent of time. I’m like an you know, I wake up like irked maybe because I like sleeping. I don’t want to be in bed and maybe just stuff in my mind. Maybe it’s just my temperament. So I have to really coax my way into having a great morning. And so for me, it involves moving, sweating. I have to get my body going a little bit and then I do my practice. And then once I come out of my meditation practice, that lasts anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes, just depending on what I’m doing or where I am. I can then wake up like that’s my my morning happens after my meditation practice. That’s what my morning starts. That’s when I say hi to Tori and I can give them my kiss and I can, you know, be like human because prior to that, I don’t feel like myself. I don’t feel like I’m in my body. So meditation is like your coffee, basically, for most. Yes, exactly. Yes, that’s exactly right. That’s a great yes. You know, some people wake up and they need to have that cup of coffee. It’s like, don’t look at me until I have coffee.
Rosie Acosta: [00:26:30] I’m that way about like my meditation practice because I just I need to be able to reconnect to me and remember who I am. You know, I kind of wake up not not feeling all of that. So that’s what my practice looks like. And it doesn’t look like that for everyone. I always tell people and you and I, we talked about this, you know, over the weekend we were together is a lot of people think that meditation is to look a certain way or be a certain way. And a lot of the times, I think the saddest thing I always hear people say to me is that they’re not doing it right or they can’t meditate because they don’t feel like they know how to do it or they don’t have the time. And this is what I say to both those things. If you think you’re doing it wrong, then you’re doing it right. And the second is there’s fourteen hundred and forty minutes in a day. You can take five of those minutes to meditate because you’re spending. I would say 60 percent of that. Just doing mundane things that you’re probably not going to remember in five years are your meditation practice. You will remember. And it will make a huge impact in your life.
Maria Marlowe: [00:27:37] Yes. Someone was just saying yesterday or earlier today that if you say that you don’t have five minutes to meditate, then you definitely need 20 minutes.
Rosie Acosta: [00:27:46] Yeah, that’s the quote from the Dalai Lama because he talks about that. And I think it’s so important. And just going back to the second part of what you were saying about successful people, and yet most successful people I know have a meditation practice and I feel like it creates a certain level of single pointed focus, dedication, commitment and tenacity, even because it gets you into a place of this is not only are you creating a neurological imprint in your body, in your brain, that you are starting and finishing something, but you’re also benefiting your body in so many ways. You’re creating more gray matter in your brain. You’re cultivating the frontal lobe of your brain. That’s the center where you act more wisely is as opposed to that, you know, you’re the reactive part of the reptilian brain. You’re modula oblongata gotta like where you’re just become reactive all the time.
Rosie Acosta: [00:28:45] It’s very important for us to not only know all the benefits of meditation, but understand the why of our practice, why we want to create something or ourselves that’s going to benefit us, because sometimes we do something because it’s the hip new thing all meditation is in. So I’m gonna I’m gonna do this 21 day Deepak Chopra challenge, you know, but the idea is. Yeah. Do the challenge. And it’s great. But can you continue the practice even after that? Can you create as a stronghold, as a foundation in your life? Only a few minutes a day. I mean, that’s really all it takes in order to create that level of dedication, abundant success in your life.
Maria Marlowe: [00:29:27] Yeah, I had a meditation teacher on recently, Emily Fletcher, and she talked about or many of her clients have said taking the 20 minutes or 40 minutes of your 20 minutes in the morning, 20 minutes at night, adds three hours onto their day in terms of productivity, because they’re not, you know, stressing out about silly things or dwelling on the past or focus on the future. They’re staying very present in the moment and they’re able to be much more productive by taking that time. They actually add hours to their day.
Rosie Acosta: [00:29:59] That’s the other thing, too. I mean, we can’t experience moments of lists or love or excitement. We can’t experience any of those states in the future. In the past, we experienced them in the present. And so meditation really allows us to become attuned to that state, to become sensitive to that state, to become grounded and rooted in the present state. And so it does create a certain level of grounding and a level of engagement. That’s why it makes everything better. It makes your relationships better.