If you follow Irene Pappas on Instagram and Social Media you'll know her as Fit Queen Irene.
She has been practicing yoga since 2012 and has an extraordinary capacity for movement and understanding her own body and it's limits. After an incredible injury, Irene rebuilt her perception of her own body and what it was capable of but not only this, she has found ways to have gratitude in her own body no matter what it was going through. Not only is her knowledge of yoga inspiring but so are her perceptions and insights on life.
She teaches many retreats and workshops across the globe, but took time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions about gratitude.
1. Can you think of a time when you had to dig really deep to find gratitude in a certain situation?
One thing I am working on right now is finding gratitude in the moment instead of looking back and being grateful in retrospect. But of course sometimes it takes days, weeks, or even years to see the bigger picture. When I was younger my parents send me to a boarding school that was very rigorous and similar to military school in a lot of ways. Even though my own actions were what got me to a place where I needed such reformation, I blamed my parents and everyone else. Looking back it was one of the best things to happen to me and really shaped me into who I am today, but it did take me years to realize that.
2. On your website it says "After experiencing a life changing wrist injury Irene has redefined her yoga practice in many ways, placing more emphasis on a strong foundation and finding gratitude for her body with or without advanced asana." Can you tell us a bit more about this experience and finding gratitude for your body?
I spent many years obsessing over my body- working out incessantly and counting every calorie, convinced that if I could get the "perfect" body I would finally be happy. Once I found yoga I transferred this same mentality into my practice, convincing myself that once I had a handstand I would be happy. This cycle continued for quite some time. I placed a lot of value on an advanced asana practice and was constantly striving to be better. Eventually I started having terrible wrist pain, and found out that a bone in my wrist had broken and started to die and decay. The first few surgeons I went to told me I would never use my wrist again. Although they all told me I had a genetic predisposition to this happening, I knew I wasn't listening to my body and even as this was happening I knew it was going to be one of the greatest learning expieriences of my life. I finally found a surgeon that believed in her ability to help heal me, and two surgeries later I am able to use my wrist again. While I am supremely grateful that I can do handstands most days, I am even more grateful for how this experience changed my perspective. Instead of focusing on what I can or cannot do, I have found a sense of gratitude for every single thing my body is capable of, even on my hardest days. This gratitude has trickled into all aspects of my life. I am now free from the obsession with my weight, body, and handstands/physical ability- and I feel exactly that, free.
3. You have a lot of instagram followers, you travel to give workshops and teacher trainings, what has been your greatest challenge and your greatest accomplishment through all of this?
One of the greatest challenges for me has been staying grounded. Traveling almost constantly and not having a strong local community of students and friends has been difficult at times. But it has given me an ability to find grounding within myself, without having to rely on my external environment. I think the teacher trainings are the most powerful thing I am part of right now, because they have the ability to give people the tools to be their highest selves.
4. Who is the one person real life, actor, passed away etc. that you would love to meet and why?
This is a hard question! I would have to say my grandfather on my dad's side. I never met him and he is one of the most influential people in my family, I would love to sit down and talk to him and tell him how grateful I am for him.
5. What is your version of #mygratitudeattitude?
Gratitude is everything to me. It changes a situation from negative into positive, and allows me to let go of stress, anger, depression, and anxiety.
To get more from Irene follow her on instagram @fitqueenirene or check out her website www.fitqueenirene.com