Cristina Villa is a certified teacher of the American Yoga Alliance and a certified Californian massage therapist, as well as a professor of Cinema, Comparative Literature, and Creative Writing for the University of California and Minnesota in Florence. She studied in Los Angeles at Yoga Works, Bhakti Yoga Shala, and Equinox with such well known yoga teachers as Annie Carpenter, Govindas, and Shiva Rea and she also practiced at Bryan Kest’s Power Yoga. She is specialized in Vinyasa Flow, Hatha Yoga, and Bhakti Yoga. She is certified in Ayurveda and she studied yoga, ayurveda, and meditation both in California and in India in Rishikesh, Mysore, and Puna. She also holds a Masters in “Yoga Studies, Body and Meditation in Asian Traditions” at University Ca’ Foscari in Venice. She is finishing her specialization in Yoga, Body Image, and Eating Disorders with the Californian non –profit association Eat Breathe Thrive and her 300 hour Prana Vinyasa Teacher Training with Shiva Rea.

Cristina, how did you first come to know yoga?

I was studying for my PhD at UCLA in L.A. and I was living in Santa Monica, where there are many donation-based studios. I started practicing yoga at Bryan Kest’s Power Yoga with my friend and classmate Kiki, who was already a yogini. I did not have much money, since I was a student, and I was donating what I could. I am grateful, since Bryan offered the possibility to everybody to practice yoga, in spite of their economic status. I started being inspired by yoga and it made me feel extremely good. My ability to focus improved and my life approach was more relaxed, positive, and open to any change it might occur. Seven years later, my dearest friend Cesare convinced me to do a yoga teacher training and years later, I decided it was time to start teaching yoga.

What is your approach to yoga?

For me yoga is a way of being and a lifestyle based on respect towards oneself and the others and based on the search for personal and global wellbeing, balance, and happiness. In my opinion, essential yoga components are 1) service, 2) respect for the environment in all its connotations as well.

What do you think is fundamental in yoga practice?

In yoga practice a fundamental component is the desire to enter a deeper dimension of life and to understand what is essential to make us feel better and to make others feel better. The feeling of being part of a whole and not a separated entity, patience, and consistency are also extremely important.

What’s your favorite asana – or practice – (if you have one)?

The Tree Pose is my favourite asana. I call it the “Happy Tree Pose”. I practice it with my arms and hands open and up towards the sky, I visualize the sky and the sunlight, I breathe deeply to feel part of the whole, and I smile to life and to what is positive and beautiful around me. ”

What do you look for in a yoga studio?

I look for a welcoming place, almost a motherly womb, where I can feel protected and peaceful, forget any issue, worry, and thought, and focus on practice and meditation. I look for a space that can create serenity and positive energy.

What would you advise to someone trying yoga for the first time?

I advise not to be competitive with ourselves and the others. Avoid asking yourself, “Am I doing well? Is the position correct?”. Just stop and enjoy the present moment. I advise not to give up, if you are not well or if you don’t like yoga, since the physical and mental advantages and benefits are amazing. I advise to find a studio that could become home and one or more teachers that could be “family” in order to feel good and create a change for ourselves and the others.


See Cristina’s complete bio here