Tattoos & Yoga: Emma Vasquez

24-year-old Emma Vasquez , is a yoga teacher from Carlisle. We chatted to Emma to find out more about her daily practice, her tattoos and living a vegan lifestyle…

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How old were you when you got your first tattoo and what was it? I was 18, it’s an owl on my thigh it’s about A4 size.

What drew you to the world of tattoos? Full bodysuits of tattoos. I just loved seeing so many tattoos together on one person, the colours and work just blew me away. I remember seeing a bodysuit on a lady in the swimming pools when I was about 10 or 11 and I was in awe of how awesome she looked.

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What influenced your decision to get tattooed? I just liked how it looked, getting tattooed didn’t feel like a huge deal for me really, I don’t really have any that are meaningful or tell a story. It was more just get a tattoo done and that’s it. Go to a good tattooist and just enjoy the whole experience.

Can you tell us a little about your tattoos? I have both arms done, traditional and lots of colours and flowers. A nautical style piece on my back, an om on my chest, Ganesha on my stomach. I have both thighs tattooed, back of thighs, knees, shins, calves. All ten toes, insides of my feet and tops of my feet.  They’re all traditional and I’ve been tattooed by many great tattooists, most were done by Megan Fell and her dad Colin Fell. Both solid tattooers.

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How did your yoga journey begin? About five years, I had started meditating and wanted to see if yoga would complement that. I took my first class at the same studio I now work for, I totally fell in love with yoga from the start.

Have you been treated differently as a heavily tattooed woman in the yoga industry? I have had students tell me they were worried about coming to my classes because my tattoos make me look scary or “hard” even though I always have a huge smile on my face! People have outright told me they think my tattoos look awful and they don’t like them. But that’s their opinion and that’s fine. Sometimes I’ve had students giggle or point at my tattoos to their friends but never at the yoga studio in Carlisle where I work now, this was from other places I taught yoga. So I suppose people have said things or giggled and pointed at me to their friends because of my tattoos. I just let it be, I think the more tattoos you get the more you just don’t care about what anyone else thinks. I like them that’s all that matters.

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Has your lifestyle changed since you started teaching? Not really, when I started yoga that’s when my lifestyle changed. I became vegan and made a lot of different life choices but since I started teaching it’s all just been so natural and fluid. No forcing anything, everything just flows really. It’s a great way to live, very relaxed.

Do your tattoos coincide with your yoga practice? I think as I am a strict ashtanga practitioner they do, ashtanga is a very yang style of yoga and if I go to other studios to do an ashtanga class I guarantee a few ashtangis will have tattoos! I suppose I also feel covered up with my tattoos when I practice, I feel hidden and in my own little world. I do get a lot of compliments about them though, in the studio and even people stopping me in the street.

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Have they helped you to connect to yourself or the world in a different way? Actually getting tattooed made me realise we can step away from emotions and feelings, we don’t have to hold on to them or identify with them. If you’re in pain getting tattooed just accept it as your present moment experience and know that it’ll pass.

Have yoga and tattoos helped you to view your body differently, has yoga? Definitely, yoga made me completely fall in love with my body, to heal and nurture it and to be proud of it. And getting tattooed has also made me feel much more confident in my own skin.

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Where do you teach and how can people get involved? 
I teach at the Yoga Studio Carlisle in Cumbria, it’s the most beautiful tranquil space. You get involved by coming along to classes! I run the ashtanga yoga programme here as well and that’s a real rarity for Cumbria! It’s fantastic to be teaching at the same studio I started my yoga journey in.

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