Meet Rebeka Ryvola, local artist and yogi. Rebeka designed the Yoga District logo in the story and her murals can be found throughout Southeast D.C. Support Rebeka and other featured artists by checking out the full interview and her work.
“It’s so simple: when I have a practice of meditation of some kind and yoga I feel so much more creatively competent and curious, and am able to drift into that flow where deeper expression can start to happen.”
Tell me about your work. What inspires you?
Growing up I never imagined I would make art professionally, maybe because I didn’t really see artists in the areas I was interested in (environmental advocacy, policy, and humanitarian work), but, over time, I’ve somehow snuck more and more arts into my work in humanitarian assistance and social change advocacy. Now I spend most of my time creatively: illustrating, graphic note-taking, facilitating community art initiatives, running out-of-the-box projects, and incorporating art elements into professional spaces.
Visual inspiration comes from nature, the children’s stories that I grew up with, cultures throughout history, music from around the world. My yoga teacher training experience continues to be inspiring, as does learning from different religious and philosophical teachings. I also receive so much from heroes like Carl Sagan, Mr. Rogers, Remedios Varo, and my brilliant, creative, and big-hearted loved ones, who are all working on making the world a better place in their own ways. Finally, I’m inspired and energized anytime I get to work with young people.
I’m curious about the mind-body connection and your work. If you do yoga or other holistic movement practice, how does it affect your creative process?
It’s so simple: when I have a practice of meditation of some kind and yoga I feel so much more creatively competent and curious, and am able to drift into that flow where deeper expression can start to happen. I also read more, have more ideas, and have more fun.
The teacher training I did here in DC in 2016/2017 encouraged creative expression, which I loved, but only thanks to COVID-19 have I gotten back to teaching (via zoom & FaceTime), and I’ve been feeling a new kind of freedom with it, almost like I’ve figured out how to use the class as a canvas, the sequences as brush strokes. I have no doubt that it’s cyclical, too, that creating yoga flows aids in creation on other canvases, and within the various teams I work with.
If I were able to follow you around to see art in DC, which places would we go? What would we see?
We’ll start with coffee and a walk through Blagden Alley to see the evolving mural landscape. My favorite one is the one by Aniekan.
Then let’s go exploring through the Congressional cemetery, stopping by the Lummi totem pole arch. The Lummi are a Native American Coast Salish tribe in the Pacific Northwest, and artists from this community created the totem poles to honor the victims of 9/11.
We will go bike over to the Vietnam war memorial, created by then-college student Maya-Lin, before having a picnic beneath our favorite Roosevelt memorial quote (e.g. “Unless the peace that follows recognizes that the whole world is one neighborhood and does justice to the whole human race, the germs of another world war will remain as a constant threat to mankind!“), but not before paying our respects to Martin Luther King Jr at his memorial, created by Chinese artist Lei Yixin, who, in 1978, was one of the first to go back to art school after the Cultural Revolution.
After the picnic let’s go for an excursion out to the Glenstone, by bike if we are feeling strong (we are). We’ll dive into this fantastical celebration of art, nature, and architecture by striking up conversations with the thoughtful staff in their aesthetically-delightful uniforms and meditating beneath the forest canopy to the full 28 minutes of the stirring sound installation by fellow Canadians Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller.
For dinner we will admire the street & pop art in Toki Underground’s cozy nest or have a gathering in the dreamy alebrije cosmos room of humanitarian chef Jose Andres’ Oyamel.
To end our day, we’ll drop by an art party where we’ll participate in the creation of collective pieces, listen to spoken word and local bands, and support local artists by buying their works (see JIN Studio below for more info). What a lovely day.
Who are some of the DC artists you enjoy?
1. Near Northeast – one of the best bands of all time. Hear Kelly, Avy, Austin, and company play live when you have a chance.
2. Jay, aka JIN Studio – one of my favorite DC artists AND he knows shares about — and organizes many of — DC’s best art gatherings, figure drawing sessions, and multimedia parties.
3. Courtenay Lewis – local cartoonist, graphic notetaker, and one of my favorite creative collaborators.
The Yoga District 200 and 500 hour teacher training certification programs, registered by the Yoga Alliance are unique in their emphasis on diversity of teaching styles studied, personal attention, and trauma sensitive yoga. It's no coincidence that Yoga District is regularly voted the leading studio in the nation's capital, and that most of its classes are taught by graduates of its training program. As a full time yoga school, small group trainings are led up to eight times a year by a dedicated faculty including Jasmine Chehrazi, contributor to the Harvard Karma Yoga Project teacher training, teacher training faculty at George Washington University, Yoga Alliance Standards Committee Advisory Board Member, Yoga Activist Founder, and Yoga Service Council Advisory Board Member. So take your practice and community involvement to the next level by joining a training. There's a reason why our graduates call the training "transformative."
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