From growing up during the 60’s and marching on Washington D.C. with Dr. Martin Luther King, to being able to travel when travel was still uncommon and living in diverse places such as Mexico, Paris, and Israel, Diana Rilov has had a long and exciting life.
40 years ago, Diana started studying yoga. She fell in love with it immediately, and over the course of her life has managed to turn it into a career.
“Yoga has been my guiding light throughout this wonderful long life I've had and hope to have many more years of all of this.”
I recently sat down with Diana to talk about her 40-year career as a yoga instructor, the wisdom that comes with time, and how to continue feeling vital no matter your age. At 73, Diana Rilov is not slowing down.
Hi Diana! After 40 years as a yoga instructor, you still teach consistently, and you're even leading international retreats. How do you feel about where you are right now in your life?
"I feel fantastic, frankly. I think I have accomplished a lot. I still have a lot more to do, a lot more to accomplish. I look in the past and I see I've come a very long way and I look to the future and I feel that I still have a long way to go. I'm proud of what I've accomplished and am very happy doing what I do."
Something I’ve noticed in the age conversation is the stigma that as you get older, paths close for you and you should slow down and not do as much. It’s almost as if society expects older people to be frail and sedentary. This stigma obviously doesn't apply to you, so I'd love to hear your opinion on this.
“It's a very old fashioned concept. People used to retire at the age of 65 and then they went to Florida and they played golf and sat on the beach and played ping pong and just sort of waited for death in a way. That’s not the norm anymore.”
“I feel that the more you do the younger you feel. I always have projects and I'm always thinking ahead and doing things because that's how I feel vibrant. If I didn't have anything to look forward to, except going on a cruise or something like that, I think I would shrivel up and be frail.”
“It's the attitude of constantly looking forward, making plans and learning new things, and being open to new things. Just because I'm 73 plus and I have a lot of wisdom, that doesn't mean that I'm done yet. I'm not done yet. There's a lot I still want to do, accomplish, see, read, meet, engage, and that's me."
“I have a lot of young students and their attitude is, 'Hey, I want to be like you. I can do yoga within a person my age, but what is that person going to be like in X amount of years? You are that person. I want to learn from you.' It’s very invigorating for me to have younger people in my life, it’s a wonderful interaction.”
“Just because I'm 73 plus and I have a lot of wisdom, that doesn't mean that I'm done yet. I'm not done yet. ”
What are the aspects of your current age that make you the happiest?
“When I was younger, I wanted everybody to like me. I was a pleaser. That dropped out of my life when I dropped the things there were unimportant, the things that didn't feel authentic, the things I didn't feel right about. I stuck with a clear notion of something very, honest about my life and the people I loved and the people I wanted to be with. I stay totally authentic to who I am and that always works out the best.”
“The wonderful thing about aging is that we have a different perspective, a different narrative, a different context. So the longer you live, the more context you have, the more you see things from a different perspective.”
“I also love that I’ve gotten to a point where I can work with quality and not quantity. When I was younger, I taught every yoga class I could because I had to, and that's how I was building my career. Now, I can pick and choose more. There's a thing in New York where people say, ‘Oh, I'm so busy I can barely breathe.’ Well, if you can't breathe, you're really shortening your life. When I work really hard, I need to rest because that's one of the reasons I stay healthy.”
How does self care factor into your life? Do you have any daily rituals or routines that you integrate into your life to enhance your physical, spiritual, and mental wellbeing?
"I think sleep is crucial. I go to bed early because I get up very early so I can take my time in the mornings. I need time to sit and dream. With my eyes closed or open, I spend some time dreaming awake, letting my creative juices begin flowing for the day for my teaching. It's my version of meditation."
"I live in a busy city. It's very noisy. It's very active. I see a lot of people all day long and teach a lot, so I need quiet time. I'm very lucky in my home, and when I'm here, I replenish myself."
"I also love to drink a lot of fresh juices. I always have, but now more than ever because they're so available when I don't have a chance to make my own. I have to say when I got my own juicer and I started making juices and drinking more and more of those, I almost felt like I was drinking God into my body. There is something so special about how good I feel when I’m drinking fresh juices that I highly recommend it."
When I was researching for this interview, I heard you use the concept of a spiritual selfie. Can you tell me a little about that?
"I have watched the younger generation get carried away with the selfie, with filters, with how you look and where you are, and how happy you are. All this incredibly - it's not nice to say, but - it's narcissistic. I'm thinking, what about your spiritual side? Where are you on the inside? Where do you see your spiritual side and not only your selfie side?"
"So I developed this concept. It’s a thought process to turn your gaze inward, to assist in organizing the internal chaos. I've been using this for a while now, a year or so, or more probably. It's something that came to me in one of my dreaming awake moments when I was in the zone. I said it a lot of times, and then I decided to do something with it.
“It’s a thought process to turn your gaze inward, to assist in organizing the internal chaos.”
What are you excited for in the future?
"I'm excited to develop my brand. There are not a lot of yoga teachers my age who are doing as much as I am. I want to continue doing it, and I want to develop this spiritual selfie that I'm working on. I want to be inspiring for younger people who always look around Instagram, and see pictures of yoga people doing handstands on a beach in a bikini, and everything looks marvelous and wonderful."
"I think that can be inspiring, but it can be daunting at the same time. I just want to be different, I want to be who I am and be authentic in who I am and share that with the world and see what happens."
“I want to be who I am and be authentic in who I am and share that with the world and see what happens.”
Any final words?
I would say, keep learning all the time. Keep an open mind, and remember - we all go through good times, we go through bad times, but we can always look at the glass half full."
"Try to be a little less judgmental. It has to start with ourselves, we're very judgmental about how we look and all kinds of stuff like that, especially as women. it's a curse. And so, I want everybody to be kind - kind to yourselves, kind to people around you."
"The world will be a better place."