Audrey: Welcome to the Second Breakfast podcast, where we talk about food and fitness technologies and our own experiences eating and cooking and aging and grieving and moving and monitoring our bodies.

My first guest today is Margarita Smith, a yoga instructor and baker in Portland, Oregon and also one of my very best friends.

I am thrilled to have Margarita be my first guest on here because, she was instrumental to my becoming an athlete over the past few years. At the beginning of the COVID lockdown, I started doing yoga with her via Zoom. This was just a few weeks before Isaiah died. It was a few months before my health really spiraled downwards. And Margarita was there for me throughout, helping me find some stability — literally and figuratively — and gain confidence and strength (before moving on to weightlifting and running).

As a Black queer person living in a larger body with a transplanted kidney, Margarita has a very different experience with yoga than, well, almost everyone else doing yoga in the Pacific Northwest. This is a political practice, not just a movement practice.

Like me, Margarita is a grad school dropout. We didn't fail at academia; it failed us. So we'll talk today about how the experience of critical thinking and progressive politics might (or might not) transfer to fitness. We'll also talk about food and yoga and technology.

Technology and yoga looks a lot different than technology and, say, running. The running community sort of expects now that one wears a watch and tracks a bunch of data. Yoga? Not so much…

Margarita: I feel like technology comes into fitness spaces in a way that takes you out of that space. So many people come into my class with smartwatches. When they're supposed to be in restorative yoga, they're checking their pulse on their phone. I want to tell them "if you sit still and let your mind go silent and focus on your breath, you can hear your own heartbeat. You don't need an appliance." It's so frustrating, because if you're looking at your watch, you're not in the moment anymore. And I'm trying to get you to get into your body.

Audrey: That's one of the things that I try to write about — all of this tech promises that it's going to help us understand our body, but it's almost the antithesis, right? We're offloading all of our self-knowledge and self-discovery to a tool that collects a lot of data, but it doesn't mean shit, right?

Margarita: I just want everybody to move their body. And I know yoga isn't necessarily for everybody. I want people to who come to yoga to decide if it's for them or not. And I don't think you can do that if you're not paying attention, if you're like always looking at your watch. You're seeing "oh, there's a result here!" But you're missing this whole moment.

I also think that people don't know how, in a room full of people, not to continue to compare themselves to other people, how to just be on their mat and do what works for them and figure out what works for them. Because that's the hardest part. People don't even know, they're so out of their bodies.

You can listen to the full episode, or read the transcript on Substack. (Syndication to all the various podcasting apps is coming very, very soon.)

Audrey Watters


The Second Breakfast Podcast