Chiara Leone's Model Guide To Yoga

Wellbeing EML Italy

Chiara Leone loves yoga and believes it has a special place for models. A way to work out and exercise the mind, she has found it has helped keep her calm in the busy world of fashion. Chiara gained a place in the Top 15 at the Elite Model Look World Final in 2015, representing her home country of Chile. Her father is Italian, and it just so happened that she was moving to Italy just before the World Final of Elite Model Look, so after entering the contest in Chile, she was able to take part from her new home. She explains what motivates her to get out her yoga mat daily, and why just five minutes on the mat makes her a better model.

How long have you been practising yoga for?

I have been practising yoga for 2 years. My mom and dad did yoga, so I had tried it before, but I wasn’t really into it. But then, I started going to classes and trying it at home with videos. It really helps me to start the day well, or to finish it well. It really helps you to clear your mind, because you’re always thinking about your phone, or what you’re doing next – with yoga, you leave all the worries you have aside for a moment - for school, or modelling, or travelling. Even if it’s only for 15 minutes, yoga is really relaxing and helps to clear your mind, it helps you to sleep. Even if you just do it for 5 minutes! It really helps you to relax – you just focus on the moment and it is enough. It’s weird because I never normally like to be alone. When I was younger, I loved being with my friends, but now I think we all need some time on our own. You enjoy having a bit of time for yourself.

When do you practise yoga?

Normally, I practise some in the afternoon, when I come back from school. At the weekends, I try to find some time in the morning, maybe 15 or 20 minutes, or I do some before bed, it helps me to sleep. I do different kinds of yoga depending on the time of day. When I do some in the morning, it is to get my energy levels up! So perhaps you stay in a plank for a bit longer, you work your legs and core. But in the evening, you want to really relax, so there is more stretching, a bit more breathing. Any time I can’t sleep, I do 10 minutes of this and it works. Once, I went to a yoga festival in Milan, and they were explaining all about the Indian culture – because yoga is from India – and talking about the food and the lifestyle around it. I am not such a massive fan that my whole life is based around yoga – but it’s interesting to think about it. When you are busy, and you are never calm, it’s good – I don’t really sit still, even when I relax, I can’t just watch a movie, for example. I know some people lie in bed and watch Netflix all weekend – I can’t do that! If I want time for myself, I do yoga or I go for a walk. I need to do something that will give me energy. 

What skills do you need to practise yoga well?

I think yoga is for everyone – but you need a bit of flexibility. I was a ballet dancer for 12 years, so I’m not gymnastic but I am flexible. You also need to be patient for yoga! Some people like to do weights, which I can do if I want, but I prefer this slow way of exercising. You also need to be good at concentrating – a lot. You can’t be doing yoga but thinking what you’re doing tomorrow or anything, you need to be present. It’s a mind thing too. 

Does yoga help you to be a better model?

Yes, for sure! When you work in fashion, it’s really good to have a moment to calm down. It’s good to have a balance for a healthy body and mind. I think a lot of models practice yoga, and not just models – lots of people in fashion, because it is a stressful industry. Yoga is a really calming experience, if you really concentrate. So I think it is very important to balance things out. I am not normally a stressful person – I have to miss school a lot for modelling, and then I have a lot to catch up on – but I try to live in the moment and then I will study when I have time. Also as a model, you have to wait a lot – at castings for example. It helps you to be calm, your mind is a bit more relaxed and chilled, it helps you to deal with the pressure. There are other girls who are nervous all the time, and I think it’s bad for the mind. I think that’s why models like yoga – it’s a workout, but it’s more about the strength it gives you for your mental health. In fashion, things happen last minute all the time, maybe it’s fashion week and you have to go to a fitting in the middle of the night. I know a lot of models who practice yoga – not all of them every day – but those who do are definitely more calm. They know how to stay in the moment and not lose themselves to worry. 

Does yoga help with the physical side of modelling too?

For sure. Yoga helps with travelling, for example, maybe you’re in the plane for 12 hours and your muscles are all tense, so you stretch and get the blood flowing. And you walk so much, when I first started doing castings for fashion week I never took the metro, I walked everywhere and it took hours! So your muscles are tired and you have a stretch, it’s good. You’ve been thinking a lot so you calm down, and you can sleep.

Your parent practise yoga - did that help you begin?

My dad used to, he doesn’t any more. My mom uses it a lot though – she also uses yoga to calm down to have this moment for herself. Since we moved to Italy, she doesn’t work anymore. When we lived in Chile, she had a really stressful job at a bank. She realised that she really needed it, she was doing yoga three times a week and she found it really helped. Sometimes, we do yoga together. I think it’s good to support her. 

Did you practise yoga during the World Final of Elite Model Look 2015?

No, I didn’t have time! And I wasn’t as into it then – now I love it. But everyone is different. For some people, running is their way to relax – for me, running is a workout, I can’t stop thinking about when it’s going to end! Yoga really works for me. I used to love ballet for that reason, but it’s hard to fit ballet around your schedule, because you need to go to a class. So I have replaced ballet with yoga. I can do it from videos on my phone, wherever. But what I get from yoga, I used to get from ballet – it was an hour and a half I took just for myself, to really relax. People think it’s easy but it was hard!

What is the best advice you ever got?

For me, it was: don’t forget where you came from. Keep being you. Don’t treat people any differently once you start to succeed – it’s very simple but it’s important. Some people act like they are the king or queen of the universe! Don’t be like that. The second thing is: don’t take rejection personally. Every girl is special and is going to be good at something. It’s not that if you don’t get one show, you are ugly. No! Maybe they just don’t need you for their show. Don’t think about it too much! Stay positive.

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