We had the good fortune of connecting with GIoconda Parker and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi GIoconda, where are your from? We’d love to hear about how your background has played a role in who you are today?
I’m from all over really. My father was a missionary when I was born and continued to work as a minister throughout my childhood and young adult years. As I look at the life I’ve created for myself, I can see how so many early impressions helped to shape my life. Early on I learned to dive in and look for what there was to appreciate about a place—the landscape, food, and people that made each place what it was. When I choose where and how to retreat with students, I consider these three factors, and how to build an experience that lets them connect with all three anywhere we go. As for the missionary side of things—while I didn’t take up the religious side of that life, I think watching my father dedicate himself and his life’s work to something he believed in informed a sense of both freedom and permission to do the same. I never felt pressure to be “successful” in any traditional sense of that word, but being true to what you believe–THAT was always important.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I can hardly believe I’ve been teaching yoga for over twenty years—in some ways it feels like time has flown by, and in other ways, I have a hard time remembering my life before yoga. I knew in my fifth yoga class I wanted to be a yoga teacher. I love this quote from Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, “The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.” The feeling I had in savasana in that class was me discovering one of those strange jewels. I knew in my bones this was my path and to this day I can still drop into the experience I had that day, and still have. This is my work in the world—having that knowing in my body and moving through whatever is needed to bring it to fruition in my life. That’s what my aim is as a yoga teacher, teacher trainer and somatic therapist. We are resilient beyond measure–our capacity for healing, growing, and creating exceeds even our wildest dreams. We all have everything we need for our own health and healing–we just need the right tools and support to remember that. Everything I do and create is aimed at realizing this on deeper levels and supporting others to do the same. And I’ve built my career in a profession that allows me to be highly creative in all the ways I can work toward that aim. One-on-one, group experiences, through international travel and inner journeys, through teaching and supporting others to teach. I’m continually excited and amazed at how yoga continues to grow and adapt, and am looking forward to see what new innovations and experiences will follow the events of this past year. The pandemic has given me a push forward on my own timeline and I’ll be building a filming and training center to share my own synergy of yoga, breathwork, meditation, and somatic tools. My aim is to make these tools as simple and accessible as possible to as many people as possible, because when we know our own resiliency and trust our better impulses, we can create just about anything. I would love to see us create a more just, peaceful and beautiful world, one dream at a time.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
We’d spend an afternoon at the Rothko Chapel sitting in the space and absorbing the depth of those incredible canvases and the ambiance of the space created for doing just that. Dinner at Pondicherry, savoring the flavors and smells of the incredible food and share the kind of heartfelt conversation that delicious Indian food somehow always makes space for. The Contemporary Arts Museum deserves at least a half-day to wander and experience, and would def need to be followed up by saki and sushi in the museum district. SO much great yoga in Houston—start each day with a great practice to experience the whole world of Houston Yoga. And then to change up the vibe, we’d have to visit the beer can house and the Saint Arnold Brewing company (gotta keep it real!) For an evening after yoga, we’d head over to LadyBirds for casual but delicious food and drinks! And speaking of evenings, we’ll take advantage of those warm Texas evenings to visit James Turrell’s Twilight Epiphany Space on the Rice campus and bring a picnic to enjoy on a spot of green grass. For shopping we can’t miss Manready Mercantile and the super fun neighborhood it’s in—and that will be the perfect day for tacos and margaritas.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My shoutout goes to my three root teachers—I feel their influence, guidance, and presence every time I teach yoga. Murti Hower, my first yoga teacher, and guide who taught me to be authentic and real. Rodney Yee, who showed me the poetry of yoga and life and awakened my felt experience of breath. And Shiva Rea, who showed me through example how to be fierce, strong, and beautiful by dancing your way into the flow.
Instagram: @giocondayoga and @thebodyresilient
first image Cameron Cone headshot Cameron Cone pic of me and Austin Skyline Andrew Masi