By RAY QUIROGA
South Padre Parade
Fully expecting to give birth to a boy, Linda McGonigle was more than surprised to have given birth to a baby girl. But almost as quickly as those emotions entered her heart, she realized that she had given life to a perfectly healthy and beautiful baby girl. And in that instant, a name for her newborn came to mind: “LaVida”.
Twenty eight years later, there’s little doubt that LaVida’s mother either had a premonition of the type of person her daughter would become or simply had a higher power whispering that name in her ear.
To know LaVida Maureen Williams is to know the things that are important to her. For LaVida, some of those things have their roots thousands of years ago when Eastern spiritualists, seeking a higher plane of enlightenment through hours (if not days) of meditation, realized that atrophy was attacking their muscles. They stood up from their meditative state and began simple stretching movements. As those basic exercises evolved to complement their spiritual goals and their natural surroundings, they developed what is commonly known as yoga, which is sometimes preceded by the word Namaste, a salutation which literally means, “I bow to you”.
That was one of many lessons we learned from LaVida, a Laguna Madre area wellness coach who specializes in pilates and yoga instruction. For LaVida, yoga and eastern philosophy have provided a life anchor and an impetuous for self-discovery.
“I like to look at the picture wholelistically when it comes to someone’s wellbeing,” LaVida said when discussing her approach towards her clients. As LaVida explained, the soul, body and mind are all linked; a healthy body, she said, will create a healthy mind and vice versa.
This avid surfer and surfing instructor isn’t about to knock other forms of physical activity, but the conversation always tends to come back to yoga, and for good reason. According to LaVida, “Another notable and interesting aspect of yoga is that it’s one of the few things a person can do to tone the internal organs. You can do kickboxing or other activities, but they are not toning your internal organs. In yoga, you can do
pranayama, which is breathwork, and there are also different poses called asanas that are designed to help stimulate the thyroid or help flush the toxins from the liver and kidneys.
LaVida was first introduced to yoga in high school, when she was invited to a class hosted by the Island’s own Aziza Barker of Laguna Madre Yoga Mediation and Dance Center. The experience opened LaVida’s mind to alternative and wholelistic approaches to health and exercise. Later, she began to challenge the very definition of health. “Like most women, I was very self-conscience and became obsessed with counting every little calorie. But I got tired of that, and the more I learned the more I wanted to not just be skinny anymore. I wanted to be healthy, and I saw healthy as being strong, as being physically fit and mentally fit to do anything that I wanted to do.”
LaVida is currently employed at Duvé Wellness Center & Natural Living Shoppe in Port Isabel, where she shares her skills and knowledge about health and nutrition with others.
And with that, we say to Ms. LaVida Williams: “Namaste.”