Actress Tamara Duarte is well known for her roles on the screen in television shows such as Degrassi: The Next Generation, Longmire, Hard Rock Medical and Haven, but even with her star rising, its her passion for yoga that has helped her stay grounded and find life’s true meaning.
When Tamara isn’t busy working in film or TV in all capacities she spends her time practicing yoga. This past January, she traveled to Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam to work with underprivileged children through Karma Yoga. Asana Journal exclusively caught up with Tamara to learn more…
How were you first introduced to yoga and what were your original thoughts?
I was in my senior year of high school taking a kinesiology or weight training course (can’t remember!) but my teacher Mr Kane/ Soccer coach brought in a yoga/meditation instructor. He took us through a few sun salutations and then an extensive meditation practice. I remember lying jumpers for sale on the floor and going deeper and deeper into the resonance of his voice and melting into the carpet beneath me. 45 minutes later I slowly returned, opened my eyes and felt light, happy, and serene. I was like “ what was that?!. I want to do it again!”
How important is an active, healthy lifestyle to you?
Its vital for me. My body needs at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day and my mind the opposite. The only way I know how to calm my mind down is if I allow my body to get movement out first. Eating healthy comes like second nature to me. My body is very sensitive to fatty over processed foods and alcohol. I had a scare a few years ago. My liver was depleted by a significant percentage and I was very sick and could not understand why. I didn’t over eat or drink and I ran 5k everyday. I went to see Dr. Keith De Orio in Beverly Hills, California who changed my life forever. I sat and cried in his office. I had stem cell therapy and I went on a rigid holistic program.
What types of yoga do you practice these days?
Mostly Moksha yoga. It’s what I started with 10 years ago and what I stuck with, although my training certification is not Moksha. I did a 280 hour specialization course in Partner, Children, and Natal yoga. Although Yoga is an individual practice I wanted to explore the connection side of it.
You recently travelled to Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam – did you learn any new types/styles of yoga on your travels?
YES! I learned exactly what I went there to study. I worked with a teacher from Birth Light UK. She had lived and worked in the amazon for 20 years and was also a midwife who preformed hundreds of births. Not only did she teach me a different style of yoga but a different style of living.
Is it hard to find time to do yoga with your busy schedule as an actress?
I have a mat in my trunk, suitcase, apartment in LA, and home in Vegas. I know it’s a lot of mats, but I practice when I can where I can. It is hard but I try my best. I have a family of my own too, a stepson and a husband. It’s a consistent balancing act, but we have an on going saying in our family. “You are no good to anyone stressed out” when I take time for myself I’m a better person, I’m happier which in turn makes everyone around me happier.
What has been your greatest challenge when it comes to your practice?
I struggle with restorative yoga, resting and restoring my body. I’m leaning to me more mindful and tender with it. I have a go go go personality. I’m leaning to me more loving to myself through my practice and in life. I continually strived for perfection which you cant get in yoga, art, or life.
Why do you feel yoga is important to your every day lifestyle and who you are as an individual?
Yoga is important to my everyday life because my mind doesn’t run rapid with stories and stresses, well I lied. It certainly does, but Yoga helps me sit in the audience observing instead of preforming. It can be mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausting to always be participating in each performance. It’s like watching the roller-coaster instead of being on the roller-coaster. But some people (including myself at one point in life) are addicted to the adrenalin/drama. I was exhausted from my life being in a fixed fight or flight response; I believe it attributes to sicknesses in the body.
What advice would you like to share with other practitioners based on your personal experience or others looking at getting into yoga?
I would say travel. Travel travel travel as much as you can to where you can. it doesn’t have to be expensive! I think it enriched me with so much culture and experience and really changed how I see the world and how I interact with others on a daily basis. I’m more sensitive to other people’s culture and beliefs, more open minded and loving, and more connected to our commonalities. I feel a sense of universal community that I am not alone on this journey.
Tell us about one of your greatest yoga experiences to date…
Teaching with NataRaj Yoga in Cambodia. I stayed there at no cost and taught in exchange. I had just gone through training a month before so I was definitely learning a lot from teachers like Piseth Lun. I worked with several NGOs in Phnom Pen through the school. They took us to a lot of places to teach but the one that sticks out and I went to most often was this massive crumbling white building. It used to be a place of modern living and now the residence are a mix of prostitutes, heroin addicts, nuns, children, business owners, and several girls I was friends with that were teacher assistants at the school. The kids were just happy to see us. They listened, laughed and danced with me through poses and then laid in savasanai quietly at the end. Getting to know Monk Yorn Chea in Siem Reap. He runs a school that provides free education, sport mechanical bull for sale materials, school uniforms and bicycles to poor, vulnerable and disabled kids. On my last day before journeying to Thailand we sat in the evening light and talked for hours at the beautiful River Garden with another woman named Stacy Sims and he then put a red string around my wrist and blessed me.I was traveling alone and had been for months I remember him being a little worried. Cambodia will always have a special place in my heart.
Where is your favorite place to practice yoga?
The beach. I never know when I’ll end up on the coast (Santa Monica, California) for an audition or meeting. So I leave a beach blanket and yoga mat in my trunk for all intent and purposes.
Besides yoga, do you take care of your health through other activities?
Yes. I love to run. I was on the track team in school and it’s still a form of relaxation for me. My uncle and cousin in Portugal are pretty well known triathletes and running coaches. We STILL have not gone on a run together! I also love to do dance classes and my husband and I love to hike together.
What are your future dreams and goals both professionally and personally?
My future goals professionally are to write and produce more, joining forces with other like-minded creators that want to output meaningful content. I also love event coordinating so I want to do more of that when I actually have the time. I love organizing parties! Personally I’d like to continue to build a beautiful home and family with my husband though love, support, growth, and communication.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?
I would change peer pressure/bullying online and in schools. Social media has changed our society forever and it needs to be patrolled and monitored more closely for those who abuse it. I feel like there is a lack of empathy and compassion, treating others as an object. Criticizing them for their beliefs, skin tone, etc. all while hiding behind a computer.This need of trying to keep up and be cool also. Online bullying is what I would change most definitely and it’s a topic I could get into deeply and for hours.
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