Model, fitness instructor and health coach Rosemary Vandenbroucke tells #legend why she is heels over head in love with yoga.
When did you get into yoga?
Over a decade ago. I’ve always been very active. I was a triathlete, training competitively, a marathon runner, and a friend of mine said, “You should try yoga”. I gave it a shot and it complemented my training.
When did you decide you wanted to teach yoga?
I was practising for a while, but one day I put my foot down and said I wanted to be able to teach this. I stopped all work and went abroad to get my certification. It was one of the best decisions I have made. I chose to go to Shanghai because life in Hong Kong was just distracting back then. I didn’t tell a single soul that I was leaving for a month. I was really happy I did so. They taught me a lot about yogic philosophy and how to detach yourself from your emotions and your ego to find yourself in the deeper practice. It was a gruelling experience but it gives you such a different perspective on life.
Apart from yoga, you also do trail running?
Yoga complements all of my training. I used to play basketball. I trail run. I run marathons. My next one coming up is in November in Myanmar, which is apparently one of the most beautiful marathons in the world. I’m looking forward to it. I’ve run in Mongolia and I also did some three-day ultramarathons. My husband proposed at the end of the Great Wall Marathon. That was a memorable experience. He got down on one knee. I did not see it coming.
There’re so many types of yoga. Which do you enjoy the most?
I love aerial yoga. Being inverted and using gravity to really deepen your stretches, the knots in your body just disappear. It feels amazing afterwards.
And what kind of yoga do you teach?
I teach vinyasa yoga. It’s hatha-based, but I like to add more core work so it helps to strengthen. The majority of my students are here, although I get to teach around the world, which is a true blessing. I teach private classes and I love taking students back to nature. It’s a rewarding feeling to be able to touch people in a positive way.
And what is it about outdoor yoga that you like so much?
You can really feel the vibrations of the earth. It’s just having the sky above your head, the trees, and listening to the sounds of birds. It really gives you that energy, that connection with the universe.
You’re also a health coach. How do you help your students with nutrition?
There’s a lot more research out there. It’s really about finding out what works for you because everybody is different. Someone’s fuel could be another person’s poison. The beautiful thing is, the body’s self-healing. Just knowing that can motivate a person to switch to a healthier lifestyle.
When you were first modelling, did you have a healthy concept of food and dieting?
I learned the hard way when I first started because, as a kid, I was doing all sorts of sports and when I started modelling at 14, I didn’t know the word diet. I had no idea what the word was until the agency said I needed to lose weight. I was a growing adolescent and I was also working three to four jobs a day at the time. My body was going through some dramatic changes and I didn’t have anyone to tell me what I should eat. I just figured, eat less, but it would be counter-productive.
It was a nightmare, yo-yo cycle. My relationship with food was very, very poor as a teenager. It was only in my mid-20s that I started to realise how important it was to treat my food as my medicine. Now I eat less animal protein. I’ve read a lot about how the world cannot be sustained if we keep eating animal protein.
What is your dream? What do you hope to achieve?
I would love to teach students to become teachers, and just create this ripple effect of people who want to touch people’s lives the way that I want to.
Who are the type of people you like to teach the most?
First-time yogis: they have so much room to grow, and they make excuses, but I tell them they’ve got to start somewhere. There is a fear of not being flexible enough. They see all these posters with yogis in crazy feet-over-head poses and say I can’t do that. I like to help them and show them that they can. I started from somewhere. There were things I wasn’t able to do before that only through regular practice got me to where I am today. You have to be patient.
Obviously, being a top model and a fitness inspiration, you have a strong following online. How do you utilise social media?
I particularly love Instagram because it’s like a photo diary. Unlike Facebook, you can look back and see your progress, which I really like. I love to share my yoga, my adventures, things that mean something to me. I like to inspire other people to take that step to a healthier lifestyle. I hope that’s the direction people feel from it.