We were delighted to interview Dana Falsetti @nolatrees; she is a yoga teacher, speaker, educator, writer, and we absolutely love how bold, vulnerable and honest she is. In the interview, you’ll learn about the importance of learning & growing, embodiment, showing up and speaking for yourself.
What was your life goal when you were 10?
When I was 10 I was depressed, in a lot of pain, navigating trauma and isolation. At 10, all I wanted was the apparent ease and child-like experience my peers had. Right around this age, I also saw my body change, and I was quickly and noticeably the most adult-looking, and biggest child among my peers. I felt isolated both emotionally (I was always the independent/mature one) and physically (the fat kid).
What are some of the choices you’ve made that made you who you are?
Well, all of them. But not just choices. I spent a lot of my life assimilating (or trying to) to what society wanted of me so that I could be treated the way society treats those with the most privilege. While that was a choice, it was one made under the control of systemic fatphobia. Living in that shame and then reclaiming my power held many lessons in what it means to be fat and take up space in this world, to be a fat woman and own all parts of my identity and power. I am still learning every day about my own dehumanization, how to embody my power, and how to hold space for others who are systemically oppressed by racism, fatphobia, ableism, and more.
What does success mean to you?
A combination of contentment, fulfillment, and growth.
What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?
Being in the mountains, having alone time, eating yummy food, sex, and intimacy with lots of love, cannabis, sleep. Pleasures and comforts.
Where is your favorite place in the world and what makes it so special?
New Orleans (NOLA). Everything about it is magic, enchanting, seductive. New Orleans holds a full spectrum of emotion. You can feel the pain, joy, and everything in between. I lived there for a few years and learned a lot about myself in those years. Each time I’m there, I feel incredibly in tune with myself and very powerful. I feel sensual, strong, fully embodied. NOLA is family to me.
In the moments of self-doubt or adversity, how do you reconnect with your purpose?
I do what makes me feel powerful. Lately, it’s been the sexual space, because it’s one where I had to learn how to reclaim the power of my autonomy and pleasure. Great, connected, fulfilled sex always leaves me feeling incredibly powerful and at home in myself. My yoga mat is another safe space for me because I had to learn to reclaim my body and my comfort in it. I also read the many cards on my fridge from students over the years. I remind myself of my pain and everything that has brought me to this ultimate comfort in myself, and I know I am on the right track.
“Great, connected, fulfilled sex always leaves me feeling incredibly powerful and at home in myself.”
How much of yourself do your share with your IG followers? Are there any areas of your life that you consider private and “off limits”?
A whole lot. I am very transparent and very vocal. It helps me to process, and I love that it can support others as well. In many ways, though, I am a very private person, and maintaining that in some sense is essential to me. I’ve kept my intimate partners and life partners mostly off the online space, and I’ve felt pretty strongly about that from day 1. Much of my sexual experience (though I share a lot) I keep private because that’s such a sacred learning space for me, and somewhere I can really enjoy the privacy and intimacy of that safety. I don’t share much about my siblings or family, mostly for their privacy. I keep much of my pain and trauma off the online space, though I have shared a lot of that as well. Lastly, I only share when I genuinely feel inclined to.
How much do you care about showing your true self through social media? What is the recipe for a post that reflects that opinion?
I care so much it might even be unhealthy at times, haha. Being real, authentic, and genuine is all that really matters to me. It makes navigating boundaries challenging, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. My posts are always spontaneous. I do not plan posts, write captions ahead of time, and so on. I post only when there is a photo I want to share, or I genuinely have something to say. I write my captions the moment I’m going to post them. I share as though I’m writing in my own journal, and I keep it honest.
How do you react to controversial or critical comments and messages?
I now have an unapologetic block button rule, and that’s new – new and necessary for my mental health after years of engaging and educating through comments and messages. Doing so in a fat body is not easy. Criticism though (constructive) is always welcome, mostly from marginalized folks – I happily respond publicly and use my learning moments to educate others and learn. I’m not afraid of not knowing; when we think we know it all – about ourselves, the world – there is no space for growth. I’m not afraid of growing.
“I’m not afraid of not knowing; when we think we know it all – about ourselves, the world – there is no space for growth. I’m not afraid of growing.”
What kind of opportunities came to your life because of Instagram? (May include: friendships, partnerships, love, job opportunities, travel, etc.)
So many! Many of my friends are people I’ve met via IG. I started traveling and teaching yoga because of IG. All of the people I work with right now are connections I’ve made through IG. I have learned to be a more aware and informed person through following others on IG. I’ve been able to travel extensively, work with publications I never dreamed of being in and companies I never thought I’d be talking with. I have so much privilege, and that can’t be ignored in getting so many opportunities, but IG has certainly facilitated many of them. My aim is to use my platform and privilege to educate, call myself out, and offer as much as possible to others.
What is your advice for people who aspire to build a successful business?
Know yourself, be that person at all times, make all decisions with integrity, use contracts, don’t get distracted by dollar signs, ask for what you need and deserve, understand the capitalism game and all systemic oppression and how to exist it in while supporting others, learn about your privilege and unpack your bias before impacting others.
What lightens you up/excites you? (a project to work on, booking a plane ticket, meeting new people, etc.)
Vulnerable connections (intimate in some way), planning trips (especially road trips), in-depth and raw discussion about humanity (sex, shame, oppression, the human experience), having planned alone time.
What is there not enough of in yoga classes? Too much of?
Too much white supremacy, fatphobia, ableism and not enough accessibility and representation. I think that about sums it up.
What are three people or sources you’ve learned from – or followed closely – in the last year? (yoga-related or not)
Sassy Latte @sassy_latte
Shishi Rose @shishi.rose
Ericka Hart @ihartericka
Dianne Bondy @diannebondyyoga
I follow these people because their experiences are different from mine and they all experience marginalization I do not. I learn by listening to their experiences and believing them. Their sharing and educating make me reflect and take action.