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Beauty & Wellness

#FindYourInspiration, Your Tribe + Your Inner Ninja: Q&A with Liz Arch

Kathryn Budig talks to Primal Yoga Creator Liz Arch on the beauty of fierce confidence.

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Kathryn Budig talks to Primal Yoga Creator Liz Arch about the beauty of fierce confidence. 

I’m a huge proponent of finding your tribe. My tribe is made up of some of the strongest women I know. These ladies are confident, fearless, and most importantly supportive—always pushing me to do better. I want to introduce you one who carries all of these credentials and more. Liz Arch is a powerhouse LA yoga teacher who flows with grace both on the mat and in her martial arts practice. Learn more about this empowered beauty and how she believes we can all lift each other up.

Kathryn Budig: Your style of yoga is called “Primal Yoga.” Can you elaborate on your martial arts background and why you think it complements yoga? Oh, and what’s it like to be a ninja?

Liz Arch: I created Primal Yoga® as a way to bridge my yogic and martial arts practices together to create balance, strength and synergy in our physical and emotional bodies. They are yin and yang energies that when combined, create a beautiful dance between hard and soft, strength and suppleness, control and surrender. For me personally, yoga and martial arts are ultimately about the art of yielding—working with energy and using as little force as possible to achieve a maximum result.

My background is in traditional Northern-Style Kung Fu and Yang-Style Tai Chi. I hold a Tai Chi Quan certification from the Beijing Tai Chi and Kung Fu Academy and currently train at LA WUSHU. I also recently started Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, which I absolutely love! As for being a ninja—I’m a full-on badass in my head, but for some reason Jackie Chan hasn’t called me yet to be his stunt double.

KB: You did a gorgeous photo shoot with Robert Sturman where you refused to be photoshopped. I love a fierce woman who embraces her beauty exactly as it is. What were your hopes for people viewing those images?

LA: Thank you! As a woman, I have struggled with body image issues, and it has been a long journey to self-acceptance. As a health and wellness professional, it’s very easy to compare myself to others and feel like I’m falling short. When I started becoming more active in social media, I wanted to make sure I was encouraging more self-love and less self-criticism and comparison. I’ve had cellulite on my butt since I was 13 years old, and it took me a long time to realize that there’s nothing unsightly or unhealthy about my body. What we see in the media is not always an accurate representation of reality, so I wanted to show all sides of myself, not just my “best” angles. Admittedly, there are still moments when I’m my own worst critic, but I’m getting much better at holding a compassionate space for myself and celebrating all parts of me, especially the jiggly bits!

KB: I know you hail from Hawaii, where you weren’t necessarily raised with the best blueprint for healthy eating. How did this impact you and what helped lead you onto a healthier path? 

LA: Diabetes is prevalent in my family and I grew up on a diet of spam, rice and sugar. My dad is an amazing cook, but we ate much more for taste than nutrition. I was a really chubby baby and was praised for being a “good eater.” Fortunately, I lost my baby fat quickly, but I still didn’t have any awareness about proper nutrition and how to eat for energy. I discovered yoga in college and had no idea at the time how much of an impact it would have on the course of my life and my health. I thought I was just signing up to get my sweat on, but over 10 years later, I’ve completely changed the way I eat, the way I move, the way I feel, the way I think, and the way I live. I knew something had majorly shifted the day my spam musubi cravings turned into kale smoothie cravings! Now I nourish my body and spirit with healthy food, healthy friendships, laughter, movement and meditation.

KB: You are an incredibly bold, honest and beautiful woman. What lesson could share to help other women be confident?

LA: Be authentically you and above all be compassionate to yourself. I spent so many years worrying about what people thought of me, that I never stopped to consider what I thought about myself. It was a huge light bulb moment for me to realize that the majority of my negative talk was completely self-generated. Someone once told me, “In your 20s, you worry about what everyone thinks of you. In your 40s, you don’t give a crap about what people think about you. In your 60s, you realize no one was thinking about you at all.” The only expectations we have to live up to are the ones we place on ourselves. So make a conscious choice everyday to lift yourself up, rather than put yourself down. By the same token, let’s also lift up those around us! We can accomplish so much more together in the spirit of collaboration and camaraderie, than we can by competition and comparison.

Kathryn Budig is the yoga teacher behind AIM TRUE, a regular contributor to Yoga Journal, and a presenter at Yoga Journal LIVE!.