When a photo of Summer Perez doing happy baby pose with her daughter flashed across our Instagram feed last month, our hearts just about melted. For the mother of two, yoga's a family affair. Mornings are often spent moving and breathing on the mat with her little ones, a ritual that not only brings them closer, but also sets the tone for the day, which, for Summer, is typically filled with papers, exams, clinicals and cram sessions (she's currently in school to be a nurse!). We caught up with the yogi to talk how she's sharing her practice with her kids and what it means to live out her lifelong dream.
How did you get into yoga?
I bought a mat while I was pregnant with my son, but it wasn’t until eight months after the birth of my daughter that I actually rolled it out to practice. I loved being a mom, but I felt such a darkness at that time—I had just broken up with a dream I identified with for so long that I felt lost. Something told me I needed to roll out the mat that had been hiding in my closet, and I am forever grateful that I did.
What has yoga added to your life?
The more I broke my mat down, the more it built me up. I gained confidence, patience and a deeper appreciation for my body. I’ve learned to spend more time in the present than in the past or in my illusions of what could and or should be. And it has become a beautiful way to bond with my family while creating a sense of peace within ourselves.
We love seeing you practice with your kids! Do you have any daily yoga rituals that you do together?
Some mornings we will do a short practice or breathing exercises to start our day grounded, but I have found that the greatest yoga has been the quality time we spend together, regardless of what that looks like.
You're currently in school to become a certified nurse. What sparked this decision?
I’ve always wanted to be of service to people through healthcare, but I had to set aside that goal due to family obligations and, later, the start of my own family.
This interest was reignited in 2017, when natural disasters and violence in the news, made me want to do more than send money—I wanted to be of service and give my time, too. And the quickest way to be of help is to be a registered nurse through a 2-year program.
What's something that people might be surprised to learn about you?
I was born in Honduras and am of Central American Native, African, and European descent. I learned to speak Spanish before English. When I dye my hair blonde, people assume that I’m Eastern European, so when I start speaking Spanish they are completely taken aback.
Another fun fact is that I grew up wanting to be a fighter. Not an aggressor, but someone who could defend herself. I was in karate for many years and consistently won gold medals in both sparring and forms. I also later trained in boxing.
Do you have any tips for people who might be struggling to balance a hectic work schedule and family priorities with yoga or self-care practices?
Prioritize, delegate and don’t be so hard on yourself. Remember to breathe and to be in the present moment. Five minutes to yourself is better than none at all. Drink water and eat good food—this can make such a huge difference in the way you feel and handle things.
What's your favorite music to practice to?
When I practice in the early mornings, I usually don't have music on because everyone is still sleeping. Any other time, it’s dependent on my mood. It ranges from hip hop and R&B, to bachata, salsa and reggae, to what people would consider yoga music.