About Lizette Pompa
Lizette was born in Mexico and started her yoga journey while living in Madrid. After taking her first Yoga TT in USA 2010, she moved to Stockholm with her now-husband to finally open their yoga studio Hot Yoga Uppsala in Uppsala, Sweden, in 2011. Together they have created a great community who take part in classes which involve strength training to complement yoga.
Her teaching style incorporates strength training to complement yoga and functional movement in different ways; including workouts that complement yoga. She also likes to integrate kettlebells and weights into the practice to build stronger bodies that are more resilient to stress and injuries.
Empowering women through yoga and movement is an ongoing theme for Lizette. She’s created a class for women only called Yoga Strong .
Lizette: “I want to help them to find strength in their body in different ways”.
She aims to inspire others to get physically and mentally strong while using traditional yoga mixed with kettlebells, strength drills, and workouts.
Strength training to complement yoga.
How can we implement this as teachers?
About This Episode
In this Podcast, Lizette Pompa and Kathryn discuss how to incorporate strength training to complement yoga with the use of props such as dumbbells and kettlebells.
Lizette Pompa and Kathryn break down several methods of bringing weights into the yoga studio and transitioning from a traditional asana practice to a practice that includes varied movements. Lizette talks about her transition from Bikram Yoga to functional movement, and how her perspective has evolved.
They then have a discussion about injuries and why strength training to complement yoga can be so helpful. Lizette also goes on to explain why she is passionate about strength training for women and how she’s created a unique class called Yoga Strong.
Kathryn: Hi Lizette, welcome to the podcast.
Lizette Pompa: Hi Kathryn. Thank you for having me.
My pleasure. So you have been on this podcast very very briefly before. We had a really quick conversation maybe a year ago or so, a little bit more than that. I just remember our very brief conversation being so interesting and you got to tell people a little bit about how you started implementing strength and weights into your practice and into your studio.
So I thought this could be just a great opportunity to have a longer conversation about that and I want to also ask you a little bit about your online teaching and your app that you do. Because I think a lot of people are really interested in that now. So assuming that people don’t know anything about you do you want to take a couple of minutes and just tell people a little bit about who you are and the type of work that you do.
Lizette Pompa: 00:04:49
Absolutely. My name is Lizette Pompa and I’m a yoga teacher. I also own a studio in Uppsala Sweden. And I have an app where I post my strength training to complement yoga routines and kind of help people build strength. I also have an online yoga platform where we post yoga classes for our students in the studio, local students, and now it’s open to everybody also. If someone wants to subscribe and do yoga online. So I do a little bit of everything but my main thing is teaching yoga.
Kathryn: So how did you originally get into yoga?
Lizette Pompa: 00:05:27
It was 11 years ago. I was living in Madrid in Spain and I was working in retail and I was just like standing up the whole time and I wanted to do something and I found this Bikram yoga studio. So I started with Bikram yoga. But it was very close to where I was living in Madrid and I decided to try and I never left it after that. I started with it and I love it.
The sensation of just like being with yourself in the other room.
Even if you were surrounded by people. Just having time for yourself and I got hooked very fast. After that, I kept practicing. I was doing Bikram, only Bikram yoga for a few years and that was my first teacher training. Then I switched to vinyasa, ashtanga, and eventually strength training.
So before you got into yoga practice did you have another movement practice or another like mindfulness practice or anything like that? Or was like Bikram yoga your first kind of introduction to moving your body and mindfulness or spiritual practice.
Lizette Pompa: That was my first thing. I was not doing anything and people have a hard time believing that. And many people think that was a dancer or something like that and I was like “No”.
You know I tried to go to the gym or like spinning classes or different things many times. I always left. And yoga was the first thing that really got me hooked. It really changed my life in every single aspect ever since I started.
So how long did you practice for before you started getting into strength training and changing things around?
Lizette Pompa: I was practicing only yoga for about five years and then I got pregnant with my first child. I have two daughters, and after Isa was born I was just in pain. Well I was in pain a little bit before that because I was mainly practicing only Bikram yoga and you have only this set of postures the whole time.
My body was just started screaming you know. I was just like feeling pain everywhere. Then I took it a little bit easier during pregnancy and then when Isa was born I was just like “oh I have been everywhere”. And then my husband said “like maybe you should try a little bit of strength training” and I had no idea you know I have never like lifted weights or done pushups or anything not even bodyweight training. So I was like Well maybe.
So I started looking on YouTube a few videos and that’s how I started. I started with Youtube when I started doing strength training and I had to say that I just felt that immediately.
I think that a lot of people have this experience. I certainly had this very similar experience where I did ashtanga for so many years and you know, like Bikram, it’s a very similar sequence all the time. So you’re always doing the same moves and it’s so interesting because I think initially, like in the first couple of years of doing that, it felt so good, it felt so amazing right. And like maybe you’ve had a similar experience but then after four or five, six years, doing the exact same thing every day maybe isn’t the best.
Lizette Pompa: Exactly. I mean your body will start screaming after a while because the body needs different movements. So once you have learned these sort of movements it will just, yeah you will need to bring new information.
So now that you do you know you have a very varied practice right. If people want to go look at your Instagram you’re doing all different kinds of things which is so incredible. I love all the movements you post on Instagram. But I’m wondering like do you ever go back to that Bikram practice just to see how it would feel?
Lizette Pompa: I actually started last year again. Well because now that I’ve been doing it lately this year but last year I tried out a few times because well I own a yoga studio and we still have four Bikram classes a week. And we have students at those who practice Bikram yoga. They just want to practice Bikram yoga.
So we have a few classes for those, and part of my job is to, you know take other teacher’s classes in my studio. So I have to go in a class and see how they’re teaching and just to be in the room and I have been avoiding it for a long time because I had like you know my body really refused to go into Bikram class for a long time. Then suddenly one day I was like well you know “I’m ready”, and I started taking a Bikram class once a week. And it was challenging.
It was mentally challenging for me because I knew the sequence.
Like I knew exactly what was going to come. So my mind was just like waiting to go through the postures. But after, I had to admit that after the class it felt just really nice and my body again. Because I was not doing and do not like every day you know it’s just like bringing it once a week and I was doing it once a week for about five months or something like that and it felt nice. Because then you get this time to kind of stretch to get, you know, into these postures again that I have in practice for a long time either.
It’s so interesting to hear that. I also had a similar experience, and I think you know a lot of people have this experience where they do a lot of asana you know, just do it for so long. Then they sort of not feel so great and then they start doing other stuff then they start to feel better and I think sometimes people start to feel better just because they’re doing other things.
It’s not the deadlifts or the squats necessarily sometimes it’s just the fact that like a novelty helps us feel better. Then I think what starts to happen is people start to think “oh those poses I was doing must be bad or they must be dangerous or they must have injured me” and maybe sometimes that’s the case but I think it’s so great that you went back to that practice.
Then also had the experience of like “oh this is kind of nice again” and “this feels good in my body again” and you know maybe it wasn’t those poses that were necessarily problematic. Maybe your body just needed like a bit of variety.
Lizette Pompa: 00:11:30
Yeah exactly. I totally agree and you know as I said we have those classes still and the people that come to those classes are basically older people. We have one of our students, he’s been doing it since we opened the studio it’s almost nine years ago and he’s 76 now I think?
He loves it. It’s such a great thing that we have this practice for this group of people that they don’t want to do vinyasas or they don’t want to do chaturanga. They like those series and it helps them to move their body and to keep moving and that’s just great.
Kathryn: So what other kinds of classes do you have at your studio?
Lizette Pompa: 00:12:09
We have vinyasa, we have hatha, yin yoga, and we have jivamukti for a while. We have like a strength class. So I have a class for women it’s called Yoga strong and those classes are only for women. I teach those and in those ones we use weights.
Kathryn: So how did you start bringing weights into your studio? Was it like a slow progression? Did you go out one day and buy a whole bunch of weights? How did that transition start to happen?
Lizette Pompa: 00:12:42 It was slow. First, you know I wanted to have time to train with women because that’s what really drives me like I want to help and work with women. I want to help them to find strength in their body in different ways.
So I thought I’m gonna make this group for just women where we can work together and they don’t have to worry about you know working in pairs with a guy or something like that. But we’re just in this group where it’s like just women and we sweat together and we help each other.
So we started just with bodyweight training.
The only props I had was probably like towels or sliders. Things to kind of use to slide on the floor. Then it was like if someone wants to bring their own weights they can do that. So if you have a kettlebell at home and you want to bring it then that way you can load when we do squats or something else and I’ll show you how to do.
So most of the people would come and just do bodyweight training and then some people would bring something with them. Then it was just like well you know I cannot because the yoga room is quite big and I was like “I cannot buy you know dumbbells for 40 people”.
You know it’s not going to work. But I can buy for just a smaller group. So I bought like dumbbells for twelve people and then I have extra things in the studio that we use. I mean for my personal practice so I will bring in the dumbbells for twelve people and then a few kettlebells that were heavier and everything that I had around that was heavier.
So that they could try different things while we were working out. And now so we use dumbbells kettlebells and resistance bands.
Kathryn: I think it’s such an interesting idea that like, first of all, you created this little class which was for women. So in its own way that was its own kind of like enclosed little safe space where you know certain people feel comfortable to come in do movements with you. Then you let people bring their weights in themselves if they wanted to.
So like there’s no pressure that everybody has to lift weights or people could start to like come to it at their own time. I think is really great because I think a lot of people see a class and they see that has weights in it and they’re like “Oh no I don’t think I can do that” or “that’s not for me”.
But the fact that you kind of let people bring their own stuff then from there started getting more equipment from your studio. I think that’s a really interesting transition.
Lizette Pompa: 00:14:59
Yeah and I find that women, it happens sometimes, like if you have never worked with weights. If you have never grabbed a dumbbell or kettlebell, it feels intimidating at the beginning. It feels like sometimes they even feel like “No I’m not strong enough”. And then when I go for the lightest option. So that’s why I bring also other stuff and then after a while once they get comfortable is like “well you know you can try six kilos”.
There are different things that they can try and you can see how they shift you know. It’s like “I couldn’t do it” and now they just get like “oh I can!”. So you know they start to feel more and more confident to grab something heavier and to see that it actually works.
Kathryn: Yeah, I totally agree. I think that a lot of people start with really light weights. You know, like two, three, four pounds and I mean I don’t think it helps that like they are usually like pink colored. I don’t think I’m helping anything, but I totally agree people are nervous about going heavier. You say 12 kilos you say 20, 30 kilos and you were like” oh no that’s so heavy!”. But people’s bodies are so resilient and they’ll adapt and they’ll get stronger and I mean yeah that’s what it’s all about.
So when you use these dumbbells and resistance bands and stuff like that in your classes, were you teaching new movements like deadlifts or presses? Or were you starting to use the dumbbells for the yoga movements?
Lizette Pompa: 00:16:33
No. Those classes where we use the weights are new movements. So sometimes we will do something yoga-like or I will tell them how this relates to a yoga posture but it will be like a workout. Then we will try to bring how that will work into a yoga posture or what you can strengthen or how you can use it.
Then we usually finish with a little bit of yoga right at the beginning with a warm-up or at the end of the kind of cool-down that we do. But it will be very like, people that start taking these classes it’s new moments for them. Like you said deadlifts, overhead presses, even just doing a squat while you’re holding kettlebell will feel completely different than doing chair pose.
So we’re people using these classes to complement their awesome practice.
Lizette Pompa: Yeah and also they use it as a complement and also as a way to, some people we’re experiencing a little bit of discomfort here and there, and they wanted to try to see if this will help lower back pain or here or there. And I was like “come on try it” you know. And then they see that it work. Sometimes what your body needs it’s just to change a little bit how you do things.
Yeah, that’s so great. I think a lot of people listening will really identify with this and I think it’s interesting that you’ve actually gone through the process of getting people to actually be using weights and not just really really lightweights in your studio and in your classes. Even that you’ve kind of normalize that.
Because I think a lot of teachers, especially like teachers who I’ve worked with who are, you know, they’ve been doing things differently for a little while. But maybe the studios they work for or whoever are just not really comfortable actually bringing weights that weigh more than two pounds or one kilo into their classes.
I just think it’s great to hear from someone who has actually done this. Because I think right now there’s a lot of talking about strengthening, right? And how strength training to complement yoga and doing different things and load and novel movements can be helpful. But I think you also have to actually do it, and, you’re doing it which is amazing.
Lizette Pompa: 00:18:48
You have to do it then you have to give it time too. You have to take the time to experiment with it and for the body to really feel it. So I think it’s sometimes people might try to lift weights maybe one time and they get either super sore and they don’t come back or go so light that they don’t feel a difference. So they need this time to play with it and really get the feeling of what it’s doing to your body.
And I think the way I have done it in the studio, it becomes like a, as I said before it’s just for women. So I wanted to make it a safe space but I also wanted it to make a space that feels very supportive. This way we will cheer to each other in a way, and we will clap to each other at the end and then just to feel empowered to keep doing it.
Yeah. That’s awesome. Have you received any negative pushback about the fact that you are using weights in your studio? Like, are any of your students like “Oh no I don’t want to do that” or “that’s not yoga” or “that doesn’t belong here” for whatever reason?
Lizette Pompa: Not exactly. Like you know, if they don’t want to come and try it they just don’t. I mean I’m lucky enough that it’s my studio so I can put it on the schedule. Also, I don’t have to talk to the owner to put that in the schedule. But there are many that they don’t want to come and try or they don’t want to work with weights and they go to other classes.
But it has happened maybe in my regular yoga classes where I use a lot of, I wouldn’t call my yoga class just like a regular yoga class, when you start working with me you will see that it works a little bit different than that. We use a lot of props in a way that challenges the practice.
And I’ve had people saying after me when they come from another yoga studio like “oh I’ve never taken a class like that it was very different” or something like that you know. But I’ve never had someone leaving the room.
That’s great. I think that’ll be encouraging for people to hear. Which is great. I think sometimes teachers are nervous about doing different things and bringing in different props or using the props differently. But I’ve had a similar experience to you where it’s like people been actually quite receptive.
Lizette Pompa: Yeah.
So what has strength training you know, what have you learned about the body since starting to bring more strength training to complement yoga and load into your practice?
Lizette Pompa: I have learned that the body thrives when you keep changing things up a little bit. It feels like a nice thing to kind of be a beginner again once in a while when you introduce new movement patterns to your body.
And it has to readjust and you have to once again be like “oh what’s happening here”. But I’ve learned that it’s possible. Like if you give it time and if you really just stick to working at the pace that works for you, the body will move through different movements and will take what works for it.
So talking to like the really adaptable nature of the body and how it likes to do different things.
Lizette Pompa: Yeah, it does. And I just recently started like I’ve been doing the spring training for a while but I just recently started with Olympic weightlifting. Not that I’m a pro or anything like that, I’m a complete beginner. I was so fascinated by it. Just so fascinated by it. And I was just like “wow”.
I mean I’m not even going to try to become super good at it because you know why would I do that. But it’s such a practice. It takes so much strength, mobility, explosivity. Just so many things that it makes it so beautiful that I would have never thought about it years ago. And now when I’m trying it I’m just like “wow it’s incredible”.
It’s incredible that my body has to learn all these new things. You know it’s like my brain and my body are trained to connect the whole time to kind of connect how I’m going to get the barbell from the floor to overhead, it’s just like wow.
That’s so great. You know Olympic Weightlifting is not an easy thing to just pick up one day. I have had a little bit of experience with Olympic weightlifting myself and my partner Kyle coaches Olympic weightlifting like that’s what he does.
So I know a little bit about it and how much skill and speed and strength and mobility is required. Those movements are hard. They’re intimidating, they’re hard, and especially for people who have been doing like really slow controlled practice.
Lizette Pompa: 00:23:38
Exactly! I was just there with my coach and she was like “you need more explosivity” and “I’m like I’m trying to explode I promise!” it’s just like, it’s not in my body yet. Because it is so different and usually when I strength train by myself you know, I’m always moving slow in a way.
Like I like strict movements and I like to have a good pace. Then when I came to, not that I had to lift super fast in Olympic weight lifting, but in the middle of it, you really have to find this explosivity that I lack and then so my body’s trying to connect that.
Kathryn: That’s awesome. So when did you decide that you were going to start teaching online?
Lizette Pompa: 00:24:27
Woah, that was probably like four years ago? I decided I was going to post a class here and there, once in a while on YouTube. I actually started with, they’re still up on my YouTube channel, which I used to call Monday yoga workout.
So it would be a workout with yoga movements inspired. I was posting those every Monday. You know I don’t know how many I have but I was doing those, the Monday yoga workouts. Then I started with a few yoga classes and a few tutorials and I liked it.
It was just like, at the beginning it was very scary to be listening to myself. And to put my videos out there. But then after a while, I was like “oh you know this works”. And then we started thinking, my husband and I, on creating like a yoga platform to put videos for students in the yoga studio. So we continue with that.
I still have classes there, it’s called yoga tickets. Then I finally started with an app where I have, but the app is basically mostly strength training to complement yoga.
And how has it been going? With your app and with your online teaching. You know you’ve been doing this now for a few years, like has it built into something that you’d hoped it would have?
Lizette: Yeah, actually I still have the YouTube channel. I don’t really use it a lot but I still have those videos there and I have people that come to me through that, that find me on YouTube and then find me at where I am now and what I’m doing.
And now with the app where I post workouts and you know strength training to complement yoga, that’s been working really well for me.
It’s also been very nice like curve for me to move from just teaching yoga online to actually teaching strength training and to put that together in a way.
So on my app, I have yoga classes using kettlebells and I have yoga classes using dumbbells and then I have just workouts focusing on different things.
I like it, and I’ve been creating a nice community. A lot of women that are working out with me through the app and it makes me really happy.
That’s awesome. Do you and your husband run the studio together?
Lizette Pompa: Yes.
Kathryn: How’s how’s that?
Lizette Pompa: 00:26:56
It’s good. It was a little bit hard at the beginning. But we manage it. We managed to do it. Yes, we are both yoga teachers. We are both Bikram yoga teachers that’s how we met. We met on the Bikram training and then eventually when I decided to move to Sweden because he’s from here, I’m from Mexico.
It was at the beginning a little bit like “oh”. We wanted to do everything at our own way, to develop the studio, and then eventually we started to kind of find 50/50 and make it work and now works really well.
Kathryn: Mm-hmm. What language do you teach in?
Lizette Pompa: I teach in English and I mean mostly here everybody understands English. Then when I started teaching I couldn’t speak fluent Swedish anyways.
But now I do speak fluent Swedish but we have so many students that come from all over the world too that many appreciate English classes. So I just thought I’ll make it easy for myself and stick to English.
So I’m wondering if you, or how you, weave things like mindfulness or maybe like other kinds of yoga principles into your either workouts or your classes with weights or like if that’s something that you think about?
Lizette Pompa: Yeah, I do think about it. I think like if I’m teaching strength training classes I think it has the same quality as yoga in a way. Like once you get into the movements it really allows you to connect with your breath and to find kind of that peace of mind.
You don’t have to think about anything else, it’s just you working in that right moment.
And even if when I teach strength training to complement yoga classes or when I teach yoga I will always start with some breathing at the beginning.
I will always finish with breathing at the end because I think for me it’s important to connect with breath and to bring that into the rest of their workout or class.
Yeah, I agree. I teach classes that, you know, kind of resemble an asana class but it’s really quite different than how I was trained to teach. We can still really use the framework of the asana in our practice. You know like a little warm-up at the beginning and this like really nice kind of drawn-out cool down at the end and a bit of relaxation at the end which I think is super helpful.
Also, it’s what makes my practice kind of almost feel like that yoga practice feel to it which is really different from if you just go to the gym or you just do your weights or whatever. Like you don’t have that same feeling when you’re finished.
Lizette Pompa: Yeah exactly. I especially like the last bit when you really get to cool down or if you have a long savasana or if you have that moment for you to just kind of disappear at the end before you leave the room.
If teachers are thinking about how they can start to bring more strength training to complement yoga or weights into their practice, do you have any advice for them or do you ever work with teachers?
Lizette Pompa: Yeah, I would say to take it slow at the beginning especially at the beginning. I mean as I said I was lucky enough that it’s my studio and I could kind of do it my own way. But I think, especially people, if you’ve been teaching just like regular yoga classes, and then you start incorporating too much of something new there might be a little resistance at the beginning. So when I started I would tell my students “I’m learning something new and so today I thought about trying this out”.
So we’re going to try this and that, and I will kind of blend it through the class in a gentle way at the beginning. So wouldn’t be too different but people would still get the feeling of what he wants to work in a different way. And I think it can happen at the beginning like when you learn something new you get so excited that all of a sudden for some teachers could be like I want to do it just like this.
And we have to understand that everybody has their own rhythm to learn new things too. So if you’re interested I would say “tell them you’re going to try something new” and you’re going to add a little bit of this and find a rhythm to that. Then maybe add a little bit else, listen to their feedback after class and then you can keep adding a little bit more or change it as it feels better for the students you’re teaching.
Yeah, I totally agree. When I started incorporating new types of movement whether that was like mobility exercises or whatever it was into my classes I also started off really small. Like I didn’t change a lot all at once I literally just changed like two movements at a time and that started for me about eight years ago. Now if you look at how I used to teach versus how I teach now you’d be like “oh my goodness that’s such a big change”.
But I think that it happened so slowly that the people who are coming to my classes they definitely notice and we talk about it a little bit. But it didn’t bother them that things were different because it was such a nice gradual progression. I think that right now especially, I think a lot of teachers and studio owners are nervous because the landscape is changing right now.
New research is coming out. Yoga teachers are talking about things really differently than they used to. People are talking about injuries. They’re talking about pain. They’re talking about biomechanics, and for studios who have been around for a long time doing the same kind of thing for a long time.
It can be scary to think about changing things because they have students and the students like what they do. But also if people want to be having this new type of conversation about yoga practice and movement they do need to start to change things. And I totally agree that like small changes will just help people get used to what you’re doing.
Lizette Pompa: 00:33:21
Yeah and also a thing like as a studio owner if you’re listening to this, don’t be afraid of being something new to the schedule. Don’t be afraid of trying something new. But in the beginning, it can feel a little bit scary. It’s like “people come here for yoga they don’t want to see weights around”, “this is yoga”.
But you will be very surprised by how many people will be like “Oh that’s great” and they’re gonna love it. And they’re gonna be open to trying something new.
Yeah, it’s a great idea too to just put a class on the schedule that like is called something different, and that way people don’t expect one thing. That’s definitely not how I did it though. I was like “yeah this is like a vinyasa flow class and we’re just these other movements” like it’s all good”.
Lizette Pompa: Exactly. That works too. Well you know if you have the opportunity to put a special class that is called, you know, something different, then people know what to expect in a way.
Yeah well, this has been a pleasure. Thank you so much for coming and having this chat with us.
Lizette Pompa: Thank you Kathryn, it’s been a pleasure for me to talk to you too.
Kathryn: So if people want to find out more about your work or your studio or your online stuff, where do they go online to see that?
They can go to my Instagram, lizette_pompa, you can find me there on Instagram. Or you can go to my webpage lizettepompayoga.com and they and you can find out more about me there.
Kathryn: Great, and we’ll have those links in our show notes and perfect. Well, thank you so much.
Lizette Pompa: Thank you so much.