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“If I could start a movement, it would be to create more spaces for real human connection.” With Dr. William Seeds & Sonya Matejko

If I could start a movement, it would be to create more spaces for real human connection. To create spaces where we can skip the small talk and be vulnerable. To create spaces where we face our fears together rather than thinking we all have it together. If I could start a movement, it would […]

If I could start a movement, it would be to create more spaces for real human connection. To create spaces where we can skip the small talk and be vulnerable. To create spaces where we face our fears together rather than thinking we all have it together. If I could start a movement, it would be to make vulnerability cool. Too often we compare our lives to people who we think have it better, but we all have our own stories, goals, and doubts. If we could learn to communicate more effectively from an authentic and empathetic place, we could move past the common fear of not being “enough.” You are enough today, yesterday, and especially on the days you don’t think you are.


Asa part of my series about “5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sonya Matejko. Sonya is a writer and yoga teacher living in New York City. She’s on a mission to help people express and empower themselves mentally, physically, and spiritually. By embracing vulnerability, Sonya hopes to move people toward their highest potential. Follow her on Instagram at @aforceofnurture, where she writes and curates inspiration.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the story about how you first got involved in fitness and wellness?

I’m Sonya Matejko, and I’m a writer and yoga teacher living in NYC. I’m on a mission to help people express and empower themselves mentally, physically, and spiritually. By embracing vulnerability, I hope to move people toward their highest potential. My writing is on HuffPost, Thought Catalog, Elite Daily, I AM & CO, Mogul, and more. In 2018, I founded @aforceofnurture on Instagram as a home for inspiration and self-expression. I also use it as a platform to discuss mental and spiritual wellbeing. I’ve been practicing yoga as a wellness tool since 2013 and finally took the plunge of taking my practice even further by becoming a teacher. I completed my 200hr YTT with YogaWorks and am certified in Reiki 1, Yin Yoga, and Exhale to Inhale’s Trauma-Informed Yoga. I saw the power that yoga had in transforming my life, and I sought to help bring that experience to others.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

I think the fact that I introduce myself as a writer and a yoga teacher is divergent of what I thought my career would be. I grew up with a totally different version of success, and I thought I needed to be making $X with X title by 30 to be deemed successful. It wasn’t until 2017 when I started to really deal with a lot of anxiety that I started to explore the source of my discomfort. That year was when I began to open my mind up to spirituality and the different ways new modalities could serve me. I don’t think my obsessed-with-straight-As of perfectionist self ever saw that shift in my personality coming. It was the same year I started to ask more questions of myself, got curious, and took heavy steps toward unraveling the story I had written for myself (that no longer resonated).

Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?

After graduating from my yoga teacher training, I decided to host a free class in Central Park to celebrate. It was going to be the first time I taught a “public” class, and I was as nervous as I was excited. I prepared all week, tested my sequence, promoted the event online, picked out a playlist, and did everything I could to feel balanced beforehand. I got to the park early to pick the perfect spot, I brought three extra mats, and I genuinely felt ready to teach. Friends and strangers started trickling in, and I got even more excited. Finally, I began the class and quickly fell seamlessly into the practice. Less than five minutes into teaching, I somehow stepped in… dog poo. Not noticing, I then stepped back onto my mat and trailed it with me. I took a moment to notice, took a deep breath, swapped out the mat with one of the extras that I brought, and then went right back into teaching. It was as if nothing happened. And as unfortunate as that situation was, it taught me that “shit happens,” and you just have to keep moving. I think I’ve come really far to have been able to handle that situation and have learned the lucrative skill of letting go. Now, it’s a funny story I can relay.

Can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the fitness and wellness field? In your opinion, what is your unique contribution to the world of wellness?

I’m a registered yoga teacher. I completed my 200hr yoga teacher training with YogaWorks — a fantastic studio that is well known for their focus on alignment and making yoga fit everyone’s needs. I continued to elevate my education by getting certified in Reiki 1 at MINKA and getting certified in Yin Yoga with My Vinyasa Practice. I also completed Exhale to Inhale’s trauma-informed yoga training so that I could make all my classes more accessible and welcoming. My unique contribution is bringing my whole self to the practice. When I teach, I focus a lot on self-awareness and giving students the option to tap into something deeper than the pose itself. I also fold in a lot of writing that often leans into traditional yogic philosophy to expand the practice. To me, yoga is so much more than a series of asanas. Yoga is an exploration into the self, and there are so many benefits outside of physical wellness. I know there is a surplus of yoga teachers, but I believe I am unique because I offer students an awareness they can take with them off the mat and into their daily lives. I teach at two different yoga studios — one on the Upper East Side in Manhattan and one in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. I also run workshops in a variety of different yoga studios and coworking spaces around the city. My workshop is called Express Yo(ga)self, and it’s all about self-expression and empowerment. More info on that lives on my website.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I wouldn’t be where I was without the help of a loyal group of friends and an incredibly supportive family. I’m an idea person, so my support base is used to me coming to them with loads of crazy ideas. When I approached them about my yoga teacher training, my workshops, and my Instagram account, everyone unilaterally showed support (which didn’t always happen). I think it’s vital to have a support system in place when you’re trying to be brave and pursue something bigger than yourself. I also think it’s crucial to have that support system for when that pursuit gets hard. The trick is keeping those relationships strong through the highs and the lows. As we get older, there will be relationships that fade or no longer resonate, but that’s when we must notice the people who remain. It’s essential to be grateful for those who unconditionally have your back (and make sure you also have theirs).

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the focus of our interview. We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, exercise more, and get better sleep etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the 3 main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?

  1. Taking in too much knowledge. Yes, it’s important to read up on the latest trends, attend seminars, and stay up-to-date on wellness. But too often we consume more and more without actually taking action. Instead of focusing on learning everything, we should instead start by simply doing something. Emily Pereira, a woman I greatly admire, once told me something that has continued to stick: allow yourself to be a beginner.
  2. Making excuses about our time. There’s a quote I like to refer to for this by Brianna Wiest. Wiest said, “it might seem like you can’t afford to spend one hour each day working out, cleaning, meditating, learning or being productive, but really, you can’t afford not to. If you only commit one hour each day to your goal, you are spending 1/24th of your time on them. That’s less than 5% of your entire day. Is your future worth less than 5%? How about your health, your goals, your wellbeing? Think about that the next time you can’t find an hour to show up and do the work.”
  3. Shaming ourselves. The days that we must skip our workout or forget to drink enough water are the same days we risk shaming ourselves for doing so. The truth is, life happens, and that’s OK. If we can all become a little more compassionate with ourselves, then there won’t be so much guilt attached to our daily routines.

Can you please share your “5 Non-Intuitive Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”? (Please share a story or an example for each, and feel free to share ideas for mental, emotional and physical health.)

  1. Do less. Rather than trying to do a million things, finish everything on your list, or running around until you run yourself out, do less. By doing less, you can focus on being mindful of the things you do. This allows you to be present as well as give tasks the proper attention.
  2. Always carry a water bottle with you. Staying hydrated is key to wellness. By carrying around a water bottle, you’re reminded to drink more water, wasting less plastic, and hold more accountability.
  3. Create a morning ritual (and stick to it). Consistency is everything, and so is creating a sacred space. By having a morning ritual, you can count on, and you are more equipped to be grounded each day before anything really begins. For me, that’s lighting lavender incense and palo santo, writing in my gratitude journal, doing some breathwork, pulling an affirmation card, and a 5–10 minute meditation.
  4. Raise your hand more. It is certainly not intuitive to ask for help, but it is imperative that we do in certain moments. Push the ego to the side and recognize when you need help — whether that’s as simple as needing help with a particular pose in yoga or as deep as needing help from a professional to heal past trauma. You do not have to do this alone (because none of us are alone).
  5. Practice self-love. I don’t mean bubble baths and candles (although those are great too). I mean practicing real self-love. How? By learning to be compassionate with yourself when times are tough or on the days you don’t feel your best. By actively practicing self-love, you can create a stronger boundary between yourself and unforeseen circumstances. Through self-love, you can find the strength to get you through anything.

As an expert, this might be obvious to you, but I think it would be instructive to articulate this for the public. Aside from weight loss, what are 3 benefits of daily exercise? Can you explain?

  1. Showing up for yourself. By exercising daily, even if it’s a 15-minute yoga practice while you’re still in bed, it signals to the body that you are taking care of yourself. By being consistent with your exercise, you’re telling yourself that your wellness matters (because it does). And by showing up every day to honor your wellbeing, you are showing yourself genuine compassion; it will slowly start to trickle into and elevate other areas of your life.
  2. Learning more about your body. Every day is different, and that might be obvious, but too often, we go through each day without really taking the time to notice what’s changed. By exercising daily, it gives you a dedicated moment to notice what feels different inside your body. Maybe a certain yoga pose is more natural to get into this week, or perhaps you sense that your shoulders are tighter this week. Perhaps you can lift more than you ever could this week, or maybe you realize you need to rest more than you need to lift. The more you learn about your body, the better decisions you can make about other segments of your life (i.e., your time, your sleep habits, your after-work engagements). Stop to ask yourself, what’s my body trying to tell me?
  3. Stress relief. There are a variety of studies that point out how yoga is a great tool for reducing stress, improving your quality of life, and improving your mental health. Exercise, in general, is a remarkable and accessible tool to combat anxiety — especially when you pair that with bodily self-awareness. Rather than putting time toward activities that add to your stress, put your time toward a nourishing physical practice that provides benefits outside of just the physical.

In my experience, many people begin an exercise regimen but stop because they get too sore afterwards. What ideas would you recommend to someone who plays sports or does heavy exercise to shorten the recovery time, and to prevent short term or long-term injury?

Become aware of the difference between pain and discomfort. Consistency is important, but so is rest. My biggest advice would be to be kind to the body.

Is there a book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?

When it comes to wellbeing, one of the biggest things we overlook is sleep. Matthew Walker’s “Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams” has had a significant effect on me in terms of regulating my sleeping habits. Before reading this book, I was waking up at 5am to work on my side hustle before my full-time job. For a few months, I was the most productive I had ever been. Then I very quickly started to feel the build up of my lack of sleep. That build up showed up as crumbling anxiety, perpetual exhaustion, lack of motivation, and overall lack-luster attitude. I couldn’t put my finger on it for a few weeks until I started to consider what I changed about my routine. I ended up randomly attending a pop-up event on sleep in Union Square, Manhattan. It was there that I realized that had been the key factor in my ungrounding. I got Walker’s book and was quickly shaken into reality enough to take my sleep more seriously.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

If I could start a movement, it would be to create more spaces for real human connection. To create spaces where we can skip the small talk and be vulnerable. To create spaces where we face our fears together rather than thinking we all have it together. If I could start a movement, it would be to make vulnerability cool. Too often we compare our lives to people who we think have it better, but we all have our own stories, goals, and doubts. If we could learn to communicate more effectively from an authentic and empathetic place, we could move past the common fear of not being “enough.” You are enough today, yesterday, and especially on the days you don’t think you are.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

My favorite quote is, “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

The Alchemist is a book I always re-read when I’m feeling a little lost. The lesson here is that it’s vital that we set our goals and get clear on our purpose, but that we simultaneously let go of the “how” it’ll happen. Yes, we need to pair our intentions with mindful actions, but we can’t let ourselves get caught up or frustrated if everything doesn’t go as planned. The universe will work in our favor, and it’s up to us to trust the process. When I let go of my agenda, I made room for all the opportunities I needed to act on.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

I would love to have lunch with Brené Brown. Brené is one of the most inspiring figures out there. The way she has brought vulnerability to the forefront of the conversation is remarkable and humbling. I much admire the way she delivers logical and data-backed results from years of research in a relatable and empathetic way. Brené Brown quite literally humanized shame. I also appreciate how she remains authentic amidst her rise to fame. It’d be a dream to be in a “brave space” with Brené to talk courage and vulnerability over coffee.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

You can be me on Instagram at @aforceofnurture!

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