Out of the Clouds
June 1, 2020, Anne V Muhlethaler

S1:01 Diana Rilov

How To Be a Pirate

Episode Summary

In this inaugural episode of Out of the Clouds, Anne is joined by longtime friend and teacher Diana Rilov. Today they will be discussing how Diana came to yoga, aging gracefully, what it means to be a ‘pirate’ and Diana’s personal philosophy about spirituality in yoga.

Anne and Diana met while Anne was living in New York after she decided to take one of Diana’s classes at Equinox. We hear about how Diana first discovered yoga as a young woman growing up in the 60’s after studying Art History and French, as well as working various jobs before finding her calling. Diana tells us about her first experience of yoga and how she immediately knew it was something that she wanted to pursue. She discusses the process of certification to become a yoga teacher and how difficult it was to do so during a time when yoga as an emerging practice.

We also hear about her experiences learning under Dona Holleman and her advice for creating her own path: “Be a pirate, get the gold and run.” This means that you should go to many different teachers, learn what they have to offer and take it to use as your own to inform your journey. Anne asks Diana about her classes and teaching process.

Diana talks about the workshop style of the classes that she arranges and the way her intuition guides her, especially when pairing or grouping people to work together. Anne also touches on the Bon Vivant retreats that Diana runs in Italy and how they split working and learning during the day with La Dolce Vita in the evenings to engender balance. Diana also explains her concept of the ‘Spiritual Selfie’ and how she would rather you come to your own spirituality, or not, instead of imposing it during classes.

The two then talk about how perceptions of growing older have changed over the years and Diana’s attitude to aging. They touch on their shared role-model of Ali MacGraw and how Anne first tried yoga with her tapes. Diana talks about the way you become invisible after 50 and how aging is perceived as frightening. She talks about letting her hair go white and modelling at 73 along with what she sees for her journey in the future.

Anne concludes the podcast by asking Diana three questions:

1) Who do you admire?

Ruth Bader Ginsberg, a Supreme Court Judge at age 87 who was the first woman to graduate from Harvard Law School.

2) What would you say to your younger self?

Trust your intuition, when you are older you will care less about what other people think and be able to become the woman you wanted to be.

3) What brings you happiness?

Today it is being safe, grounded and being able to have perspective while the world is in crisis.

Selected links from episode

Diana’s website: DianaRilov.com

Diana on Instagram


Henri Bendel

Geraldine Stuzt

The Aga Khan

Jane Fonda

Iyengar Yoga

Sivananda Ashram New York

Donna Holleman

Mr BKS Iyengar

Bon Vivant Retreats


Ali MacGraw

Ali MacGraw’s Yoga in the Desert

Eric Schiffmann 

Sheryl Sandberg

Adam Grant

Sheryl Sandberg & Adam Grant interview on grief 

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Diane Von Furstenberg

Full Episode Transcript

Anne (00:03):

Hi, hello, bonjour, Namaste.

Anne (00:09):

This is “Out of the Clouds,” a podcast at the crossroads between business and mindfulness. And I am your host, Anne Muhlethaler.

Anne (00:22):

I am delighted today, to bring you my first interview with someone I consider to be an exceptional woman. Diana Rilov is a yoga teacher, and to me an inspiration and even role model.

Anne (00:37):

I was lucky to meet Diana when I lived in the West Village a few years ago, and she teaching around the corner from me on, on Greenwich Avenue. We recorded this interview in late March, and Diana was in firsts days of confinement in New York City, while I was equally confined at home, Hardly the situation we imagined for this podcast interview, but that, of course, did not stop us from having a wonderful chat. We talked about yoga, of course, but also about aging gracefully, what it was like for her when she let her hair grow white, and she gives me her download about what it means when she says, “It’s important to be a pirate.” I can’t wait for you to find out what that is.

Anne (01:17):

She also brings some delicious wisdom when she talks about spiritual selfies. Diana is very direct and very cool, and she mixes this in with, not just a great dose of humor, but also very loving, motherly nature.

Anne (01:31):

So, I am really, really delighted that she is the first person I get to interview on this podcast. I greatly hope you enjoy this conversation with the wonderful Diana Rilov.

Anne (01:46):

How are you doing?

Diana (01:46):

I’m fine. I swear, the first two days, I didn’t get out of my pajamas because I haven’t had two days like that. I mean, I don’t even remember when, actually. It was very restful that there was no plans, I didn’t have to do anything. I just took it as a time to rest, and I slept and I rest, and I watched T.V. That’s all I did for two days and then I started to get more organized.

Anne (02:06):

So, obviously, I just want to recall how I met you, because that was quite fun.

Diana (02:11):

Yes. Equinox, Greenwich.

Anne (02:13):

Equinox was, essentially, four minutes from my house, door-to-door, so I had no excuse not to go. I remember really well the few classes that we did together. There’s a few people in your class that I remember looking at and observing their practice, because their bodies were very different from mine. We were able to do very different things. I was always enjoying how you’d interact with them, and that’s, I think, one of the reasons why I kept on coming back, because there was something about your interaction with yours students that I felt was very fun.

Diana (02:43):


Anne (02:43):

And then there was that one day, so I had this really bad shoulder injury five, six years ago. Both shoulders I had bursitis and tendinitis. First time you got me up into headstand, I was like, “Oh, my god.”

Diana (02:55):


Anne (02:58):

Best day of my life. I remember calling my brother (laughs).

Diana (03:00):

Oh, man.

Anne (03:02):

And you know, why? Because-

Diana (03:03):

So exciting.

Anne (03:04):

I know, but the thing that I loved the most is because my base was strong, I knew what I was doing and I practiced enough before. You always use just that extra snippet of information and you explain that the weight of the hips needs to tip over-

Diana (03:19):

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Anne (03:20):

A specific point in the body, and that’s when the legs just go up.

Diana (03:23):


Anne (03:23):

And I think that when you’re that, before that point you’re fearful, because it’s like, “Ah. I could fall over,” and you don’t understand where your balance is going to go.

Diana (03:31):


Anne (03:32):

And when I went up, it was like, “Oh, my God. Everything in life makes sense.”

Diana (03:36):

(laughs). It’s such a good feeling, ah?

Anne (03:38):

It really is.

Diana (03:39):


Anne (03:39):

And then I discovered that lots of people I know love you, and, listen, I only lived in New York for two and a half years, and I didn’t know thousands of people.

Diana (03:46):


Anne (03:46):

But how in the name of God do I end up meeting you, and you know six or seven people I know? I mean, Diana, do you know everyone in New York?

Diana (03:54):

I never think so, but it seems I, I know more than I imagine. But, you know, I do know a lot of people after all these years. But, what I remember about you is that when I said something about my retreat to Italy-

Anne (04:08):


Diana (04:08):

You had been maybe two classes, and you said, “I’m signing up,” and it was like, it was the most spontaneous thing I’d ever seen, because people say they’d like to go, “Maybe I can go,” you know? 90 percent don’t, and you signed up and you came. I thought that was extraordinary, really.

Anne (04:24):

But you know why? Because I knew, already by then, that I was moving, um, from New York to Paris, and I was like, “I am not losing that teacher,” so. (laughs)

Diana (04:34):


Anne (04:34):

I am sticking with her. This is someone I want to follow. It was worth it. That retreat was so amazing.

Diana (04:41):


Anne (04:42):

So amazing.

Diana (04:42):

Yes, yes, and there will be more.

Anne (04:44):

So, I want to ask you questions I haven’t asked you before.

Diana (04:47):


Anne (04:48):

And I, obviously apart from following you, I, I had a couple of other teachers, very different in origins, in France and the U.K. and in other countries. So, I wanted to… (laughs) ask you more about you, so, first of all, Diana. Where were you born?

Diana (05:02):

I was born in Manhattan.

Anne (05:03):

So, you’re a true New Yorker.

Diana (05:03):

Yeah, baby.

Anne (05:03):

(laughs) Yeah, baby.

Diana (05:06):

I am true blue (laughs).

Anne (05:06):

What was it like growing up in New York? Was Yoga part of the [inaudible 00:05:11]?

Diana (05:12):

Oh, are you kidding me?

Anne (05:12):

I’m assuming that’s not the case.

Diana (05:13):

Did you know when I was born, are you kidding me? In 1946?

Anne (05:17):


Diana (05:18):

I mean, when I started yoga in 70s or late 70s or early 80s, I mean, yoga was like, my mother thought I was joining a cult. Are you kidding? The world was very different. I mean, growing up in New York was great when I was young because it was after the war and it was not as crowded. The public school system was great. It was very, very different. It wasn’t that the rich and poor society, there was a huge middle class. Certainly wasn’t very dangerous when I was growing up. As a young child, I started walking to school, I don’t remember, like in second grade or third grade or something like that.

Diana (05:52):

But yoga was way, way, way later, and even when I started, it was like, you know, granola and hippies in Birkenstocks and Woodstock, kind of thing.

Anne (06:01):


Diana (06:02):

Nobody was walking around with mats. Are you kidding? No. (laughs).

Anne (06:06):

That is so funny.

Anne (06:07):

What did you want to do? What was your early career? What did you study?

Diana (06:11):

Well, I studied art history in school and I studied French. That’s pretty much what I studied. But, you know, it’s funny, because I grew up in the 60s and it was okay not to have a clear idea of what you were going to do, because everybody was experimenting with everything, you know with love, and sex and drugs, and rock and roll, and working in the peace movement and voting registration for blacks, and doing all kinds of other things. You know, nobody talked about money. That wasn’t the point of discussion. What are you going to do with your life? What’s going to make you happy? But I didn’t have a clear vision, I just knew I wanted to be independent and do something I love. And so, it took me a long time, but I got there.

Anne (06:51):

That’s so fascinating. Yeah, it sounds very far from the world we live in today.

Diana (06:55):

Couldn’t be farther.

Anne (06:56):

But it sounds… (laughs) It sounds lovely.

Diana (06:58):

It’s true.

Anne (06:58):

I remember you telling me that you started in dance. So, I mean, what was your first job? What did you do in your 20s after you graduated?

Diana (07:06):

Oh, I started working already when I was about 15 or 16. There was a gorgeous department store in New York called “Henri Bendel,” which, when it started on 57th and 5th avenue, was the first store in New York that was a boutique. And not a boutique, but there were little, like, many stores are now, like little boutiques within the store. It was very revolutionary. The woman who started, Geraldine Stutz, she was a very revolutionary and brilliant merchandising all that. So, I started working there in the summers and on holidays, because I wanted to make money and, you know, I didn’t want to babysit all the time. That was very interesting, and then, you know, after a few years, she asked me, actually Geraldine Stutz, if I wanted to stay there and learn merchandising and all that kind of stuff. It was very flattering, but I didn’t choose that, because I didn’t want to work in a department store, but she had brilliant concepts. It was very new, but I didn’t know for a long time, I didn’t have a clear path, because I did a lot of small jobs and no idea of a career, per se.

PART 1 OF 4 ENDS [00:08:04]

Diana (08:03):

I did a lot of small jobs and no idea of a career, per se.

Anne (08:04):

Sure. Which is great, by the way, I’ve heard the name Henri Bendel’s, it sounds awfully glamorous.

Diana (08:09):

It was glamorous, and I can’t tell you. I cannot tell you. Listen, I was working in the jewelry department, I had the Aga Khan there, and [Olly Khan 00:08:17] there, and Claudia Cardinale, and, I mean, incredible people, and when I think about Marisa Berenson, I remember all these people walking in. It was glam.

Diana (08:25):

Any job you do, you’d better learn something from it. Whatever it is. So working behind the counter taught me stuff, how to deal with people, working as a waitress, if you wanna make tips, you gotta be okay with people. That was much later, in the cinematheque in Jerusalem, and I was making jewelry and doing all kinds of things until, one day, a friend of mine said, “Oh, you know, come to yoga.”

Diana (08:46):

And like, who knew, I mean what was that? I was doing Jane Fonda at the time, workout, I danced because I love to dance, I always went to classes at Marcia Gray 00:08:54]. But I never danced professionally, I wasn’t talented enough for that, for sure. I loved it, though.

Diana (08:59):

I went to one yoga class, I can’t remember the year, and I was very lucky, you know, I used to be lucky also in life. I was brought to a class by a teacher who was an excellent Iyengar teacher, I mean really excellent. This was in Jerusalem. You know when the coin drops, it’s like, boom, that first day the coin drops, this is it, this is what I love. I never thought of teaching it, but it was like, this is what I wanna do, this is what I wanna learn, and I kept going. I kept going more and more and more, until I decided to take a teacher’s course.

Diana (09:31):

There were no courses then, so eventually after about a year or a year and a half, I can’t remember exactly, the only course I could take was in Woodbourne, New York. They have a sivananda ashram. A sivananda wasn’t my kind of yoga, but I needed to have some kind of a certificate to teach properly in my friend’s studio. So I came here, for I think it was about six weeks, or a month, or something like that, and then when, I remember coming here, and I was going to the ashram, and my mother was so worried. Like, “What’s an ashram? What is she doing?” You know, she was imagining me in one of those Hare Krishna places, you know, that I’m gonna be in the subway with my shaved head, dangling beads and whatever. That’s how unknown it was.

Diana (10:13):

The yoga there was lovely, not the kind I do, but the whole ashram experience was fabulous, I had a great group there, and actually I had a lot of fun.

Anne (10:21):

Oh, that’s amazing. I remember you telling me that you followed first Iyengar, is that correct?

Diana (10:28):


Anne (10:28):

And then you decided not to, to get certified as a Iyengar teacher.

Diana (10:31):

That’s true, my first teacher was an Iyengar teacher, the one in Jerusalem. First of all, I couldn’t get certified at that time. You had to go to India, I had small children. It wasn’t the right timing. But the more I got into it, once I started studying with my main teacher, Donna Holleman, in Italy, I realized that I didn’t wanna go through the whole certification because I knew then I didn’t want only that structure as my teaching, because it’s a very serious teaching, it’s two years, extraordinary.

Diana (10:59):

But I knew I didn’t wanna be only an Iyengar teacher. I knew there was other stuff out there that I wanted to learn, so I always studied with very good Iyengar teachers, but then I tried other things, you know, when I moved back to New York. And my teacher, my main teacher Donna Holleman, who was the first Western student who came to Mr. Iyengar, this was in the ’60s. She’s a teacher’s teacher. Uh, many famous teachers now. I remember she always said to me, “Diana, go, be a pirate. Take the gold, and run.”

Anne (11:31):


Diana (11:32):

So it’s like, you go to a teacher, you learn everything you can, and then go figure it out on your own. Do your own thing. She didn’t believe in gurus and I’ve always kept that with me. And so I did go to other teachers, I got the gold from a lot of wonderful teachers, I still do. And you have to take it with you.

Anne (11:48):

That’s such a beautiful saying, “Be a pirate.”

Diana (11:50):

Yeah. Take the gold. Take the gold.

Anne (11:52):

[crosstalk 00:11:52]. Yeah, take the gold.

Diana (11:54):

What resonates mostly with me today is still the Iyengar yoga, although I like a little flow here and there. But it works for me, and I guess it works for the students who come to my classes, because otherwise there wouldn’t be any. (laughs)

Anne (12:08):

(laughs) Yes, true enough, that makes sense. One of the things I don’t remember seeing in your classes in New York, because obviously it’s a question of time and, and the size of the class. What I loved in the retreat is how you like a workshop environment, from what I can tell, and I think that’s one of the reasons why so early on in my practice with you, I was able to have this great experience in handstand, and other poses, actually, and just feeling like I was orienting my body in the right way.

Anne (12:40):

So what I really enjoyed is seeing you pair people in twos or threes or fours, and I wanted to know, how did you come to that, is it something that you learned with other teachers, is this something that you developed with your practice?

Diana (12:54):

I think some of it I probably learned from other teachers, and a lot of it is intuitive, you know. I’ve come to an age where things come to me intuitively, and I know when it’s gonna work, and I know when it’s not going to work. And I feel the people who should be together and the people who don’t, and I guide people along, honestly it’s pure intuition by now. It’s just pure intuition, I have to tune in, I gotta get into the zone, that’s how I teach.

Anne (13:21):

So tell me about the concept of Bon Vivant retreats.

Diana (13:24):

I like to have a good time on the retreats. I wanna have a full experience, a social experience, where you can do the yoga, and then more yoga, and then in the evening, it is la dolce vita. It’s sitting around a table, with wine and good food, and enjoying and drinking, maybe a little naughty, because, you know, wine and cheese and-

Anne (13:48):


Diana (13:49):

… all that kind of stuff. There’s something about laughing and having fun and being comfortable. The good life. And the good life is something that makes people laugh, it gives people joy, and so the experience of the retreat and the yoga leaves us something very warm in the heart, so that’s a big deal.

Diana (14:10):

The word authentic is used a lot. It is very authentic. It’s Tuscany, I mean I’m devastated that I probably won’t be there this June because of what’s going on in the world, but eventually everything will return.

Anne (14:23):

Yeah, absolutely. I’m super glad you used the word authentic, because I wanted to move the conversation at some point in another direction. You’re a very authentic person, and an authentic teacher. I feel comfortable saying that about you. In the last few years you have been asked on several occasions to model, so at the tender age of 68, 69, you did start your modeling career?

Diana (14:47):

Well yeah, I did a little, though now I’m 73, so I was modeling already this year at 73, when I did Ultra magazine, but I had done some modeling many, many, many years ago in Mexico, when I was, gosh, I was in my 20s. So I’ve always been pretty comfortable in front of the camera, and now it’s even easier because they can make anybody look good now, honestly, the makeup and the lights and the this and the that.

Diana (15:09):

You know, it was a lot of fun, and honestly, so many good things happened to me when I let my hair go white. So that played a big factor, I think, in my life, period, for a huge aspect of turning, like a chameleon that has changed its colors again. So I think some of that modeling came from my silver hair.

Anne (15:31):

That’s interesting.

Diana (15:32):

I’m sure, I’m sure.

Anne (15:33):


Diana (15:33):


Anne (15:34):

I was chatting with a friend a couple of weeks ago, and she was saying that she wants to be J-Lo at 50. Being fit and beautiful at 50 is something that women are just starting to think that they can do that.

Diana (15:45):


Anne (15:45):

Without too much tweakments, as they call them these days.

Diana (15:49):


Anne (15:49):

Now I assume that being fit and beautiful at 70 is now something that women can aspire to. Can I ask, do you have a role model? Did you ever think that this would be where you would be at 73?

Diana (16:01):

No, but you know who I’ve always loved, and I loved-

Diana (16:03):

… At 73?

Anne (16:03):

No, but you know who I’ve always loved, and I loved how she aged, is Ali MacGraw.

Diana (16:05):


Anne (16:06):

So, she was, she was so beautiful always, she’s still beautiful, and I met her once in an Iyengar class in New York years ago. She decided to let her hair grow white before me, and I always loved the way she looked…

Diana (16:19):


Anne (16:19):

…and now she must be, I think, 78 or nine now, and she’s extraordinary-looking. I mean, beautiful. So yes, she’s always been kind of my beauty role model and you don’t see her getting Botox and stuff done.

Diana (16:34):

Oh my god, that’s so funny.

Anne (16:34):

I can’t believe it, but I started doing yoga with Ali MacGraw (laughs).

Diana (16:38):

Ah, the tapes, of course.

Anne (16:39):

Yeah, because I was in Switzerland and I was working in a, a DVD and video store for the English community in Geneva, and they had the Jane Fonda calisthenics type things, and then that one day there was this beautiful cover, and…

Diana (16:54):


Anne (16:54):

…it’s Ali MacGraw in a white…

Diana (16:55):


Anne (16:56):


Diana (16:57):

Sure, tights, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Anne (17:00):

And I was like, what is that? I wanna be her.

Diana (17:02):


Anne (17:02):

So, I got the tape and I remember being in the tiniest studio and Geneva and just trying it the first few times (laughs)

Diana (17:10):


Anne (17:10):

It was Hatha, it was very good actually.

Diana (17:12):

[crosstalk 00:17:12] well, her teacher was Erich Schiffmann, who was…

Anne (17:15):


Diana (17:16):

…a student of my teacher, Dona Holleman, for me, one of the great beauties of all time. I remember years ago reading Germaine Greer, “The Female Eunuch,” I think it was called, feminist, one of the first famous ones.

Anne (17:28):


Diana (17:29):

And I remember her writing that when she turned 40, she started to feel invisible, and then I started understanding that when I turned, a little later than 40, but maybe around 50, and now I can’t tell you I feel invisible, but people are, I think people are terrified of age here. It’s like against the Constitution.

Anne (17:47):


Diana (17:48):

It’s like, you don’t age, that means you’re dead. So, people like J-Lo who are 50 and proud and lifting the bar a little bit, so turning 50 is not a death sentence.

Anne (17:59):

I find it exciting to see women, men and women in general, realizing their full potential at different ages and…

Diana (18:06):

Right, yes.

Anne (18:06):

…not following what would be known as the simplest route to go from A to B, coz I know I’ve not ever followed the simplest route to go from A to B.

Diana (18:14):


Anne (18:15):

I don’t know if you’re ever heard Sheryl Sandberg from Facebook?

Diana (18:18):

Yes, of course, yeah.

Anne (18:19):

She did an interview, I think I listened to that interview when I was actually last in New York over a year ago, that same week I saw you quite a bit, and it was really beautiful. She was interviewed, I think it was by Adam Grant. I think it’s quite well known how her husband passed away a few years ago…

Diana (18:35):

Yes, yes.

Anne (18:35):

…and she was saying she finds it very hard when people are complaining about aging because, like you said, aging means you’re still alive.

Diana (18:43):

Right. Exactly, yeah.

Anne (18:44):

And I think that just respecting that next breath or…

Diana (18:47):

Oh yes.

Anne (18:47):

…appreciating the breath you can take now…

Diana (18:49):


Anne (18:49):

…and I think it ties in, we’re in a dire situation around the world now and it’s probably gonna get worse before it gets better.

Diana (18:55):


Anne (18:55):

And so, how do you make space for that sense of self, that change in yourself every day? How does that maybe tie in with your practice? You don’t practice or teach the kind of yoga that is heavily spiritual, but obviously there’s always a spiritual element to your teaching. How does that affect your day-to-day?

Diana (19:15):

First of all, I’ll start at the end. I don’t teach spirituality. My feeling is that either you find your spiritual self or you don’t. My particular role as a teacher, as who I am, I don’t take that role. I hope that people develop their spiritual selves while they’re doing yoga with me or with anybody else. I don’t like to impose my own spiritual beliefs on anybody. And growing older, I never remember how old I am unless I sort of look in the mirror every once in a while or when I look at my hands. Inside, I tell you, my father used to say, “Diana, the heart has no wrinkles.”

Anne (19:54):

Oh my God, that’s the most beautiful thing. I’ve never heard that before.

Diana (19:57):

I remember when she was getting older, she died at 92 and I think at about the age of 89, she said, “Diana, I’m not buying anymore green bananas.” (laughs) You know, just realistic kind of things. So, inside, and I think a lot of people, I don’t know how other people feel. I can only tell you that in my brain, in my body, in my spirit… Well, my brain maybe not, coz I forget things here and then, so maybe my brain is its age, but my spirit, my heart, my enthusiasm, that I wanna make plans, that I wanna live my life and I wanna still do interesting things and I wanna learn new things and I wanna keep going. I’m not done yet, you know what I mean? Do downward dog and I look, ooh Jesus, these hands are pretty old here, they look just like my mother’s hand, what happened?

Anne (20:39):


Diana (20:40):

I forget until I literally see myself, but that’s it. My hands have seen a lot. You know, I was scrolling through the Zoom thing, or something I was doing on the internet, and then, you know, you had to give your age and I kept scrolling because there a lot of numbers and it came to me, like, boy, you’ve been through a lot of years. You know, you forget, and you’re scrolling, oh it’s so …we went through the 90s and the 80s and the 70s and the 60s and the 50s til I got to 46 and it was like, geez, you’ve been around a long time. You know,] and like, oh my God, I’m getting so old, it’s like, I’m happy, I’m very lucky and I’m very lucky that I’m healthy. I am so lucky and I appreciate it every day that I do my yoga. I’m just lucky, too, because people get illnesses and they get in accidents and terrible things happen.

Anne (21:32):


Diana (21:32):

And I’m very very lucky, and that’s how I feel a lot, and I wanna hold onto that 

Anne (21:37):

That’s beautiful.

Diana (21:38):


Anne (21:39):

That’s brilliant. So, since 70’s the new 50, I think…

Diana (21:43):

Go girl.

Anne (21:43):

…coz 50’s the new 30. (laughs)

Diana (21:45):

That’s good. I like that.

Anne (21:46):

As proven by J-Lo. Yeah, I’m happy to be…

Diana (21:48):

Good for her.

Anne (21:49):

So, since 70 is the new 50, what can we expect to see from you in the next few years?

Anne (21:55):

Where do you wanna go from here? Coz I can tell you’re not done.

Diana (21:58):

No, I’m not done at all. You know, each time I’m teaching, I’m refining my methods and all of that, so I was thinking about teaching less. It doesn’t mean that I don’t wanna teach. I wanna teach in other ways, maybe doing more things online. Definitely doing retreats in different places, because as you said earlier, my classes are like a workshop, you know, like they’ll come up to me after they’ve been in my class the first time and say, “Gee, I learned a lot,” like they were surprised.

Anne (22:26):


Diana (22:26):

And for me…

Anne (22:26):

Well, yeah.

Diana (22:27):

…going to class should be you learn and then maybe you go home and practice it a little bit, or take it in. It’s not just a workout where you go to the gym, you work out, you do a little yoga, a little that, and unfortunately a lot of yoga has turned into that and that’s why I like a workshop experience. I mean, I would prefer doing workshops and retreats and just a couple of classes. That would be my ideal, coz then I could really put my time into it.

Anne (22:54):

Mm, that’s fun. I like that idea.

Diana (22:55):

Yup. Yeah, I’ve lots of ideas , great.

Anne (22:58):

So, do you wanna maybe explain to people what a spiritual selfie is? And where can we get the t-shirt?

Diana (23:03):

(gasps) Well, look around us now. I mean, are people taking selfies in places?

Anne (23:10):


Diana (23:10):

But you look on Instagram, they’re traveling, they’re in planes, they’re in parties, they’re on yachts, they’re on the beach, they’re at the Statue of Liberty. Nobody can go anywhere anymore. It’s really interesting. So, my idea of the spiritual selfie, I don’t know, it just came out of my mouth one day, frankly, I don’t know. Sometimes those kind of things happen with me. I’m in the zone and things come up and I don’t even remember what I said. And because everybody was, and probably still is, obsessed with selfies and pictures and selfies and how do I look and filters to make myself look like this and that, this narcissistic world that we live in and I’m thinking, who are we inside? What about the selfie, what about your real self? That’s why in my classes I have people facing away from the mirror. “Oh, really? We’re not looking in the mirror?” I said uh-uh. I mean, finally I had all 

my classes facing away from the mirror in equinox, and the classes got even better, because if you’re only obsessed with what you see, what are you experiencing? Where are you? You know, fixing your hair and fixing your shirt, and looking around, but it takes you totally out of the experience. I felt that Spiritual Selfie came out of this need for me to express how … It’s a time to look inwards to your spiritual self.

Diana (24:25):

Everybody has a spiritual self. It can be religion or not religion, but we all know that word. It exists in everybody, and to spend a little more time, a little bit more focus on that part and not only on, Did I get a good picture, and, How was the filter, and can I make myself look skinnier, all this kind of stuff, which is really useless (laughs)-

Anne (24:47):


Diana (24:48):

… in the long run.

Anne (24:49):

It really resonates with-

Diana (24:50):


Anne (24:50):

… me, and I love the concept. First of all, as a student of yours, I can say I really love working without mirrors, and I wouldn’t be looking to add one if I one day had my own studio or something. I wanted to ask you just a few questions to round things up. I was going to ask you just a few questions. Who do you admire today?

Diana (25:09):

Yeah, well, you know, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She is my gal. RB-

Anne (25:14):

Oh, nice one.

Diana (25:15):

… G. RBG, a real heroine of mine.

Anne (25:17):

No, that’s-

Diana (25:17):


Anne (25:18):

… good.

Diana (25:18):

… her.

Anne (25:18):

Now, for the Europeans who might listen to this, do you maybe wanna say a few words about who she is?

Diana (25:23):

She is a, she’s a Supreme Court judge. She’s 87 years old. She was the first woman who graduated Harvard Law School. She built up a career with a very loving husband and two children, and she is, talk about authentic, talk about being honest, talk about doing the right thing, talk about being brilliant and using it for good things. She is a great, a great, a great woman, really. She’s an icon today in this country.

Anne (25:51):

That’s amazing. Thank you so-

Diana (25:52):


Anne (25:52):

… much for that. What would you say to your youngest self if you could send yourself a message?

Diana (25:58):

Trust your instincts more. I’ve always been very intuitive. If I would’ve been listening to them even more, I think things might’ve been a little easier maybe, maybe a little different. Who knows? And, with age comes something wonderful, which is caring less what people think about you, but when you’re younger you think that a lot, and I think I was just like a lot of young people. I was really worried what people thought about me and if they liked me and didn’t like me and stuff like that. And that everything’s gonna be okay, girl. It’ll be okay. And it is. ( laughs)

Anne (26:31):

That sounds gorgeous. What-

Diana (26:32):

But you know, Diane von Furstenberg always has this expression of, she said, “I am the woman I always wanted to be,” and I can say that for myself. I’m not as successful as Diane von Furstenberg, but I am independent and I’m doing something I love to do, and I’m supporting myself and doing okay, and I’m living a real life. So yes, I became the person, the woman I really wanted to be, frankly.

Anne (26:55):

Oh, that’s a beautiful message. First of all, I’m happy for you, ’cause it sounds like this is where we should all aim to be.

Diana (27:01):

Yes. I’ve always been fairly optimistic. I mean, I’ve been through sad times. I’ve never been a depressive person, but I always see the glass half full, and even fuller than full, even when I was getting divorced and I was miserable and I thought this would happen and that would happen. I was so unhappy, and so sad, but I always knew that there was a light at the end of the tunnel. I didn’t know how long the tunnel was gonna be, because you never know how long it’s gonna take, but I always knew that, and so, yeah, take the gold and run. Let’s be pirates. It’s-

Anne (27:32):


Diana (27:32):

… so fun.

Anne (27:34):

Let’s be pirates. That’s amazing.

Diana (27:35):


Anne (27:35):

And I’m gonna ask you one last question. What brings you happiness?

Diana (27:41):

Today I look out the window, it’s sunny outside. I have a beautiful apartment, I’m very comfortable at home. I’m not afraid, I’m not panicked. I’m sad and distressed for the situation in the world, but I, myself, I feel safe, I feel grounded, I feel protected, and I’m alone and I’m never lonely, so I’m grateful for everything I have, especially because I’ve always, since I’m a child, always seen the other side of the picture. For some reason, I’ve been like that since I’m a little girl. I always see somebody who was poorer than me or having a harder time than me, and it always puts things in perspective. So I’m very grateful for today.

Anne (28:25):

That’s wonderful. Thank you so much.

Diana (28:27):

Oh, Anne-

Anne (28:27):

I really appreciate you making the time.

Diana (28:30):

Let it blossom, baby.

Anne (28:31):


Diana (28:31):

Let it blossom.

Anne (28:33):


Diana (28:33):


Anne (28:33):

… absolutely.

Diana (28:33):

… yes, the podcast tree. (laughs)

Anne (28:35):

The podcast tree, yeah, absolutely.

Diana (28:36):

The podcast tree of life. Go for it-

Anne (28:38):


Diana (28:38):

… baby. Yeah.

Anne (28:39):

Exactly. I hope you have enjoyed my conversation with Diana. You can find her on Instagram at Diana Rilov and online at dianarilov.com. Since a few weeks ago, Diana now offers group and one-on-one classes via Zoom, and you’ll be able to find all details to get in touch on the show notes. Feel free to rate and review this podcast, and of course subscribe. Until next time, thank you so much for listening, and also be well, wash your hands, social distance, all that good stuff. Thank you.