Her Different Story - The Yoga State of Mind with Maria Stefania

From finessing flamboyant styles to practicing yoga, NYC based yoga instructor Maria Stefania seeks her way into mindfulness and the empowerment within. 

A black model with an exaggerated hairstyle surrounded by vintage hairdryers while holding a NOIRANCA handbag Patti

1. How did you first started working as a stylist?

I remember like yesterday-browsing through the local bookstore’s foreign magazine section in my hometown, and leafing through the French editions of ELLE and Marie-Claire magazines, the smell of the paper, the thrill of the outfits, the exotic locations, the models... I didn’t so much crave to own the clothes but to be part of the team that made it all happen. So on a mission to manifest my dream, upon graduating with a degree in French Literature, I moved to Paris where I landed a stint at Harper’s Bazaar.

Fast forward a couple of years, I was married and a free-lance stylist living in NYC. For the next two decades I collaborated on big ad campaigns, worked alongside amazing photographers, celebrities, and shared time with the most creative people.

2. What’s the core essence of being stylish?

I love this quote by Yves Saint Laurent: “Fashions fade, style is eternal.”

Some of the major fashion icons like Anna Wintour, Karl Lagerfeld, Carine Roitfeld are recognizable because of their consistent look which is a direct expression of who they are. So I think that it all comes down to embracing who you are and believing in yourself.

3. What’s style to you as a woman? Is womanhood/feminism a style to you as well?

When you’re younger it’s fun to experiment with different trends and be a chameleon. But I find that as I get older, I’m less interested in trends and more clear about what works best for me and my needs.

However lately, I’ve been infusing some color in my wardrobe. I spent decades dressed in somber palette because it’s so convenient and everything mixes and matches. I guess the theory about bright colors reflecting a bright mood is true! As the lock-downs are fading into the past, I feel happier and more optimistic.

"It all comes down to embracing who you are and believing in yourself."

A black model with an exaggerated hairstyle is blowing her hair with a vintage hairdryer while holding a NOIRANCA handbag Amanda

"Fashion and yoga are both paths for 

self-discovery and transformation."

4. What prompted you to quit being a stylist and becoming a yoga teacher?

It was a slow, organic transition. Fashion comes with a hectic pace, irregular working hours, busy weekends and lots of traveI. Even though I adored my job, I was looking for more balance and was ready to shift direction and spend time with my kids. I signed for my first yoga training and finally followed my deep desire to become a teacher and help others seeking a more fulfilling life.

I do however continue to work as a personal consultant/closet adviser. I help my clients organize their own capsule collection out of pieces that can be multi-purposed that can go from day to evening and travel through different time zones. This eliminates the I-have -nothing-to-wear moments, and makes getting dressed for any occasion a breeze.

5. How did you first start yoga?

I found a 1950s edition of the Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda, that belonged to my grandmother, and I got absolutely fascinated. The book remains my forever favorite read - his message so hopeful and soothing.

Yoga has been a faithful companion my entire life. From Thessaloniki, Greece to NYC, it followed me everywhere. I think that although seemingly the most opposite of worlds, fashion and yoga are both paths for self-discovery and transformation.

6. How does practicing yoga affect your wellness?

Practicing yoga postures can be a moving meditation and a way to become more aware of your body and your emotions. The more you get to know yourself the better you can relate to others. Hopefully we carry the idea of mindfulness off the mat and into our life.

Yoga helps me to process tension without being as reactive as I used to be. I’ve learned to pause more often and breathe before making a hard decision, or when I’m faced with a stressful situation.

7. Do you think doing yoga helps with your perspective with styling?

I live in my “uniform” -leggings and tank top- 24/7. It’s a dream come true with so many awesome brands that offer cool work- out clothes and accessories.

My best tip is to remember the alignment in Mountain Pose (Tadasana) outside the class :) When you stand tall with a long spine you instantly look younger, fitter, more confident, no matter what you’re wearing.

Gratitude is a main pillar in yoga philosophy and through watching my students I’ve found a greater appreciation for the human body, this extraordinarily designed machine. We are amazing in our uniqueness, perfect as we are!

8. In what ways are you empowered by being a yoga teacher?

It’s incredibly rewarding to see that my students receive so many benefits from their practice and enjoy coming to class. Some get over their injuries, and all report that they gradually feel stronger, more flexible and balanced. My goal is to support their progress and more importantly, to remind them that they’re able to access their inner happy place on-demand.

Check out her Instagram: @theomworks