If there is one person who knows how to stay fit and healthy amongst the busy London pace, that is Kristina Rihanoff – a mother, world finalist professional ballroom dancer, instructor, choreographer, author and now a Forever Living ambassador.
You may have seen her on the hit series Strictly Come Dancing (for an impressive 8 years in a row) showing off her cleverly tailored choreography! However, since then Kristina has been involved in many more projects including producing and choreographing her own unique dance production ‘Dance to the Music’ which took the nation by storm, her new dancing yogi corns class, and her longstanding passion for yoga!
To find out more, the London Living team caught up with Kristina at a Forever Living yoga event, as she prepares to teach at the inaugural Elefit in Elephant and Castle – a free weekend of health and fitness classes in Castle Square on the 27th – 28th April 2019. To view the full timetable of events at Elefit, visit: http://www.elefit.co.uk/
Instagram – @krihanoff
When seeing you on Strictly Come Dancing, it looked like such a fun show to be involved in! What were the highs and lows of being a participant on the show?
Being part of Strictly is probably the best job that you can have as a professional dancer. It gives you so much and you can really excel as a choreographer, dancer, performer and teacher – I loved every second and stayed for seven series. It is however a very demanding show to be a part of; it’s tiring both physically and mentally as you work eight or nine hours a day for six months straight without having any kind of social life or seeing much of your loved ones. The highlights for me were making it to the finals with Jason Donovan and Simon Webbe, and of course meeting my partner Ben Cohen!
The lows are definitely being eliminated from the show with your partner. It doesn’t matter how long you stay in the competition, whether it’s just a couple of weeks or longer, it’s always hard to leave the show. I absolutely love teaching people how to dance and seeing the pleasure that being on the Strictly journey gives them. I also find it very rewarding to watch their progress and development. When you’re eliminated, you feel so disappointed because you haven’t been able to take them along the whole journey. It doesn’t matter how long you are in Strictly, that feeling never goes away; you always want to get your partner to the final.
You recently produced and choreographed your own dance production called ‘Dance to the Music’, what was your inspiration for the tour?
I love all genres of dance and have always tried to learn as much as I can throughout my dance career. I always wanted to create a show which would be the perfect night out for the whole family, from young children who love dancing, to the grandparents who can reminisce about the good old days. The show is about the evolution of dance from the 1920s to present day and includes pretty much all styles of dancing that you can imagine.
I had an absolutely amazing, versatile cast of dancers that could execute any style and I’m very proud of that production. I’ve had so many lovely comments from grandparents saying that they loved the Charleston and the tap, and the grandkids who enjoyed the breakdancing and street dancing. I’m really looking forward to producing the show again in 2020.
You also recently introduced ‘Dancing Yogicorns’ for 3-5 year olds, can you tell us a little bit more about this?
Dancing and yoga are my two passions as both disciplines are amazing for our bodies and minds. For children, dancing is a fun and lively thing to do; yoga on the other hand teaches them how to calm down, take a moment of silence and stillness and concentrate within. I’ve created my classes to combine those two styles together, so babies and toddlers can have fun dancing while also learning some breathing and calming techniques. The two work well side by side and I have a lot of parents who are excited to have access to this as a combined activity. I actually lead these classes from as young as 18 months. I will be teaching this class at the inaugural Elefit event in Elephant & Castle in a few weeks.
You are now the ambassador for Forever Living which sell so many amazing aloe vera products and there seems to be a product for just about anything! Do you have a favourite product you could tell our readers more about?
My absolute must every day is Forever Aloe Vera Gel – it’s my health and beauty secret! Every morning I mix 50ml of the drinking gel with a big glass of water. Aloe is great for the skin, the immune system and it’s an ideal digestive aid, and this purifying gel also contains vitamin C. My other favourite is Forever’s Argi+, which contains vitamins to maintain my energy. It’s a powder sachet that you mix with water and it tastes great; again I’ve been using it for years and swear by it. It was a natural progression to become an ambassador for the brand as I had been enjoying using the products for a long time.
Can you tell us a little bit more on the benefits of using Aloe Vera?
Well I am not an expert, but I always remember my grandmother keeping an aloe plant that she would cut and use to apply to any burns, cuts and stings that I had as a child. I guess I always felt that it had magical properties. Now as an adult and feeling the benefits particularly from taking the aloe drinking gel each day, I understand the importance of gut health for our overall energy levels and wellbeing. Aloe vera, as I understand, has cleansing and purifying properties but any products must contain sufficient concentrations to provide these benefits. Forever’s Aloe Vera Gel contains 99.7% inner leaf aloe gel.
Where can we purchase these products from?
You can purchase the products through Forever’s network of individual distributors, find out more information at www.foreverliving.com.
Your event ‘Experience the Power of Aloe and Yoga’ was on Sunday. Do you have to be experienced at yoga in order to attend these events with you?
Absolutely not – they are suitable for all levels, even complete beginners. The beauty of yoga is that you work with what your body will allow you to do and that can change for even someone who has practised yoga for a long time. You may even find that your flexibility increases even during a class and when you attempt those postures again you can go a little further or hold the pose a little longer. Yoga really is for everyone, benefitting both the body and the mind. I hope my classes inspire people to make yoga a part of their lives.
When did you first start practising yoga?
I started back in 2001. I moved to the United States when I was dancing competitively, and my dance partner introduced me to Bikram yoga in Seattle. It was a form of torture at the time but somehow I was hooked and never looked back. It’s a moving meditation and I always knew I would want to teach it when I had more time to study it in depth. I love the strength and focus it gives me.
Three years ago, after having Mila, I decided it was time to train. I committed to the 200 hours full training to become a Hatha yoga instructor. It has widened my horizons and knowledge in all sorts of ways; I studied physiology and the anatomy of joints and ligaments to really understand how the body works. I feel it’s enhanced my dance teaching as well.
I’m now officially qualified in Hot Yoga (yoga in heated room mostly known as Bikram yoga)!
What other future events will you hold / be involved in in London?
Watch this space. I’m in the planning stages of an event in July, a family day where there will be dancing and yoga for all ages. We’ll have nutritional education from an expert as part of this.
Being a mother, a yoga and dance teacher – what are your top three tips on staying fit and healthy in the busy-ness of life?
Exercise, me time and good nutrition. I’m lucky that dancing and yoga are part of my working life, so the exercise is taken care of but like any working mum, it’s hard to find me time. As a parent I think we always feel guilty for taking time for ourselves rather than being with our children, and life is so fast paced. I firmly believe that in order to give to others you must take care of yourself first and create that time for yourself, however you choose to spend it. Nutrition is the foundation of staying healthy which is why I turned vegan 18 months ago. I made some other small adjustments too, including adding a vitamin B12 and folic acid supplement to my diet; it can be hard to ensure you get enough vitamin B12 in a vegan diet.
If you would like to meet the talented Kristina Rihanoff, she will be hosting her very own ‘Dancing Yogicorns’ class at Castle Square, Elephant and Castle as part of the Elefit weekend on Saturday 27th April 2019:
Saturday 27th April:
3.15pm – 3.45pm
Strictly Come Dancing’s Kristina Rihanoff hosts Dancing Yogicorns for 2-5 year olds.
3.45pm – 4.15pm
Strictly Come Dancing’s Kristina Rihanoff hosts Dancing Yogicorns for 6 + year olds.