Ylva Falk has one of those larger-than-life personalities. She’s exuberant, extremely direct, possessing a unique sense of style and a wisdom well beyond her years. Ylva is the ultimate multi-hyphenate: a dancer, performer, choreographer, DJ, singer… Additionally, from one performance to the next, she drastically transforms her angelic features with acute makeup skills.
Hyperactive from youth, she now practices contemporary and experimental dancing, breakdancing, popping, and buto (a Japanese dance-performance hybrid). And if that’s not enough, she also practices Jivamukti yoga, kung fu, qi gong, tai chi, boxing and meditation! Meet this well-rounded athlete with a knack for not taking herself too seriously.
Inside/Out: What was the 1st sport you ever played?
Ylva: My first encounter with sports was ballet, at age 5, but I was pretty hyperactive, so I did whatever activity I could, from soccer to dancing and jujitsu… And I climbed trees!
I/O: And the first time a sport felt right for you?
Y: Dancing. From when I was 6 years old, my dream was to dance for Madonna or Michael Jackson.
I/O: An athlete you look up to?
Y: Bruce Lee, the ultimate athlete and philosopher, but also B-boy FLACO (Ghost Crew) and, of course, Madonna.
I/O: A sports-related memory?
Y: The time I went to China to fulfill my childhood dream and learn Shaolin Kung Fu. It changed my life. It was this crazy challenge, and it became my home-away-from-home, the place where I continuously find peace and where I train for the sake of training. It’s a very pure sort of practice.
I/O: Does getting out of your comfort zone when you train help you face the challenges of daily life?
Y: Of course! I think that in order to be flexible mentally, you have to be flexible physically. To be strong in life, you have to have a strong body… and vice versa. Being able to change your perspective on things helps you see all the sides of a given situation.
I/O: How do you find balance between your personal life and your professional endeavors?
Y: I like immersing myself in things, so retreats and seminars are perfect for me! I love cooking vegan food for my friends and myself, and yoga really helps to keep me balanced. What I love the most, though, is rolling around on the floor and being noisy. Last but not least, I need nature. I still love climbing trees, so I try to get ouf of the city as much as I can to go back to my roots.
I/O: Do you have a mantra?
Y: Go with the flow, let go.
I/O: Do you think that the Parisian connection to sport has evolved over the last few years?
Y: Yes, I’ve been cycling around Paris for 10 years and I used to be pretty lonely, but with Vélib’ and the overall cycling trend, it means more and more people are doing it. Simultaneously, vegan restaurants have opened, and yoga has gained popularity, so things are moving forward!
I/O: How about their relation to sportswear?
Y: I have always worn sneakers and sportswear, but it was never considered stylish. This is slowly changing.
I/O: How does the French Touch apply to sports?
Y: I don’t know, but I really love the banlieue aesthetic.
I/O: Your favorite piece of sportswear?
Y: I wear my Nike sports bra and my sneakers most days.
I/O: Do you have a wellness tip or a product you can’t go without?
Y: Empty your mind, let your thoughts go.
I/O: Best sports-friendly hairstyle?
Y: A shaved head!
I/O: All-black or rainbow bright?
Y: No comment. Be free!
I/O: Rituals before and after training?
Y: A vegan meal, some meditation, breathing, and trying to reconnect with your inner child.
I/O: A fitness/wellness destination on your travel bucket list?
Y: I would like to go practice yoga and meditation in an ashram in India. China, as well, as soon as I have enough time. Thailand, to practice muay thai, and Japan for buto.
I/O: Do you believe in a new form of feminism? Do you think women support each other more today, through sports and performance?
Y: I think women still have a lot to learn… They have to support each other more, and avoid always seeing others as competition. When it comes down to it, I’d rather be up against the guys! Girls have to be freer, and think less. Just do it!
I/O: Do sports give you a sense of community, or belonging?
Y: I think so, yes, but people see me as an alien most of the time…
TIPS AND ADDRESSES:
1 piece of advice to get the most out of your training: Breathe, listen to your body, start slowly, eat well, drink lots of water… Don’t run with the wrong shoes on. Stretch. Yoga and meditation help not getting injured.
1 coach: Klara Puski, my Jivamukti yoga instructor.
1 food spot: I prefer cooking at home, preferably organic and vegetarian meals. It’s time that I take to treat myself and be alone.
1 drink: Coconut water.
1 source of inspiration: Nature.
1 person we should interview: Marawa the Amazing (LA, the world), Boy child (LA, New York), Nellie Bertel aka Originellie (LA, Copenhaque), B girl Crazy Grand Ma (Stockholm),Luizo Vega (Paris, Argentine).