Social Icon Interviews: Daisy Tonge
On yoga, female empowerment, and embracing the unknown
Have you ever wanted to just pack your bags and move to a new place? Actor, singer and travel lover Daisy Tonge @daisytonge did exactly that, and it led her on a beautiful path of discovering yoga and a more conscious, joyful lifestyle! Sometimes we have to be wiling to step into the unknown… and if we do, the rewards are immense.
Daisy shares with us her thoughts on female empowerment, why it’s important to be less judgmental, her go-to yoga breathing, and her favorite place to travel (and, no, it’s not an over-popularized Instagram hot spot so take note)!
One of my favorite things about social media is that it can show us all the POSSIBILITIES in the world — things we might not see in our day-to-day life. And, not to get too science-y, but it’s been shown that our subconscious mind needs what they call “exemplary examples” that help us remove hurdles in order to make big changes or build new habits. This is the power of sharing things that matter: it is our collective way to share exemplary examples of how life can be amazing. Daisy drops a major truthbomb on how seeing someone else’s life experiences or beauty can be a tool solely to inspire us.
Header image: @esmemaicreative
Yoga pose: @jlmfotografo
Q: We love seeing multi-passionate women follow their dreams and share their gifts with the world! Tell us a little about your journey to date - how did you get into acting, singing, yoga, travel and conscious living?
A: Hey! So lovely to be here; thanks for having me.
I have wanted to be a performer since before I can remember. After training in Musical Theatre at the Guildford School of Acting I moved to London to pursue my dream. However, after some time I began to realise that the industry wasn’t for me. I felt tired of the set-backs, the highs of being in a job followed by the lows of then having to return to the ‘other job’. I judged myself and my ability if I didn’t get a role, was constantly comparing myself to others in auditions, and was riddled with anxiety from my hectic London life.
In search of a calmer lifestyle (and having always wanted to travel), I plucked up the courage, packed my bags and moved to Spain. It was here that I began to learn both my second language and the true art of living - the Spaniards really know how to do life!
It wasn’t until I moved to Madrid that I found yoga - or perhaps it found me! I had dabbled in some classes in the past but upon joining a small, local yoga centre I truly began to feel like I had found my community, where I felt loved and heard. I began to talk to myself with kindness; something that was alien to me previously.
Along with the exploration of yoga, I dove deeper into holistic health, a vegan lifestyle, and making more conscious choices to better myself and the world around me. It took a little while to realise my purpose, but in June of this year I finally completed my 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training in Hatha and Ashtanga Yoga in the birthplace of yoga; Rishikesh, India.
Q: More and more people, especially young people, are choosing creative/ entrepreneurial/ self-directed work and careers.
A lot of people have a similar desire or dream, but don’t act on it due to fear. What advice or helpful thoughts do you have for someone who wants to make the jump to do a creative project of their own, or totally change careers or start their own business?
A: When I left London I was absolutely terrified. Just a few months prior, I wasn’t even able to change my hair colour in case it altered my casting type and deemed me ‘less castable’ (for potential jobs)… yet here I was saying goodbye to everything that I knew to be my life and walking into the unknown. I didn’t even speak Spanish! What was I doing?!
One of the biggest reasons we hold back is due to fear. Change can be so incredibly scary and, without a doubt, it’s easier to stay in our comfort zones. But, if you’re seeking pastures new and you don’t throw caution to the wind, you’ll never know if you could have been happier. If something goes wrong or doesn’t work out the way you’d hoped, at least you tried! That’s definitely something to be proud of in my eyes.
Q: You’ve traveled some beautiful places! What has been your favorite city/culture to experience? And what influenced you to pick Spain as a new home base?
A: I’m truly grateful to have been able to travel. I have definitely been bitten by that cheeky travel bug! Each country has something special and unique, and there’s beauty to be found everywhere.
That said, if I really have to choose a favourite; Uruguay is very close to my heart. I lived in the beautiful Punta del Este for three months last year and just fell in love with the nature and the relaxed vibe that ripples throughout the city and the people who live there. Uruguayans typically eat a LOT of meat, so I definitely did have some interesting conversations. But, locals are so set on making you feel happy and comfortable, that they’ll go out of their way to get you that vegetarian burger or morrón (pepper) to throw on the fire during the famous Uruguayan asado (barbecue). There’s a very, very special energy in Punta del Este and it’s definitely worth a visit!
I moved to Spain in 2015 for what I thought was just a ‘break’ from London. I didn’t predict at the time that I’d end up staying for good. When I look back on my childhood, however, it’s really no surprise that I moved to Spain as an adult and rediscovered that deep connection I’d felt to the country and culture as a child.
Every year growing up my brother, sister and I would spend our summer months in Altea, Alicante. None of us spoke Spanish, but we had many local friends who we’d communicate with through mime, games, and songs. The connection a child can make without language is incredible really.
Now when travelling to countries where I don’t speak the language, I remember little Daisy - who had so many friends yet didn’t know how to ‘talk’ with any of them. It’s easy to communicate with people once you realise that verbal language isn’t everything, and this certainly makes travelling much more enjoyable and meaningful. After all, connection is everything, isn’t it?
Q: What topics or causes are you most passionate about sharing right now - something that could really help the world if everyone did it/ got on board?
1) Female Empowerment
2) Animal Rights
3) Looking after our one Planet Earth
Q: If you could speak to young girls everywhere today what is the #1 thing you’d like to share?
A: Growing up, I wish I could have turned on the TV to see women of all different shapes, sizes, colours and ages; ones with body hair, without makeup, and so on. For so long society’s standard of beauty has been one body type only, and it’s so easy as a young girl to feel pressured to look a certain way. So I would encourage our young women to own their bodies and feel comfortable in the skin they’re in. I think that’s incredibly important.
Q: You’ve made several lovely and spot-on posts about judgement and female empowerment...
It seems you’ve noticed the duality that exists in the “female empowerment” movement: on the one side, encouraging women to be free and strong and love ourselves, but on the other side fueling a culture that allows so much judgement from ourselves and others about our sexuality or attractiveness or lifestyle/career choices.
How did you come to notice and work through the topics of judgement and empowerment? Any thoughts on how we can work to heal our judgement issues so we can all rise together faster?
A: I think empowerment is a process that begins from within. When we make assumptions of or criticise others based on the external, what we are really telling ourselves is, “I am not enough”.
I am reminded of a comment that was made during a dinner I was at a few years back… We are sitting there, enjoying the evening, when the only other female at the table looks over at a woman in a tight-fitting dress and says, “isn’t she ugly in that outfit?”
Catching hurtful, judgmental thought patterns like that is an opportunity to turn inwards and ask ourselves, “why did that (person/photo/thing) cause me feelings of negativity?” It’s an opportunity that allows us to heal a part of ourselves.
Of course, all of this internal work is tricky when we live in a society which encourages us to strive for an ‘ultimate beauty’. For so many of us, if we look in the mirror and don't see a 'supermodel' staring back, we aren’t happy.
Obviously the media can play a detrimental part in this inherent self-loathing that we have all experienced. Opening up Instagram, for example, to see shit-inducing/tummy-flattening pills only leads us to believe that anything otherwise is deemed as ugly. But, of course, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
So, we have to ask ourselves, ‘what type of a message are we really putting out there’? If we encouraged others to live healthily, (honing in on smart food choices and exercise) instead of focusing on the physical, then beauty wouldn't be an image at all.
Self awareness is a process of knowing who you are and what makes you unique and special.
And THAT is true female empowerment! Celebrating and supporting one another and creating a stronger sense of community amongst women allows us to rise together.
Q: One quick yoga question while we have you... What is your go-to breathing exercise or pose to help calm a busy mind?
A: Anytime I’m feeling anxious or stressed I take a few minutes out to practice Nadi Shodhana, a pranayama breathing technique which balances the Ida and Pingla nadis (energy channels) by having you alternate your breathing through your left and right nostrils. Practicing this pranayama also helps me to come back to the present moment. We live in such a fast-paced world where we can have anything at the click of a button, so it’s easy to get caught up in tomorrow, next week and next year; rather than truly living in the now.
[Editor’s note: Daisy recently made a little video tutorial showing how to do the Nadi Shodhana/ alternated nostril breathing, and it’s so helpful!]
Q: What is the one question you wish people would ask you more often?
Ooh, that’s a tricky one! I’d much rather have silence than ‘filler’ questions or conversations. Inspired by the social experiment Big Talk, I’m working on a personal project in which I ask people deeper questions and film their responses, in an attempt to encourage more meaningful conversations and connections.
So, with that in mind, I’d love to be asked: “What are you grateful for?”
I’m grateful for my life and my family, friends and boyfriend who enrich it; my body; my breath; yoga; the ability to travel; and the roof over my head.
Q: What does being a Social Icon mean to you?
A: I cringe whenever I hear the label ‘Influencer’; anyone can have a large following and use it for merely self-gratification. ‘Social Icon’ sounds quite the compliment! There’s always more I can do to help, but I feel it’s important to use my platform to bring awareness to certain topics. It means using your voice for something that matters and can help to create change.
It’s about buying local and organic if you can, switching to a plant-based diet (or at least cutting down on meat), picking up rubbish on the beach, and then encouraging others in your circle to do the same. “Individually we’re one drop, but together we’re an ocean!”