Spotlight on Isabel Vallejo
by Susannah Grant
This month the Spotlight falls on Colombian Reiki master, IT engineer and now systemic coach with a penchant for aero yoga, mother of 4 and Area 1 Coordinator, Isabel Vallejo.
You were born in Cali in Colombia, is it true that the best salsa dancers come from there?
Definitively. If in doubt look at the Delirio show in: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9QQamlO1TOw
Was being female quite a novelty on your computer engineering course in Bogotá?
Interestingly enough, I think almost half of us were women.
Did you find your 6-month period in Germany quite a contrast to your life back home in Colombia?
Adapting to a public transport system that worked like clockwork was a huge culture shock after Bogotá. In Germany there is a sense and expectation of order which doesn´t exist in a place like Colombia where you always have to be ready to improvise. We´re rather good at that.
Why did you decide to do a dual MBA programme in Portuguese at Wharton?
The Lauder School of International Studies, part of Wharton, took a very avant-garde approach for the 1990s in that they championed a country´s culture as part of their courses so I entered the Portuguese program and loved it.
How did you find living in London after North and South America?
Having studied at a British School I always liked London as it´s so authentic, like history unfolding, despite the cold, grey weather at times. I became a mum and appreciated the playgroups and diversity of mothers I could meet there.
Tell us about your 10-year stint in Moscow.
When we arrived in Russia in 2002 we had three children under 4 so we took advantage of the special art and music on offer at Russian kindergartens as well as enabling the kids to learn Russian. The expat community was very tight-knit as it was difficult to communicate with the locals. I realised that some people will feign incomprehension despite any linguistic attempts, whereas others understood me quite well with sign language.
Meditation is very important to you; how did you get into it?
I am the daughter and sister of 3 drs in my family. Yet I´ve always been curious about different faiths and other elements that defy logic. Having seen that a Bio-energetic practitioner solved my niece´s chronic sore throats I decided to investigate and subsequently did a Reiki course as well as other energy therapies.
When I lived in Moscow the Damas Latinas Club offered meditation courses. I saw meditation as a way to understand one´s self. You have to take care of yourself first, and then you can guide others take care of themselves.
You are now a coach, what area of coaching do you focus on?
We all operate as individuals yet we are also part of many systems. I am now a systemic coach which focuses on understanding the system as a whole so that you can analyse what areas can or need to be improved. We help de-clutter all the relationships between those systems, getting to the root of our present-day situations to comprehend what we really want and need.
In 2016 you came to Madrid and managed a wellness centre, how did you get into aero yoga?
Our centre´s speciality was aero yoga but it wasn´t easy to find teachers. Once, while on the hunt for a teacher I called up a training centre in Valencia who explained they were have offering an intensive training programme 2 days later. Having found a babysitter, I ended up on the course and despite feeling like the odd one out to begin with I ended up loving it. Ironically, a week later our main teacher left so I ended up taking her place!
It was a wonderful experience but the timetable was incompatible with my children as most of the classes were after school. However, now that my evenings are freed up once more, I might consider teaching it again as it´s great exercise.
You have just moved to the Sierra Norte de Madrid, what attracted you to this area?
In one of my group sessions we reached the conclusion that it would be beneficial to leave our comfort zone. So, faced with a move in any case, I decided to widen my search area as I work mostly online and don´t have kids in school anymore. So here I am in Cotos, which I used to think was miles away!