Be Inspired by Olivia Dunn!

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Olivia Dunn has an angelic presence about her. Her teaching style is melodic, warm, and passionate. 

Be inspired: 

1. How long have you been teaching? 3 Years.

2. What motivated you to start teaching and what have you learnt from teaching?


It was during my time in college that I came across yoga - coming to the practice initially for a good, sweaty work out and a skillful complement to my studies in dancing, singing, and acting. But, it didn’t take long for me to fall deeply in love with the practice in its own right. Looking back, I think I was initially motivated to become a yoga teacher not only because I was very passionate about the benefits of the practice but, perhaps more so, because something in me felt that I had potential to be good at it. I had always enjoyed helping and supporting people, whether as a tutor, mentor, or assistant - being a supportive guide for others to shine their brightest made me feel good, as opposed to competing for myself to shine solely in the spotlight. So when yoga entered my life, I got the feeling that it could be my calling to share it with others. Of course on a more practical level as well, I gravitated toward completing my 200-hour training right after graduating from drama school because being a yoga teacher seemed like an enjoyable day job to support me while pursuing a performing arts career.

I have learned and continue to learn so much about myself and human nature from teaching. It is now all I do. At this point in my life, I have put a hold on performing and committed myself fully to being the best teacher I can be. Teaching is so fulfilling to me both because it brings me so much happiness to be with and serve others and because it is a never-ending practice that constantly challenges me to grow and learn and be bold in trying new things. The most powerful lesson that I have gained from my teaching - one that I am still working on to this day - is to not take things personally. It is very easy to travel down the slippery slope of insecurity as a teacher. When we care so much about what we’re doing and give so much of ourselves to students in a class, it can be very hurtful when students appear to be apathetic or displeased. We identify their apparent experience with our worth; though, of course, we must be careful as teachers to believe that we know what people are experiencing, thinking, and feeling solely based on external observation - we don’t know, until we ask and listen. And in that vein, I have learned that more often than not, a person's experience or behavior toward you has infinitely more to do with them and their current state of being, what they may be going through in their life, than it has anything to do with you. We know this from the teachings of yoga - however the mind is colored, so too will the perceptions of the world be colored. Thus, I have also learned that what’s most important in the role of a teacher is to meet people exactly where they are and to hold space for that.

 

3. What is something that you have learnt from a fellow teacher? Something I have learned from a dear fellow teacher each time I take her class is that, as a teacher, sharing your honest humanity is the most impactful thing you can do. 

 

4. How many times a week do you practice? I do my own self practice, comprised of asana, pranayama, and japa meditation, in the morning nearly everyday.

 

5. Who inspires your practice? Currently, my asana practice and bodywork is very inspired by Rose Erin Vaughan and the workshops and trainings that I’ve done with her. My meditation practice is inspired by Thich Nhat Hanh.

 

6. Why is it necessary for you to practice? What drives me to practice so consistently is two-fold. Firstly, I believe it is essential as a yoga teacher to continue your own personal practice in order to be able to genuinely offer guidance to students. As the saying goes, ‘Practice what you preach’.  Secondly, Yoga as a science and practice has brought so many valuable tools for healing into my life. Through persistent practice, I am more present, available, and compassionate to the world. I feel at my best through practice. The practice asks me to look deep into the root causes of suffering in my life (and that of others) and gives me a path to untangle those knots with the intention of connecting to the pure Self, which is not bound by any identifications or desires. I can’t be certain that I will ever reach self-actualization, absorption into pure consciousness, but it seems that there is no harm in riding along the journey toward its attainment if we humans become more compassionate for each other and all beings in the process. 

 

7. What message do you like to spread through teaching? I have recently been closing all of my classes with this message, first introduced to me by Rose Erin Vaughan: “We remind ourselves why we come together to practice yoga. We practice to be of service to all beings everywhere, with no exceptions. May this practice be of service.” The deeper meaning of this sentiment is liken to another known saying in our culture - to change the world, you must first change yourself. When we lead with the intention of understanding ourselves more deeply, seeing our pains, our sorrows, our joys, the inner workings of our minds and meeting them with acceptance and love, then we become a participant in creating and connecting to a more conscious, loving world. The way to selfless, sustainable happiness is through serving others. 

 

8. Where are you currently teaching? I currently teach classes in corporate and residential buildings for hOM, a start-up company based in NYC. 

 

9. How has yoga helped your character develop? The practice of yoga has certainly helped me become a more understanding, compassionate person and, on good days, a more patient person (let’s be real, the powerful drive of the urban psyche is hard to let go of). I find myself moving through life and interpersonal relationships with more awareness and less reactiveness. And in particular, the practice of teaching yoga has given me so much confidence in myself. 

 

10.What has kept you practicing all these years? The very fact that yoga is a practice, not something to be mastered in a day. There is always more to unpack, explore, and finesse. I love to play with the possibilities of my human experience, in body, mind, and spirit, and there is quite a joy in doing that with other people

 

11. What would you tell your self when you started teaching yoga? I would tell myself to have fun, remember why I love this practice, and take it one breath, one movement at a time. 

 

12. What are the best ways to start teaching at a yoga studio? I think the best way to start teaching at a studio is to invest in its community. Find a studio that vibes with your spirit so that you are inspired to take classes there regularly, make connections with fellow teachers and students, and, perhaps, volunteer (or get paid) to help out with the maintenance and functioning flow of the studio. This shows studio managers and owners that you care and value the community that they are working to create and that YOU would be an asset to it. 

 

13. Why is breath so important in your practice? Breath, as many of us say, is the most immediate, accessible connection between mind and body. When we are working with the breath, we are essentially working with the nervous system, which when tapped into, can give us an experience of the true continuum (not perceived separate entities) of the body and mind. 

14. What is your FB name? IG name and twitter? My FB name is Olivia Dunn. My IG name is olivia_grace_dunn. I do not have a twitter handle.

Be inspired by Nia Batiste!


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Nia’s energy and teaching style is soft yet firm. Knowledgeable yet open. Soothing yet endearing.  

Please be inspired by Nia:  

1. How long have you been teaching?

I’ve been teaching yoga for about 4 years.


2. What motivated you to start teaching and what have you learnt from teaching?

What motivated me the most to start teaching was the transformation within my own practice. I feel like a completely different person from the year’s prior. I created such a deep connection to, and an understanding of my body, which has always been an integral part of my journey. I have previously felt so much shame around the way that I looked and the way I moved in my body that, I didn’t even realize I wasn’t taking care of it. Yoga taught me how to love myself totally and whole-heartedly. Currently, my practice teaches me to continue loving myself, especially during the times I forget that I can.


3. What is something that you have learnt from a fellow teacher?

I’ve learned many things, from many teachers. One teacher stands out the most to me is Stella, The owner of Stella Luna Yoga. I didn’t start my practice at that studio, but it was the studio that raised me. I felt home there. It’s where I trained to be a teacher. Stella placed emphasis on breath awareness, and how important it is. It’s common to ignore it and take it for granted, even I do. We get so caught up with everything around us that we forget to acknowledge the one thing that keeps us alive and present. So even though sometimes I forget while running around the city, creating my life (the seed her teachings have planted) is still very much alive and growing.


4. How many times a week do you practice?

I practice at least once a day. If not at home, then I’m definitely taking a class. It’s been a while since I completed a fancy, full hour sequence at home, like what some people may think. Sometimes I do energy work, then break into a cathartic dance. Then, sometimes I power through a good workout, sometimes I’m practicing yin, and lie there in Child’s Pose (or any one pose that feels good) for about 15 mins, or until I can surrender completely; whichever comes first. Then, there are times when I intend to practice, but I’m so caught up in my thinking that no yoga is happening at all. I’d do a couple stretches and move on with my day, then get back to it later.


5. Who inspires your practice?

This is a very vague answer, but life inspires my practice. The connection I’ve made to my body is so intimate, so personal. There’s so much to explore, and so much to release from my day. I’m very much in-tune with my emotions and yoga provides me with an outlet for it. I give myself what I need.


6. Why is it necessary for you to practice?

Piggy-backing off the previous answer, practicing is a channel and outlet for my emotions. On a physiological level, it keeps my body aligned. I have “severe” scoliosis, and there’s a lot of physical discomfort and emotional trauma that comes with it. Yoga helps release it all. No one believes me when I say this, but I actually grew an inch! The amount of rehabilitative yoga I’ve done on myself has opened up my body in ways I can’t fully describe. I notice that if I go too long without practicing, my body hates me for it. I slip right back into pain, and my mind spirals out of control. So, I’m very passionate about yoga. It’s a choice that I have to make everyday. Either by keeping up with my practice and continuing to move with freedom. Or, don’t and suffer the consequences. It’s real for me.


7. What message do you like to spread through teaching?

I like to encourage others to be there for themselves, at the very least. Show up! Maybe sometimes you don’t get anything done but show up everyday on your mat (figuratively speaking), with the intention of good health and awareness. This is how it manifests into your reality. I like to remind my friends, family, students, clients and even myself, that we actually do have that choice.


8. Where are you currently teaching?

I’m currently teaching for Hot8Yoga, specifically at the Pasadena, Manhattan Beach, and Koreatown locations. I’m also available for private lessons.


9. How has yoga helped your character develop?

Self study! LOTS of self study. I know my resistances, flaws, and shadows so well. Even today, I’m growing more and more inspired by my own ordinary, but extraordinary life. I love the lessons that allow me to vibrate higher and higher, and I love how I learn from them. It’s not all pretty, but after I’ve released attachment to it, I fall in love. I can’t help but to have compassion for others. Everyone is dealing with something, and life is taking him or her on a ride too. I respect it. Sometimes you clash with people and other times, you connect. Work is being done on all of us. I only want to show love, even on the days when I can’t, that’s more work for me.


10.What has kept you practicing all these years?

My mind, body and spirit. And, mostly my body. If my body gets the yoga, so does my mind and spirit, and once yoga has reached the spirit, there’s no going back.


11. What would you tell yourself when you started teaching yoga?

Be prepared to shed your old life. It’ll be scary and intense. You’ll resist a lot, but that’s okay, you’ll be okay!


12. What are the best ways to start teaching at a yoga studio?

Just go. Show up, show love, and take classes.Have a true interest in the practice. Teaching at a yoga studio isn’t about sending a resume and trying to look the part. It’s good karma; making connections,serving, and being apart of a community.


13. Why is breath so important in your practice?

Something I learned from a Yin-Practitioner that I follow, Bernie Clark. He brought it to my attention that when we’re in our minds, thinking about whatever; we’re not actually breathing: not fully and not to our capacity. We hold onto the breath and when we hold onto the breath, we hold on to tension! Its astounding, the way the mind and body connects. If there’s no balance, what is our spirit to do? We’re all over the place! So with that, I’ve learned that the breath is presence. Remembering and redirecting my attention to my breath and to what I feel in my body ,is my practice.


14. What is your FB name? IG name and twitter?

You can find me on FB under The Subtle Seed, a holistic wellness brand, community and service; I’ve created for artists. You can also follow me on instagram @niaizb.

Be inspired by Stefan Ericsson!

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Stefan is an authentic Yogi. His style is playful yet traditional. He stays grounded, calm and intuitive as a Yogi and as a person.


Please, be inspired by Stefan: 

1. How long have you been teaching?

2 years

2. What motivated you to start teaching and what have you learnt from teaching?

The bubbling feelings I have about yoga were just spreading beyond my own mat and when I friend asked if I would try teaching a class for him and his family, I couldn't have been more terrified / excited. Also, I enjoy meeting people from all walks of life and holding space for their journey, as I've been far away from where I am today internally.


3. What is something that you have learnt from a fellow teacher?

My favorite teacher, now this might be cheesy but true non the less, showed me that LOVE is way. I learned from her that through spreading love to others, when it's from a genuine place, it will circle back around to you. 


4. How many times a week do you practice?

I practice everyday.

 

5. Who inspires your practice?

Lately I've been into stronger flows on the mat, and I'd say Dylan Werner is a teacher I'm looking at there. Another, less famous favorite teacher of mine is Chanaka Rukshan, who lives and operates out of Mirissa, Sri Lanka.


6. Why is it necessary for you to practice?

I've reached the point where this can no longer be considered a hobby, but my lifestyle. So it's necessary for me to start the day with meditation/yoga because it sets the vibe of the whole day.


7. What message do you like to spread through teaching?

Playfulness is always an option, try to not be to serious, it's just yoga! Also, it really is for everyone. 


8. Where are you currently teaching?

Stockholm, Sweden

next stop Ko Tao, Thailand.


9. How has yoga helped your character develop?

In all ways, for me it started with a meditation practice and later a simple asana practice was added to that. Bit-by-bit,I was inspired to read about yogic philosophy, eat ayurvedic food, contemplate about the yamas and niyamas. It's like a habit you start out really liking then finding out that this habit grows with you, constantly revealing new exiting sides.


10. What has kept you practicing all these years?

Discipline, and this discipline has created a freedom I now enjoy everyday.


11. What would you tell yourself when you started teaching yoga?

Just remember to meet the people where they're at, it's about them not you.


12. What are the best ways to start teaching at a yoga studio?

You gotta get out there, go to a bunch of classes, what kind of yoga does your city offer? Do you feel that it aligns with you? Is something lacking from what's being offered? In what way can you give differently and how will you go about that? Then talk to the people in charge, let them know who you are and why you are what they've been waiting for. If you're serious about teaching, show it and own it!

 

13. Why is breath so important in your practice?

Why is breath important in life? It literary fuels every move and sets the paste of you movement. It's the constant reminder to give/receive, to let go. It's a great teacher because it's one of few things in our body that is both autonomic (self governing) and can be controlled. Much like things in our life, it's a fine balance of knowing when to surrender to what is and sometimes using your fire/agni to make things happen. 


13. What is your FB name? IG name and twitter?

IG Absolutstefan

Christine Matroud exudes inspiration!

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Christine Matroud totally gets ‘The Yoga Thing’. She inspires me with her genuine passion and love for yoga. Let her inspire you too:


1. How long have you been teaching?

I have been teaching for a bit over three years.


2. What motivated you to start teaching and what have you learnt from teaching?

I started practicing Bikram Yoga in 2010. After my second class, I was hooked. Seeing how beneficial it was to my health and well being, I immediately felt the need to share with friends and family. Which quickly extended to anyone and everyone I met. I became so passionate about practicing yoga that I knew that I would be teaching it one day. They say “The best way to learn is to teach". What I have learnt from teaching is that just like how there are infinite ways of learning, there are infinite ways of teaching.


3. What is something that you have learnt from a fellow teacher?

When I was teaching in Australia, a fellow teacher, named Kaz, shared true words of wisdom. She said ,“When I started practicing, I would look at teachers that were in the room and admire their perfect or close to perfect looking postures. Today, as a teacher, I see people come in with all types of injuries and problems. And I see them try their best, work hard and get better. And that's what inspires me today". Hearing her say that shifted my perspective on things as a fairly new teacher.


4. How many times a week do you practice?

3 to 5 times a week in a consistent way. Sometimes everyday or almost everyday.


5. Who inspires your practice?

Students do. Seeing people with crazy busy schedules make time for yoga inspires me to practice.


6. Why is it necessary for you to be consistent?

Practicing yoga is the most efficient way for me to take care of myself. It is a science. We get to work all of the systems of our body. When we say “Bikram Yoga is a workout from the inside out, bones to the skin", what we mean is that it works from our skeletal system, all the way through to our integumentary system, passing through the circulatory,  respiratory, muscular, lymphatic, nervous, and digestive systems of the body.


7. What message do you like to spread through teaching?

It's not about being good in yoga; It's about the yoga being good to you. It's not about what you can or can't do in yoga; It's about what the yoga can do for you.


8. Where are you currently teaching?

I am in Hawaii at the moment and am teaching at Hot Yoga Hilo, and Bikram Yoga Kona, on the big island.


9. How has yoga helped your character develop?

A big part of who I am is being in control of my emotions and not letting anyone or any situation steal my peace. Having some parts of the yoga class be more challenging and raise our heart rate allows us to master our breathing so that we can get through the postures, by slowing down our breath. When we slow down our breath, we get to slow down our heart rate, our thoughts ,our mind. Which allows us to be in control of how we feel, rather than letting our emotions take over us.


10. What has kept you practicing all these years?

I get to feel brand new after every class I take. Over and over again. There is nothing like it.


11. What would you tell yourself when you started teaching yoga?

That I couldn't wait to get good at teaching. I just wanted to give my students the kind of class that I enjoyed practicing.


12. What are the best ways to start teaching at a yoga studio?

Reaching out to studios by emails ahead of time is a great way to start teaching somewhereabroad. If it is at a local studio, the best way would be by practicing there.


13. Why is breath so important in your practice?

Breath is everything. Being aware of when we hold our breath allows us to know that we are working with a challenging situation, both on or off the mat. What's great is that when we catch ourselves holding our breath, we can go less deep in a posture by coming out of it just a few degrees, find our breath, and then move forward into the posture, together, with our breath.

14. What is your FB name? IG name and twitter?

FB Chris Matroud IG chrisnodramas Twitter n/a

Be inspired by Meredith Meyer!

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 Meredith is authentic, energetic and positive. Her classes are welcoming, approachable, and light-hearted; there’s always good tunes playing and some laughs to be had.  She tries not to take things too serious and keeps her instructions simple so her students have the space to explore whatever it is they are working on.



1. How long have you been teaching?

I’ve been practicing yoga consistently for 11 years and teaching for the last 5.5 years.

2. What motivated you to start teaching and what have you learnt from teaching?

I worked as an advertising executive for almost 18 years and it was about 13 years into my career that I realized I wasn’t fulfilled anymore.  I was already practicing yoga and one day after leaving a yoga class with my husband, I looked over at him with tears in my eyes and said, “I want to be a yoga teacher.  That’s my chapter 2.”  The minute I said it, I knew it to be true.  I didn’t want to be in my 70s, looking back on my life wondering ‘what if?’. I signed up for a teacher -training and, that was that.  Ultimately, it was about finding fulfillment in helping others – giving back. 

3. What is something that you have learnt from a fellow teacher?

Wow – so many things from so many teachers (I also want to add that I learn a lot from my students as well)!  Early on in my yoga career, and after teaching a class that I didn’t think went very well, I was talking to my teacher.  After listening to me go on and on about what I did wrong, what I could improve upon, what I thought the students liked or didn’t like – she told me two things that have stuck with me.  First – never assume you know what your students are thinking or how they are feeling.  Second – your teaching style will not be for everyone but your style will be right for a lot of people so stick to being you.  This is true not only for me as a ‘teacher’ but where the magic happens is how this advice really applies to how I interact with the world as a human when I’m at the grocery store, a party, whatever.  Solid advice is solid advice.

4. How many times a week do you practice?

I do my meditation along with breath work every morning and my physical practice 5-to-6 times a week.

5. Who inspires your practice?

A much harder question than it seems. At first, I went through the usual suspects: my son, my husband, me, my students, and so on. While I love them all very much, and despite the guilt in saying this, none of those humans sat right with me as the answer to this question. Yet someone I barely know rests nice and comfortable as the answer. I live in Santa Monica and there’s a man, Ray, who lives down the street from us who sits outside in his wheelchair every morning and every afternoon.  As he sees every biker, car, walker, scooter rider, and skateboarder,Ray smiles and waves.  Some acknowledge him back and some don’t; yet Ray continues to see, smile, and wave at every human.  Ray continues to give to other humans without always receiving anything in return. That’s the yoga and why I keep coming back for more of it.

6. Why is it necessary for you to practice?

It keeps me connected to myself, to others, and the world at large.

7. What message do you like to spread through teaching?

Yoga is more than the physical poses – it’s about awareness.  Through yoga, you get to know yourself better and this shapes how you interact with the world.  What we learn about ourselves on the mat during challenges poses or during a choppy meditation has a direct impact on and correlation to how we choose to live our lives off the mat.  But that doesn’t mean it has to be super serious…smiling, laughing, and trying new things is the good stuff of life.  The energy in my classes come from the laughter, the smiles, and the challenge.  Be it public or private sessions, my students venture out into the world with a smile on their face and a spring in their step.

8. Where are you currently teaching?

Hot 8 Yoga (Santa Monica, Koreatown, and Sherman Oaks locations).

Fauve Yoga Club (Santa Monica).

I also work with private clients.

9. How has yoga helped your character develop?

I believe that through yoga we shed the superficial layers that surround who we truly are.  In other words, we get to know ourselves better and we see ourselves with more clarity.  With the clarity, I’ve been able to enhance certain characteristics such as my playfulness and authenticity while strengthening others such as tenacity and compassion.

10. What has kept you practicing all these years?

The great thing about yoga is that it’s always evolving, there’s always somewhere to go, and a bit of fun to be had along the way.  Each experience I have on my mat or in meditation is different because I’m constantly evolving.  So, it’s never the same.

11. What would you tell yourself when you started teaching yoga?

OMG so many things – all the head games – that I needed to be like that teacher I saw on Instagram, that my students weren’t enjoying the practice, that I wasn’t good enough, that my personality wouldn’t resonate.  But I also knew right away teaching is for me and each time I doubted myself, I remembered why teaching yoga sits so securely in my being.  I love helping people, I love the creativity of vinyasa, I love holding space for my students, I love seeing my students faces after they nailed a challenging pose they had been working on, I love being a part of a welcoming community, I love the intimacy of the student/teacher relationship, I love being a part of the magic that happens when a bunch of humans get in a room and flow their bodies while listening to great music. 

12. What are the best ways to start teaching at a yoga studio?

From a nuts/bolts perspective, have your teaching certificate, resume, bio, and insurance certificate ready to go so it’s there for you to send off whenever asked.  It’s vital that you want to be at a studio just as much as you want them to want you.  It’s important to spend time at the studio you think you may want to teach at. I take a humble approach and I avoid announcing that I’m a teacher looking for a job…it just becomes transactional then.  Instead fly incognito at first &get a feel for the space, take classes from different teachers, get to know the community, and let them get to know you.  Take classes from the owner or studio Director at least twice so they get to know you.  Once you’ve decided that the studio feels right for you, that’s when you can find the Director or owner of the studio after taking a class (preferably theirs).  Start chatting with them, let them know what about their studio resonates with you, let them know you teach, and that you’d like to submit a resume or teach a free class as an audition.  Many studios offer free weeks, or heavily discounted pricing for new students for a week or two which makes this process more attainable.  Of course, you can certainly send in your resume via email without going to the studio & you can also hand walk your resume in (just call ahead, ask when Director or owner is there and just time it right).  Some studios also offer open auditions or post their jobs on their websites, social media, and through Craigslist.  My more human approach certainly requires more effort but it works.  

13. Why is breath so important in your practice?

Breath is everything in my practice (asana as well as meditation) because that breath is the connector, it’s the tether that keeps me aware of what is happening in my and in my body at any given moment.  And when I’m aware, I’m able to notice the pattern and behaviors as a way to inform what conscious choice to make next.  Breath provides me with a pause so I take notice before reacting/acting. 

14. What is your FB name? IG name and twitter?

Facebook: Meredith Meyer

Instagram: @YogiMeredith

Twitter: N/A

Meet the ever so-inspiring, Meredith Baker.

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Meredith is bursting with inspiration, buoyancy and genuinity. Her teaching style is delicate and a dance between effort and ease. She creates a playful space for people to push themselves to new realms of possibility.




1. How long have you been teaching?

I've been teaching for 3.5 years. First in Oxford, then in London, now in LA!


2. What motivated you to start teaching and what have you learnt from teaching?

When I first moved to LA, I had never done yoga. I wrote a yoga rap parody, Namaste, Bitches, my 3rd day living here. By the end of the 6 months in LA, I had become my own parody and fell in love with yoga. I wanted to be able to share it as I started grad school at Oxford. I got certified and the rest is history! It's been such a great way to meet new people, hold space for others, and reflect on various other areas of my life that I had previously assumed were unrelated.


3. What is something that you have learnt from a fellow teacher?

My teachers there have taught me that it's not necessarily the fancy sequencing that's important. It's about creating a solid and simple foundation, moving slowly and intentionally, and then building on top of that. Before, I used to think that the more 'advanced' the posture, the more 'advanced' the practice. I've learned that it actually takes more mastery to hold and marinate in the simple poses than it does to get into more complicated postures.


4. How many times a week do you practice?

I practice every day. I either practice at Sweat Yoga (where I teach) or at home.


5. Who inspires your practice?

My favorite teachers have been Schuyler Grant  (such smart sequencing that by the time I get to savasana, each muscle is completely relaxed and I drop into an intense full-body slumber!), Layna Daykin (not only are her classes so thorough and fun, but she's also given me feedback that has taken my teaching to the next level), and Bryan Kest (I love how he speaks in rhyme sometimes).


6. Why is it necessary for you to practice?

I'm a runner with an overactive mind. If I don't practice, my mind goes crazy and my joints feel much more achy. Practicing grounds me back into my body and makes me feel more open and aware of the magic of the present moment.


7. What message do you like to spread through teaching?

A lot of people say "oh I can't do yoga because I'm not flexible enough... I'm not patient enough,"... etc. I love yoga because it teaches us that with a little focus and breath, we can get our bodies to do incredible, unimaginable things that push our perception of who we thought we were. I like to remind people in my classes that yoga is truly mind over matter and the more you focus your intention, the more you are able to bring change from dreams to reality.


8. Where are you currently teaching?

I teach at Sweat Yoga on Monday and Wednesday nights in Playa Vista at 8.15. I also occasionally do yoga events. I recently did an event with Bumble where I led a yoga class and then we had a storytelling event after.


9. How has yoga helped your character develop?

It's made me a more patient person. It has reminded me that we are all on a journey to seek happiness and become our best selves. It's helped me treat myself and others with more understanding and compassion.


10. What has kept you practicing all these years?

I continue to practice because it keeps pushing me to evolve into my best self while grounding me and connecting me to others who are also on their journey to become their best selves. 


11. What would you tell your self when you started teaching yoga?

Simplify your sequences. Align people from the ground up. Move slow and don't rush the flow!


12. What are the best ways to start teaching at a yoga studio?

Show up at a studio that you love. Learn the teachers there. Ask for their advice on your teaching. Once you're a regular there, ask the studio manager if you can audtion for the sub list. Humility and enthusiasm are key.


13. Why is breath so important in your practice?

Breath is the thing in yoga that keeps my mind from drifting into the stratosphere. It infuses every inch of my body with presence. It makes me feel grounded.


14. What is your FB name? IG name and twitter?

@merclairemethod/ facebook.com/meredithbaker07

@mer.claire

Be inspired by Will Staten

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Authenticity can be very inspiring. So, when I first took Will’s class, I was inspired by how authentic his approach to teaching is. He does not have the need to be extra because it is clear that he knows that his teaching is enough. 

Be inspired but Will Staten:

1. How long have you been teaching?

It'll be 4 years in December.


2. What motivated you to start teaching and what have you learnt from teaching? A lot of factors.


3. What is something that you have learnt from a fellow teacher? In general, everything, specifically what I don't wanna do in a class. I was actually a student in class when the teacher stopped class and asked who had been eating garlic. That seemed like a shitty thing to do, for example.


4. How many times a week do you practice? 0-7


5. Who inspires your practice? My body and what do i need today, that's what inspires me.


6. Why is it necessary for you to practice? My own peace of mind, my body is old and needs to move.


7. What message do you like to spread through teaching? We’re all the same.


8. Where are you currently teaching?Hot8yoga, Sweat Yoga and Private corporate yoga.


9. How has yoga helped your character develop? Patience and calmness.


10.  What has kept you practicing all these years? It started as a way to ease the chronic back pain from years of playing soccer. As I got rid of the back pain and regained flexibility, it became less about the physical and more about the breathe. So basically now, its the meditation, I've really grown to love it.


11.  What would you tell yourself when you started teaching yoga? "What’s the worst that can happen?"


12. What are the best ways to start teaching at a yoga studio?  Teach anyone and anywhere. Audition as much as you can and be open to criticsm.It usually takes someone from the outside to clue you in.


13.. Why is breath so important in your practice? It  regulates everything.


14. What is your FB name? IG yogablahblah

Be genuinely inspired by Jennifer Kim

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There is something so genuinely kind and loving about Jennifer Kim. I have had the pleasure of knowing her for a few months and am grateful to be in the presence of this Yogi. She truly walks the talk. 

Here is why you should be inspired by her:


1. How long have you been teaching?

 I've been teaching for 10 months.
2. What motivated you to start teaching and what have you learnt from teaching?
 I wanted to share the light that I've discovered within me with others and I think more importantly, I had a strong desire to serve my community. I've learned that I will always be a student regardless of being a teacher. There's so much information around us to learn and to integrate into our own daily practice. I've learned that I learn most from my students. 
3. What is something that you have learnt from a fellow teacher?
I continue to learn a lot from colleagues, but the key things I've learned from my fellow teachers are to use specific and effective key words/ verbiage and, to not take anything personally.
4. How many times a week do you practice?
I practice about 4-5 times a week. 
5. Who inspires your practice?
Everyone does! I truly feel like everyone inspires me in some way or another with my personal practice. 
6. Why is it necessary for you to practice?
I need to feel it and learn it in my body before I allow myself to teach others. Being a compassionate teacher is very important to me because I know that we all carry some kind of burdens whether that may be physical or mental, and only when I experience it in my own body and in my own mind is when I can become a better teacher to others because I can relate.
7. What message do you like to spread through teaching?
Love + Trust.
8. Where are you currently teaching?
I currently teach at Hot8Yoga and privates. 
9. How has yoga helped your character develop?
Yoga has helped me practice more love and patience in myself and in others.
9. What has kept you practicing all these years?
To stay connected to my mind, body, and community. 
10. What would you tell yourself when you started teaching yoga?
Two things: 1. I can do all things through God. 2. I want to serve others. 
11. What are the best ways to start teaching at a yoga studio?
 The best way would probably be to take classes at the specific studio you wish to teach at or take the teacher training. 
12. Why is breath so important in your practice?
I love that you asked this question! Breath allows my body to stay engaged, to relax, and to bring circulation blood flow. When I breathe, I have more physical and mental endurance. I also feel more connected to my body. 
13. What is your FB name? IG name and twitter?
IG: jennifer.k.ys

Amandla: Unleash your inner-power

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Join Hali Tsotetsi and Garrett Steagall on a 5-day and 4-night retreat in Cape Town South Africa. From February 4th-February9th, 2019.


CLICK HERE: 

https://biologiquelife.com/amandla/

 

1. Why is practicing yoga so important you you?

Yoga brings me back to myself. It allows my feet to touch the ground and walk knowing that I am on a journey worth walking in. Yoga means union and solidifies the union with me and God, me and The Universe, me and The Earth, me and other people, me and animals and, me and myself.


2. What does yoga mean, to you?

Union. Embracing peace in its many forms. 


3. How do you guide your students through their yoga practice?

With discipline, love and compassion. Anatomy is important to me but I also acknowledge that everyone’s body is different.

4. Why are you most excited about going to South Africa?
I am South African and our history makes me so proud. We have survived. We have survived African domination, European domination and Neo- Colonialist domination. If you ever visit South Africa, the streets are alive with love and hope. People genuinely smile when they say hi and we don’t hold onto un-necessary issues. Our history has forced us to forgive.


5. What do you want to promote by going there?

Inner-power is important and always possible.


6. Who is going to benefit from this retreat?

Anyone who is seeking a journey back to their inner truth. Your personal truth is powerful.

7. How do your nutrition sessions help you teach about power?

As someone who has suffered from eating disorders and terminal anemia, I know the power of nutrition. Like the saying goes, ‘You are what you eat’ meaning that what you eat has an effect on what you think, how you think, your efficiency and overall wellbeing.

 

 

Meet The Truly Inspiring Cornelius Jones Jnr.

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There is something truly remarkable about Cornelius Jones! It is clear that he teaches from a place of purpose and intention. I am also impressed by his choice of music during class. Which is Afro-based and a reminder of the connection we all have to our rhythmic and intuitive roots.  

Here is more from Cornelius:

 

1. How long have you been teaching?
6 years

2. What motivated you to start teaching and what have you learnt from teaching?
I discovered a heated vinyasa class back in NYC at a time during my life when I needed yoga the most. I needed to rest and recharge from a busy and at times anxiety driven life as a Broadway performer, stacked on top of completing a tough Masters program at NYU, and ending a tumultuous and toxic intimate relationship. That place of deep physical and emotional exhaustion had caught up to me, and I needed a true reset.  I was offered an opportunity to work in Las Vegas for a few months.  While packing up to move west, I toyed around with the idea of teaching. I moved to Vegas for 8 months to work in a show and there in Vegas I met a teacher who inspired me so much and that idea of teaching spoke louder than the previous time.  Literally during my first week in LA, in a yoga class, there was an announcement about a teacher training starting in 5 days and I signed up right away.  I knew it was the time to grow, to be with myself, and around other like-minded individuals.  Teaching & practicing yoga jointly and consistently has been the perfect medicine for me emotionally, creatively, and spiritually.  I am most at ease and happy with my life.
3. What is something that you have learnt from a fellow teacher?
A moment is what it is, a moment. Try to have no attachments to the good the bad and the in-between.You make the choose to either live in that one moment forever or prepare to enjoy fresh moments approaching.
4. How many times a week do you practice?
Atleast three times a week.
5. What inspires your practice?
The many physical and emotional benefits that yoga can offer you.
6. Why is it necessary for you to practice?
It is necessary because I need that emotional balance and that reminder to breath and stay centered during every moment of my life.
7. What message do you like to spread through teaching?
Oneness, Co-Create, CoExist, Artistic Freedom, Strength, Creative Expression, Courage, You are perfect who and complete as you are, Health is Your Wealth, Resilience, YOU ARE ENOUGH!
8. Where are you currently teaching?
I currently teach group classes at Hot 8 Yoga, Independently contracted as a Creative Arts & Movement therapist for a small company that serves the drug & alcohol rehabilitation community,  and I lead teacher trainings and yoga retreats independently as well.

9. How has yoga helped your character develop? Yoga has allowed me to be a better listener, more effective with language skills& the art of communication and more accountable for my actions.

9. What has kept you practicing all these years?The balance between work, life and playtime. When something is off in my personal life, it's normally because I'm out of my yoga practice.
10. What would you tell your self when you started teaching yoga?
Well, when I started teaching, I was very focused on providing an experience for my students. And, today, I still  am focused on providing an exceptional experience. It was not so much of me having to pump myself up, but I was mostly focused on how can I make this the best experience for them.
11. I loved the Afro influence of music in your class. Any particular why you have chosen this type of music?
EXPERIENCE.  EXCEPTIONAL EXPERIENCE.  Yes, my music choice is all about an experience. The Afro beats are fully grounding and it roots you into the practice. It also roots and grounds me into my teaching practice.
12. Why is breath so important in your practice?
Without breath you have nothing. If you're not breathing you're not living. You're not going to get the most effective experience. If you're not breathing, you're not listening to what your body is allowing you to experience.
13. What is your FB name? IG name and twitter?
I'm more active on IG: @corneliusjonesjr  You can also catch me on FB:  Cornelius Jones Jr.Twitter, I'm there but definitely not much:  corneliusjonesj.
This is my website: corneliusyogaburn.com for info about classes, private sessions, teacher trainings, and upcoming retreats. 

Evan Sun is ultra-inspiring!

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You can tell by Evan’s practice that he is inspiring. He took my class when we both lived in New York in 2014 and I was prompted to ask him an array of questions because he left a mark on me.  

Now, you can be inspired by him, as a person and a teacher: 

1. How long have you been teaching?I have been teaching for 5 years. 

 

2. What motivated you to start teaching and what have you learnt from teaching?
I was motivated to teach after I started practicing yoga more consistently. I thought it was a great way to deepen my understanding of the practice and help me towards a new path in my journey. I learned so much from teaching yoga especially from my students. From each student, the yoga is represented in different ways as each body is, of course unique and different. I found ways to read bodies and learn how to give variations of asanas, helping my students understand and connect to their practice.

 

3. What is something that you have learnt from a fellow teacher?
"Sometimes less is more". I realized that everyday, our bodies are different, and so is the practice. While practicing yoga, it should never feel like we are practicing yesterday's poses today and if it does, I feel like its purely the mind's perspective of the present experience. We, as yoga practitioners, create our own experiences in our practice.

 

4. How many times a week do you practice?
         I try to practice at least 4-5 times a week.

 

5. What inspires your practice?
         Building a connection between mind, body, breath, and spirit.

 

6. Why is it necessary for you to practice?
          I don't feel like its necessary to practice. Yoga for me is never an obligation and if it does, I would take a break, which i have before. There is a difference between doing yoga to live and living to do yoga.

 

7. What message do you like to spread through teaching?
          Take action regardless of the fruits of your labors.

 

8. Where are you currently teaching?
           I currently teach at Powerhouse gym in South Hackensack, NJ
9. How has yoga helped your character develop?
           Yoga has changed my perspective of reality. To notice things i would normally get upset about and realize its not worth it or to take deep breaths when im stress.

 

10. What has kept you practicing all these years?
The way yoga has made me feel mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
11. What would you tell yourself when you started teaching yoga?
           "Fake it till you make it" I was never good at public speaking so I told myself I am good. It helped me build the courage until it became real.
11. What are the best ways to start teaching at a yoga studio?
          Practice yoga at studios you would be interested in teaching. Get to know the studio owner and take a few classes.
12. Why is breath so important in your practice?
 Breath is what connects mind, body and spirit. Without breath there is no life.
13. What is your FB name? IG name and twitter? Evan Sun for FB and Evansunyoga for IG. No twitter.

Inspiration should be her middle name, meet Rose Erin Vaughn!

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 I am a huge fan of Erin Vaughn. She has humbling left a foot-mark on the yoga community. Particularly on The East Coast. 

 

She has has taught me so much, including the importance of knowing anatomy as a yoga teacher. She has a way of being articulate and sincere from a loving perspective. When she looks at you, you can feel her heart.

I am very grateful for her and would love to share her inspiration with our interview with her below:  

 

When did you decide to become a yoga teacher?

When I took my original training in 2001, I did not plan to teach. I have seen many people like this who just want to study, but then later realize that part of living, studying and practicing Yoga means TEACHING yoga also.  I started teaching yoga at a yoga studio and at a hospital cardio rehab center.  Then, once I came to New York in 2003, I wanted to continue teaching.  Well, in NYC there is huge competition.  So, I could not get a job teaching anywhere.  The studios and gyms wanted a fancy video (VHS!) of you teaching a group class and I did not have one. Plus I needed to study more.  I had other work doing massage therapy.  SO I studied with Sri Dharma Mittra for a lot more years before I started realky teaching again.


2. What has been the best part of your yoga journey? (Anything major that yoga has helped you through.)
Yoga helps me through everything.  I think it is not the outside circumstances that challenge us or reward us the most.  Its is the inner drama that can really bring us down or elevate us.  That is what Yoga helps with. No one can know what is going on inside your head and heart.... only You and the divine.


3. Who are your inspirations in the yoga community?

Sri Dharma Mittra, Yoshio Hama, Hector Marcel, Nevine Michaan, Amma

4. Please tell us about the teacher-trainings that you are offered?

We are offering a 200-hr teacher training and a 300-hr advanced certification.

I focus on embodied practice.  What you cannot feel and see inside, you cannot teach.

We use the meridian and chakra systems to help illuminate the inner world - physically, emotionally, spiritually.

It is quite a vast system that could be studied for years. But, we have created a system that allows new students to learn and apply the basic right away. We also offer Acupressure certifications for those who want to learn more about meridians and points and how to manipulate them manually.

5. Please tell us about the healing work that you offer?

I also do Acupuncture sessions in my office in Manhattan NYC.  I specialize in combining traditional acupuncture with trigger point dry needling.  Its great for athletes but also psycho-emotional of stress related issues. I treat a lot of Yogis!

6. What is your message to spread to others through teaching yoga?
As a teacher, the best qualities are patience, clarity of purpose, discipline, compassion.  That is also what I think students should develop.  The main thing is to remember the ultimate purpose behind all of the learning and practicing - to help others, to remove the obstacles that prevent us from seeing the real Self. This Self is not separate from others. 


7. Please tell us your Instagram name and Facebook name?

instagram : @erin_bodyware

Facebook : Rose Erin Vaughan

*FOR MORE INFORMATION ROSE ERIN’S TT, VISIT: https://www.scienceofselfytt.com/ 

Be inspired by Jessica Kulick!

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There is something so sweet and sincere about Jessica and the yoga class that she offers. 

To me, kindness can be very powerful. And, Jessica embodies this. 

Please, be inspired by Jessica Kulick.  

 

1. How long have you been teaching?

I started teaching in September 2012, so just about six years.

2. What motivated you to start teaching and what have you learnt from teaching?

I hadn’t been doing yoga very long when I decided to enroll in teacher training—I’d only started practicing regularly in late April 2012 and by June, I was already in TT! I had tried yoga once or twice many years earlier, but didn’t connect to the styles I experienced. The smells were funny, the chanting was weird, and I couldn’t understand the names of the poses. It wasn’t until I found a challenging power vinyasa practice that I truly fell in love with it. I remember lying in Savasana after that first class and just...feeling. I could feel my body, I could feel my breath, I could feel the edges of my thoughts. I had never felt so deeply or completely before, and I knew right away that I wanted to share that with others.

Through teaching, I’ve learned how to use the full force of my presence to be immersed in the moment and how to create the opportunity for others to do the same.

I’ve learned that I do not need the protective emotional armor I used to wear all the time; now I whip it out only when the situation requires.

I’ve learned that mistakes are an opportunity to exercise improvisation.

 

3. What is something that you have learnt from a fellow teacher?

When I started teacher training, I knew so little about yoga I couldn’t have told you the difference between Reverse Warrior and Up Dog. So nearly everything I know about this practice has come from another teacher.

The lesson that sticks out to me most though is that abundance begets abundance. Before then, I never understood that I had always been subconsciously participating in a story of scarcity. That was five years ago. Now, I still find myself repeating those old stories of “not enough” (enough money, enough opportunity, enough skill, enough whatever), because old habits die hard. The difference now is that I don’t believe them, and I’m aware enough to notice myself and adjust in the moment.

 

4. How many times a week do you practice?

This fluctuates wildly for me depending on my personal life. At the beginning, I practiced at least six times a week for usually an hour—or more—per day. I became overly flexible, to the point where now I’ve scaled back my practice to once or twice a week, for about 60-75 minutes per session, and work mostly on strength training instead.

 

5. Who inspires your practice?

My students. My fiancé. My friends who are fellow teachers (there are a lot of these!). My pets. I’ve learned a lot just from watching my cat and dog stretch and rest.

 

6. Why is it necessary for you to practice?

I find my asana practice to be both creative and meditative. My own practice is what inspires my teaching and sequencing for the week—as I move, I’ll note what feels particularly juicy or revealing. Did I find fearlessness in a backbend where I haven’t found it life? Did that arm balance feel like the sense of power I’m seeking? Does forward folding feel like relief?

By practicing, I tap into what I’m hungry for, a healthy way to satisfy needs, and the inspiration needed to bring those learnings to others.

 

7. What message do you like to spread through teaching?

I don’t have just one message. Week after week, I use my classes to explore themes like liberation, resistance, presence, and ease. There seems to be a very heavy emphasis on things like “your message” and “your life’s purpose” in the wellness industry right now. I would argue that, for most of us, our purpose and our message will be in a constant state of flux as we change and grow as humans. At least, mine does.

8. Where are you currently teaching?

I teach at Jewel City Yoga in Brooklyn. I also take on the occasional one-on-one client. 

 

9. How has yoga helped your character develop?

Ha, how hasn’t it?! Yoga has been one of the most powerful tools for my personal development and growth as an adult. So much of my unconscious mind became conscious to me, and I became the change agent of my own life. Because I became aware of my own inner monologue—and, more importantly, my capacity to alter and refine it—I became the creator of my own life. While life hasn’t stopped happening to me, it feels a lot more like I’m also happening to life.

 

10. What has kept you practicing all these years?

It helps that many of my friendships have yoga as a shared foundation and common language, so we often practiced together or swapped new tricks and techniques that kept things fresh and interesting for many years.

These days, my practice is mostly at home, though I do still make time to take class. I keep practicing because I’m driven to seek knowledge and to become a master of myself.

 

11. What would you tell yourself when you started teaching yoga?

“Slow down.” As a native New Yorker, I’m just hardwired for speed.

 

12. What are the best ways to start teaching at a yoga studio?

The best advice I got—and followed—was to be around. Be at the studio. Make friends with the other teachers. Chat with the students. Help out where you can. The more integrated you are into the community, the easier it will be to stand at the front of the room with a sense of intention and authority.

I would also add that it helps to reach out. Very rarely—if ever—in my life has an opportunity just landed in my lap like a gift from the heavens. Put your feet to the pavement. Take class at every yoga studio in your town, and once you’ve done that, explore the studio communities in surrounding towns. Reach out to studio owners and managers, and put your résumé in their inboxes. Actively participate in the conversation they’re having on their social media channels. Make your presence known.

 

13. What is the most important part of your practice?

Staying in love with it. I’m at a stage right now where I notice that one of my greatest skills—my love of learning—also has a dark side, in that I get bored very quickly. There are parts of my practice that I’ve mastered, so it’s important to me right now to stay in the student mindset, to continuously seek out new sources of inspiration and challenge, and to be humble enough to remember that I’ve still got decades of learning ahead.

 

14. What is your FB name? IG name and twitter?

I’m /jessica.kulick on Facebook and @jess_kulick on Instagram.

contribute

Excerpt from When? By Hali Tsotetsi

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 Day 2

When will I stop drinking?

Today is day 2 of my thirty- day yoga challenge. I didn’t drink yesterday for the first time in a few years. Maybe I should stop drinking? No! I love my wine and cocktails way too much but something is calling me to stop poisoning my body. I don’t feel good when I drink and today I could enjoy my morning without having a hangover and feeling embarrassed about the way that I behaved the night before, something that has become second nature to me. For the first time since I was a teenager, my cup of tea tasted creamy and delicious, my oatmeal tasted like more than food, it spoilt my mouth with its rich texture. I’ve never been able to appreciate food like this. I am not anxiously waiting for the chance to have a drink at work, the drink that I would spend the day thinking about having. Drinking became my friend. When the people in my life judged me, drinking understood and empathized with me”


Excerpt From

When?

Hali Tsotetsi

A letter to someone who just started teaching yoga.

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Image by Getty images  

 

Dear Yogi,

Yes, you are still a Yogi. I completely understand if you feel alone and as though you are not worthy of being a teacher. But, you spent so much time on making an effort. So, why not just go for it?

When I started teaching, I had a deep need to please other people. I felt like my worth came from caring what others thought and felt about me. Teaching quickly cured me of that disease. I learnt that I could focus on the one or two people who don’t like my class as opposed to the thirty others who have shown up to my class and, are present.

I made a choice to be present for myself and those who trust me to guide them through their practice. Which, now I carry through to the rest of my life: relationships, career and lifestyle- I have clear boundaries and don’t dwell on the negative.

It’s time for you to figure out what your lesson is that you have to learn on your process to becoming a great teacher and better person.

A great teacher is one who is always learning, growing and healing. You are more relatable and people will reveal their true selves to you more if you are open and humble as opposed to uptight and a know-it-all.

Because anything that you ask of others, you must ask of yourself too. Hypocrisy has no place in the yoga community. Students will not trust you if you don’t practice what you preach. And, trust is the first step to becoming a good teacher.

Your teaching journey is a journey, not a destination. It might not be exactly how you thought it would be. But, you have a responsibility to teach and being allowed to be a part of someone’s journey is a gift that is worth cherishing.

 

Sincerely,  

Hali

5 pieces of advice that have helped Liz Daly progress as a student and yoga teacher.

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My yoga journey truly began about seven years ago when a friend of mine bought a Groupon to an Ashtanga studio that she couldn’t use. She wasn’t able to get her money back, so instead, she gifted the 8 class pack to me. I had dabbled in yoga before, taken gym classes in college, went to one hot class with my mom (which at the time, I couldn’t stand!)- but I always felt that yoga was too slow and too boring. However, this time, something clicked.

I participated in my first teacher-training in 2016, began teaching immediately after and realized that I had found my passion. I completed my second training in March 2018, in Yoga & Ayurveda. I keep stepping on my mat, day after day, because of the continual opportunities to grow and learn about myself through practice. As both a teacher and a student, I discover something new every time I come to yoga.

Here are a few of the things that I constantly have to remind myself of in order to continue on that path of growth:

1. Yoga is not a competition.

I love competition- from organized sports to board games and everything in between.

When I first came to yoga, my ego told me that I “should” be able to do all the advanced postures that I saw other yogis in the room doing. That led to extreme frustration and feelings of unworthiness- I have a tendency to be quite hard on myself. I need to remind my students (and myself) that yoga is about the journey, not the destination. Practice santosha (contentment) and trust that wherever you are on your journey, you are in the right place.

 

2. “You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes everyday - unless you're too busy; then you should sit for an hour.”- Zen saying.

I’ve struggled with anxiety for as long as I can remember. One of the reasons I found yoga when I did was because I needed the calming effects so badly. Sometimes it’s so hard to get on the mat (or meditation cushion). I get it! We’re busy. We just want to watch that show. We have to get somewhere. But taking that simple, easy step- to take a few minutes out of each day to be still and observe the breath- makes all the difference.

 

3. Speak to yourself as you would speak to others.

On the mat, off the mat, everywhere. My friend said this to me last week and it

resonated so strongly. In the yoga community especially, we treat others with genuine kindness and respect but often forget to give ourselves the same consideration. Would you ever tell your friend she looked like sh*t in the morning? Or that she’s not worthy of a great career? When we repeat these negative statements over and over, we start to believe them. So , flip the script! Tell yourself what an intelligent mind and beautiful soul you have every day.

 

4. If you try to make everyone like you, no one will love you.

One of my mentors said this during my teacher training. She was referring to running a business, but this extends to all areas of life. I struggled a lot as a teacher, especially when I first began, with wanting to conform, wanting to fit my teaching into some broad idea of what I thought my students and studio managers wanted. Now, I strive to be true to myself. To teach from my heart and share what I know best. It’s still a struggle at times, but when we’re authentic and honest in what we do, we build genuine, lasting connections.

 

5. “It’s easier to put on a pair of shoes than to wrap the earth in leather.”- Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche.

I love this quote. And looking at these five pieces of advice, I realize they all have the same root: self-compassion. Yoga has taught me to love myself, and through that I’m able to love others more freely. It’s so simple, but it works. Start with yourself, and your love will ripple out through the world.

Stephanie Wong’s yoga journey. 5 pieces of advice that have helped her progress as a student and teacher.

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My Yoga Journey by Stephanie Wong

One of my dearest friends introduced me to yoga. I was going through the worst heartbreak of my life, and she took me to yoga at 6am in the morning. I had no idea what to expect, and my ego was STRONG. As an athlete, I thought it would be so easy and I was very overconfident. I thought all the poses I was doing were great, but looking back on it now (the teacher in me) cringes at all of the misalignments I must have been doing.

I became addicted to it and started going every day. Yoga helped me grieve, let go, learn who I am, defeat a panic disorder and opened me up to accept love and compassion again. After practicing for 2 years, teacher training fell into place. Two more years later, and I am currently in training for my 3rd format of yoga- Sculpt, after Power and Hot Power Fusion.

I would not be the person I am today without yoga, not physically, not mentally, and not spiritually. I am not only healthier, but I am sober, clean, and feel lighter, happier, and more grateful in my everyday life. The five most valuable things I’ve learned from yoga are:

 

1. You are exactly where you need to be

No matter where you are in your physical or mental practice, everything that has

happened in your lifetime has happened for a reason to lead you to this exact moment in time where you are meant to be and feel and look exactly as you are now. Trust that the universe has not made mistakes. Let go of your desires to look different, to be able to do certain poses, and to be farther along in your practice than you are. Once you accept where you are in the present and forget about others’ deadlines and expectations of you, you will find so much more freedom in your body and mind.

2. Always have a beginner’s mind.

We are always learning. To think that we are not is a manifestation of our ego. When we

stay curious and open to receiving information, we learn and grow so much faster than when we are closed off and think that we are the masters of our crafts. By staying open, you challenge your bodies and minds to new depths, and more often than not exceed your own expectations. There is so much we can learn from each other, whether you’ve been practicing for 8 years, weeks, or days. In my experience, being a beginner is the most fun part of learning a new craft. Who wouldn’t want to go back to that mindset, that everlasting awe and wonder?

3. Let it go.

Do not be afraid to let go. Yoga is an amazing pathway to healing. You may notice that in the beginning of your practice, your body is tight and tenses up in certain poses. That is because our bodies, especially our hips, hold trauma, memories, and feelings deep in our bones. When we use yoga poses (asanas) to create more openness and flexibility in our lives, our bodies literally retaliate by tensing up and holding that pain inside. Use your breath to relax, and notice if any emotions or memories come up when you do. Acknowledge them as if you were sitting on a park bench watching them walk by, and then let them go.

4. Hold Space

Hold space for others, especially strangers that do not align with your views. You cannot assume what another person is feeling or experiencing in their lives. If someone leaves before savasana, or deliberately does not listen to your cues, do not take it personally. They may not know or have felt the benefits of a savasana yet, and are unaware of its powers. Hold space for them to figure their journey out at their own pace. Support them and guide them, but never force them to do something they don’t want to- it may draw them into a completely opposite path. Also hold space for those who are learning, grieving, trying yoga for the first time, and more. We as teachers are here to show the direction of the yoga journey, but it is up to the student to decide their path.

5. Be present and listen

Being present is one of the hardest things for me to do. My mind drifts off easily, and when I’m flowing in yoga it’s easy for me to drown out what a teacher is saying. By being extremely mindful of my listening, I can bring myself back into the present moment and fully absorb what is happening all around me. This is much easier than it sounds, and I am still practicing. Happiness is found in the present moment, and relationships thrive through listening. Rather than being stuck in the past or thinking about the future, give your all to what you’re doing in the present. It’s too late for the past, and the future will happen no matter what you do in the present, so why not give it your 100%?

Bobby Javier’s yoga journey, advice that helped him become a better yoga student and teacher.

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I started my “yoga journey” unknowingly and unprepared in April 2009.  My first class ever was at Bikram Yoga Silverlake. It was sweaty! Challenging! And “Weird!” (Half the time I barely understood what the teacher was saying).  Curiosity got the best of me and I kept coming back.


I stopped for about 10 months and, on the interim, experienced a loss in the family and a broken heart. 

Feeling like I lost both legs below the knee, I made my way back to Bikram Yoga Silverlake and sheepishly bought a single class.  That very quickly became 5 class cards, then 10 and finally a monthly unlimited.  I could barely afford it but it was the only place I felt safe and whole and wanted after a relationship that was nothing short of tumultuous and abusive.

When I was almost done with my first and only monthly unlimited package, I received a call from the studio manager and voila - I signed up to be a cleaner for free yoga!

This is where I hit my stride!  I took class-after class-after-class and enjoyed my time at the studio so much that many people joked that I probably lived there.  That was almost true! I cleaned on Wednesday nights after the class which ends at 1130pm, finish at 3am and I’d be back again at 11am to take a class and stay all day. 

I made new friends with the students and teachers alike.  I took class with open ears and eyes and most of all with an open heart.  I allowed myself to sweat out the toxins - both real and sometimes probably imagined - and get carried on a journey which swept me towards wanting to become a teacher myself. 

I received so much love from all the teachers there - Catherine, Hannah, Nancy, Valerie, Whitney, Kacie, Tom, Emily, etc that after 2 years of practice, I felt it was time to share the love that I had received. 

I became a certified Bikram teacher in the fall of 2012.  A couple of years after that, I followed up my training with a 200 hr vinyasa training with Noah Maze.  Just last year, I also began my journey into the 300 hr training. 

From all these teachers - including Bikram himself, there were tiny nuggets that I took with me which I never really thought that I would eventually share with others as I stepped into the teacher’s seat.  I didn’t even imagine I would become a teacher. 


But this is the path I chose.  It is where I found myself walking taller, speaking louder and sharing myself so passionately with nearly no expectation of any form of return. 

1. Teach from the Heart - You Will find Love.  Bikram told me that at the very first day of teacher training.  He told me when I recited Half-Moon pose in front of him and 435 other trainees that I teach from the heart and I should continue to do so.  Today, almost 6 years after I began teaching, this still holds true.  I still find love every time I teach and I tell my students to open their hearts too. 

2. You are exactly where you’re meant to be.  I heard this from one of my favorite teachers.  The first time I heard it, I believed it. It wasn’t just the pose at the moment.  It was the class and everything else that came along with it.  Years later, when I began teaching, this exact line came out of my mouth as I made the class do a quarter turn to face the left side of the room.  No extra movements.  Just a turn.  After the class, a woman from the class approached me and said that she had been going through some stuff and when I said that “she was exactly where she was meant to be” she cried in class and found the affirmation she was seeking.  It was like a lightbulb turned on in her head. 

3. Just Breathe.  When all else fails - find your breath.  Reconnect with it.  Breathe!  I took this advice to heart.  And I have never stopped sharing it with my students.Outside the four walls of the yoga room, when it’s almost not obvious and almost always taken for granted, I reminded myself this:  just breathe. 


4. Be patient with your body.  Be kind to yourself.  Having started doing yoga late in life,  I recognized early on the many limitations my body had to contend with.  But it’s not to say there was no improvement.  There were tons of it.  I always speak of this example:  When I first practiced, I couldn’t grab my foot.  9 years later, I’m now able to grab my foot and kick forward!  I am still working on the next step - maybe another 9 years? Perhaps.  But I’ll have patience and kindness.  Another one of those nuggets that I carry with me - inside and outside the yoga room. 


5. Don’t hold your breathe.  For anything.  For anyone.  This last one, is all me.  I made a joke about it.  It came out with not much thought.  And then it made a lot of sense.  Self care.  Self love.  Moving forward.  Forgiveness.  Patience.  Kindness.  None attachment.  Peace. 

5 pieces of advice that have helped me as a yoga student and teacher.

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My yoga journey has had it’s ‘Ups-and-Downs’. Everyday that I practice, there is always something to learn, to take in and ways to grow.

It all started fifteen years ago when I was fourteen-years-old and took on yoga as an extra-curriculum activity that I took for granted. I had deep respect for my teacher but I found it boring and felt as though I could be doing something more active. So, I left- not understanding the power of stillness and asana.

I returned to yoga almost five years after that with an eating disorder, broken heart, lost sense of self and dance-induced injuries. I was in a lot of pain and felt like there was no exit. Yoga eased this pain and helped me re-train and un-learn what I had come to know about life.

Five years ago, I made a decision to share what I had learnt about yoga with others. Upon making the decision to become a yoga teacher, I learnt and am still learning to be humble and to take in so many great pieces of advice from my surroundings.

These 5 pieces of advice have made me a better yoga student and teacher:

1. ‘Practice and all is coming’ - Sri. K. Pattabhi Jois.

When I was younger, I would struggle with crippling anxiety. I would be left unable to speak or do anything because of my anxiety. Hearing this piece of advice didn’t cure me of anxiety; however, it helped me plan and manage my time correctly. It also reminded me to trust. There is only so much that I can do and the rest is up to The Universe. Whether it’s with relationships, money, jobs or travel, if I give my all, do the best that I can and stay consistent, results come without the need to attach to them.


2. ‘Be authentic’- Iyanla Vanzant.

Truthfully, the yoga world can sometimes feel competitive. It’s challenging to brand yourself, to remember sequences, remember where you are supposed to teach and remember to stick to the purpose of why you became a yoga teacher in the first place. That’s why authenticity is so important. When you are authentic, you give others permission to do the same. When you are the best version of you, you shine. You shine because no one else has the essence that you have decided to embrace.

3. ‘Let go of the need to make other people’s experience for them’- Emalia Dawson


This woman has had the biggest impact on my progression as a yogi because she embodies authenticity and staying true to a purpose. She gave me this piece of advice after taking my class and it shifted my perspective of teaching completely. Before hearing this, I felt like I needed to do the work for my students; however, after hearing this, I realized that it is a joint effort between the students and teacher. The pressure is not on me to be perfect and never make a mistake. I can teach, make mistakes and grow while still being a good teacher.


4. ‘Some people may not like your class and that’s okay’- Chaelon Costello.

Similarly to how I received the other piece of advice is how I received this one and when Chae told me this piece of advice, I cried. I felt a deep release. I had always had the ‘disease to please’, as Oprah calls it. Having gone to an All-Girl’s High School, I never felt enough and had a deep desire to make people like me. Trying to make people like me was painful and exhausting. She probably has no idea but, her telling me this released me. Since that day, I have had people leave my class and it doesn’t eat me up. People who don’t like me or what I have to offer do not deserve my mental mindspace; those who appreciate and respect me do.

5. ‘If you asked The Universe for something, it came and you don’t want it anymore, send it back!’ -Jared McCann.

Jared uttered these words after our morning practice during his teacher-training in New York , two years ago. They resonated so deeply within me because I had just accepted a job as acting General Manager at a restaurant that I had thought I wanted but turns out that I didn’t after all. I felt guilty to turn it down so I took it. I took it and regretted it; however, I didn’t want to show The Universe that I was ungrateful. Jared’s words that morning liberated me. I understood that just because I had previously wanted something, doesn’t mean that I had to want it when it came. Sometimes sending it back doesn’t mean ungraciousness; it means knowing what you want and making yourself happy.

A letter to myself when I first started teaching yoga.

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image by Getty images 

Dear Hali,


You are about to embark on one of the most difficult yet beautiful journeys that you can ever imagine, being a yoga teacher. Your new role carries a lot of responsibility. And, although you may not understand what I am talking about now, one day it will be crystal clear.


One day, you will see clearly that it will be up to you to uphold what has been taught to you by your Gurus and Mentors. And, that your Gurus and Mentors are people too. They may have taught you The Sutras and Eight limbs of Yoga but they are human. Being human requires us to be weak sometimes so don’t be surprised if they do not practice what they preach.


Begin to see yourself as a brand. A brand protects itself from harm and holds itself up to a certain standard in order to maintain integrity and neutrality. This will help you stay out of your Ego and teach from a more humble perspective.


I know you have a lot of passion, thirst and hunger to teach but contain your drive. Don’t waste your vibrancy and energy on people and things that are irrelevant to the present moment. Lead by practicing the way that you want your students to. Come from a place of humility, always!


True humility is staying teachable, regardless of how much you already know’, so take other teachers’ classes, learn from them and always say thank you regardless of what you liked/disliked about the way that they taught.


Free yourself of un-necessary judgement. Some judgement is necessary; however, don’t spend your life telling people what they are doing wrong. When you come into this role, you will see what a lot of students are doing wrong. Correct them, yes! But, remind yourself that they are doing their best. Trust your students to find it in their bodies by using their intuition.


There will be many people who have something negative to say about your class but you are not teaching for them. You are teaching to spread the word of yoga, the yoga that can enlighten, can help move negative energy out of the body and can give one’s body an array of health benefits that we never knew was possible.

 

Yours truly,