Who would resist wanting to take Bree’s class? She has devotion, passion and love for yoga that is admirable and infectious. Even though The West Coast took her from us in The East Coast a few years ago, I am so grateful to have her explain to all of us what inspires her as a yogi.
1. How long have you been teaching?
Officially since 2013 when I received my 200hr; however, it wasn't till after I did my 500hr training through Dharma Yoga Center in 2015 that I felt like I was finally able to offer something special. Everything up until that point (and still now even) has been learning and being privileged enough to be able to do so. I've been "officially" teaching for 4 years I guess, but really just beginning to actually teach. I'm sure even a couple years down the line I will say the same thing, "ah now I'm actuallyteaching".
2. What motivated you to start teaching and what have you learnt from teaching?
My whole life prior to yoga and teaching I had been very self-involved. I did ballet all my life until I was 21, and that left me with a self obsessive and critical mind. I was always finding obstacles, it was a very limited mindset. Yoga was the first thing that forced me to step outside myself. And once you see you are bigger than the "small" self its really hard to go back to the old way. Then it felt like "oh I need to share this - I must:" a duty in a way (even though I was still very insecure and not sure how to share it).
These days, I am still learning to let go of the shape/asana for myself and the students. I grew up with the alignment and physicality of dance so it's very hard for me when I see the picture of how to adjust the shape just right in my mind to then let it go and wait till the time is right for the body and for the student in front of me (and the timing may never be right and that's ok too). I am still learning to let go of the attachment I have to my body so I guess that's where I'm at right now learning to let go of that and share that process with students. To be able to teach is an honor and every day I am grateful to have that honor.
3. What is something that you have learnt from a fellow teacher?
The teacher I am studying with now continuously says, "Yoga is not an art form". I think that was a big lesson for me, to not ever associate asana or any part of yoga as a performance or something to be watched or even admired really. It is purely for the individual. That forced me to let go of looking at any experience as something for others or something to be noticed. Doing it for the sake of doing it and no other reason. That was a hard lesson to learn but one of the most needed for me.
4. How many times a week do you practice?
I recently started practicing Ashtanga so 6 days a week usually. But I do have some lazy Sundays where I just walk my dog with David (fiancé), smile at strangers, and drink too much tea - that's my best practice day.
5. Who inspires your practice?
Every person I interact with every day. If you smile at someone 9/10 times they smile back and the 1/10they weren't able to smile back but may have appreciated you offering your grin. I guess the more I stick to a consistent and daily practice, the easier it is to step outside of myself. The easier it is to offer the smile with the stranger.
6. Has yoga helped you through something painful? If so, what and how?
Quitting ballet was like losing a best friend. It was my identity, my love, my everything. I was forced to try to answer the question "who am I"? I was left with an eating disorder and some addictive patterns that I indulged in for some time after I quit dancing, When I started practicing it made me feel like I was finding solid ground again. There was the beginning of steadiness and clarity I couldn't see before. It finally felt ok not to know the answer to the question "who am I?" just yet.
7. Why is it necessary for you to practice?
For the steadiness and clarity of mind I was mentioning above. It keeps everything in check.
8. What message do you like to spread through teaching?
That it's ok not to know, we all don't know, and we are all together in not knowing. We are all the same. If practicing anything helps you be a better person in the world and smile at the random stranger - keep going! You're on the right track! I still tell myself this every day.
9. Where are you currently teaching?
California! LA specifically. Rise Hot Yoga, Kinship Yoga, and Ra Yoga.
10. What are the best ways that you have leant of approaching studios that you would like to teach at?
Take class there, get to know the students and teachers. Don't rush, immerse yourself there and see if it's the right fit. Don't force the situation, if it feels like the right fit it is. If not, leave it and find somewhere people are receptive to what you are offering.
11. What is your Instagram, Twitter and Facebook name?
facebook: Bree VanZutphen
Never jumped on the twitter train, sorry folks! I do have a website though: vzbreeyoga.com
12. Is Social Media easy or challenging for you?
Very challenging. I can't keep up with it, I'd prefer to just live my life and not feel obligated to post things about it. I'm a bit of a grandma, I can't keep up with the kids these days. Sorry to disappoint, but my social media is mostly photos of my dog and her funny facial expressions (hardly a disappointment).