I have witnessed Emmie Danza become a wonderful teacher. Her metamorphosis inspires me and now let her words inspire you...
1.How long have you been teaching?
It will be 2 years this coming August.
2. What motivated you to start teaching and what have you learnt from teaching?
The practice motivated me to teach. I was attending classes religiously at Yoga to the People II on 23rd street when I moved back to New York after studying abroad in Denmark. I never thought I was a yogi until I started to come face-to-face with this inherent desire to deepen my practice- probably as a result of all the dance I did growing up. I was incredibly inspired by the teachers I had there and fell in love with the community. I know that it didn’t entirely start as a desire to teach, but it quickly developed into a love for sharing the knowledge I was accumulating and connecting with other students and teachers along the way. What I’ve learned from teaching is that you are never done learning. Ever.
3. What is something that you have learnt from a fellow teacher?
I am constantly learning new things from fellow teachers (and students!), so much so that it’s hard for me to pinpoint just one thing. What sticks out in my mind currently is the importance of slowing down, especially in New York. If you see me in a yoga class, I tend to move quite quickly- my dance background makes me want to flow. However, after being trained in Yin, I have found that my body yearns for softness and very mindful movement. I am working every day to slow down not only in my own practice but in my teaching as well.
4. How many times a week do you practice?
What I have come to understand about humans is that we are all practicing all the time. Whether it’s practicing love with my significant other, meditation with each step I take, or Yin when I choose to slow down for 10 minutes; I am practicing all the time, sometimes it just doesn’t “look” like yoga. I practice asana as often as I can, but I also am constantly reminding myself that the fulfillment of my yoga is not predicated on how often I step onto my mat. I teach quite a bit now and often times that is my yoga for the day. With that being said, I like being active and I love to move.
5. Who inspires your practice?
So many people, things, moments, interactions. Yoga is all around me all the time.
6. Why is it necessary for you to practice?
The practice is absolutely necessary in my life because the benefits never cease to amaze me. I feel a deep connection to yoga because of the way we found each other. Yoga and I were introduced during a dark time in my life and it completely pulled me out into the light, both mentally and physically. With that being said, we have also gone through a lot of different phases together too— I was obsessed at the start, compulsively practicing for a minimum of an hour everyday and only then would I feel “successful." After starting to teach full time, I lost sight of my personal practice and I felt very stuck and stagnant in my ability to be creative and spiritual inside of my own personal movement- we hit a rough patch. I've only fairly recently found what I now think is a healthy relationship with my practice-- I don’t squirm with guilt anymore if I am unable to step onto my mat that day because I know it will be there for me tomorrow, the next day, and so on.
7. What message do you like to spread through teaching?
Appreciation for one’s body and mind, connection that goes beyond your physical body, open mindedness, collective energy, and above all else, love.
8. Where are you currently teaching?
Sweat Yoga in Tribeca, New York Yoga Hot in the Upper East Side, Jewel City Yoga in Brooklyn, and Yoga Herald Square in Midtown.
9. How has yoga helped your character develop?
Oh boy, this is a loaded question for me! Let's just say I have become more aware of my actions, hopefully in a good way. I'm still changing, adapting, growing, and learning every day. Yoga has taught me that we are all trying our best all the time, and that has changed my character for the better. I work everyday to make sure that I am reminding myself that I'll never know someone's whole story- compassion and empathy come first.
9. What has kept you practicing all these years?
It might sound so contrived but I feel the yoga in my heart. It is part of who I am. It is one of the few things in my life that I am absolutely certain of.
10. What is your Instagram, Twitter and Facebook name?
No Facebook for me!