Olivia Dunn is a yoga teacher based out of New York City.
1. What style of yoga do you teach?
I teach mostly power vinyasa, but also slow flow/guided meditation classes.
2. What is your intention behind teaching?
My intention behind teaching is to serve others and spread loving compassion, whether that is as a guide on the yoga path or to just hold space for whatever has brought them to the practice.
3. Who are your mentors in yoga? At present, I find mentorship in Rose Erin Vaughan and Carlos Vazquez. Both are incredible NYC-based yoga teachers who inspire me and elevate my practice each time I study with them.
4. What have they taught you? Rose Erin has introduced me to the lineage of the Chinese meridian system, and through her incorporation of this knowledge into asana practice, she has given me a new, holistic perspective on my body. Carlos, by leading with the utmost compassion and gentle spirit, has taught me that we practice not only to serve ourselves but to serve and uplift all beings everywhere, with no exceptions. His power yoga classes also put my body into poses I never thought were possible for me, which I find to be a fun aspect of asana practice - facing your fears and surprising yourself with what you’re capable of.
5. Please mention a book that you have read about yoga that has had a positive impact on you?
One Simple Thing: A New Look at the Science of Yoga and How It Can Transform Your Life by Eddie Stern
6. What lesson are you currently learning in your Asana practice?
Recently my awareness has really opened up to the powerful tricks the mind plays to distract away from attempts at pointed concentration. One moment you are locked into experiencing your breath and the next second the mind subtly slips into thinking about a conversation from yesterday or playing a song. I am learning that a tactic to corral the mind is to play its own game. As Patanjali implies in the yoga sutras, you can’t throw away all thought and clear the mind all at once; you must throw the mind little bones, so to speak, slowly training it - using intentional thought, such as mantra - to focus, still, and eventually clear thought, if only for a few seconds. When it wanders, as it will, reign it back in with non-judgment.
7. How often do you practice? Nearly every day. If I am unable to do even a short asana practice, I always prioritize finding a little time in the day to sit with my breath and practice my awareness.
8. How do you implement the other 7 limbs of yoga into your life other than Asana?
I do my best to practice and live by the yamas and niyamas, guidelines for restraints and observances. The most resonant yamas in my life are the practices of truthfulness and nonexcess. I strive to always be open and truthful - meaning what I say and saying what I mean. This is particularly important to me as a teacher. I also value sharing abundance and never taking more than I actually need, restraining from greediness. The most resonant niyamas in my life are the practices of contentment and self-discipline. Contentment has a positive connotation for me - to be content is to rest in the pure peace of your own being, in the abundance of life within you. It is the idea that you already have everything you need; only this form of happiness is sustainable, as it is not based on any external possessions which can come and go, leaving suffering in their wake. This does not mean that you do not engage in the world and strive to achieve goals; it means that you do engage in the world and reach toward goals - but not for yourself, for others. The purpose of everything you do becomes driven by the principle of serving others. How you uniquely can be of service. Self-discipline is also very important to me. Only through self-discipline - staying true to the commitments you make, whatever choices they may be - can you maintain your own peace and live the way that sparks the most joy in your heart, thus sparking joy in all the hearts that you touch.
9. Why is being present so important to you?
As Thich Nhat Hanh says, only this moment is life.
10. How can we keep up with you on social media? What is your IG handle and/ FB name?
My IG handle is olivia_grace_dunn and my FB name is Olivia Dunn.