1. How long have you been teaching?
Collectively, about a year and a half. I started teaching Vinyasa in the spring of 2016 and began teaching Traditional Hot Yoga in April of 2017.
2. What motivated you to start teaching and what have you learnt from teaching?
I wanted to bridge my background in dance with another tool for body awareness and healing. I was inspired by the teachers I was taking class from at the time and started to think to myself, “I can do that”. I remember walking home from work, pretending to teach a class out loud and getting really excited about the prospect of sharing a bit of what I had learned from showing up on my mat with other people.
There are endless lessons I have learned and am still in the processing of learning from teaching, but one in particular is that you can’t create and analyze at the same time (words of wisdom from the great John Cage). I love teaching the anatomy of the poses, but what I love the most is speaking from the heart, and sometimes being real and open with students can seem daunting. I’ve had moments where I’ve thought maybe I could have phrased that differently and it pulls me out of the moment. I can walk in with an idea of the things I want to say but just like a student, I also have to remind myself to enter the room without setting expectations for myself. Teaching a class is like an exchange of energy, I’m actively reading the room and working with the bodies in front of me and if I’m trying to analyze my words I can’t be present with that exchange.
3. What is something that you have learnt from a fellow teacher?
Not to get caught up in the feedback you receive, whether it’s criticism or praise. That while compliments are great, not to let it feed or fuel your teaching ego. That just because someone doesn’t run up to you at the end of class gushing joy and yoga bliss vibes, doesn’t mean you didn’t teach a solid class. Shout out to my buddy and fellow teacher, Quazzy, for always spreading the realness with me.
4. How many times a week do you practice?
I practice yoga daily. Yoga isn’t separate from my day-to-day life. Even the tiniest action of tuning into my awareness and breath is checking in with my practice. For asana practice, I try to get to class everyday, some days multiple times or classes a day. Lately I have been into incorporating different types of yoga into my practice so that I don’t become stagnant. Adding the Ashtanga series and Rocket Yoga to my Vinyasa and Hot practice has been transformational. If I really can’t make it to class, I find a wall and do a handstand.
5. Who inspires your practice?
My fellow teachers and coworkers at the studios I teach at, as well as the teachers I take class from at Lighthouse Yoga School in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Artists inspire me, whether it’s the music I’m listening to or a painting I’m looking at. I also draw inspiration from nature, the ocean, the desert, the soil, the sky, it’s endless.
6. Why is it necessary for you to practice?
I couldn’t imagine living a life separate from having a connection to my body. Yoga helps me to connect to my whole self, body, breath, mind and spirit. The parts of myself that feel good and the parts of myself that I shy away from. Having a consistent practice allows me to check in with myself no matter what state my life is in.
7. Has yoga helped you through some painful? If so, what and how?
Absolutely, over a over again. Heartbreak, loss, loneliness, uncertainty, dealing with an injury. A couple years ago, I was at a low point in my life, and I fell and hurt my wrist. I couldn’t hold a plank or a downward facing dog and was about to participate in a dance workshop followed by an audition for a company that used a lot of floor work and weight bearing choreography. The dancer in me powered through even though I was in pain. Internally panicking that I couldn’t put weight on my right hand or take a yoga class, I decided to give hot yoga a shot because I knew there would be no down dogs or planks. Stepping into the hot yoga room changed my life. I was standing in front of a mirror and I could no longer hide from myself. I had spent most of my life in front of a mirror as a dancer and never used it to look at myself with love and compassion. It was always there as a reminder that you could be better, your leg could be higher, so many elements of my dance training were incredible sources of self expression but also deeply detrimental in that the under lying message often was it’s not good enough. In the hot room, being there, being present with my breath was enough. I learned to love myself over and over again even when I felt overwhelmed by the heat or my thoughts. I started to shed the parts of myself that weren’t serving me and really began to take steps towards practicing self care. I began to heal from the inside out.
8. What message do you like to spread through teaching?
That home is where your breath is, your body, your vessel is all you have in this life, so treat it with care. It is so easy to get outside of ourselves and get caught up in all the external elements of our lives. Especially living in New York City, where we’re constantly running around with a million things to do and people to see. That you can come back to yourself no matter where you are, what the circumstances, and find the simplicity of your breath. Lately I have been reminding students to take pleasure in their work, to enjoy the gritty moment, rather than fighting it. So much of how we experience poses physically stems from our mental approach to it, so if you’re thinking, “I hate this second set of triangle pose in this hotbox torture chamber,” you're just going to make things harder for yourself. That’s what your mind wants you to think when your rubbing up against a challenging moment, but part of the practice is realizing you are in control. So every time you come to your second set of Triangle in a Hot Yoga class, you go to that place until you realize you have the power to say, “You know what, I love that my thighs are quivering, I love that my arms are spread wide from the center of my heart, I take pleasure in the effort, I take pleasure in my moving, breathing body.” It’s your work, you might as well enjoy it. We don’t get to choose what shows up in our practice but we get to choose how we meet the moment, so if you meet yourself with an open mind, love, and a deep breath you might surprise yourself that over time that pose that you used to dread becomes the pose you look forward to, maybe even becomes your favorite.
9. Where are you currently teaching?
I am currently teaching at Yoga to The People and The Yoga Room.
10. What are the best ways that you have leant of approaching studios that you would like to teach at?
Show up, take class, get a feel for the vibe and the space. I don’t think there’s one true formula, what works for one person might not work for the other. Trust your gut, be kind, be open, and don’t be afraid to ask someone to put in a good word for you.
11. What is your Instagram, Twitter and Facebook name?
My instagram is @lulusoni, no twitter and Facebook is just my name.
12. Is Social Media easy or challenging for you?
Sometimes it’s easy and feels right to share and other times I feel conflicted about putting energy into it. It’s a great medium to inspire and stay connected but it’s also really important to unplug and remember to be in the present moment. Get off your phone and go to yoga! ;)