Thursday, January 13, 2011

January: Yoga journey- teaching Yoga Basics!

I am finally a certified yoga teacher!

My journey with yoga began when I was 15. I had seen "Light on Yoga" on my mom's bookshelf my whole life, and wondered about this strange 70s phenomenon. When she invited me to join a class with her at a tiny studio in Newhall, California, I went, and loved it. I kept going back throughout high school.

In college, I found a studio in Evanston, Illinois and a teacher I adored, who spoke about how yoga is connected to life in a way that made sense to me. Eventually I discovered the Sivananda studio in north Chicago and went as often as I could. I loved the environment, the incense, the repetition of the asanas and the way I felt when I left. I felt calm, patient, focused, and as if my perception re-calibrated to see what was really important in life.

In Berlin, I didn't want to continue Sivananda because it was all taught in German, and this was before I learned the language. I discovered Elizabeth Smullens, an Iyengar yoga teacher who became a long-term teacher and dear friend.

At first I didn't like Iyengar. I didn't think the props made sense, and I didn't like that there was no attention to Pranayama (breath practice) in beginner classes. And there was no flow, at all. But over time, I realized that this practice had enormous benefits, and I began to truly understand yoga in a way I never had before. I learned about proper alignment, and how to do poses correctly that I had practiced incorrectly for years. I became so enamored with Iyengar that I dismissed all other styles of yoga as frauds. But it was through this experience with yoga that I realized that I would love to offer people a way to explore how to do poses correctly so that they not only protect themselves, but can go deeper into the poses safely.

Cut to New York, after several years of practicing yoga intermittently. I had some time to take a 200-hour yoga teacher training, and found the most wonderful yoga school, Finding Sukha. I have written another blog post about it because it deserves its own review.

And now I am a certified Vinyasa instructor, teaching a Yoga Basics class at Finding Sukha Yoga School Monday nights at 8pm. I like to think of my approach as "alignment-based Vinyasa," with a good deal of attention to detail in order to really enjoy the full expression of each pose. As with practicing music, I love the idea of getting back to basics, to the foundation of building the note or the pose or the phrase. I have a much more open mind to other styles of yoga now, and I'm excited to incorporate what inspires me into my teaching. More classes to come, hopefully around Brooklyn.

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