Lara Saget describes her motivational yogic journey

I have had the pleasure of knowing Lara for almost 7 years. In all of this time, she has always been kind, gracious and loving. It is apparent in her yoga classes too.

She shares her yoga experience with us...

1. How long have you been teaching? 

I have been teaching for seven years.

2. What motivated you to start teaching and what have you learnt from teaching?

I have been practicing yoga since I was four years old (or perhaps since I could recognize conscious movement). I was my mom's "yoga baby" so to speak. She started doing yoga when she was pregnant with me, and she would have instructors and practitioners come to the house. I always loved yoga, and it has always been an integral part of my life. When I was 17, I worked at an orphanage in Brazil and decided to attempt to teach yoga. I found it incredible how yoga could be such a universal point of connection. In that moment, I knew that spreading yoga was something that I wanted to do. 

3. What is something that you have learnt from a fellow teacher?

I have learned patience from my teachers for sure (well I'm still learning it) and how important the practice of slowing down is. 

4. How many times a week do you practice?

I practice most days.

5. Who inspires your practice?

I am inspired to practice because I think there is always more to play with, more to notice, more to sense, things to learn. Yoga helps me move deeper in a way that resonates with me. 

6. Why is it necessary for you to practice?

I learn a lot through practicing. But I also learn a lot when the meaning of practice changes for me- from a group class, to meditation, to hiking, to running, to swimming- what is that space within stillness and movement that feels grounded and yet fluid?

7. What message do you like to spread through teaching?

I like to spread awareness through teaching. I like to invite inquiry- what happens when it's not about the shape? What comes up when it's hard? When it feels too easy? What are the things that pop up in a yoga practice that must exist somewhere else too? I also like to spread the message that it can feel really really good to be kind to ourselves, to listen to ourselves like we are helpless children and perhaps be able to hone in on what it means to give ourselves what we need. 

8. Where are you currently teaching? 

I am currently teaching private lessons and at Yoga to the People 

9. How has yoga helped your character develop? 

Yoga has made me a more thoughtful person, greatened my threshold for tolerance or discomfort, and I think enlarged my ability to be compassionate to myself and to others. 

9. What has kept you practicing all these years?

Honestly, I just love it. I am grateful for the practice and for my teachers. I truly don't know what my life would look like without the practice of yoga. 

10. What is your Instagram, Twitter and Facebook name? @larasaget 

Larasagetyoga.com

Emmie Danza talks inspiration and motivation.

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? 

Instagram: @emmieyoga

Twitter: @emmiedanza

No Facebook for me!

Be inspired by Yancy Scwartz...

There is no doubt that Yancy, who some may know as 'Scotty', Scwartz is a true yogi. By true, I mean that he has learnt to detach the Ego from his teaching and practice. 

Let his inspirational words inspire you:

1. How long have you been teaching?

Since 2008

 

2. What motivated you to start teaching and what have you learnt from teaching?

It just kinda fell into place. The more I wanted to practice, the more I wanted to teach. I learned how to be more compassionate to others through teaching. Whatever I teach, I'd better be doing because it makes the teaching authentic. People know and feel what's real and what's not. 

 

3. What is something that you have learnt from a fellow teacher?

I learned how to say less from my Dharma teachers. 

 

4. How many times a week do you practice?

My main practice is a specific mantra and pranayama routine sitting in lotus. That happens 5 days a week. Physical asana I do everyday for fun. 

 

5. Who inspires your practice?

My friends, the people around me. 

 

6. Why is it necessary to you to practice?

Because it will help spread consciousness and awareness. With that consciousness and awareness I can walk around more liberated. 

 

7. What message do you like to spread through teaching?

Stimulate your sixth sense and tap into your higher self. Operating from your higher self is a peaceful and compassionate place to be. 

 

8. Where are you currently teaching? 

Sweat Yoga, Hot 8 Yoga Santa Monica, Create Yoga and Hollywood Power Yoga 

 

9. How has skateboarding been a part of your yogic journey? 

It's a catalyst because you are constantly using your legs, so that takes care of your lower body. Yoga is a lot of upper body. So you spread awareness, consciousness through your lower body, your upper body. Once you master your body you can go beyond it. To skateboard you must be fully present like in yoga except in skateboarding if you are not present the consequences are a lot greater. 

 

9. Has yoga helped you through something that you struggled with? If so, what and how?

I've broken my wrist and foot skateboarding, and yoga has helped me recover. Yoga has helped me to not feel limited. Little by little yoga can help you rebuild and work past certain injuries. 

 

10. What has kept you practicing?

It's my dharma. I teach, so I must practice so I am always in the students position. Its a prerequisite for the job.

Follow him on Instagram: @yancyscotschartz Visit his website: www.yancyyoga.com

 

 

Sarah Ghilardi inspires us, by sharing her experience of yoga with us.

The first time that I  took Sarahs class, I felt as though my body was burning in my places that I had never imagined. It was an inferno hot pilates class- a pilates class done in surroundings similar to a hot yoga class. Truly, the only thing that kept me going was her bubbly energy and her convncing me that I could make it through. She inspired me that day and inspires many as a yoga and pilates teacher. 

These are some inspirational words from her:

1. How long have you been teaching?

Five years. I teach bikram yoga, vinyasa yoga and inferno hot pilates. 

 

2. What motivated you to start teaching and what have you learnt from teaching?

The students, their problems, their willingness to change and willingness to listen. Leadership, command and helping them to change. 

Teaching gives me the ability to learn, command and share positivity with my students.

 

3. What is something that you have learnt from a fellow teacher?

Their experience, their passion, their command and there enthusiasms for teaching.

 

4. How many times a week do you practice?

6 classes a week

 

5. Who inspires your practice?

Actually me, myself, and practitioners around me.

 

6. Why is it necessary to you to practice?

Because it feels good, it inspires me, it gives me clear vision and stability.

 

7. What message do you like to spread through teaching?

That health is wealth, your body is your temple. Take care of yourself first before taking care of others. 

 

8. Where are you currently teaching? 

Lighthouse yoga school in Brooklyn 

YOBK in Brooklyn 

Bikram yoga LES in Manhattan 

Yoga Herald Square in Manhattan 

The Yoga Room in LIC

 

9. Has yoga helped you through something that you struggled with? If so, what and how?

  • I was trying to know more about myself-yoga gives me more clarity about myself.
  • I was learning to be a presenter-yoga gives me that presenting capability.
  • I was trying to learn a good diet for me - yoga gives me clarity about what my body want.

 

10. Tell us about Inferno Pilates. Why is it a great compliment to yoga?

It's a practice where students see benefits very fast.The heat makes them sweat even more ( cleansing, detoxing ). The music inspires and motivates them.The moments are fast but secondary. Like in yoga, first the breath and form. You also need a calm mind you get from practicing asanas to practice Inferno hot pilates to keep going and you get the strength to do the posture by practicing Inferno hot pilates. It's a great combination.

Federico DAnna expands on his commitment to the practice

If you have ever taken his class, it is apparent that Federico has a deep passion for yoga. He exudes a thirst for yoga that is inspiring. 

He shares with us his journey as a yogi:

        1. How long have you been teaching?

        I have been teaching for 4 years.

2. What motivated you to start teaching and what have you learnt from teaching?

When I'm in love with something I wanna talk about it all the time, I wanna share it. I guess becoming  a Yoga teacher was the best way for me to have people listening to me talking about Yoga.I also figured that if Yoga was so exiting to me I would have been a good vehicle, a good vessel.I try my best to be just a vessel.

I learn so much everyday from teaching, one of the thing I'm really focusing in these days is trying not to let my ego get involved.I learned that it's very important to get into a place of clarity with myself, whenever I can. I see my ego trying to get in the way but I can be clear enough not to act or say things from there, when I can be that clear, I can give and help and be of service to the students. I try to constantly recenter myself into that place of clarity. This is  a moment-by-moment practice for me while I teach, it takes a lot of energy and focus but that makes my job very rewarding and keeps me peaceful because I feel I can really give. 

3. What is something that you have learnt from a fellow teacher?

           I try to take all the classes I can with the teachers I respect more, and if you ask  me what I                learned from them the answer is: EVERYTHING! 

I try to learn always, it's a natural process for me: I try to learn new tricks for a pose, or I try to absorb a specific energy of a teacher I admire, or the subtleties of a brilliant dialogue, I also really love to observe how the best teachers connect with their students cause I think the most important thing in teaching is the ability to connect.

 My classes are always evolving  because I keep taking classes with great teachers, in that way I keep learning new things, I absorb new energies and all I have to do is to share that with my students.

 

4. How many times a week do you practice?

I try to practice every day, but I don't do Asanas everyday. I try to practice Asana at least 5 days a week and keep a daily  Sadhana practice with meditation, Pranayama, Kriyas and recently, some chanting. Pranayama helps me be clear and centered when I teach so I try to practice it at least the days I have to teach before my classes.

 

5. Who inspires your practice?

So many people inspire me, besides the well known gurus and texts like the Yoga Sutras, or Yogananda texts, which I've always found inspiring and I always go back to when I feel lost, here in New York. I have many names of good inspiring Yogis: Dharma Mittra Jared McCan, Erin Vaughn, Jason Morris - these are only few names. Also every Yogi that devotes themselves to help others is an inspiration to me. I think you can be a great Yogi without practicing Asanas or Pranayana, a Yogi is someone who search freedom, union knowledge, who is selflessly in service, it doesn't matter how, whenever I find these qualities  in someone, it's very inspiring and beautiful to me, that's Yoga.

 

6. Why is it necessary for you to practice?

I just feel I need to practice. I have always felt that way.

Even before I met Yoga, I had my Yoga practice. I'll try to explain: even when I had no idea of what Yoga was, I always felt I needed at least an hour or so a day to dedicate myself to something completely and without distractions, something in which I could focus 100 per cent of my attention, I didn't  know what Asana or Meditation was until few years ago, but  when I was a child I recited my prayers every day and I remember I had all sorts of personal weird rituals.Then, in my 20s I was an actor and my Yoga at that point was practicing some relaxation and acting techniques to create physical and emotional realities to create a truthful and vibrant performance. 

 

7. What message do you like to spread through teaching?

I want them to know and trust that  we can all find a place inside ourselves where everything is perfect exactly the way it is. That whatever your perceived  limitations are, they are an just an illusion. Everything we need and want is already in us! All OF US. Realizing this on a deep level is not easy; it's the actual goal of YOGA. Its not just an idea, and just thinking about it won't help. It does not come for free, it's a practice and it's a lifelong journey. Of course it might be intense, scary at times, or boring at times, there are many obstacles in the path, but yoga also  gives us the tools to overcome the obstacles, and what else would you spend your energy on? And the cool part of it is that you don't have to wait to be enlightened to experience glimpse of that perfection, knowledge, freedom and bliss. Yoga will help you right away. You'll feel 'peaceful' or 'free' or 'strong' or maybe just generally 'better' right away after your first Asana session. So just go to yoga and something will happen to convince you....trust those feelings and be curious to investigate deeper cause it's worthy.

8. Where do you currently teach?

New York I teach at The Yoga Room, Yogatothepeople, Yoga Herald Square, when I go to Rome to visit my friends and family I teach for Bikram Yoga Rome

9. Has yoga helped you through something that you struggled with? If so, what and how?

It helps immensely with the stepping stone that made me absolutely sure and gave me infinite trust. 

I have always had the feeling I had to achieve something in life, and this obsession, this vortex of my mind has always been so strong in me that for the most part I have always been living in a state of struggle to get somewhere, to demonstrate to the world that I had value, to get recognition, to succeed. So when I felt close to my goals, that would made me happy of course but most of the times I used to live in a state of anxiety, depression, a fear or an actual  feeling of existential failure. There was no space around me just to notice the beauty of nature or people or life, just because that vortex was spinning so thick and fast that I couldn't see behind that.

Alter only a few sessions of yoga , while I was laying in Savasana, I started noticing other things that I wouldn't have noticed before. Maybe just a ray of light coming from the window of the hot room, or the shining of the sweat drops on my skin or the breathing sweaty bodies around me ( I started with Bikram Yoga) and I started to notice all the beauty of those things. I started to enjoy the colors and shapes of nature and things and the people around me. And one day I realized that all this beauty around me was perfectly enough for me to enjoy life right now,  I didn't need to achieve something anymore or demonstrate I'm worthy, or being successful to be happy. The world was suddenly beautiful enough for me to be happy right away, I realize that all I had to do was to keep working on  that clarity. It was like a huge painful weight was taken off my shoulders for the first time in my life, and life was good!!

Then I studied the Yoga Sutras and it was all there:
Yoga is stilling the vortexes ( vrittis ) of the mind and cut through all the illusions.

 

 

Sara Schwartz shares her yogic journey with us

The yoga community is fortunate to have a person as loving, kind and compassionate as Sara in it. Over the few years that I have known her, she has maintained her kindness and yoga practice.

This yogi is an inspiration. She shares with you some inspirational words. 
 

1. How long have you been teaching?

7 years 

 

2. What motivated you to start teaching and what have you learnt from teaching?

I started teaching at Yoga to the People in San Francisco. Teaching felt very hard to me, I was painfully shy and had a small voice. Someone, maybe it was Katite, said: In Yoga, if something is hard for you, go towards it. That is the yogic way. So I decided to pursue teaching because I knew it was the most impossible thing for me at the time. I'll tell you within 6 months it became easier. Within 3 years I didn't get nervous anymore. And now, 7 years later, I know teaching yoga is my dharma, my life's purpose. Teaching Yoga I've learned that you never know what someone is going through, so try approach every student as a dear friend. Even the ones on their cellphone and with mean mugs. I've learned tricks and modifications from watching the students. I've learned that if you just stick with something you will get better at it.

 

3. What is something that you have learnt from a fellow teacher?

I learned some discipline from Yancy "Scotty" Schwartz. I never liked following the rules. Sometimes in yoga if you follow the rules you will receive the benefits. I watched this work for Yancy and so I tried it out. I found there is a comfort, an anchor, in finding some discipline and sticking to it. Right now for me it's my practice of the Gayatri Mantra.

 

4. How many times a week do you practice?

The first three years I practiced everyday. Then I noticed my body did well with one day off a week. Now I do a daily mantra practice and for asana just listen to my body. If I feel worn down I take a day off. 

5. Who inspires your practice?

I am super inspired by Erin Kelly. She is strong and flexible and moves very slowly. I'm also inspired by Sri Dharma Mittra, Sadguru, Amma and Shiva (King of the Yogis!). 

6. Why is it necessary to you to practice?

Money comes and goes. Beauty comes and goes. Sadly friends and family come and go. The only thing that is truly with us for life is our consciousness, our mind and spirit. The practice connects me with my spirit, helps me understand the workings of my mind. I believe it is one of life's deepest purposes to practice and come to understand what it means to be human.

 

7. What message do you like to spread through teaching?

My original career dream was to be a U.N. Peacekeeper. The quote in the YTTP quotebook about the monk who wanted to change the world, but realized he had to change himself first really inspired me to pursue yoga instead. I always like to share with the classes that by creating a peaceful environment within yourself you are making a big step towards community and world peace.

8. Where are you currently teaching? 

Red Diamond Yoga, Hollywood Power Yoga, YogaWorks, Equinox and Create Yoga Space. All in Los Angeles!

9. How does being married to a yoga help you develop your practice? 

One of the most wonderful things about our marriage is that we can practice together. Sometimes we meditate at the same time and the focus is so much sharper. We share fundamental values and beliefs. I can come to him with my yoga questions and he always has a great answer. 

10. Has yoga helped you through something that you struggled with? If so, what and how?

Oh my gosh I've had anxiety since I was a small child. I used to get these panic attacks where I couldn't eat or sleep. Just sit there with a racing heart and hurting stomach suffering. And I'll be honest, by my 20's I didn't see how I could live in this miserable skin much longer. I wanted to be free of my body. I knew yoga helped but I hadn't committed to the practice- it took a long time. I think going to India was a turning point for me. I remember reciting a mantra on mala beads next to the Ganges River and for the first time in my life peace flooded over me and I thought: here's my life preserver! The next year I was doing Bikram yoga and getting these crazy panic attacks in the room. Not being able to leave I learned how to use my breath and mental focus to overcome the panic rush. Now I feel pretty much comfortable in my own skin, I enjoy life and think the planet is beautiful, and sometimes if a panic attack comes by I can say: oh its just a panic attack. Theres a distance between me and it. I make a cup of tea and breath it away. 

Devoted yogi, Chauncie Parchment lets us in on his practice.

Chauncie Parchment has a practice that indicates his love for the asanas . He is a devoted yogi with a lot of knowledge. Here are some inspirational words from this yogi.

How long have you been teaching?
I began teaching yoga as an appreciation for Yoga to the people. One of the requirements before you get certified as one of their hot yoga instructors is to teach 20 classes for free as an apprenticeship.

What motivated you to teach and what have you learned?
I've always wanted to live as freely as possible and be in control of my time and energy. Wiring a 9-5 job as a city worker or as an employee of a boutique in clothing ,street or health food store did not permit me a life where I can make my own choices. I didn't like the idea of renting my time for 10, 11 or $12 an hour. I knew that my time was priceless, and to me the work I was doing was empty. I needed to find a job where I can do what I love to do. I wanted to help heal other people while I continued to heal myself. Teaching has taught me that every single day I need to clear quiet observant and helpful.

How many days a week do you practice?
I practice every day and my practice changes from day to day. Some days I can't make it to class so I practice at home, this may consist of a full practice or just Tibetans, pranayama and a couple of Sun salutations.

Who inspires yours practice?
My own belief and curiosity to reveal the secrets and benefits of the yoga practice. Along with the stories of ancient Masters who achieved phenomenal abilities through their yoga practice.

Why do you think it is necessary for you to practice?
I believe it is necessary for me to practice so that  I can remove the the physical, emotional and mental trauma that has caused energetic blockages inside of my body. I feel it is necessary for me to practice removing the conditioning that has been done from living on this earth. To help open my being to many realities that exist and reconnect to the ancient ways and lastly to maintain vitality and longevity.

What message are you trying to spread throughout teaching yoga?

To reconnect with your inner highest most powerful self, to reconnect with your brothers and sisters , to reconnect with your ancestors and to reconnect with the ancient ways of living.

Where are you currently teaching?
I currently teach at Lighthouse Yoga School, Yoga Tribe, Brooklyn Urban Asanas and Hot Spot yoga.

Have you been through anything significant in your life and how has yoga played a role in it? I've had a pretty rocky relationship with my mother and my father and other members in my family growing up we've never fully got along and it's always been a push and pull in ideas and values and I never felt like they accept me for the way I wanted to live. Yoga has given me the space to see the issues that I face within  myself and within my mother and my father so that I can catch these things while they're coming up in conversation and so that I can free myself from the fears and insecurities that are holding me hostage and preventing me from loving my own family and I love myself so I thank yoga for clearing me up mentally so that I am able to open up my heart and accept my mother my father and my family for who they are and how they are and have that loving strong family unit that is necessary for each individual on planet Earth.

This yogi, Claudia Givings, reveals her beautiful journey to yoga.

1. How long have you been teaching?
I've been teaching yoga consistently for almost a year but I've been teaching movement for 11 years. 

2. What motivated you to teach and what have you learnt from teaching?
Donation based yoga came into my life when I desperately needed it. Because I was comfortable teaching and choreographing my own movement I thought I'd be good at teaching yoga too. I didn't have the funds to give a big donation so that seemed like a good way to pay it forward. 
I've learned about forgiveness, compassion, self care, my own strength and about how to practice and recognize that I encompass all of those things. Oh yeah and also body alignment in yoga poses. ;-)  Lol. 

3. How many times a week do you practice?
3-5 times a week

4. Who inspires your practice?
I inspire my own practice. I've spent a lot of my life comparing myself to others or doing for others without recognizing my own needs. The first time I remember feeling what it felt like to breathe was during a yoga class. That moment has inspired me to keep searching for what inside me motivates me too keep going. 

5. Why is it necessary to you to practice?
It's a practical way to practice self care. I love movement and have found that it fills my soul like no other. For a long time I wasn't in class because I couldn't afford it and because of my own negative experiences connected to pursuing dance. Yoga provided me with a safe place to move. I then learned about the importance of being aware of breath and experienced it actually centering me. It was pretty significant. Before that I had no concept of doing something healthy to take care of myself for myself. Any other pursuits of "getting better" were to fix relationships with other people or to find a relationship or to please someone else. Practicing yoga was one the first times I could feel the effects of me trying to take care of myself. 

6. What message do you like to spread through teaching? 
That the students are enough. That their experience is enough. That they don't have to change or fix to become better because what they're working with is already golden. That's been a pretty hard lesson for me to learn and I can't say I feel that towards myself all the time but it's something I know is true for us. So I'm hoping spreading that message helps the person who hears it. 

7. Where are you currently teaching? 
I teach at Yoga to the People. 

8. How does taking care of your family coincide with yoga?
My yoga peeps are my family. We're a community. So when I show up for class I show up for my family. These relationships have seeped into my life outside of yoga as well helping me find great support in times of need. I've found that it all works together. 

9. Has yoga helped you through something that you struggled with? If so, what and how?
I've had pretty bad depression for most of my life.  When I was in the throws of my depression it felt like I was being suffocated. During my first yoga class in NY I felt like I could breathe for the first time in a while. Because it felt like my breath was taken away from me for so long, having that moment were I had it back was pretty significant. It definitely didn't take my depression away but it helped in making me feel like it was ok - like the depression was a part of me, not all of me. I, for the most part, experience life in extremes. Yoga has shown me that middle ground providing ways to connect to myself and the present moment. I'm definitely not at a place where I am at peace all time but I now feel that that's ok. This journey I'm going through is enough. 

From self-hatred to self-love, through yoga.

I truly don’t remember the first time that I decided to dislike myself. I just remember being a kid and wanting to be different. It started with my hair, so I would wear a T-shirt on my head: to appear more white.

Then, I remember refraining from eating because I didn’t feel worth of eating. My self-hatred became so apparent that I would starve myself for a week and then the next week, eat everything that was in the house and throw it up three to four times a day.

When I would wake up, I would think about what I could eat that stopped me from gaining anymore weight that I already had. Because I felt like my body couldn’t deal with being ‘fatter’ than I already was. I had no energy, I would think about food the whole day and go to bed crying because I felt too fat to live in this world that wanted me to be skinnier. I was in pain, mentally and emotionally. I needed a release from the suffering.

I wish I could tell you that I have memories of being a teenage when I didn’t feel this way; however, that would be a lie. I spent over a decade and a half hating myself.

One day, a friend of mine wanted me to join her in a yoga class. I had done yoga on-and-off since I was 14 but this time, I was 20 and had just gone through an intense break-up. As a result, my self-hatred was at an all time high.

So, I went to a vinyasa class in manhattan with my friend. After it, I felt such relief. If I can narrow how I felt down to three words, they would be: relieved, free and worthy. In all of my 20 years of life, I had never felt so in-tune with my body. I felt like my body had a more significant use for it than how it had been used before. Acknowledging my breath and heartbeat helped me recognize that my body is always working to keep me alive, regardless of what it looks like.

I have previously been so hard on myself and my body. However, after 8 years of continuous practice, I can gladly say that I have had my ups and downs to getting here but I truly love myself and my body. Sometimes the thoughts try to sneak in but, I remember that they will fade and I affirm myself that my health is way more important than looking a certain way to live up to pretenses that society has set for me.

My body is a blessing from the universe and I will take care of it, the best way that I can.

Courtney Fitzgerald shares some yogi words with us

If you have ever been in her class, you understand her humour and sense of compassion. She is a yogi whom I admire and would like to share with you some inspirational words from Courtney Fitzgerald:

 

1. How long have you been teaching? 3 years

 

2. What motivated you to teach and what did you learn from teaching? I was feeling grateful for all the joy and courage I had found from practicing under a couple of incredible teachers. I wanted to enable others to feel this way. Though I definitely played it cool and said I was doing a teacher training to learn more about the practice. 

 

3. How many times a week do you practice? I do some type of exercise 6 days a week. I used to do yoga every day and found that that was unhealthy for me. I probably do a standard yoga practice 3-4 times a week. 

 

4. Who inspires your practice? It's not usually a who. Sometimes it's a meaningful quote. Or when teachers suggest picking a word to use as an intention for the practice, "freedom" is often the first word to pop into my head. Although one time recently it was "puppy" (it worked out fine). My pal/fellow teacher Brian has probably had the most influence over my physical practice because he doesn't let me off the hook with old habits and I appreciate that.

 

5. Why is it necessary to practice? Practicing yoga lets me feel like I can move through things. And change them. And feel frustrated and clumsy but also calm. And once in awhile I feel like an elegant swan. I feel like I know with more certainty how I feel and what is driving me in my life after I practice. And I also know that it will change over time. 

 

6. What message do you like to spread through teaching? It's important to feel stable so that you can adventure. You're never stuck and you can always change your mind. 

 

7. Where are you currently teaching? Y7, The Yoga Room, Yoga Vida, hOM, Exubrancy, various private clients and businesses around the city. 

Meet Yogi and teacher, Natalie Jones

1. How long have you been teaching?

I've been teaching yoga for 5 years and hot Pilates for just under a year.

 

2. What motivated you to teach and what did you learn from teaching?

After a year of practicing I knew yoga would always be a part of my life. As I continued to practice I found myself fantasizing about teaching and wanting to further my understanding of what I was dedicating so much of my time and energy to. My yoga teachers and my yoga practice impacted my life in such a profound way, I knew sharing that experience with others would be both exciting and fulfilling. As for Inferno Hot Pilates, I fell instantly in love as I had with Bikram yoga, and knew that I would have a blast teaching. Soon I will be certified to teach Bollywood dance, so I think the pattern is: I find a fitness practice I love, then I get certified! Lol

I've learned so much from teaching, geez where to begin? There's a fine balance between telling students what they need to hear but don't always want to hear, and creating a safe, nurturing space. I've found that most people just want to be told what to do, they want to be able to shut off their brain when they enter the room. That's also easier said than done, and you have to meet people where they are. Tough love, if you will. 

 

3. How many times a week do you practice?

I practice 5 times a week on average. I would practice 9 times if time allowed! 

 

4. Who inspires your practice?

My fellow teachers and students, as well as my mentors in New England who inspired me to become a teacher. My husband and fellow yoga instructor, Will, inspires and motivates me with his own continued practice and thirst for more and more knowledge. 

 

5. Why is it necessary to practice?

It is most necessary to practice for overall health, physically as well as mentally. Many students have told me their yoga is better than therapy, and I'v seen countless people heal injuries and ailments through Bikram yoga. THIS STUFF WORKS! You just gotta show up. 

 

6. What message do you like to spread through teaching?

That letting go and and slowing down are extremely important in our crazy, fast paced world. Finding and practicing stillness is crucial if one wants to create peace and overall health in their life. We can accomplish this through a physical practice such as yoga or Pilates. We have to move and blow off steam before we can truly be still. This is how true transformation takes place. 

 

7. Where are you currently teaching?

YO BK in Williamsburg and Bikram Yoga Brooklyn in Brooklyn Heights.