The Driven Yogi: Wisdom for New Teachers

1. Where did you grow up and at what age did you discover yoga?
​I’m from a small town in Clinton, Utah. Growing up I was a competitive gymnast and power tumbler. The competitiveness I learned at a young age carried into different areas of my life, including my career.

It wasn’t until the age of 26 when I discovered the magic of yoga. I was in a high-visibility, high-stress career as a TV news reporter. I covered a wide range of stories from natural disasters to murders, and my stress and anxiety got to an unmanageable level. Since I use exercise as an outlet, I started experimenting with different classes. I took one yoga class and was hooked! I left the studio feeling grounded, light, and clear-headed. From that moment forward, I knew that yoga would be an integral part of my life.

2. How has yoga changed for you since you began practicing?
​When I first started practicing I was always frustrated when I couldn’t do a pose (the competitive gymnast was still in there). It was 6 months into my practice when I was finally able to dig deeper and really understand that I needed to accept where I was in my practice from day-to-day. Sometimes I wanted to move and move hard, and other times a child’s pose was exactly what my body needed. When I accepted this idea, I was finally able to let things go on my mat and that’s when my practice truly blossomed.

3. What attracted you to take a yoga teacher training?
​As much as I love yoga, it actually wasn’t the yoga at all that compelled me to enroll in a teacher training. I’m a competitive pole dancer and I absolutely love pole. When tackling difficult moves in pole, I use the breath techniques I have learned in yoga to help me get through the moves. Because of the benefits yoga brought me in pole dancing, I wanted to bring it to other dancers and create a class that combined the two forms of exercise. I was halfway through my yoga teacher training when I realized I wanted to teach yoga, as there were soooo many directions I could take it. For now, I’m focused on teaching yoga, improving my teaching skills, and sharing my journey through The Driven Yogi.com. I may still come up with the pole/yoga hybrid class, but for now, I’m just happy teaching yoga and guiding my students in their practice.

4. Do you have any advice for people who are just getting into yoga?
​There are a lot of misconceptions that stop people from practicing yoga and the first one relates to flexibility. Since teaching I have had several people say “I can’t do yoga because I’m not flexible,” but that’s not what yoga is about. For me, yoga reminds me to breath, not take certain things in life so seriously, and to come to my mat to find that release and stillness that my body (and mind) need. If people decide to try yoga for the first time I would just say don’t have preconceived notions about what yoga is or isn’t. Try it out and see what happens. Allow yourself to have your own experience.

5. You have a great presence and have really put yourself out there. Any tips for teachers who may be shy about marketing themselves?
​First off, thank you for that compliment! As for the question, putting yourself out there is scary – I totally get that. But marketing yourself as a new teacher is necessary.
If people don’t know about your classes, how will they be able to come? The studios I work at are super helpful in promoting teachers’ classes, but teachers can’t solely rely on studios to do that for them.

In regards to digital promotion, it doesn’t have to solely​ be about promoting yourself and your classes.​ I find that students actually enjoy getting to know more about their teache​rs outside of class, and they look for ways to relate to them. The posts I put out that don’t have anything to do with yoga tend to get more interaction than the ​posts that ​do​​.​ And ​sometimes, students ​will mention things they’ve seen on my page when they come to my classes – and it’s always the post that don’t ​have to do with yoga.

6. Who are your favorite Namaste teachers and why?
​Oh my goodness, there are so many! I love how much knowledge and experience each one has and I love getting the chance to practice with them. Obviously, I rea​lly enjoyed my teacher trainers: Domonick for his unique yoga classes that combine sequences with dancing, Baxter for his knowledge around anatomy, Vickie for helping me fall in love with alignment-based yoga, and Ashley for helping make meditation bearable (I couldn’t stand doing it before I had her leading me and teaching me certain techniques). On top of the teacher trainers I had, Whitney Walsh (my mentor) is amazing and has such a unique way of leading classes. She drew me in immediately and I HAD to learn more from her. I practice with her weekly and am blown away every. single. time.

7. Where do you hope to be in 5 years?
​In five years I hope The Driven Yogi is the go-to source for new yoga teachers. Many great and experienced teachers have already contributed to the site by providing insightful tips for new teachers. As the site grows I will continue to reach out to teachers, but I definitely have plans for the future of the site​ – stay tuned!​

8. What is one tip or self-care practice that you can’t live without?
​This is cliche, but I couldn’t live without yoga. I have a Type-A personality and my mind is constantly on the go trying to figure out how I can check more things off of my neverending to-do list. Yoga reminds me to breathe, be present and let little things go, and it also keeps me grounded so that I can get back to tackling lists – in a healthier way of course.

9. Anything else you’d love our Namaste community to know about you?
I​f you’re a new teacher and curious about the next steps you should take after your yoga teacher training, or if you are thinking about doing a training, please visit my website and sign up for our email list so that you are always in the loop when new tips come out – TheDrivenYogi.com.

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February Manduka Yogi(s) of the Month: Ravi and Shanti

This month we had a hard time choosing just one Manduka Yogi of the month and instead chose one of Namaste’s yoga power couples, Ravi and Shanti! Both are dedicated practitioners and are in a class almost every day of the week, and when you read their Q+A’s below you’ll see how truly amazing that is with all of the cool stuff that they do. We love having you at Namaste Ravi and Shanti, thanks for adding to our community with your focus and commitment.

Meet Shanti:

Occupation?

I teach high school Math and Computer Science

Fun Fact About You?

I love Salsa dancing! 

What inspires you?

Cooking a warm, nutritious meal and spontaneous singing! 

When you aren’t on the mat, where can we find you?

Tinkering with Arduinos! They are like tiny computers that help you make DIY projects such as interactive art or robots!

Favorite East Bay business (other than Namaste :)?

Transports and Mariposa baking company.

How has your yoga practice shaped who you are?

It reminds me of the luxurious beauty of doing one thing at a time, with care and joy.

Favorite Asana?

Extended side angle.

Why do you love Namaste?

I love the teachers at Namaste! I often feel like I have taken a workshop on something very specific and tangible even after a regular class. The level of detail and attention that teachers bring to the class is a true treasure to behold

Meet Ravi:

Occupation?

Software engineer in a health startup in SF. 

Fun Fact About You?

I love running. 

What inspires you?

Travel – learning about new cultures.

When you aren’t on the mat, where can we find you?

Hiking in a park nearby. 

Favorite East Bay business (other than Namaste :)?

Cheeseboard pizza. 

How has your yoga practice shaped who you are?

Made me self aware – taught me to listen to my body and better understand my thoughts.

Favorite Asana?

Half-moon pose. 

Why do you love Namaste?

Great teachers! A loving and helpful community.

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Manduka Yogi of the Month: Mimi Miller

We’re so excited to be partnering with Manduka to recognize a Namaste yogi each month that is a staple of our community and who inspires us daily! The first person we’d like to recognize is Mimi Miller, a dedicated yoga student with a long standing practice who has been with us since the beginning! Mimi shares a little bit more about herself below.

1. Current Occupation?
I have my own real estate business in San Francisco and Berkeley, and now that I am 74 I am gradually transitioning into retiring and becoming more immersed in yoga as a spiritual practice and as a way to serve the community, although I’m not sure how that might look yet.

2. Fun Fact About You?
I am a liberal Democrat and my husband is a conservative Republican, which creates a lively space for fire and forgiveness!

3. What inspires you?
I am inspired by my grandchildren, my daughters and their significant others, my husband, my two brothers my yoga teachers at Namaste and many of the students with whom I practice. What inspires me about my yoga teachers at Namaste is not only the quality of their teaching and their commitment to the path of yoga and to their students, but their willingness to be present no matter what is going on in their lives.

4. When you aren’t on the mat, where can we find you?
When I’m not on the mat my favorite times are spent with grandchildren, children and family. I love swimming, preferably in the ocean, but love swimming laps in an outdoor pool too. Backstroke is easy for me and I’ve recently learned how to do the Butterfly, which is quite thrilling. I love nature and gardening, advocating for animals and all wildlife, and drinking coffee with my Sweetie in the morning. (Well, too many interests to name them all.)

5.Why do you love Namaste and how has your yoga practice shaped who you are? 

Namaste is my favorite East Bay Business, which leads me to why I love it so much. First of all, as soon as I walk in the door, I am greeted with so much joy and enthusiasm at the front desk. Now this makes quite an impact on me, and it creates this beautiful quality of aliveness and happiness that stays with me during the day and evening. Then how scrumptious to go to class and to feel what it is like to be with my teachers who are so committed, attentive, helpful and kind. I have experienced a lot of physical and emotional healing at Namaste that continues daily. The passionate presence and lively humor of teachers and staff at Namaste have helped me to open my heart and feel compassionate acceptance and gratitude for all that is being revealed for healing, and to feel love, compassion and acceptance for each other, for animals, for all of creation.

Stay tuned for our next yogi of the month, it could be you! If you’d like to nominate someone please email info@ilovenamaste.com

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Namaste Teachers Share the Best Yoga Advice They’ve Received

We asked Namaste Yoga teachers one question: what is the best advice that you’ve received regarding your yoga practice? (spoiler: we have some seriously wise teachers!).

Here’s what they said:

judyrukat

Judy Rukat

When I began my teacher training with the late Larry Schultz, I had NEVER practiced yoga before and was not enjoying the training (to say the least). Yoga broke me down, humbled me and was too much for me in every way. In fact, it felt like a sort of painful death. I approached Larry with my discontent and he told me, “You are on the path to becoming a great teacher,” and GENEROUSLY gifted me my teacher training because he believed in me. That’s real yoga.

richardrosen

Richard Rosen

A friend of my wife is a professional astrologer and psychic and he once gave me a free session. Though I’m not a psychic kinda guy, I went just to be polite and he told me that “as a yoga teacher I’m not working with people’s bodies as much as with their souls” this advice has stayed with me now for many years.

 

Elana Morgulis

Elana Morgulis

I think the best advice I’ve received was a simple reminder mid-pose to notice the quality of my breath. If my breath felt constricted, I could gently back off. It gave me permission to be gentle with myself, and I experienced a profound relief and freedom within. Whew, I feel good just thinking about it!

 

 

rebagray

Reba Gray

Master the practice of ahimsa (cause no injury or harm). Make that the most important thing in your yoga practice right now.”

 

 

 

 

kenbrenimanKen Breniman

The best advice I received from my teacher Darren Main, was when he said: “Ken, teach from your heart!” He really encouraged me to connect to my authentic self and through following his wisdom,  I have focused much of my on-the-mat and off-the-mat healing on connecting to Source so that I can teach what the students want/need without my  worries or doubts getting in the way.

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Annemaria Rajala

I draw constant inspiration from one of my teachers, Sam Chase. He told me that a yoga practice should “meet us where we are and help guide us toward what we desire to become.” I strive to live by this on a daily basis.

 

pohteng
Poh Teng

My favorite advice is something passed down from senior practitioners of Eknath Easwaran’s Passage Meditation and the collective wisdom of the satsang. “The spiritual path is not easy. It is similar to climbing a mountain. On our trek towards the summit, the conditions of our journey change all the time.  Sometimes, the sun shines brightly, the weather is fine. Maybe the incline isn’t even that bad.  We experience progress during our travels and we feel pretty good about ourselves. Other times, the weather is dreadful and we cannot find shelter. Maybe the trek around the dark side of the mountain, where the sun is hidden from us, is longer and harder than anticipated. Maybe we come to an obstacle in our path that causes what appears to be set backs. (sic) In our own time, we eventually arrive at the summit where we meet each other. Keep practicing. And all is coming.”

juliabeauchamp

Julia Beauchamp

The best advice I received from a yoga teacher was about how “the inhale is a rising up and the exhale is circling down”. In this way we create an energetic loop around the spine every time we breathe. The change of direction above the head and below the tail bone are important, crucial points of transition– the moments in between when time stops and for a moment we cease to exist until the loop picks up momentum again.David Schlussel

David Schlussel

“Practice less, more often”

 

 

Domonick Wegesin

Dr. Domonick Wegesin

“Just fucking do it” from mindfulness teacher Jon Kabat- Zinn.

 

 

 

Naushon Kabat-Zinn

The best advice I have ever received is from my teacher Baba Hari Dass, who always said “Teach to Learn.”

 

 

rosy schlussel

Rosy Schlussel

My teacher Sofia Diaz has said some things that have stuck with me for many years, here’s a couple of zingers: “Yoga is the willingness to feel what you have committed to through being alive.”

 And a little more complex & shocking, perhaps: “The difference between dragging your body around behind you like a dead dog on a leash and yoga, is the answer to the question: “Are you in love?”

 

Claudia Florian Mccaffrey

Claudia Florian-McCaffrey

The best yoga advice I’ve received from one of my teachers was to “get on my mat for just 5 minutes.” This taught me that all I needed to create a practice was a mat and my breath. After those few minutes I had the choice to stay on my mat or finish my practice and it worked! I never stayed on my mat for just 5 minutes. I got inspired to take care of myself because those five minutes felt great and I wanted to stay longer!

Tara Sullivan

Tara Sullivan

Best advice about my practice was from my teacher Sharon Gannon who said, “The best way to uplift your own life is to do all you can to uplift the lives of others.”

What is the best advice you’ve received from a yoga teacher? Please share in the comments!

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Namaste Teachers: Meet Sadie Chanlett-Avery

Our Namaste Tribe is a powerhouse of wise, talented, and experienced teachers who have dedicated their lives to sharing the gift of yoga with others. We are constantly in awe of the incredible offerings our teachers bring to this community. We are excited to share a new blog series focused on celebrating our teachers and hopefully giving you all a glimpse into the talented team that makes up Namaste Yoga + Wellness.

Meet Sadie Chanlett-Avery

How long have you been at Namaste?
I have been at Namaste for 7 years.

What inspired you to become a yoga instructor?
I’ve always has a knack for teaching and found a passion for yoga. I haven’t found anything else that suits me better.

Best advice you have ever received relating to your practice?
Don’t get too attached to the yoga “magic” My teacher told me that those moments come and go but can throw you off track. Stay focused on the daily details of the practice.

Sadie-Chanlett-Avery-Biker

Your favorite self-care practices?
Sleep and shared meals.

What is your morning routine?
I drink herbal tea while I make breakfast and coffee. Then I often write and have social media time before practicing.

What are you involved with outside the studio?
I serve as the In-House Yogi at Clif Bar Co. I lead kettlebell training, perinatal training, and the yoga program. I also try to write everyday.

Sadie

How often do you practice?
Daily.

Absolute favorite asana?
Dynamic movement: finding the space between the poses.

Do you have a favorite yoga story?
One time I did a private session with my friend’s mom. She was a timid, Midwestern lady and I remember demo’ Warrior I for her. She cowered, backed off a bit and wrung her hands, asking, “Did you say ‘Worrier’ pose?”

What is your favorite thing about yoga?
It really wants you to be you as you are. Messy. Amazing. Strong. Silly. Dedicated. Vulnerable. and Crazy Powerful.

What is something you wish all of our students understood better?
How completely perfect and whole they are already!


SadieProfileBSadie Chanlett-Avery, holistic fitness trainer, yoga instructor, and writer, was named a 2013 Athleta Sponsored Athlete. As the In-house Yogi at Clif Bar & Co. she directs the yoga and perinatal programs, trains with kettlebells, and serves on the Wellness Team. Sadie received her teacher certification from Ana Forrest and has immersed for months in the jungles of Costa Rica with Master Yoga and Meditation Teacher, Glenn Black. Her M.A. in Holistic Health Education and multiple fitness certifications lends antomical depth to her innovative and playful classes.

She appreciates the diverse expression of the human genome with the belief that people of all ages and sizes can benefit from exercise and heal with yoga. Teaching for over ten years, she applies ancient yogic principles to individual needs and modern lifestyles.

Join Sadie for her next workshop:
Intro to Yoga
Sunday, January 11 at Namaste Rockridge

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