Meet Your Teacher, Baxter Bell. He teaches several classes at the Namaste studios and is an integral part of our 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training, as well as the instructor for the popular Yoga for Healthy Aging Course (and weekly classes!) we offer. He began teaching at Namaste shortly after the first studio opened on College Ave in the early 2000s! As a long-time instructor with quite a student following, we wanted to learn more about how he integrates his own practice into his life, how he came to teaching, his daily routines, and more. It’s more inspiring to see that, like ourselves, our beloved instructors are well-rounded individual with multi-faceted interests and passions.
Q: What inspired you to become a yoga instructor?
A: As a busy Family doctor at the time I first started practicing yoga, I was immediately drawn to and grateful for the stress reducing effects of regular practice, in addition to the obvious physical benefits of strength, better balance and improved flexibility.
Q: Which teachers have influenced your practice?
A: In my early days, I studied with Rodney Yee, Richard Rosen, Mary Paffard and Patricia Sullivan, all faculty at the then Piedmont Yoga Studio. I had wonderful retreat experiences with Patricia Walden, Erich Schiffman and a month long training in India with TKV Desikachar in 2005. And my local teacher for many years was Donald Moyer in Berkeley.
Q: What does your yoga practice look like and how has it changed your life?
A: My practice has much more meditation time now than when I first started to practice yoga. I still enjoy and use my pose practice to maintain my strength, flexibility, balance and agility, as well as to address minor musculoskeletal issues that inevitably arise living in a human body. But as time goes on, I am finding the more subtle practices more essential to mental-emotional well-being and equanimity, breath work, sound work and meditation.
Q: What is your morning or evening routine that connects you to your self?
A: I love to meditate right out of bed in the am, when my mind and the world is still quiet. Then a leisurely asana practice afterwards as my schedule permits. I also love to steal away for an hour in the mid-afternoon for a balanced practice of poses, breath and meditation.
Q: What is your favorite thing about being a teacher?
A: I love to engage, educate and inspire my students, with a nice side serving of levity!
Q: What is something you wish your students knew?
A: I wear many hats — in addition to being a yoga teacher, I also maintain a complementary practice offering acupuncture and yoga therapy in Oakland. And I love playing music, being a life-long violinist.
Q: Can you recommend any inspiring reading or listening material?
A: I co-founded and have been a weekly contributor to the Yoga for Healthy Aging blog, which is on sabbatical right now, but has over 1700 archived posts on just about any topic related to health, illness, injury and yoga. I have a wonderful book that I co-authored on the same subject, Yoga for Healthy Aging (Aside: You can find this book in the Namaste boutiques!). I also have a growing library of free yoga videos on my YouTube Channel, Baxter Bell Yoga!
Q: What are you involved with outside the studio?
A: I travel the country and the world, offering workshops and retreats on Yoga for Healthy Aging and similar topics. As mentioned above, I love to play music and love to gather with friends to have jams on a regular basis.
Q: What other movement forms help you to feel connected to yourself?
A: In addition to yoga, I find dance, especially Salsa, quite energizing, as well as playing tennis with my sweetie!
Q: What is your favorite thing about the Bay Area?
A: The fascinating array of people that come from all over the country and the world to live, work and study here. I love the diversity of Oakland, and the proximity to so much amazing natural beauty.