Yoga Teachers Who Inspire

yoga teacher interviews

Over the years I’ve interviewed some of my favorite yoga teachers.

Here are the highlights:

You’ve said yoga will “ruin” your life as you know it… What did you mean by that? And how has it ruined yours?

It’s completely ruined mine! I think you’re never off the hook. Once you know about the philosophy and “the path,” you know when you’re off it.  

Recently I went to a party and some friends were talking about another person who was not there. The talk was not kind (*not* ahimsa) and probably not entirely true (*not* satya).  

I didn’t get up and leave the conversation and it’s really heavy on me this morning. My body told me to get up—I felt a little nauseas (another way you’re *ruined*—you’re more aware of your physical and emotional feelings). I even had dreams about it last night.  

But I didn’t say anything or excuse myself, and I can’t change it, and there’s no sense in berating myself (back to ahimsa). So I take this experience and set the intention to do it differently next time.

For more with Michelle Marlahan proprietress of It’s All Yoga (Sacramento) – my primary teacher - excerpt from Part 2.

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Madeleine Lohman describing her first yoga class.

It was a beginner’s class, but an accelerated one intended for folks who were already “in shape.” I don’t know what led me to believe that described me. I’ll never forget the teacher kneeling beside me trying to encourage me to roll back into plough pose. All my efforts produced almost no movement, only grunting.

I do remember that I did my first handstand in that class. I actually cried out: “Jeezus!!!”

The teacher didn’t find it funny.

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Speaking of laughing and yoga….here’s how Anna Guest-Jelley describes her yoga classes.

I like to describe my classes as a choose-your-own-adventure book.  Remember those? I give lots of different options during class.  I always talk with my students before class to check in and see what’s going on with them so I have an idea of what modifications to offer.  The classes themselves are usually quiet with some bursts of laughter.

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Who or what inspires you? Who are your favorite yoga teachers?

Interested in learning more about our Featured Teachers? Here’s the full archive.

Are you interested in being a Teacher Goes Back to School Featured Teacher? Contact me at TGBTS blog AT g mail dot com – subject line: Featured Teacher

Image: sudheer and son mayan riviera by lululemon athletica on Flickr (cc)

All Together Now….A Long, Steady Exhale

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Michelle wrote an excellent piece about breathing called Epidemic Inhale. Please go read it.

No, really.

Go.

Read.

It.

Ok, while you were there did you follow her directions for a long, slow, steady exhale?

Feels good, doesn’t it?

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This is what yoga is for me now: one giant exhale.

A time and a place to just LET.IT.BE.

Reminders to pause, yawn, and be conscious of my breathing and how my body feels.

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It hasn’t always been this way.

I’m pretty sure most people are thinking I’m making funny shapes with my body when I’m “at yoga” and for a long time that is exactly what I did. The more difficult the class, the better.

I was ‘doing’ yoga, damnit.

But now, I’m focusing on the not doing. Letting things go. Asking myself what my body really needs in this moment.

More often than not, my body is craving rest.

And exhaling.

As a culture we spend so much going, going, going. Always pushing forward and racing from one project, meeting, soccer game to the next.  I am totally do this too. Even as I sit here with seven open tabs on my computer – including three email accounts, Twitter and Facebook.

So I rest.

You can too.

Ready?

All together now:

A long, steady exhale.

Mother’s Day Gift Guide for the Yoga Momma

Mother’s Day in the United States is Sunday, May 13th and I’m so excited because it is my first.

It’s recently come to my attention, thanks to Twitter, that Mother’s Day gifts need not be heart-shaped jewelry or flowers. Not that there’s anything wrong with those gifts (if you like those sorts of things), but not all mommas are into them.

So if you have a yoga momma in your life or if are a yoga momma yourself, here are some Mother’s Day gift ideas.

Photo credit: Vanessa Vitchit-Vadakan

Idea#1 – A Yoga Workshop

If I were to pick a workshop, I’d choose Mary Paffard’s Circles, Cycles and Spirals: Yoga and Ayerveda for Women’s Health.  It’s being co-taught by Mary and her daughter, Cyd on Sunday, June 3rd.

If you haven’t had the pleasure of taking a workshop with Mary, I highly recommend it. She’s wickedly, yet understatedly funny, infinitely knowledgable and is a huge proponent of rest. Clearly a teacher after my heart. Plus she has a British accent!

Idea #2 – A One Day Yoga Retreat

One of my 43 Before 43 was to attend a yoga retreat. I’ve already been to two in the last six months. I’m telling you, this is the absolute best spa day ever. Way better than actually going to a spa.

Michelle’s retreat (July 22nd) includes restorative yoga poses, journaling, silence, a delicious vegetarian lunch and a whole lot of heartwarming community. I couldn’t recommend it higher. Simply the best way to spend a day.

Idea #3 – A Private Yoga Session

Have you ever wanted to get pointers on a pose that just isn’t quite working for you? Do you have an injury or are you recuperating from an illness? Have you ever wanted the teacher in a regular class to focus on a particular area of the body?

Those are some of the reasons to have a private session with a favorite yoga teacher.

 Idea #4 – At Home Yoga Practice with MY favorite teacher

Sometimes life gets in the way of going somewhere else to practice. Wouldn’t it be nice to have what you needed to get on your mat at home?

Not sure where to start?

My favorite teacher, Michelle, has some videos for what ails you.

Work on your computer too much? Try this heart openers class

Feeling scattered and like your feet aren’t quite touching the ground? Try this grounding class.

Idea #5 – Yoga Props for Restorative Yoga at Home

I’m not going to lie, these props make me a happy, happy momma.

Click on the image for purchase information.

This list turns out to be MY real Mother’s Day wish list. Obviously not everyone is in Sacramento and able to come to workshops at It’s All Yoga, but there are studios close to where you live that your yoga momma might want a gift from.

Happy Mother’s Day!

What’s on your wish list?

At Home Yoga Retreat {and Mini Restorative Yoga Class}

This coming Sunday, November 6th, instead of teaching my regular Sunday Snooze restorative class at It’s All Yoga, I am lucky enough to be able to participate in the Emotional Rescue Retreat with Michelle from Love Wasting Time. {Don’t worry regular Snoozers, I’ll be back in the first Sunday of December}.

Check this out.

The purpose of the retreat is to:

• restore
• be pampered
• be in silence
• slow down, tune in, and align with your higher purpose
• reflect on the upcoming holiday season
• give yourself permission to take a day, just for you

A day of restorative postures, journaling, breath-work, discussion, meditation, an organic lunch and the support of a circle of women. Held in the sanctuary of the It’s All Yoga studio.

Sounds good, huh?

Want to join me in this day of retreating in the comfort of your own home?

What you’ll need:

45 to 90 minutes {or whatever you can do}

a quiet spot where you can be alone or with other retreaters

comfy, warm yoga clothes

yoga mat

pillows

blankets

eye pillow or dark scarf

ear plugs

blocks, bolster and straps if you have them {no biggie if you don’t}

quiet alarm

Or if you find this list to be too much, just yourself and a way to keep time.

To begin:

Turn off your phone, unplug your computer and shut off the TV.

Bring mat and all your props with you – including your quiet alarm.

Lie down in Constructive rest – flat on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor hip distance. Knees can be hip width or rest toward each other – whatever feels comfortable for your body. Hands can rest where they are comfortable.

Stay here and breathe normally 10 minutes.

When your alarm sounds, bring your knees to chest and gently rock side to side.

Find your favorite savasana (corpse) position using all the props you’d like. Some suggestions: knees over a bolster or pillow and covered up with a blanket, legs up the wall, a bolster running the length of your spine and soles of feet together with pillows/rolled blankets under the knees for support.

The idea is to make yourself as comfortable as possible so you can just relax. {For more information on restorative yoga}

Stay here and breathe normally for 30 minutes.

Yep, 30 minutes.

What if you fall asleep? You are probably tired.

What if your to-do list is suddenly in the fore front of your mind and you feel as if you must get up NOW? Let it go and know it will wait for you.

What if your mind jumps from topic to topic to topic? Just notice the breath coming in and out of your body and try to watch your mind instead of hanging on to each story.

When will the 30 minutes be over? In 30 minutes.

When your alarm sounds, gently awaken your body. Wiggle fingers and toes, slowly roll ankles and wrists, stretch arms over head and catch a deeper breath and maybe a yawn.

Wake yourself as if you’re sleeping in a really nice hotel and you have absolutely nothing to do.

Roll to the side – and rest – before you use your arms to push yourself to a comfortable seat on the floor.

Write about your experience while drinking a warm cup of your favorite tea and enjoying a healthy lunch.

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Have you ever taken a day for restoration? How did it go? Please share your tips, fears and thoughts.

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In Case You Missed It Edition! Volume 34 {back to school, expectations and enough}

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I’ve found some links to posts that made me laugh, cry, think or at least raise an eyebrow. Please click the links and check out the posts. You may find something that rocks your world too.

Leave me some feedback in the form of comments below on what you liked, what you hated and what you’d like to see more of. I’m here to help you find the best of what is online.

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So you may have heard, it’s already back to school for a lot of teachers. Many are already setting up classrooms, making new lesson plans and dreaming of how this year will be the best yet. Every August for the last eight years, I’ve  returned to work with big plans to help my students succeed and this year instead I’m turning my house into a home for a baby.

A lot of the same feelings are coming up: excitement, anticipation, anxiety, perfectionism.

In other words, I’ve had lots of opportunities to practice self kindness, managing realistic expectations and the concept of enough.

My Best Of…

….But no one ever bothered to tell the boss that her expectations were so completely unreasonable as to be inhuman….

Havi at the Fluent Self is talking bad bosses, expectations and teams of magic makers. Deadline? Oh Really?  spoke to my inner mean boss who simultaneously wants me to stay completely chill while making my house Martha-worthy. Or if I was in the classroom, making sure every.single.thing was perfect before the first day of school.

No pressure or anything. Ugh.

Let’s all try to keep expectations at least some what realistic, shall we?  

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10 Ways You Can Have Enough Money and Stuff from Be More with Less. Unexpectedly taking a year unpaid from work has my inner ‘enough’ alarm bells sounding on a pretty regular basis these days. This post helped me find some perspective.

How do you define enough?

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Back to School Jitters: Theirs and Yours Some tips for managing the return of school from Jen at Classic Play.

Any other tips to add?

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Socializing with Students: To Brunch or Not to Brunch?  Madeleine brings up the pros, the cons and the dirt on who can get hurt. So useful for teachers of all kinds.

Do you socialize with your students?

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Because I love you:

FREE yoga with my lovely teacher/friend Michelle.

Confessions of a Recovering Flowtard - yet another book I want to read {BOOK CLUB?} – Yoga Bitch: One Woman’s Quest to Conquer Skepticism, Cynicism, and Cigarettes On the Path To Enlightenment.

Do you think this Suzanne is my new BFF? 

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That is the In Case You Missed It Edition, folks.

Remember to click the links and leave some comments. This is a conversation, you know.

In Case You Missed Edition Archives -click it to see them all.


In Case You Missed It Edition! Volume 27

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Each week I’ll give you links to posts that made me laugh, cry, think or at least raise an eyebrow. Please click the links and check out the posts. You may find something that rocks your world too.

Leave me some feedback in the form of comments below on what you liked, what you hated and what you’d like to see more of. I’m here to help you find the best of what is online.

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2 words: SPRING. BREAK.

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My Best Of…

An interview with the It’s All Yoga Curvy Crew over at Curvy Yoga. Part 1 today and Part 2 later this week. So.Much.Love.

Good Enough Is the New Perfect is now a real book! I’ve read it and I loved it.

Yes and Yes makes me happy. If you aren’t reading it yet, please stop what you’re doing (ok, after you’ve finished reading TGBTS!) and get yourself over there.  Sarah has created a Post College Survival Kit I wish had existed when I was graduating. Some sound enticing now as a grown up. Do you think she’d notice if a 41-year-old signed up?

Loved this post from Seth Godin. Turning The Habit of Self-Criticism Upside Down

Have you checked in with your 3rd Chakra lately? Michelle’s exploration of this feisty one and her questions got me thinking.

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Curvy yogis Photoshoot/ Yoga Journal Talent Search Update:

Thank you all who five-starred our photos over at Yoga Journal’s Talent Search! A strange experience seemed to be had by all.

I’m still shaking my head about that rating business.

In any case you’ll be able to see the finalists on April 21st.

The Curvy Yogi Gallery is up! Check out the lovelies. One of them appears to be sleeping…

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Speaking of curvy (and not) Northern California/Sacramento friends – are you coming to the nextSwapAsana?

{THIS SATURDAY – April 23rd- start saving your swapables now.}

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That is the In Case You Missed It Edition for this week, folks.

Remember to click the links and leave some comments. This is a conversation, you know.

In Case You Missed Edition Archives -click it to see them all.


Celebrate National Library Week! Books I Love: Tales from the Yoga Studio {A Giveaway!}

It’s National Library Week and as part of that I’ve committed to sharing my favorite book, album and movie titles with my readers this week.

What a better way to start off the week than with a giveaway?

{Now you will have a chance to WIN THIS BOOK!}


{click the book to read about the book and more importantly to learn more about the author}

Title:  Tales from the Yoga Studio

Author: Rain Mitchell

Genre: Novel

Synopsis: A low-key local yoga teacher with a special gift for reaching people is targeted as the “Next Big Thing” by a high-powered company.

My thoughts: I made a connection right away. It reminded me of some of my gifted yoga teacher friends and what might happen if suddenly someone wanted to pay them a lot of money and make them famous. Would they sell out and become part of the yoga machine or would they stay true to themselves?

Being a part of a small studio that flies under the radar for most people, but totally changes lives, I identified with this story. How would I react if suddenly our studio became overrun with the rich and famous?  Or worse, if the teachers suddenly became like unattainable rock stars?

So are you ready to read this book yet?

A super quick read with some very likeable characters that clearly struck a nerve for me. I recommend reading it especially if you have a beloved teacher who (you hope) isn’t ever going to be on the cover of a yoga magazine.

Want to win my (advanced readers) copy of this book ?

Mandatory Entry is:

1. Leave a comment and tell me what you think makes a great yoga teacher.
Options for Extra Entries:
  • Subscribe to My Blog Via Email & Confirm Subscription (upper right hand corner)
  • Tweet this post or share it on Facebook.
  • In order to ensure I see all your entries – please leave a separate comment for each entry.
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Am I eligible to win?
Anyone with a valid e-mail and a U.S. mailing address is eligible.

When do I find out if I am the winner?

Contest is open from Sunday, April 1o, 2011 – noon (PST), Sunday, April 17th.

The winner will be chosen the old-fashioned way: names in a hat.

The winner will be announced on Monday, April 18th. You will have 1 week to e-mail us back with your home address so we can mail the prize.

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This giveaway is now CLOSED.

And the winner is… Elizabeth!

In Case You Missed It Edition, Volume 20

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Each week I’ll give you links to posts that made me laugh, cry, think or at least raise an eyebrow. Please click the links and check out the posts. You may find something that rocks your world too.

Leave me some feedback in the form of comments below on what you liked, what you hated and what you’d like to see more of. I’m here to help you find the best of what is online.

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My Best Of…

What makes a great teacher? Hint, it’s not the cute pants. A seriously great post about what makes a great yoga teacher, but really the qualities apply to all kinds of teachers.

How NOT to teach a beginning level class. Again, it applies to all kinds of teaching, not just the yoga kind.

Remember how much you wanted to win a scarf from November’s Featured Teacher –  Alicia at Spirit House Designs? Well, she’s doing a purse GIVE AWAY. Go enter friends! You’ve got until March 12th.

EXCITING NEW ALERT!

Teacher Goes Back to School is growing up! In addition to our regularly scheduled fully restorative yoga class at It’s All Yoga, we are in search of a designer to make TGBTS as pretty as she is useful.

If you know someone or are someone who would like to work on this small-budget project, please send them my way via comment or email TGBTSblog (at) gmail dot com.

Speaking of pretty and useful blogs – have you checked out Charlotte’s Fancy? Love this victory garden post.

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Curvy Yogis update – save the date for the last weekend of March for photo shoot. Details to follow. Our photographer is traveling and we’re coordinating schedules the best we can.

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That is the In Case You Missed It Edition for this week, folks.

Remember to click the links and leave some comments. This is a conversation, you know.

In Case You Missed Edition Archives -click it to see them all.


Saturday Senses

Saturday Senses is a way to capture the spirit of each week.


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tasting :: rice and shine cereal

hearing :: pop songs that make me smile out loud

smelling :: everything just a little bit clearer.

seeing :: spring like light in the late afternoon – the days are definitely getting longer!

feeling :: better than i have in years (or ever).

wishing/hoping :: today is my lovely friend, michelle’s birthday. wishing her the happiest birthday of all the birthdays and hoping her journey back from belize is a safe one.

What about you?

What are your senses this Saturday?

Looking back, how was your week?

Leave a comment and tell me all about it.

This weekly tradition inspired by Pink of Perfection’s Five Sense Friday.

Don’t forget to click the links!

MadYoga Goes Online! Part 2 – Madeleine Lohman Interview

Teachers.

Don’t you just love them?

I know I do.

There are those that inspire me and those that make me laugh. Some help me solve problems in my classroom and others that help me solve problems in my life.

I’d like to introduce you to some of my favorite teachers here.

Teachers in studios, classrooms and in the world at large. These are the folks you will see featured in my new series of interviews here at Teacher Goes Back to School.

I hope you enjoy these teachers as much as I do!

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Have you met Madeleine Lohman yet? Click here for Part 1.

When did you start blogging? Why?

I started blogging really recently, and I did it because you told me to.

This is only a slight exaggeration.

I have lots of these smart friends who write consistently amazing and inspiring blogs and I have been incredibly reluctant to get on board.

Even though I have a lot of extrovert skills, I am at heart an introvert, and had a complex network of reasons why blogging would Not Be A Good Idea. But, through the gentle, persistent reassurance of people like you who insisted they would like to hear what I had to say, I got it over with, and I now love it.

In fact, I’ve signed on for #reverb10, pledging to write every day in December based on prompts regarding the year past and the year to come. Baptism with fire.

What is your blog about?

I call it the yoga of the day-to-day. Making a habit of taking the lessons from your mat and bringing them regularly into your daily life. And not just into the quiet moments of your life, but the hard and loud and uncomfortable ones. What Pema Chodron refers to as the “squeeze” – when you’re least likely to think of yoga, that’s when you need it.

Didn’t you recently guest post over at Bows and Sparrows?

I did.

Here’s the link to the Holiday Gift Guide for the Yogi.

What blogs do you read?

Well, besides yours, duh…

Kim at www.yogaquest.wordpress.com – yoga!

Havi at www.thefluentself.com – mindful biggification!

Michelle at www.blogasana.wordpress.com – although I hear this is changing…

Who and what inspires you?

People who handle adversity with grace.

My incredible students.

The change of the seasons.

My dog when he realizes we are, in fact, going for a walk.

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If you’d like to learn more about Madeleine check out her new website and blog!

Please leave any questions or comment love below – we’d love to hear from you.

INTERVIEW ARCHIVES:

November 2010: Alicia Herrera – 4th grade teacher/Textile Artist - Spirit House Designs.

October 2010: Ryan Fong – Teaching Assistant/PhD Candidate in English at UC Davis.

September 2010: Michelle Marlahan- Proprietress/Fairy Queen of It’s All Yoga in Sacramento, California.

Trying Technology

December 18 – Try

What do you want to try next year? Is there something you wanted to try in 2010? What happened when you did / didn’t go for it?

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2011

I want to try to use technology better next year. I’ve already committed to learning to use Skype over my winter break and have already lined up some people to help me figure it out.

What is your favorite can’t-live-without-it technology? What makes your life easier/more fun/productive?

Please note: NOTHING is too obvious. I practically have a stone tablet on my lap for getting these posts out. {Just sayin’ – I may be one of the models in the photo}.

Please share what you love and why you love it. Maybe you’ll convince me to try your favorite.

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2010

This year I wanted to try teaching yoga.

What happened?

At first, I totally freaked out.

Then I got a grip and I loved it.

I am so grateful for Michelle’s February Recess and her faith in my teaching.

I’m also glad I didn’t quit because I was afraid.

Teaching yoga has taught me things I wouldn’t have ever known otherwise.

So grateful.

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What did you try this year? How did it turn out?


(Author: Kaileen Elise)

In Case You Missed It Edition! Volume 8

Each week I’ll give you links to posts that made me laugh, cry, think or at least raise an eyebrow. Please click the links and check out the posts. You may find something that rocks your world too.

Leave me some feedback in the form of comments below on what you liked, what you hated and what you’d like to see more of. I’m here to help you find the best of what is online.

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My Best Of…

Two WordsOne from 2010 and one for 2011 – I almost wish I would have picked these. {While you are there, I highly recommend signing up for updates on Michelle’s newest project. I already have and I can’t wait to find out more.}

Why is Teaching A Lonely Job? – Mrs. Ripp asks the question and wants to hear your thoughts.

A Moment of (Perceived) Stillnessso beautiful.

Simple Living News from Rowdy Kittens – Includes: Women in blogging, A Case Against Buying Christmas Presents and A Boycott of Perfectionism.

Remember 7th Grade?Ever wonder if grades or what you say as a teacher matters?

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That is the In Case You Missed It Edition for this week folks.

Remember to click the links and leave some comments. This is a conversation, you know.

In Case You Missed Edition Archives: Volume 7,  Volume 6,  Volume 5,  Volume 4,  Volume 3,  Volume 2,  Volume 1

It’s All Yoga. {Seriously} – An Interview with Michelle Marlahan – PART 2 – Getting Down to Business

 Teachers.

 Don’t you just love them?     

I know I do.     

There are those that inspire me and those that make me laugh. Some help me solve problems in my classroom and others that help me solve problems in my life.     

I’d like to introduce you to some of my favorite teachers here.     

Teachers in studios, classrooms and in the world at large. These are the folks you will see featured in my new series of interviews here at Teacher Goes Back to School.     

I hope you enjoy these teachers as much as I do!     

First up, my primary yoga teacher, Michelle Marlahan- Proprietress/Fairy Queen of It’s All Yoga in Sacramento, California.      

In case you missed it, here is Part One – Yoga Basics.  

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photo credit: ashlee gadd

 

  

 Your studio called It’s All Yoga.  

What does that mean?   

It means pretty much what it sounds like. Everything can be seen as yoga (with the big y). It isn’t the shapes we make on our mats. It isn’t taking your cute mat bag and new pants to class because it’s hip right now. It isn’t using the lingo and om-ing and having a “namaste” sticker on your car.  

I would say the less obvious it is, the more authentic it is… The idea that “holiness is a mysterious thing: the greater it is, the less it is noticed” (unknown author).  

“it’s all yoga” is:  

  •  being stopped in your tracks at the beauty of the sunset
  • it’s being still and quiet for a moment
  • it’s looking someone in the eyes during a conversation
  • it’s living with the intention of the tenets of yoga (which are incredibly similar across spiritual disciplines) rather than just talking or reading about them.

To consider and live from the idea of non-harming, for example, would probably mean a pretty big shift in most of our lives: gossip, environmental impact, actual violence.  

It can seem overwhelming or unrealistic, and while changes like that take an incredible amount of awareness, I think it’s actually quite possible to live in this modern world by these principles.  

Middle path, baby.  

Do you have a meditation practice?   

Yes, and… It too changes. Sometimes it’s more reflective, as in the process of journaling. Sometimes it’s just 5 minutes of sitting.  

I would say, though, that this is the single most important and powerful thing we can do: to sit with the ever-changing flow of ourselves… Thought, feeling, sensation… Without being swept away and impressed/depressed by it all. Just to be with.  

You’ve said yoga will “ruin” your life as you know it… What did you mean by that? And how has it ruined yours?  

It’s completely ruined mine! I think you’re never off the hook. Once you know about the philosophy and “the path,” you know when you’re off it.  

Recently I went to a party and some friends were talking about another person who was not there. The talk was not kind (*not* ahimsa) and probably not entirely true (*not* satya).  

I didn’t get up and leave the conversation and it’s really heavy on me this morning. My body told me to get up—I felt a little nauseas (another way you’re *ruined*—you’re more aware of your physical and emotional feelings). I even had dreams about it last night.  

But I didn’t say anything or excuse myself, and I can’t change it, and there’s no sense in berating myself (back to ahimsa). So I take this experience and set the intention to do it differently next time.  

{Click here to read about MM’s No-Talking-About-People-Experiment 

What is your blog – Blogasana: Daring Self-Care Through Yoga and Other Wacky Practices – about?  

Life.  

Self care.  

My struggles.  

What other blogs do your read? Why do you read what you read?  

 I read the blogs of friends, mostly to stay in touch and relate to their lives.  

I’ve stopped reading people I don’t have some kind of connection with. It can get so overwhelming. I was having the feeling of constantly “catching up” and feeling like I would miss the secret of my life if I didn’t read them all!  

Who and what inspires you?  

 Nature.  

Animals.  

My hubby.  

My friends and family.  

Little things. When we leave a restaurant, Ron will take our leftovers to a homeless person. When he hands it to them, he calls them “brother.” it gets me every time.  

Please leave any questions or comment love below:     

If you want to learn more about Michelle or 13 Things We Believe at It’s All Yoga:     

She’s on Twitter at @michelmarlahan     

Subscribe to her blog and all the goodness comes directly to your email – Blogasana:  Daring Self Care Through Yoga (and Other Wacky Practices)     

{Michelle’s photo credit: Ashlee Gadd}     

{click images for source} 

Saturday Senses

Saturday Senses is a way to capture the spirit of each week.  

  

tasting ::  perfect farmer’s market strawberries in august.

hearing ::  lots of great feedback on the michelle from it’s all yoga interview. {stay tuned for part 2!}

smelling ::  a mid-week spa day: sauna and hot tub. 

seeing :: students working for preferred activity time! fred jones is a secret genius.

feeling ::  tired. the first few weeks of school keep me up too late and wake me up too early. can’t.turn.off.my.brain.

wishing/hoping ::  everyone has a safe and restful holiday weekend.

What are your senses this Saturday?  Looking back, how was your week?    

Leave me a comment to tell me made your week memorable.    

This weekly tradition was inspired by Pink of Perfection’s Five Sense Friday

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It’s All Yoga, People… An Interview With Michelle Marlahan – Yoga Basics

Teachers.

Don’t you just love them?

I know I do.

There are those that inspire me and those that make me laugh. Some help me solve problems in my classroom and others that help me solve problems in my life.

I’d like to introduce you to some of my favorite teachers here.

Teachers in studios, classrooms and in the world at large. These are the folks you will see featured in my new series of interviews here at Teacher Goes Back to School.

I hope you enjoy these teachers as much as I do!

 First up, my primary yoga teacher, Michelle Marlahan- Proprietress/Fairy Queen of It’s All Yoga in Sacramento, California.

When did you start practicing yoga?

I started practicing yoga in the mid 90s. There was a wellness program at my job (UC Davis Medical Center) and they started offering yoga.

This really sweet woman, who, I now know, did mostly calisthenics, taught the classes for about a year. It was easy lovely stretching. Then she left and a new teacher came in who took it up a notch. It was more physical. In one class she did a modified side plank on the knee, which I’d done before, and she added the “if you want to make this more challenging…” and took her bottom leg back into full side plank.

In that moment, for some reason, it clicked for me that there was a lot more to this “yoga” than I’d been experiencing. I set out to discover what that was.

Why did you start practicing yoga?

Honestly, I started because it was there. It was convenient, someone else in my department was going, it was easy. And then, of course, I got hooked.

It also brought part of myself that had been separated or compartmentalized together. I grew up going to church and had continued here in Sacramento through college. I loved the ritual, the reverence and the discipline of going every week. But over time I stopped participating in all the responses (I was catholic) because they didn’t feel right. I didn’t believe it, so I sectioned off what was useful.

When I started learning about the philosophy of yoga, it brought that separated part back into the whole, back into me. It, or I, felt like a complete, vibrant, living thing.

Where did you practice back when you started?

After the classes at the Med Center I started going to Healthy Habits, which offered yoga as well as other fitness-y things. I supplemented that with reading and study.

How has your yoga practice evolved over time?

Oh my gosh, how hasn’t it changed? I started soft and stretchy (even though I was neither — at that time I was a runner), then became interested in the physical aspects (I was in my mid 20s, after all…) And liked doing challenging classes, then I got more “serious” and started going to a bona fide yoga studio (the only one in town).

It was heated practice (85 degrees). I got a little addicted to the heat — it was definitely an ego rush to be so much more flexible. I injured myself several times by over-stretching and being over stimulated by the heat (not able to feel my appropriate boundaries).

Thankfully my practice evolved from that phase and subsequently became a lot more grounded, less adrenalized.

In just the last few years I’ve softened and matured — in my own practice and in my teaching. I’m a completely different teacher than I was even 3 years ago… And 3 years before that. If you’re not changing and evolving as a teacher (or  person/mother/partner/friend/etc), you’re not paying attention.

How long have you been a yoga teacher?

I took my first teacher training in 2001

Why did you open your studio - It’s All Yoga?

I had a full-time job, taught for the people I worked with during lunch twice a week, and taught at another studio once a week. It was *fine*.

Even though financially I had a “great job,” I didn’t like it and there was a disparity between how I was living and how I wanted to live.

The dream of the studio probably came from seeing a gap in what was available. I longed for a space and community where *I* would want to practice.

My husband is actually the reason It’s All Yoga opened. He went into the business that was closing (at our first location) and got the landlord’s info… Called him and inquired… And nudged me. He’s been incredibly supportive and encouraging.

You do a lot of readings in class. What’s the deal with the poetry?

I’ve loved poetry since childhood and, particularly at certain times in my life, reading/writing poetry has been an outlet, a touchstone, a place to ground and grow and explore new ideas.

Pretty early on in my teaching I would read a passage of some kind — maybe a yoga-related thing. Eventually I started reading poems that I loved. About 5 years ago I met my teacher Mary (Paffard) who also reads poetry, which was wonderful because I was able to enjoy it as a student. It adds so much to the practice for me. As a teacher, poems and writings support the theme of the class so much more effectively and beautifully than I could with my own words.

{For more of Michelle’s thought on poetry, check out her post}

A multipart question!

Do you have a home practice? What is it like? How often? Where? How did you start and how do you keep at it?

You can’t teach yoga if you don’t have a home practice (in my opinion=). You also have to have practice time that is separate from your prep time, which is often the hardest part.

My home practice varies day-to-day, week to week and is dependent on so many things: my energy level, how I’ve slept, if I teach that day, time of the month, season of the year, how my body is, and what I’m interested in. My time on my mat has always been very instinctively guided — I don’t like to follow sequences or DVDs. Admittedly, I don’t work as hard as I used to!

Currently, I practice in the living room or outside on my yoga deck (my favorite). At times I’ve had a designated room and it’s been lovely… But when it comes down to it, so little is needed to practice, let alone take a stretch or a mindful breath. We can get caught in the endless story of “I’ll do it when everything is just so… Just right… “

As for the “what,” often I’ll do some breath practice and stretching after a morning walk, and then have a more formal practice in the afternoon. Sometimes it’s nothing more than a few poses in bed in the morning {FREE VIDEO ALERT!} Or before I go to sleep. And some days I don’t do any formal asana at all {gasp!}.

What’s your favorite pose? Why?

Don’t make me pick just one! It changes by the day. Right now I’m really into shoulders (FREE VIDEO ALERT!) and there’s a hip sequence I do almost everyday.

What’s your least favorite pose?

I’ve made friends with so many poses that at one time were my least favorite. I used to dread Virabhadrasana I (Warrior 1) and now I love, love, love it.

We usually don’t like things we aren’t good at. I have really tight hamstrings, so forward folds are challenging on lots of levels. I can’t stand frog pose. But actually, constructive rest is the worst (crazy, I know) because it presses on a nerve issue in my sacrum.

Stay tuned for PART 2 with Michelle!

Please leave any questions or comment love below:

If you want to learn more about Michelle or 13 Things that We Believe at It’s All Yoga:

She’s on Twitter at @michelmarlahan

Blogasana:  Daring Self Care Through Yoga (and Other Wacky Practices

{Michelle’s photo credit: Ashlee Gadd}

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