Classroom Teachers Who Inspire

i heart teachersOne of the best parts of being a classroom teacher is being inspired and awed by your co-workers – the big ones and the little ones.

Classroom teachers are freaking amazing, multi-talented people. And these teachers are truly inspirational. They not only spend their days in the classroom, they also spend time on a yoga mat.

Find out who and what inspires them:

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Jenna Francisco of This is My Happiness:

People who are kind, simple, and interested in the betterment of all humans.  People, especially quirky or creative ones, who are 100% comfortable being themselves.  Societies that value slowness, simplicity, and equality.

I’m inspired to be in the moment every day, whether it’s just relaxing, spending time with my sons, or even going to work.  I’m inspired by history and art, and I won’t lie—I love to travel and want to live overseas, (both very outside-of-the-moment!), so I’m inspired to see as much of this world as I can in my short life.

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Amy Estes (formerly of Just a Titch) and now Coffee and Sunshine

I think working in a profession where I’m forced to be creative is good for inspiration—teenagers see the world so differently than I do, and also, kids are brutally honest about how they’re feeling, which definitely inspires thoughts. Otherwise, I find inspiration in a good book, a song that makes me want to dance or cry, conversations with my closest friends, a long drive on a sunny day, in cooking or baking, during a long bath or shower and the things that I write off-line, in my paper journal.

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Jed Brewer of Lather Records

I’m drawn to people that are smart, creative, and weird.  Occasionally, I need some boring down time to recover from everything, but I like watching, hearing, and talking to people that let it all hang out.  People that risk embarrassment or being misunderstood to do something that’s a little different.  Not the Jackass people, but creative or even political people.

I also get off on stuff from the natural world.  I’m fascinated by topography – land shapes, gorges, mountains, rivers, etc.  And animals, of course.  The Amazing Yans inspires me just about every day.

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Ryan Fong of Deep Homework

I have many people who inspire me. 

  • My partner, Eric, inspires me to see myself in the way that he sees me—with unconditional love and compassion. 
  • My uncle is an inspiration for a life lived well and very mindfully.  He’s a friend, mentor, and model in addition to being my blood relative. 
  • I’m inspired, as I think many of us at IAY are, by the way the community there supports us in experiencing the challenges and joys of really embracing it *all* as yoga. 
  • But mostly, I’m inspired by the universe’s generosity in giving us this present moment to do and be right.  Not right as in correct, but as in right here, right now and just right.

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Who or what inspires you?

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Want to learn more about the Teacher Goes Back to School Featured Teachers? Here’s the full archive.

Do you know a kick ass yoga practicing classroom teacher? Is that you? Please let me know!

Image source: Abstract light photography pink heart bokeh photography … by mylittlepixels on Etsy

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)

Catching Up with Alicia Herrera of Spirit House Designs + a GIVEAWAY!

Last November I interviewed my fellow public school teacher, adoptive mom (to be), and owner of Spirit House Designs, Alicia Herreraas part of my Featured Teacher Series.

Here’s a snap shot of our conversation recently.

What is happening in your adoption?

We are now 27 months into our adoption pregnancy.  After the initial flurry of paperwork, classes, and home study, we have been more or less waiting.  And, because all of the legal documents tent to be valid only for a year, we have renewed all of our paperwork once, too.

We are pretty much at the “top” of the list for getting an important phone call- the one where we are matched with our child.  After we are matched, it will be another 4-8 months while we go through the court system. We hope to have a toddler at home this time next year!

What’s changed since last year?

One big change has happened since this time last year.

The program that we were in (Thailand) basically slowed to a stop. International adoption is dicey in that the process can take so long that policy changes happen mid-process.  We were advised by our adoption agency to switch countries if we were wishing to complete an adoption in the next couple of years (yes!).

Adoptive parent requirements vary from country to country and, initially, we had not been married long enough to consider a few other options.  Those options were suddenly open to us, including a very good program with a small children’s home in Taiwan.

Having to change countries is a big fear for adoptive parents because of time and money lost. It can be heartbreaking to essentially “start over”.   We had to face that fear this year and it was hard for us.   More waiting, more money, still no guarantees.  We took a deep breath, crossed our fingers, and reapplied in Taiwan.

Are are you still raising money to fund your adoption through Spirit House Designs? 

 Reapplying meant redoing a lot of paperwork (again!) and repaying fees.  In addition, the program in Taiwan is also about $7,000 more, by design, than Thailand. We expect to spend about $35,000 by the time we are finished, which is roughly a teacher’s take-home salary for one year.  It is amazing to consider!

What’s new at Spirit House Designs?

Oooh. The thing that I am loving the most this year are the silk art scarves.  They have been individually painted, dyed, and then shaped by hand.  I added little specks of light and color to make each one unique.  They look great and feel luxurious.  I put up a tutorial on the blog that shows my favorite way to wear them as scarves, but they are versatile enough to be worn as a shawl, too.

They are such a pleasure to make. Working with silk is filled with meditative moments.  Mixing color, paying attention to the fiber’s response, moving slowly, being open to what each piece wants to become… all of these things are done with intention and love.  I believe that this attitude is what makes each item beautiful and what pleases the wearer. There is no substitution for heart.

I also have the next batch of nuno felted scarves, flowers, huipil cushions, as well as some gifty felted soap, all of which can be seen first at the open studio at the house on November 19th.

Where is your work available?

I will be showing at the Davis Art Center Holiday Sale and the Davis Gift Mart the first weekend in December.  This should be a fun holiday season of sharing both textiles and adoption excitement updates with everybody.

I will also be having a Spirit House studio presale on November 19th, for those who are unable to make the Davis Art Center Sale.  From 10 AM-2 PM, the studio will be open and items will be available for purchase.

The studio sale is by invitation only, but all are very welcome.

{For an invitation, simply submit a comment of interest}.

All of the profits from the presale go directly toward our adoption fund.

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Alicia has generously donated a silk scarf to the readers of Teacher Goes Back To School.

To enter to win – please leave a comment about what color palette interests you most: warm tones or cool tones.

 Options for Extra Entries:

Subscribe to Teacher Goes Back to School via Email & Confirm Subscription (upper right hand corner) and then leave a blog comment telling me you subscribed. If you already are a subscriber, leave a comment letting us know.

Subscribe to Spirit House Designs via Email & Confirm Subscription (upper right hand corner) and then leave a blog comment telling Alicia you subscribed. If you already are a subscriber, leave a comment letting us know.

“Like” Teacher Goes Back to School on Facebook and then leave a blog comment to confirm. If you already like TGBTS, leave a comment letting us know.

“Like” Spirit House Designs on Facebook and then leave a blog comment to confirm.If you already like Spirit House Designs, leave a comment letting us know.

Tweet this post or share it on Facebook and then leave a blog comment to confirm.

Who is 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?

The contest is open from November 13, 2011 until midnight PST on Friday, November 18, 2011. The winner will be announced on November 19th at the Presale. {Need not be present to win.}

You will have 2 weeks to e-mail us back with your home address so we can mail the prize.

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THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED.

Thank you to all who entered.

ABC’s of Me

A bit about me which I hope inspires a bit about you.

Thanks to Frugal Babe for the idea!

The Teacher Gets Alphabetized

A – Age: 41

B – Bed Size: Queen

C – Chore I Dislike:

Work – grading homework, so I don’t. Check it and chuck it is my motto.

Home – dishes.

D – Dog: – I really, really like other people’s dogs.

E – Essential start to my day: Social media

F – Favorite color: – All shades of blue.

G – Gold or Silver? White Gold or silver.

H – Height: 5’4″

I – Instruments played: violin, flute and recorder – all in elementary school with limited success. Daily practice? Hahahaha.

J – Job Title: Elementary school teacher (on parental leave), yoga teacher, desk diva, special projects make-happener.

K – Kids: Very, very soon The Ru will be living in our house.

L – Live: In Midtown Sacramento.

M – Money tip I like best: Always have enough money in the bank so you don’t need your next paycheck.

N – Never plan to… sky dive, bungee jump or any other totally optional activity where I may die.

O – Overnight hospital stays: None I can remember.

P – Pet peeves:

Yoga class – a list just for you. Do you do any of these?

Work/school – inconsistency with messages to kids.

Home – hearing someone floss their teeth or hitting their teeth on the silverware.

Q – Quote from a movie: “No Dan, we were bowling partners.” Demi Moore’s character Debbie in About Last Night.

R – Righty or Lefty? Righty.

S – Siblings: Brothers – all older.

T – Time I wake up: Earlier than I would like most of the time. I’ve heard a rumor babies totally help with sleep.

U – Underwear: Yes.

V – Vegetables I don’t like: radishes, green bell peppers (let those things ripen people!), lettuce. Ok, lettuce is more of a ‘why bother’ than a dislike, but it bugs me. I totally eat it when I go out, but not at home.

W – What makes me run late:  the internet (no online mobile to go for me), unexpected traffic jams.

X – X-rays I’ve had: teeth, shoulder, feet.

Y – Yummy food I make: Recipes!

Z – Zoo animals I like: The big cats – lions, tigers, panthers, oh my! Don’t get me wrong, zoos are less animal prison-ish than in the past, but still weird.

What are the ABCs of you?

If you have a blog, please post and link back here.

If not, leave them in the comments.

This Is My Happiness: On the Yoga Mat – My Interview with Jenna Francisco Part 2

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 Jenna yet? She’s May’s Featured Teacher, professor, blogger and momma.

In case you missed it, here’s PART 1.

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When did you start practicing yoga?

In 1999 or 2000.

Why did you start?

I was curious.  I also had loved ballet as a child and took dance classes in college, and I wanted to get back in touch with something similar, something body-related and calming.

Where did you practice?

I enrolled in an 8-week series at an Iyengar studio in Iowa City,Iowa.  Then I enrolled in another and another.  I moved to Ohio shortly after that and continued with another Iyengar instructor.  Both of them were amazing, strong women in their fifties who could do crazy stuff with their bodies.  They inspired me to get more active and take care of myself.  At the time I had no idea I was learning a particular style of yoga, but I loved the Iyengar focus on body alignment and progression of poses, and I think it gave me a great foundation.


How has your practice evolved over time?

After I moved to Sacramento in 2002, I obviously was exposed to a lot more than just the Iyengar classes I’d been in.  I tried other styles and started practicing a lot at home.  My practice went through phases—sometimes very physical and other times less, depending on how I was feeling or who was teaching my regular classes.

In the 3+ years since I became a mom, it’s been all about enjoying myself and being in the moment.  During my last pregnancy, I had to honor the space I needed to deal with some challenges, so I haven’t been practicing much for the past year but will be reuniting with yoga soon.

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

Before I had kids, I had a pretty regular home practice, sometimes all from me, sometimes from books, and sometimes from videos.  A home practice had 2 big advantages for me: it was free and I could do whatever I wanted.

After It’s All Yoga opened, I started going there for the Saturday and Sunday classes and fell in love with the studio.  The focus of my home practice shifted to restorative and regular meditation, but that has been very up and down.  I include yoga readings and related stuff, which have actually made me a much calmer and more focused person the last few years.  For example, Judith Lasater’s Living Your Yoga changed my outlook and made me happier.  Really.

I hope to get some of that back but will have to redefine it since I have no time to myself in my house now.

What’s your favorite pose? Why?

I have a few.  Triangle and Half-Moon are my favorite standing poses.  I practiced Half-Moon all through my other pregnancy despite the constant changes in the front of my body, so I associate that pose with strength and balance.  I love Pigeon and the feeling of backbends and forward bends.  Yummy.

What’s your least favorite pose?

Anything that requires arm or upper-body strength since I don’t have much.  Say Crow or Headstand, and I get nervous!  That has always been my weakness, so I used to work on it and made good progress, but that has all been lost the last few years.  I’d love to get it back someday soon.

What other blogs do your read? Why?

I mix friends’ blogs and other blogs that I feel pulled to.  For instance, I read yours—we have so much in common, so it’s really fun for me, and I love your recipes.  I read Michelle’s (Blogasana) because I love the way she writes and am inspired by her messages.

As far as other blogs, I read Raamdev.com regularly because he is a genuine, beautiful, special person on a real journey.  He always inspires me and makes me want to be a better human.

For fun, I love this San Francisco photographer’s sites: blog.adampaul.com and adampaulphotography.com.

And for food, which is a passion of mine, I read food52.com and Markbittman.com.  He’s a food genius.

My favorite travel blog is uncornernedmarket.com, written by an inspiring, witty, intelligent couple.  I am constantly wowed by their writing and photography.

Who or what inspires you?

That’s a really hard question!  People who are kind, simple, and interested in the betterment of all humans.  People, especially quirky or creative ones, who are 100% comfortable being themselves.  Societies that value slowness, simplicity, and equality.

I’m inspired to be in the moment every day, whether it’s just relaxing, spending time with my sons, or even going to work.  I’m inspired by history and art, and I won’t lie—I love to travel and want to live overseas, (both very outside-of-the-moment!), so I’m inspired to see as much of this world as I can in my short life.

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If you’d like to learn more about Jenna and her travels check out her blog, This Is My Happiness.

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

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INTERVIEW ARCHIVES:

April 2010 Amy Estes, Just A Titch

March 2010 Anna Guest-Jelley, Founder Curvy Yoga

February 2011: Jed Brewer, Public School Teacher/Music Executive

December 2010: Madeleine Lohman, Yoga Teacher/Massage Therapist

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.

Teaching All Over the World: An Interview with Jenna Francisco of This Is My Happiness

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 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 Jenna? She’s the writer of the inspiring This Is My Happiness: Reflections on Travels and Day-to-Day Joys, college instructor, yogi and momma.

Meet Jenna Francisco -May’s TGBTS Featured Teacher.

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What and where do you teach?

I teach ESL (English as a Second Language) at Cosumnes River College in Sacramento, California.  I teach all levels, from false-beginners to very advanced, and all skills (writing, reading, pronunciation, grammar, etc.).  I love the variety of all the levels of our program, but I prefer teaching the most advanced students because we work with literature, research, and other academic subject matter.

The student population is extremely diverse, from all over the world with different religions, languages, cultures, and ages.  All the students have a story of some kind, from being imprisoned in re-education camps or barely surviving as one of the “boat people” from Vietnam, to being the victim of domestic violence or escaping religious persecution.  I love working with them, and it all makes for a job that never gets boring.

What is your teaching history?

I started teaching rather spontaneously in 1996 in the Czech Republic, but I had no idea what I was doing and basically no support (very few books, no computer), so planning lessons was really hard.  In 1997, I returned to the U.S. and went to graduate school to study linguistics.  I was fortunate to get a full-time teaching position when I graduated in 2000.  I’ve been at CRC since 2002 and have learned how to teach mostly through experience.


What brought you to teaching?

I got a B.A. in art history and planned to go to grad school, but I had a year to kill, so I traveled in Europe for 3 months and visited my best friend from college, who was living in the Czech Republic with the Peace Corps.

I was totally entranced by the idea of living abroad for an extended period of time, so I asked her if I could move in with her.  I started teaching English there because that’s the easiest job for Americans living abroad to find.  I had always loved languages, grammar, and writing, and I ended up realizing I could really love doing it if I could just get trained, which is why I went back to school in 1997.

 Tell us about your blog.

My blog, This Is My Happiness, is something I started for fun more than a year ago.  I originally wanted to write about my travel experiences because traveling is one of my great loves in life, and after I had my first child, I felt a strong desire to travel more, I guess because I felt like life was getting shorter.

My blog has evolved into a place where I have fun expressing myself and occasionally write about other life stuff, too.  An unexpected benefit of it is connecting with others; I love reading and responding to people’s comments and now have on-line friends!

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If you’d like to learn more about Jenna and her travels check out her blog, This Is My Happiness, and be sure to stick around for part 2 – coming soon!

For up to the minute news, you can also follow Jenna on Twitter and you can “like” her blog on Facebook.

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

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INTERVIEW ARCHIVES:

April 2011 Amy Estes, High School English Teacher and writer of Just A Titch

March 2011 Anna Guest-Jelley Brilliant Mind behind Curvy Yoga

February 2011 Jed Brewer Teacher/Musician/Music Executive/Yogi

December 2010: Madeleine Lohman, Yoga Teacher/Massage Therapist

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.

Just A Titch: On the Mat – An Interview with Amy Estes, Part 2

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 Amy yet? She’s April’s Featured Teacher and kick ass high school teacher.

In case you missed it, here’s PART 1.

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When did you start practicing yoga?

My first yoga class was in 2004. It was a Bikram class and even though it was hot and scary, I loved it.

Why did you start?

True confessions: a girl I worked with told me she knew someone who lost 20 lbs in two months doing Bikram. Since I’d have given my left arm to do that, I thought a yoga class seemed pretty reasonable.

I went a few times and on my third session, I found myself laying in corpse pose crying (and not just from the heat!) [Ed. note: What is up with all the crying in yoga?] and realized that it wasn’t just a physical thing happening. I was hooked and used to get up at 5 AM every single day to go to hot yoga before work.

Where did you practice?

I initially started at Bikram Yoga Granite Bay because I was living in Rocklin. When I moved to Midtown in 2004, I moved to Yoga Loka, where I practiced for nearly two years. I tried out It’s All Yoga because I wanted a break from Bikram and then for a variety of reasons, I stopped coming to IAY and/or doing yoga at all.

I found you and Michelle via Twitter, and decided to come back. I’ve slowly gotten more into it and am trying desperately to make it a weekly, regular thing. I think that yoga is hard for me to commit to, because it’s not just a physical workout, all the emotional stuff comes out, too and that can be a little intense for a Wednesday afternoon, you know?

[Ed.note: Yoga can ruin your life as you know it. – as per Michelle].

How has your practice evolved over time?

I love Bikram, and still go occasionally, but I think that often times, the emphasis in that class is about pushing really hard and finding your max. I often feel insecure in those classes because I’m a curvy girl and I can’t do some of the poses.

I prefer to be a lot more gentle with myself. Yoga isn’t just a “workout” — it’s a time when I feel really connected to my body and all of those feelings I have around it, both positive and negative. Also, my practice has changed — positively — since attending Michelle’s classes because I really do feel safe there to bring all my “stuff” because she’s incredibly nurturing, and also a friend.

The older I get, the more okay I am with myself and my particular body and feelings, and that makes yoga more of a joy and less of a competition or place to push myself.

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

My home practice has increased since I started going to CrossFit, simply because I need to stretch all the time. It’s usually a few poses at night, in my living room, with terrible reality TV on in the background. I know, not very yogi-like, but it’s better than nothing, no?

[Ed.Note: Always].

What’s your favorite pose? Why?

Tree and Warrior make me feel really strong and grounded. I love Pigeon because my hips and low back are always tight. I also look forward to a long Savasana after a good practice.

What’s your least favorite pose?

Downward facing dog is my least favorite. Actually, anything inverted at all. It makes the blood rush to my head and I hate that feeling. This probably means I need to do them more, right?

[Ed. note: Or you could kill the dog and NEVER do it again].

What other blogs do your read? Why?

I read well over 100 blogs, so listing them all would take forever. My absolute favorite blogs are Yes and Yes (because she’s smart, funny, and insightful), Mimi Smartypants (because she makes me laugh out loud) and Caffeinate Me (because the author is one of my best friends, and I think she’s an insanely talented writer). I tend to read blogs that I find inspiring but also real.

I love lifestyle blogs, but I also need to feel like I could have the author over for dinner and they wouldn’t judge my pile of laundry. I like blogs that are funny, well-written and helpful in some way, or blogs that belong to people I hold dear (and usually fall into one of those categories anyways!).

Who or what inspires you?

I think working in a profession where I’m forced to be creative is good for inspiration—teenagers see the world so differently than I do, and also, kids are brutally honest about how they’re feeling, which definitely inspires thoughts. Otherwise, I find inspiration in a good book, a song that makes me want to dance or cry, conversations with my closest friends, a long drive on a sunny day, in cooking or baking, during a long bath or shower and the things that I write off-line, in my paper journal.

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If you’d like to learn more about Amy check out her blog, Just A Titch.

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

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INTERVIEW ARCHIVES:

March 2010 Anna Guest-Jelley, Founder Curvy Yoga

February 2011: Jed Brewer, Public School Teacher/Music Executive

December 2010: Madeleine Lohman, Yoga Teacher/Massage Therapist

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.