Liz Vartanian of Yoga Betty and Yoga Mama: TGBTS Featured Teacher

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 teacher interviews here at Teacher Goes Back to School.

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

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tgbts featured teacher liz vartanian

Have you met Liz yet? She’s been in my Twitter feed for years and we’ve become friends via social media. We both have babies and teach restorative yoga, so instant connection.

Here’s my interview.

When did you start practicing?

I started practicing in 1996, while I was in massage school, I did yoga from a Video Tape. I wore that tape out, but I learned so much! It wasn’t until I moved to Austin, TX in 2004 that I found a studio I loved and started going religiously.

Why did you start?

At first, it was a great way to get centered before doing a massage. Then it became more about a new way to learn how my body works. It really is amazing what our bodies can do.

Where did you practice?

My living room floor! Which was carpeted, but when you are watching a video there’s not a lot of options. Soon after I got comfortable with some of the poses, I practiced outside on my deck. Unfortunately, the little studio I eventually went to closed a few years ago.

How has your practice evolved over time?

I’ve gone from Hatha to Flow to vinyasa to prenatal. Now, I have found a balance of restorative (which I started while I was pregnant) and flow. I love the practice of moving with the breath, but I also know how much my body really needs to sit still and just be. Even when I flow or do vinyasa, I take a long savasana to make sure I let my body recuperate.

How long have you been a teacher?

I’ve been teaching almost 3 years now. Time really does fly when you are having fun!

liz

Why did you start Yoga Betty/Yoga Momma?

I started Yoga Betty as a way to learn more about yoga. It sounds silly, but there is an amazing amount of knowledge in experiencing life. And really yoga is as much off the mat as it is on.

Yoga Momma was started after the birth of my son. If Yoga Betty is about a laid back yogini, Yoga Momma is about how that laid back yogini handles life with a baby guru!! Of course, now that the sweet little baby guru is almost a year old, I’ve realized that I’m both Betty and Momma so I’ve decided to combine the two blogs. After all, no person is just ONE aspect of themselves. We all evolve and change, it’s just time for me to embrace I am Betty, momma, yogini, partner, woman, and so much more. Now if I can just get kiddo to nap longer again, so I can finish combining the two!!

What are your classes like?

Currently, I teach restorative, prenatal, and post-natal. My pre and post-natal classes are all about breathing, building strength, and finding peace within. After all as a new momma or as a momma to be, knowing how to find some inner peace can be a life saver!

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

Yes!! Home practice is all I have these days. Sometimes it is 15 minutes, sometimes I can get an hour, although right now that isn’t as often since baby guru is almost walking.

I practice every day. Nap time is a my practice time. I usually get in some cat/cow, puppy pose, thread the needle, and 5 minutes of meditation. If I have the time or really need it, I start with this and add as feels good. There is a lot of shoulder openers, bridge pose to get my heart open, and core. I keep it up because frankly getting to take a class is tough. My daily practice keeps me same, so if I don’t do it, I feel all put of whack.

mama baby

What’s your favorite pose? Why?

My current favorite pose is a tie between puppy pose (because it is easier on my wrists while giving me the same feeling down dog does) and forearm plank (because hot-damn if it doesn’t stoke the internal fire and get my core working!).

What’s your least favorite pose?

Hm, there isn’t a pose I don’t like, I can say that the one I’m finding challenging right now is crow. Finding the right muscles to use along with some wrist aches seem to be what makes this pose sooo tough on me right now.

Do you have a meditation practice?

I started meditation right after Aiden was born. I used the time I spent nursing to breathe and clear my mind. Although, I usually only get 5-10 minutes of meditation in, that is better than none!

What is your blog/s about? When did you start? Why did you start? What is your purpose?

Currently, my blogging is more about finding practice OFF the mat, since I’m starting to realize my “free time” is valuable which can make it hard to commit to an hour long asana practice (especially when nap times are sometimes 45 minutes!!). Plus Aiden really has become my little baby guru, he keeps me present and mindful of all I do and soon enough what I say (I know the parroting phase is coming up). Not everyone has kids and some people may not want to have kids, but that doesn’t mean our life lessons are any different. Any practitioner of yoga is working towards peace, presence of mind and body, and ultimately living our yoga. I just happen to think having kids speeds up the process!!

What is your favorite post? Why?

I have TWO!! One titled “Hips don’t lie” which talks about my ability to cry EVERY TIME I’m in pigeon pose and the fact that what comes up when we do hip openers can really show us what we are clinging to, what emotions we are storing, and what stuff we can let go of, by crying or by breathing.

The other is a article I wrote for Mind Body Green about “Rediscovering Yoga After Having a Baby”. There is this thing about having a baby, you’re body isn’t “yours” for 9 months of pregnancy and then it’s not really yours after baby shows up. So the importance of coming back to the practice is SO important.

Both of these pieces I wrote are raw and I think remind people that it is ok when we cry or feel “betrayed” by our bodies. That yoga is there because we are there, our mats will hold us. They will be the mirror we need to see what is happening. And they will help us let go and rebuild.

cup of liz

What other blogs do your read? Why?

The two blogs I am really digging these days are: SahajaMomma & Cup of Jo.

Sahaja Momma is a Austin Yoga Goddess and new momma, she has fabulous recipes and often has some great share on self-care or helpful momma items.

A Cup of Jo is one of my guilty pleasures, I read this blog daily!! I love the fashion (in hopes I one day will be stylish again and not just prepared for feeding 24/7), the food, and this New Yorkers great shares.

Who and what inspires you?

This is probably the best question ever! My loves, my family, specifically the man because he supports me and is a great person to talk to about any thing. Even when it is yoga related (he is NOT a yogi), baby guru is of course right there with his daddy. Mother Nature has her spot too, the ocean inspires me even though I’m so far away. The trees, the sunrise, and the sunset all play a part in my practice, in my teaching, and in my day. Sometimes songs can be inspiring, written words, and those spoken all seem to brighten my day too. I can pretty much find inspiration in anything and everything!

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Mrs. PartyPants

December 9th’s Prompt:

Party. What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans.

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In March, I turned 40.

To celebrate some of my yoga teacher training buddies and I went on a yoga workshop weekend in Ukiah to study Balance with Mary Paffard.

I know. We know how to party!

A must stop if you are ever in Clear Lake

Once we were primed and ready (ie totally full of fried goodies) we off to Vichy Springs Resort for some soaking in the mineral pools.

An excellent way to spend an afternoon

Post soak, we hopped on down the road to meet the other YTTs for dinner at Oco Time.

Look at those lovely faces.

We chatted, we laughed, we snapped photos and drank a beer (or two).

More lovely faces.

We told jokes and talked about birthdays, age and yoga.

And then it was over.

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It’s funny what a difference a decade makes.

My 30th birthday was a huge drunken bash.

I’m glad that nonsense is over now.

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What’s your most memorable party this year?


(Author: Shauna Reid)

Saturday Senses

I’ve been inspired by Pink of Perfection’s Five Sense Friday to start a new tradition at Teacher Goes Back to School: Saturday Senses!

tasting :: farm fresh organic produce – thank you, Mayacamas Ranch.

hearing :: new friends connecting

smelling :: sunscreen

seeing :: a pile of books, some nature and my all time favorite summer thing: a swimming pool!

feeling :: still a bit sore from boot camp this week and quite smug I finally figured out how to schedule posts

What are your senses this Saturday?

{click on image for source}

You Are All Invited – Yoga Retreat!

 

 

I’ve never been on a “real” yoga retreat before, but that is all about to change.

A little history…. For my birthday this year I went away with some amazing yoga friends to a workshop on balance. In my head I kept referring to it as a retreat because we traveled to get there.

HA!

Not so much.

I did learn the difference between a workshop and a retreat though.

At a workshop you work: learn, practice, meditate.

At a retreat you retreat: you practice, but there is built-in downtime. 

I’m definitely in need of some serious downtime and since I’m still celebrating my birthday 3 months later, I wanted a real retreat – damn it.

The retreat this weekend is with my favorite teacher Michelle and a bunch of lovelies from It’s All Yoga.  For the next few days we’ll be calling this place home.

Why am I telling you all this?

It certainly isn’t to rub it in that I’m on retreat and you aren’t.

I’d like to invite you to join us for all or part of the retreat from home.

I’ll post the schedule below. Feel free to follow any or all parts of it.

So are you in?

The schedule will allow for individual or group activities with plenty of time to rest or play . {music to my ears!}

 Here’s the schedule

Thursday:

3:30pm              Arrive 

4:30-6pm          Opening Circle and Practice {if you want to practice with others, feel free to stop by the studio – it’s free at 4:30!}

6:30pm              Dinner 

Friday:

6:30am              Optional Meditation 

7-8:30am           Breakfast 

9-11:30am         Pranayama (breathing), Asana (poses), Meditation (sitting)

12pm                 Lunch 

4-6pm                Pranayama (breathing), Asana (poses), Meditation (sitting)

6:30pm              Dinner 

Saturday

6:30am              Optional Meditation 

7-8:30am           Breakfast 

9-11:30am         Pranayama (breathing), Asana (poses),  Meditation (sitting)

12pm                 Lunch 

4-6pm                Pranayama (breathing), Asana (poses), Meditation (sitting)

6:30pm              Dinner 

8:30 pm           Campfire

Sunday

6:30am              Optional Meditation 

7-8am                Breakfast 

8:30-10:30am    Pranayama (breathing), Asana (poses), Meditation (sitting)

12pm                 Lunch  

Please leave me a comment  to tell me what part you decided to do and how it is going. Or tell me about your retreat experience. I’d love to hear from you!

The In Case You Missed It Edition! Volume 2

I’ve recently discovered the wonderful world of blogs, Twitter and the idea of creating community online. I am aware I am late to the party, however it’s better to be late than never arrive.

Who knew the Internet was full of such wonderful, caring, compassionate people?

Occasionally, I’ll post my favorite posts from other people here.

The In Case You Missed It Edition!

Impermanence — My father has Alzheimer’s disease.  Last night, during a family conference call, we decided it is time to move him into the dementia unit of the retirement community where my parents live…..

Bob has a way of cutting right to the important parts. See if you can read this without feeling deeply.

Good Enough is the New Perfect is the title of the upcoming book by my Twitter friends @holleeinbalance and @beckyinbalance. Their  blog is a treasure box full of gems about issues around work and family. A must read! Plus Hollee is a fellow yogi!

This week’s guest post is by a woman who has 30 HOURS of LEISURE time a WEEK. If that doesn’t grab your attention, I don’t know what will. It sure got mine.

Social Change Through Simple Living pretty much sums it up, doesn’t it? That’s what @RowdyKittens is all about. Tammy S is a former Sacramentan, now Portlander (hello, opposite of me!) explores the notion of living a fuller, richer life with less stuff. I think she may be on to something.

The Beet Goes On is my friend V3’s chronicling of her life in NYC. Filled with food photos that make you want to bite your monitor. This girl rocks.

Last but not least, the woman with so many ideas I want to steal.

Office Hours at Gwen Bell, Big Love in a Small World. – LOVE HER.  I wish I was in Boulder. I just may have to copy this. Who wants to meet for office hours?

If you have a favorite blog that you’d want everyone to read if you were in charge of the universe, please let me know about it here. Leave me a comment about your favorites and maybe I’ll start reading them too.

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Yoga+Music(notquite)365 (day94)

Today’s yoga brought to you by Michelle at It’s All Yoga in Sacramento.

Today’s music is Away We Go Movie Soundtrack. I’ve been loving the movie soundtracks recently, even those movies that didn’t make me love them. Go figure.

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Yoga Teaching Update:

FREE Fridays at 4:30 with the new It’s All Yoga teachers (21st and X in Sacramento) – you’ve got to sign up online www.itsallyoga.com

I’m sub-teaching 4/5/10 – for Michelle at 5:45. Level 1-2, so every body is welcome.

Free class for School Teachers in honor of Teacher Appreciation Week – May 1st. Yoga Nap+Milk and Cookies.

Teacher Appreciation = Yoga Nap + Milk and Cookies!

Dear School Teacher,

I’m going to go out on a limb here.

It’s been a really hard school year.

I know, I’m a public school teacher too.

Are you tired and looking forward to the end of the school year?

Do you work really hard taking care of your students?

Wouldn’t it be nice for someone to take care of you?

Maybe rub your shoulders and temples while you rest in a warm little nest.

And serve you cookies and milk when you finish.

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week and in thanks for all that you do:

A FREE class just for you!

No yoga experience needed.

We (meaning me, Amanda from Urban Almanac and Erin from The Search Begins) will pamper and support you.

You will leave refreshed.

Think Yoga Nap.

With milk and cookies.

(No, really.)

May 1st, 3-4:30 pm.

www.itsallyoga.com to register (under workshops)

Yoga+Music(notquite)365 – Day 88 – Crazy Heart Movie Soundtrack- Resilience Edition!

Lately I feel like I’ve been wearing my feelings on the outside of my body. That heightened sense of vulnerability has left me feeling uneasy.  

 During yoga yesterday, Michelle read an excerpt from poet David Whyte where he uses the image of walking down a country dirt road: A huge storm comes. You take shelter in the barn until the storm passes. Sometimes the warmth and protection of the barn feel so good, so easy and safe, you never leave. But you have to get back on the road. You have to keep going.

She spoke briefly about resilience and how it’s easy for some people to bounce back from events while others take more time. She used the barn analogy to illustrate how some have sought protection in the barn and maybe gotten stuck.

It’s funny because she wrote about getting stuck in the comforting place while I wondered where I find comfort.

In a way, yoga has become that comforting place.

So struck by this idea of resilience, I got up from my mat. I grabbed a pen and piece of paper to capture what came up for me during class.

I won’t bore you with the details, but let’s just say I was left with the feeling that I’ve somehow lost some of my former resilience, or the ability to “bounce back” from difficult experiences.

When I shared this with Michelle, she offered a different perspective.

She asked if maybe I hadn’t really lost my resilience, but rather shed some of the armour I’d built around my heart.

The tears that briefly came up in that moment were indicator that something is brewing in there.

What are your thoughts on resilience? How do you cope with the hard parts of life? Has it gotten easier or harder over the years?

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Teaching Update!

Saturday, May 1st from 3-4:30 I’m teaching a FREE class for school teachers to celebrate the beginning of National Teacher Appreciation Week.

Think of it as a yoga nap – plus milk and cookies!

If you or someone you know teaches school for a living, please save the date.

21st and X – Sacramento, CA

www.itsallyoga.com

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Fridays 4:30 are still FREE at @itsallyoga!