Teachers

Featured Teacher: Elana Epstein

The following excerpt is courtesy of Elana Epstein’s Breathing Spaces blog:

To Inspire And Be Inspired Is A Blessed Gift

Inspiration.

What does it conjure up for you? What meaning do you attach to it? What reaction does it bring? Where do you get it from?

Perhaps we need to define what inspiration means to us before we can know where to find it.
In order to know what it means I think we need to know what it feels like.
I have been watching where I derive inspiration from lately and have been noticing how it feels to be inspired.

For me, inspiration feels uplifting, exhilarating, awake and creative.
When I am inspired I am at my best, most literally.
When I am inspired I am connected.
I am truly alive.
I am so much more than my ego remembers me to be.
When I am inspired it feels like there is nothing I cannot do.
When I am inspired I feel like I am a part of the universe as I was meant to be.
When I am inspired I am grateful.

So, I try to find inspiration where I can.

I feel blessed. There are so many place that I feel inspired these days.

…to continue reading, click here to visit Elana’s website.

Author Bio: Elana Epstein is a certified Hatha Yoga instructor and Reiki practitioner who came to yoga from a Social Work background. Her greatest passion is to help individuals find their own inner strength and harmony so that they can contribute to making this a more peaceful life for all.  Elana sees yoga as a way to live each day with awareness and to nurture a peaceful and healing journey into the self. As a teacher, she creates an environment that is safe, intuitive, and calming. Her classes are suitable for the beginner and seasoned practitioner alike. Elana enjoys a personal daily practice at home and shares this journey with her husband and three children. Along with her daily dose of yoga she loves to read, write and listen to music. When she can,  she adds a little dark chocolate and a Chai to help make each day as decadent as it is blessed.

Elana teaches 9:30am Hatha yoga classes on Wednesdays at Semperviva‘s Sun studio. For more teaching times and locations, visit her blog and connect with her on Twitter.

Quaint Kerrisdale

Last Wednesday, the 16th, I realized how bloody spoiled I’ve been. I started my yoga adventures at YYoga and did a tour through Semperviva as well. Their spaces are quite large with white-washed walls, cushy lounge areas, change rooms, and other amenities. I knew of smaller studios, but never had the time to really seek them out. I go to YYoga because of the familiarity (with the space and the people) and its proximity to where I do my business around town.

During the reading break of last week I was able to book an excursion to Kerrisdale Yoga. Unfortunately, I was only able to hit 2 of the initially planned 3 classes. Don’t let that dampen your mood though, because (for my part) it was a blast through and through. Situated between 45th and 46th on East Boulevard, the studio was a small walk from where I dismounted the public limo on 41st. I would’ve driven if I knew parking was relatively easy to find, but that’s neither here not there.

The studio-front. Quite attractive if you ask me, as simplicity and cleanliness reigns.

Elisa Wakabayashi, owner of the studio, took me through Yoga with Spinning. It’s 30 minutes of cycling followed by 30 minutes of yoga, both of which are not ridiculously destructive. Actually, it was the calmest yet most effective spin class I’ve had in a while. You know, instead of the hardcore sprinting that leaves you crippled the next day sorta deal. Elisa taught both parts of the class, being a personal trainer as well, and then laid out the studio for me.

She noted that a small independent studio is great in that there aren’t many “big deals,” in that the world won’t end if someone forgets something. After the hustle and bustle of YYoga, I could see clearly what she meant as the studio has a laissez-faire quality as there isn’t corporate pressure or strict codes of conduct. I’m not saying that there’s a lack of professionalism or anything, but the air is very different. At YYoga I find people tend to quickly zip about, where at Kerrisdale there’s a bit of meandering and lingering.

The all-important yoga room, which can comfortably fit about 10 people I believe.

As one can imagine, the class sizes are relatively small. Yoga with Spinning totaled 4 people excluding Elisa, and the Kundalini class was 6. It’s a far cry from the average 15-20 yogis I’m used to, but there’s something nice about a bit more intimacy. Instead of feeling the energy of a myriad of other yogis, with only 4 people it’s easier to notice your own and really tap into your comfort zones.

The yoga and spin rooms are not sealed off from one another, with a gap between the ceiling and wall between them offering a better airflow. Though it also meant it was colder than what I was used to, the cool fresh air that cycled around the studio was very welcome. There’s also more natural light here as the windows facing the back for yoga and facing the back for spin are generously sized. My first go at Kundalini was also here, and I was supposed to try out Iyengar as well. I lament not being able to make that last class.

All the props and whatzits.

Tucked in the back are 7 cycles for some spinning.

And here be the video tour, guided by Elisa:

Yogis that live in Kerrisdale probably know of Elisa’s studio, and though I travel through and hang out in the neighbourhood often I didn’t know of the studio until I jumped on Twitter. Oh, the miracles of social tools. Elisa is a blast of an owner, being very relaxed and applies no pressure on her guests. From what I noticed inside and outside of classes she has a solid connection to those that practice with her. Small groups tend to notice and remember the schedules and tendencies of their compatriots, and the community/family feelings is quite evident.

It’s a very nice space, in a great neighbourhood, and owned and staffed by fantastic people.

Thich Nhat Hanh Coming to Vancouver

Thich Nhat Hanh a Buddhist monk, teacher, poet, author and peace activist is coming to Vancouver in August. Born in Vietnam in 1926, he entered a Buddhist monastery at sixteen and became a founder of the “Engaged Buddhism” movement and he now has dedicated his life to revealing how the trans-formative practices of meditation & mindfulness can be a basis of social change in our lives and in the world. Now 84, he travels the world extensively to share his message and peace with the world.

The Vancouver event includes a week long retreat from August 08-13, 2011 at UBC which will include daily talks and meditations with the theme of “Awakening the Heart” and aims to have attendees practice as a community and learn to embrace fears and sorrows with mindful living & healing & transformation. After some research and a visit to the Facebook Event page, it would appear that the week long retreat is already almost full.

On the Sunday August 14th, there is also a couple hour talk that is being scheduled for the public on “Open Mind, Open Heart: Touching the Wonders of Now.” The afternoon talk will include a guided meditation & healing chanting with monks & nuns along with a community of people who are all dedicated to live & be instruments of peace & compassion. While ticket and location information has yet to be released, it is certainly going to sell out quickly. To stay up to date when ticket information will be released you can visit the Facebook Event page for the Public Talk.

“We have the power to decide the destiny of our planet.
If we awaken to our true situation, there will be a change in our collective consciousness.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

This is for sure to be an exciting event, whether you are a practing Buddist or not, this promises to be a very powerful learning experience. I’m hoping to be able to attend the Public Talk and look forward to experiencing this “apostle of peace & non-violence” for myself.

For more information about the event, visit the event website at www.tnhvancouver2011.org.

Instructor Review: Jack Black as a Vancouver Yogi?

Instructor Review: Jack Black as a Vancouver Yogi?

Okay, I know the title of this post is a bit alarming… Jack Black as a yogi? In Vancouver? Jack Black as a yogi, period, seems an odd enough thought, right?

So, okay…here’s where I’m coming from on this one.

This morning, Taya and I attended a class at Semperviva’s newest location — 4th Ave and Yew — and the class was instructed by Dan Lindsay. It was our first time taking a class from Dan and, truth be told, our first class in a while. We’ve both been so wrapped up in our lives, that yoga has sort slipped off of the regular schedule. But today we changed that and, now that I’m back in town for a while, we’re making the effort to get back into the yogi groove. Yet, today, as Taya and I limbered up, freeing our muscles from too many days without yoga and flowing with Dan’s very well planned class, I couldn’t help smiling for a completely different reason. Sure I felt free and happy to be in that moment, as one should be in any yoga class…but my mind was also drifting off somewhere else…to Jack Black.

I couldn’t help but thinking (and internally giggling a little at this thought) that Dan reminded me of Jack Black…if Jack Black were to become a yogi, that is! Dan’s hair is a bit lighter, he’s surely fitter, and he wasn’t cracking zany jokes…but the basic similarity in overall build, hair length and facial features were definitely there. More than anything though, it’s the voice that got me. As Dan expertly guided us through the hour’s many moves and flows, I really couldn’t stop thinking about how much his deep voice and strong articulations were so much like those of Jack Black (and reminiscent of Jack’s character meticulously instructing his students during “School of Rock.”) Yes…if Jack black were to go healthy, lighten his hair a bit, pull it back in a yogi-tail and strike a warrior pose, you’d be looking at Dan!

Believe me, I know. It’s more than a bit crazy of me to be thinking of Jack Black while doing yoga! But I’ve always been one to attach people’s voices and overall looks to celebrities. People are always reminding me of one celebrity or another. It’s sorta my thing. So, of course, this is all just my crazy opinion… You may not agree. So, you’ll have to attend one of Dan’s classes and decide!

Dan’s classes are a great blend of hatha stretches and flow with some yin stretches thrown in at the end. I felt very gradually limbered up and invigorated from the class! Jack Black references aside, I highly recommend attending one of Dan Lindsay’s classes! He’d probably make my Top 10 list of favorite instructors in Vancouver, in fact! So, go check out his class when you get a chance (and leave a comment below with YOUR thoughts on it)!


PS — You’ll note on Dan’s Semperviva bio that he is a very musical guy, having loved music his whole life, and going so far as to say  “I always seem to have my own internal soundtrack playing in my mind as I move through life.”  So is Jack Black. (And this comment actually sort of reminded me of Jack Black’s character as a soundtrack writer in “The Holiday”!) Maybe I’m not so crazy after all…?

Online Yoga Class Review

For the times when we can’t make it to our weekly yoga class, there’s always the online alternative. I thought I’d capture and provide a few words to some of the online classes I’ve come across. Here goes!

Yoga Today – search, stream or download yoga classes!

There are three teachers featured on Yoga Today: Adi, Neesha and Sarah. They each offer various yoga styles, levels and focus. Classes range from Ashtanga, Anusara, Kundalini, Hatha blend and Vinyasa and provide for the novice to the more advanced guru. The website has over 200 one-hour video courses all shot in beautiful backgrounds and settings (mostly outdoors in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, USA). Each class has typically two students, along with the teacher, so it’s great to see adjustments and the different variations they offer based on ability. At the end of the class, you can rate and provide feedback – you can also check out what others have written. I’ve tried classes with each of these teachers and there’s no doubt about their expertise! I’m a fan! You can choose to download individual classes or purchase a membership. Annual unlimited membership is 89.95 USD. The site offers a weekly free class! www.yogatoday.com

Yoga Download – also a search, stream or download!

Yoga Download offers a pretty huge range of yoga classes in addition to various levels. Yoga classes range from Forest, Office, Prenatal, Hot, Restorative and Vinyasa yoga (and much, much more – some I didn’t even know existed!) to also offering Pranayama classes. You can choose between 20, 30, 45 and 60-minute audio or video classes. In addition, each class offers a downloadable pose guide. The site has around 28 yoga teachers. The site also offers music by chosen music artists and yoga products. Each class is typically set up with information regarding to style, theme (ie weight loss), intensity, props and a rating. You can preview a class even if you are not a member! Annual unlimited membership is 89.95 USD. The site offers 20-minute audio and video classes for free. www.yogadownload.com

Yogaglo – stream on your computer or HD TV!

Yogaglo offers a range of yoga styles and teachers from Anusara, Hatha, Restorative, Basics, Yin, Pre and Post Natal and Vinyasa. They also offer meditation classes, tutorials, lectures and workshops. Levels start at one and climb to three. In addition, they offer a choice for class duration starting from five minutes to 225 minutes. There are over 800 yoga classes to choose from and a choice to stream from your computer or HD TV. You can get a sneak peak of the yoga classes as well as comments from online students. There is also a beginner 7-class series for chosen yoga styles. Monthly membership is 18 USD. The site offers a 15-day free trial! www.yogaglo.com

Would love to hear your experiences and any online classes you’ve checked out!

Passport To Prana

If you haven’t yet purchased your Passport to Prana yet, it’s not too late, they do not expire until July 31, 2011. For only $30, you only have to use it twice to get your money’s worth as most drop in fees are $15.00 plus.

This is the second year I have purchased the Passport to Prana, and while last year I probably only did use it twice, this year I’m hoping to get more use of it and am well on my way. With almost 30 locations there are LOTS of options for taking in a class here or there, however if you don’t drive or don’t have the time to venture out to some of the locations then you probably will only use it a few times.

A few wonderful friends of mine have all purchased the Passport to Prana and we use this time to catch up as we venture out to try a new studio & a new teacher and have brunch or dinner after. It’s a great and affordable way to check out new classes and studios, and especially if you are hunting around for “your” space to practice in, this is a fantastic option to get a feel for the studio and see if you want to become a member. For me, I use it to try different styles of yoga, Bikrams, Anusura, Kundalini with different teachers and get a different feel for my favourite styles.

Are you planning a vacation anytime soon? Make sure you check out wwww.passporttoprana.com and ALL the other Canadian cities plus many US cities and purchase your Passport to Prana for wherever you are going.

We’re All In This Together

Michael Stone came to Semperviva last weekend and brought with him a whirlwind of very inspiring thoughts. For all of us who attended the workshop, he wanted to plant seeds of change.

On Friday evening, he presented his latest title Yoga For A World Out Of Balance, which I haven’t read yet, but will review as soon as I do. Also, once I’ve read it I might be in a better position to make sense of all the wisdom he has so generously imparted this weekend, those who were there know what I’m talking about!

I’ve been to my share of book signings in my professional life, but this was the first one that started with a seated meditation, instead of a traditional glass of sparkling wine.

[source: Semperviva.com]

Afterwards, we were all relaxed and ready to be utterly captivated, and so Michael Stone discussed a vast array of ideas for a better world that really resonated with his audience.

I don’t know about you, but I sometimes sit in front of the computer, a documentary, a book, or a newspaper and anger and sadness rise. All these tales of greed, injustice, corruption, cruelty and pollution come into our daily lives and we sometimes can’t help feeling powerless.

We could turn off the media and ignore this constant flow of bad news, but as Michael Stone pointed out this would be a rather nihilistic approach. Instead as yogis, we should draw our attention to them and convert our intentions, our yamas, into actions.

He explained how everything is connected and that karma is causality, so all of our acts matter. So we could put our living-room anger to a good use and help out around us by being more mindful and compassionate and maybe take it a bit further all the time. We could try and broaden our neighbourhood, i.e. our field of action. Michael Stone quoted one of his mentors: ‘choose battles small enough to win but big enough to matter.’

He added that as yogis we are part of a community, even if sometimes, practising in a studio can feel rather anonymous. Belonging to a community can help us grow, maintain good ethics, and maybe help restore a bit of balance in the world.

We can all be a bit shy, but why not befriend with your yoga mates a bit more? We are all in this together, so let’s get to know each other!

Also, I know that after the workshop, some people discussed plans to create communities with the help of Michael Stone, so feel free to post details in the comment section!

Lori Lucas; Mummas & Babies

I’ve heard it said time & time again, that lots of women make their first path into yoga when they are pregnant, and what a better place to be when you first make your way into yoga then to already be on a path of change.

I was graciously invited to come & take one of Lori Lucas’ Prenatal classes at the Roundhouse last week, and was delighted to be surrounded by love and baby bellies! Yoga is a great practice for Moms to be who are more aware of the changes in their bodies and allows them to prepare mentally and physically for the birth of their babies. Prenatal yoga helps in building awareness and self love, along with strength both mentally and physically as well as added perks of relaxation, decreased swelling, relief from back and neck pain and so much more.

A trained Doula, Lori has been in attendance at numerous births and has completed both her Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training and Kids Teacher Training. Lori’s classes are a place of love and comfort, where all the mummas are encouraged to go at their own pace or make adjustments to their practice as their body tells them. With the never ending circle of new baby bellies and new moms that come through the door, Lori continues to make a community for these new moms to share and talk about how they are feeling with other moms to be. But it’s not over there, once baby arrives these moms can still have that connection with other new moms at Mom & Baby yoga. Mom & Baby yoga builds on the community that Lori so lovingly builds and ensures that these moms continue to stay connected to people who have played an integral part in their pregnancy.

Since most women make their way into yoga when they are pregnant, the idea of going to a studio may be a little daunting. Lori’s classes are held at local Community Centres (Roundhouse & Mount Pleasant Community Centre) and while some people have a perception that Community Centre teachers are no where near as good as Studio teachers, Lori’s classes confirm you can get the same level of teaching if not better at your local Community Centre.

Check out Lori’s blog at: http://yogawithlorilucas.blogspot.com/ or on Facebook and if you are a Mom to be and haven’t yet signed up for Prenatal Yoga, give it a whirl, or if that new bundle of joy has arrived take that time for you and baby & head to a Mom & Baby yoga class. Lori’s schedule can be found on her blog or on Facebook.

Anything Is Possible: A Weekend Workshop with Camilla Bergstrom

Yoga has the potential to become something much more than just exercise, and for many of us this exercise is exactly where the journey begins. Our body starts to tone, strengthen, open and then all of a sudden we start to think differently. Eventually the connection is made: as we work on the body, we are working on the mind, the two inseparable.

When we become aware of our bodies and connect to what is happening physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, anything is possible, according to Camilla Bergstrom: when we are in sync, when we are in harmony with mind and body, we experience the strength and confidence that will lead to the feeling of I can do this and eventually the wisdom that goes beyond it.

Camilla’s 11-hour weekend workshop tested this theory.  Students were offered an opportunity to find their boundaries by examining the thoughts behind the seemingly challenging or impossible. As Camilla put it, ‘the first step is to become aware of our thoughts. Thoughts create an emotion and emotion creates a reaction. If we change the negative thought into a positive, the body will respond and we will find strength we didn’t even know that we had.’

Offering a masterful sequence of inversions, handstands and a variety of standing poses, Camilla teaches a simplistic fusion of yoga style combining self-healing with her experiences, various teacher influences and philosophy. Her teaching approach was challenging, passionate and contagiously courageous. She also took a great deal of time to focus on alignment and individual needs.

The workshop was complemented with breathing techniques and meditation. Students were invited to elongate their inner experiences by writing down and sharing their inner dialogue, as, according to Camilla, there’s more to just feeling yoga in our shoulders or our hips, much, much more, and when we write it down, it helps us to become even more aware of ourselves; it helps us to figure out which plane we are living on. Are we too much in our head? Are our feet on the ground? When we write and share, the experience becomes deeper, more profound, and when we speak it, it almost becomes an agreement.

No stranger to the element of fear, Camilla helps students acknowledge their own veil’s through the process of taking a step back, finding the discipline in their fear and committing to it versus separating from it. Camilla believes that if it means something to us, if it’s important to us, it’s going to happen and we are going to move forward. When the veil is lifted, we find purpose and within purpose we find simplicity: the result of stability, honesty and acceptance.

If you are looking for a life-altering experience, I highly recommend Camilla. You’ll be guaranteed a powerful physical journey and perhaps discover a deeper sense of your own true nature.

The Anything Is Possible weekend workshop took place in December 2010 at Hamsa Yoga Studio in Copenhagen, Denmark. Camilla currently resides in Los Angeles, California and offers local and international private and group classes. She has a podcast and much more information on her website: http://camillabergstrom.com/.

Namaste.

(Photo of Camilla above)

Stayed tuned for next week: Part II of ‘Where the heck did my motivation go?’

Liv Hilde, Upside Down

Since lectures started up a the beginning of January I’ve been mostly held to one yoga class a week, with the rare free weekend for some yin/yin:yang or something. Instead of something soft and easy to get me through the crush of the days, I went for the hardcore to really wring out the nasty vibes. I’ve been taking Liv’s classes since the summer sometime, and everything from hatha to YRide was in the books.

Out of curiosity, I just had to look up the origins of her last name. Apparently, Hilde carries a meaning like “ready for battle” or “woman of battle”. In this case the meaning is extremely apt, but don’t let her cheery demeanor fool you. In the last 5 months since I’ve started taking Liv’s Power Upside Down classes, I’ve only missed one due to a sore throat. Every Wednesday at 6:30pm I haul myself to her classes knowing I’m going to be fighting myself the whole way through. Yes, the male ego and pride still kicks around and lingers, pushing me to make every posture in the class.

Liv Hilde is absolutely ridiculous, and her strength is astonishing. I’ve also noticed that she really treats every class like a how a 5 year old would treat a day at the beach: with wild exuberance and unabashed enthusiasm. As such her classes don’t get too heavy with philosophy and wisdom either, sticking to lighter fare like odd happenstances in her life or poke around the lives of the yogis in class. She also has a penchant for making funny groans and grunts during tough poses, and has even called me a “ninja” for how I windmill into Warrior II.

Oh, and I should’ve mentioned that she’s been under the tutelage of Ana Forrest. Anyone else shakin’ on their mats?

What's that look on her face? Ah, deviousness.

Her Power Upside Down class is a very fast vinyasa affair with minimal rest. The inversions are placed near the end of the class when the body is all worked up, but it presents a problem because she trashes almost everyone. We’re all way too tired at the end to give the inversions a solid go, though we don’t slack off on purpose or anything. I repeat: she’s not malicious.

The classes are getting harder and harder, mostly because everyone in the class is a regular. I think a weekly class such as this with such a consistent group of followers speaks volumes to her magnetism. She makes everything look so easy, that it’s just within reach, that everyone just goes for it; caution is thrown to the wind and injury seems impossible. For the record, I’ve taken my fair share of tumbles (with everyone watching, even).

The YRide classes she used to teach at the downtown Flow studio were equally exhausting. I wrote a piece about YRide a few months back and one can get a gist of it with a decent glance through it. She’s a pure taskmaster alright, but with a heart of gold. The journey she drags you on is perilous to both mind and body; it’s that challenging when she’s on her game. All she asks for is a good effort and she’ll be there to prop you up the entire way.

I attribute my being able to get into Forearm Stands and Headstands largely to Liv’s influence. She’ll help work all the proper muscle groups, warming them all up, while encouraging…well, courage to go beyond. Before her classes I wouldn’t even dare prop myself against a wall. Today I’m comfortable with two freestanding inversions and a slew of arm balances. Never would I have imagined myself doing anything like them, and Liv and her instructor compatriots are to thank.

Oh, and if you haven’t done inversions yet but wish to try it, I’ll say that you’re brain will love it. Guaranteed.

Delve a Little Deeper

So perhaps you want to delve a little deeper into your yoga practice, learn more about the history and the philosophy behind yoga or perhaps even teach, what do you do?

http://www.exhalestudio.com/

We are lucky to live in such a huge yoga community with endless options on styles, studios and teachers so how do you decide where to take your training? I’ve come up with a Top 5 List of questions that you should ask yourself before taking the plunge.

  1. Availability – How much time do you have to commit yourself to training? The first part of teacher training is 200 hours, or you could go for the full meal deal & do all 500 at once. Do you work full time, go to school, only have weekends, evenings available or maybe you only have weekdays available? Do you want to get it all done in a month or would you prefer to take a few months to complete your training?
  2. Style – What style of training do you want to take? Vinyasa, Hatha, Hot, Bikram, Anusura? Make sure that you determine what style of yoga the studio offers before signing on the dotted line.
  3. Location – Maybe you live in the Fraser Valley or maybe you live right downtown, where you live will also determine on where you take your training unless you are planning on relocating for the duration.
  4. Cost – Since teacher training is certainly not a cheap affair, make sure you research what the studio has to offer. Do they offer payment plans or want it all paid up front?
  5. Teachers – After narrowing your studio selection down, make sure that you take classes with the instructors of the teacher training program before you sign up. Do you like their style and personality, remember you will be spending 200+ hours with them.

Even if you have no intentions of teaching, you can gain so much from a Teacher Training Program with benefits to your life and your yoga practice.

Danielle Hoogenboom

I’ve only started taking Danielle’s classes in the last month or so. Since the departure of one my favourite instructors (Violetta Pioro) I’ve been searching for another mellow soul to fill the void. Danielle’s hatha classes function more like yin than anything, and I personally couldn’t have been more thrilled. The postures and the transitions she fields are slow and soft, and such methods are important to balance out those hardcore classes. Taking power everyday isn’t a bad thing as long as one knows to find slower and gentler classes for balance.

Danielle is soft-spoken, with a hint of lisp, and packs her dreads around like they’re clouds that float her around. Before each class she sifts around the room, asking every yogi if they have any injuries or any postures that they’d personally like to go into. I like the fact that almost all instructors ask their classes for requests, but Danielle’s one by one inquiries seem rare to me. For those that may wonder, I normally ask for twists.

I do have to say that her slow hatha classes are exceptionally effective. It’s only in her classes that I’ve caught myself at the beginning of a snore, twice, during heart-openers and such. It got to that point after she came by and lifted my chest even higher as I was lying on a bolster for Savasana; with everything supported and opened I guess my insides just melted outright. I distinctly remember one night that I relaxed so much I actually didn’t remember who I was, where I was, and how to drive home for about 10mins after the end of class.

www.lovelightyoga.com

Many of the postures in her classes are seated or in low lunges and I haven’t done any crazy inversions or arm balances with her yet. It’s a welcome change of pace after hitting up Anila and Liv’s power classes (of whom I will talk about in a few weeks) as my muscles could really use some laziness. I always get thrown off by powerful/aggressive instructors in slow classes since their strong voices seem to push me faster and further, but Danielle’s demeanor matches her class style perfectly to turn everything down.

She likes to explain every step, though always with a lull that really gets you to move the same way: slowly. Sometimes we all get caught up in the flow of a class and we really do forget to be aware. Her speed makes it so that there’s really no way to not realize the exclamations of the body. Since her movements aren’t sharp, and in our tendencies to match the instructors, the whole class claws around. I was still enough at the end of one class to end it in a sitting meditation. She later came up and said that she could see from my eyes that I had disconnected and rebooted. I didn’t deny it since it did indeed feel like that.

She has a way of making one feel like that they’re in the clouds with her, just swaying around shifting along with the vapours themselves. Like most instructors she offers food for thought, though she normally talks about the interplay between what we see to what we feel. It’s a bit different than taking a snippet from a yoga text and transposing it, rather drawing very clear lines to connect different aspects of our life.

From what I know she lives on Commercial Drive, has a roommate that digs astrological spiritualism, and sports her staple dreadlocks all the time. She even joked at how she seemed stereotypical to herself, which she then said wasn’t too far off the mark if her roommates didn’t rub off on her so much. She has her own sites, Danielle Hoogenboom and Lovelight, and teaches at Unity Yoga Tea House and YYoga.

Yoga Teacher Review: Reno Muenz

‘Smile, it’s just yoga’ as one of my teachers in London used to say, especially when we would all be grimacing during an intense squatting series.

Reno’s Vinyasa Power Flow classes remind me of that statement. One of Reno’s greatest abilities is to help students step out of the drama during the most trying asanas.

It feels good to go to class with the reassurance that it will be dynamic enough but that Reno will get us through it with his calming voice and his inspiring music choices. I don’t know about you, but when confronted to a challenging sequence, my fight-flight response is triggered and for a split second, I can easily feel that the teacher is the enemy. I don’t think I would ever feel like that in Reno’s class. He knows how to diffuse this defense mechanism by offering warm empathy, and by finding a cue that will make you smile.


[source: Yoga for the People]

In addition, Reno’s love for yoga shines through clearly, and he’s all about sharing that love. He quotes his teachers, tells plenty of anecdotes from his experience or his readings, but also stories of ancient Indian mythology that speak of courage, dedication and humility. This all contributes to bringing mental and physical lightness to the practice.

Reno follows quite closely the Ashtanga’s primary series and also regularly works on handstand and headstand preparations. He always invites students to modify in a more or less challenging way, so this class suits every level of yogi.

Reno teaches at Semperviva on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, at Yyoga Yaletown on Friday and at Yoga For The People on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday. So give this class a try and remember: ‘smile, it’s just yoga!’

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