Yoga ~ My “100-foot hole”

Today’s post is from North Berkeley Green Yogi teacher Christy Evans! She will be leading a Mukti Foundation Teacher Training starting October 25th as well as offering a Teacher Training Preview September 28th from 4:30-5:30pm to give interested students an idea of what a teacher training is like as well as a 45 minute free class! Click here for more details and keep reading to Be Inspired by Christy Evans’ story. 

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It was reflected to me in my early 20’s that I was metaphorically digging hundreds of 1-foot holes, all the while avoiding the one, 100-foot hole I was actually seeking, me. That lesson stopped me in my tracks and without knowing it then, that was the start of my yoga journey. Up until that moment where I was sitting there talking to this mindfulness-based meditation teacher, life was only happening out there, externally: treating patients by day and night, collaborating on a research article for publication, co-creating two adult speech therapy books, starting a home-health business with colleagues, jumping out of planes to get my A-license in skydiving, and then … I found my way into a yoga class.

I had resisted yoga for years because I thought it was just stretching (ha!). One day as I was hanging out at the drop zone passing time between jumps (skydiving) a friend invited me to a yoga class. I was confused, I didn’t understand how someone with this much energy could stay engaged for an entire yoga class (“of stretching?”). I became curious, accepted the invitation, and the rest is history. That day long-ago, this young, competitive, athletic, twenty-something-me met the challenge of a power yoga practice. The real gift I received from that yoga class is that it met me where I was at mentally, emotionally, physically, and even spiritually. That one class invited me to go deeper into the body through an exploration of powerful asana while subtly, introducing me to my very own and relatively untouched “100-foot hole”.

That was well over a decade ago and my journey continues. The journey, or yoga, does not end at some static place, rather it continues to unfold in each moment, pose, and breath. The path of yoga continues to be my guide and teaches me how to connect with, and live from, this inner awareness. While teaching yoga, I hold a gentle space for students to connect with their own “100-foot hole” journey within, a movement of the heart toward authentic being. My intention as a teacher of yoga, meditation, and vinyasa is to offer the practices in a playful, compassionate, and creative way that ignites this inner flame and sparks the curiosity toward an exploration of inner freedom, Mukti!

On October 25, 2014, I will be leading a Mukti Yoga Foundation teacher training at The Green Yogi in North Berkeley. This training will hold space for those who are ready to say yes to their next growing edge on and off of the yoga mat. I look forward to sharing many of the tools and techniques that have facilitated my journey toward authenticity, connection, and presence while collectively we will dive deeper into the ancient science, art, and joy of yoga. For those ready for heart activation and embodied transformation, come play!

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My Evolution as a Yoga Teacher with Wendy Garafalo

Wendy Garafalo teaches classes at The Green Yogi and is leading two teacher trainings this fall for the Mukti Yoga School.  The first, co-taught with Linda Baffa, is an 150-Hour Foundation Training and begins this Friday Septemper 12th.  Meetings are two weekends per month ending in February 2015.  The second, co-taught with Chelsea Rothert, is a 50-hour Therapeutic Teacher Training and begins on Friday September 19th.  It meets one weekend per month thru Dec 2014.   For more info click here and read on to Be Inspired!team_wendyGarafalo_2-1From the first moment I stepped in front of a class, during my teacher training, I opened my mouth and the words that came out flowed from a deeper space.  They were very simple words, I was leading the class into Warrior Two.  But it was the energy behind what I was saying.  At the time I was working a full-time corporate job and had to speak in front of people all the time.  This moment was different.  I had become so passionate about the practice of yoga, loved the way it made my body move, loved the way I felt after savasana, I couldn’t wait to share it with everyone.  I was hooked and knew I had found my path.

Since my very first teacher training, I’ve evolved as we all do as a human and as a yoga teacher.  I began teaching in a way that served my soul at the time.  The movement was more like a dance, flowing seamlessly from one asana to another.  I was obsessed with finding and creating new sequences, creative movements that I hoped tapped people into their own inner grace and creativity.  I was taking as many classes as I could from different teachers, different styles and different trainings.  I was searching for my own unique way of teaching, something which served me, but also honored all the teachers whom I learned from.

Then, my world shifted.  I found out I was pregnant with my first baby, my little man Luca.  Because my body couldn’t move like it used to and because my energy was being reserved to grow a tiny human, I had to take a step back from teacher trainings and from taking classes 5-7 times each week.  I had to turn inward to find direction and to find inspiration for my teaching.  Up to that point, I was relying on others to fill my cup, to fill me with creativity and new ideas.

When I started to trust my instincts and started to really sequence a class in a way that made sense in the moment for those students and for their energetic state, I started teaching from my soul.  My classes began to focus more on alignment to ensure students were safe and to truly teach them how to feel the pose from the inside out.  I begin and end each class with a prayer to invoke a spiritual energy into the space, a higher being, and a purpose behind the movements.  It helps calm me and allows me to open myself up to that first energy I felt when I first taught.  I know the words and the movements come through me from a deeper space, from a connection we all have to a higher power.  In that connection, I lead my classes by reading energy and by trusting my intuition.  It has moved me into a place where I know exactly the type of teacher I am.  I understand my purpose, my intention when teaching is to heal.  My classes create a space for you to connect and for you to heal whatever ailments you face.  From sprained ankles to broken hearts to cancer, my hope is you come to my class to heal your mind body and spirit.

I love what I do and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to teach, to connect, and to grow.  I’m grateful for all my teachers who have influenced the way I teach and I’m grateful for the way my teaching has changed and evolved to serve my soul today.

May your lives be blessed.  May you find yoga when you need it most.  May your heart be open to all the different yoga methods, to all the different teachers and may you find the teacher that feeds your soul.  And finally may you trust that change happens, may you embrace the journey exactly as it exists, allow yourself to learn from your mistakes, to be present in your moments, and create more space for love.  Namaste.

 

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Green Yogi of the Month Kim Pickerell!

Kim P YOM

We are so excited to honor Kim Pickerell as our Manduka Sponsored Green Yogi of the month for September! Since September 2013 Kim has taken close to 200 classes and has been inspiring our entire team with her dedication and positive energy in the studio. Congratulations Kim!  We are honored to have you in our yoga family!

OCCUPATION: Healthcare Account Manager – AT&T

FUN FACT ABOUT YOU:  I’m from Kansas and when I’m not at yoga, love playing golf and shooting pool.

WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE INSTRUCTOR AND WHY?  Although I enjoy many instructors for different reasons, Tamal is my favorite.  I find his classes the most challenging and look forward to the thorough work-out, long shavasana while listening to him rocking out on the guitar.

WHAT IS YOUR INTENTION FOR YOUR YOGA PRACTICE?  Mostly to stay in shape –  both mentally and physically. Especially during the week – after work, I am in desperate need of a stress release and by the time I walk out of class, I forgot what I was so stressed about to begin with.  My intention is to practice yoga for the rest of my life.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE YOGA POSE?  Warrior 3 – because it took me years to finally master!  I could hang out there now, for hours☺

WHAT SONG SHOULD BE ON EVERY YOGA PLAYLIST?  Vanilla Ice – “Ice Ice Baby” – but seriously, a regular old-school music yoga class would be incredible.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU?  Positive energy, positive people.  I listen to Joel Osteen every week to get inspired as to how I can live a better life and appreciate all the blessings in my life.  One of my favorite quotes of his is “don’t let other people steal your joy.” It’s up to ourselves to wake up every day and choose to live with a positive, appreciative attitude.

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN PRACTICING AND HOW HAS YOGA IMPROVED YOUR LIFE?   I have been practicing yoga for about 12 years – although you might not know it by watching me.  Maybe in the next 12 years I’ll be able to finally master crow pose….!:)

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Berkeley Green Yogi of the Month: Signe Burns! (pronounced “Seen-ya”)

Signe Burns

We are so excited to honor Signe Burns as our Manduka Sponsored Green Yogi of the month for September! Since the end of January 2014 Signe has taken over 120+ classes and has been inspiring our entire team with her dedication and positive energy in the studio. Congratulations Signe!  We are honored to have you in our yoga family! Read on to Be Inspired. 

OCCUPATION: Mother. Before my son was born, I spent many years as an editor, as well as an aikido practitioner and teacher.

NICKNAME: People have called me Sig, Scene and Cygnus, among other things. My favorite nickname is “Mommy” as spoken by my son’s beautiful, musical little voice. When he says “Mommy,” the essence of love is contained within the word. I am lucky and grateful for this gift.

FUN FACT ABOUT YOU:  I used to be a piercing model for Fakir Musafar’s Body Piercing Intensive. This meant I received various piercings in front of groups of student piercers so that they could learn how to do them correctly. I worked a minimum wage job at the time, so in addition to satisfying my exhibitionist side, it was a means to support one of my passions in life.

WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE INSTRUCTOR AND WHY?  I have received such clear and generous instruction from every teacher at the Green Yogi, and I feel I’ve learned a huge amount in a relatively short period of time. Class is never easy for me, but I love how after each class, I feel strong and confident, and I have permission to eat! Which is one of my favorite things to do. ☺

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE YOGA POSE? I always really enjoy Extended Side Angle Pose (Utthita Parsvakonasana) and Triangle Pose (Utthita Trikonasana). These poses make me feel like a lightning bolt, stretched perfectly taut, connecting the energies of heaven and earth. These concepts are also very important in aikido, so I am simultaneously practicing yoga and aikido when I move through these shapes. In fact, yoga and aikido are very connected in my mind and in my body. My practice of each art supports and informs the other.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU?  Mary Strong! Mary has created a place with such inviting positive energy, a place that feels like home to me. I get the sense that she is surrounded by an almost magical, positive energetic force. I feel like she put a yoga studio in my path at the exact moment I needed it. I try never to miss her Saturday morning class. I am also super impressed that she has had so many successful careers. What a tremendous role model and teacher she is!

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN PRACTICING AND HOW HAS YOGA IMPROVED YOUR LIFE? My son was born at home in San Francisco on Halloween, 2008, after a grueling 46-hour labor. It is fair to say that I now truly grasp the meaning of the word agony. To be sure, there is no harder yoga than labor and delivery. Nothing can prepare you for it. I took homebirth classes and did copious amounts of prenatal yoga—in fact, my water broke during a prenatal yoga class at Yoga Tree on Valencia when I was 41 weeks pregnant–but childbirth was its own unique experience.

Of course, having a new baby is another kind of yoga altogether. I had gained 55 pounds in pregnancy, and since I was alone with my son all the time, I had to find new physical outlets. I discovered running when I turned 40, racing with DSE Runners almost every weekend, and I made great use of all the outdoor fitness courses in San Francisco. I developed my own practice of pull-ups, push-ups and handstands, all of which I could also do with my son while I was bored at playgrounds.

When we moved to Berkeley almost a year ago, it no longer seemed feasible to race with DSE. I was feeling severely disappointed because I’d gotten fast, regularly coming in top five, and I was hooked. But running alone in the Berkeley hills felt lonely and pointless. My husband kept suggesting that I try yoga. My only real experience with yoga at that point was prenatal.

At the very moment I decided to seek out a local yoga studio, I spotted one on the way back from dropping my son off at school one morning. The timing seemed like magic. (Unbeknownst to me at the time, the studio had just opened.) I didn’t even know what “power vinyasa” was, but I tried out a class the very next morning. It was super hard, a great challenge for me! I have been coming to practice more mornings than not ever since. At the time of this writing, I have just completed my 14th consecutive morning class at Green Yogi.

Any time I’m feeling super challenged at a Green Yogi class, I can compare the experience to the birth of my son, which was the defining most difficult experience of my life. In parenting and in yoga, you must always remember to breathe!

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Teacher Trainings at The Green Yogi: Not Just for Aspiring Teachers!

I’m excited to re-feature one of our beloved Green Yogi teachers today on The Daily Greens Blog, Linda Baffa! Linda is truly an inspiration to our team, As a yogi, mother, wife, and friend, she can do it all, even lead AMAZING yoga teacher trainings, which she’s coined “Enrich Your Life Trainings.” The next one we have coming up is the 150 Hour Foundation Training with Linda and Wendy Garafalo, which starts September 12th and runs through February 22nd, click here for more details. These two ladies make an inspiring and nurturing team creating trainings that are truly life changing! Read on to Be Inspired and learn why yoga trainings are NOT just for aspiring yoga teachers but for everyone! ~Kelly

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If you have been practicing yoga for more than a few weeks, you have probably noticed the countless flyers, Facebook posts, and magazine ads out there for Yoga Teacher Trainings.  You might be thinking (as my mother often does) “how many yoga teachers does the world really need?”

Well, I’m here to break it down for you:  Yoga Teacher Trainings are not just for teachers!  They are a deeper path towards enriching your life.  In fact, they should probably be called “Enrich Your Life Training.”  To this date, I have taken about ten different “teacher” trainings and every single one has made me a better person and a more conscious individual.

I am now a yoga teacher, however, my training journey did not begin with that intention.  When I took my first yoga teacher training I was at a crossroads in my life.  I was frustrated with my career, in my late-20s and trying to define my purpose.  Our lives constantly present us with different paths, and at that time in my life, all the paths were jumbled, and I felt very disconnected from my life and who I was.  I needed to move from a place of negativity and depression to a place of positive, peaceful truth where I could feel deeply connected to myself.  I really needed a BIG SHIFT.

After three hysterical breakdowns, I finally went to yoga where I came across a flyer for a yoga teacher training.  I thought to myself, I don’t know that I want to teach yoga, but if the experience can bring my spirit closer to the radiant, positive, loving energy that I feel every time I am on my mat, then I am IN!  Later that day, I emailed the teacher who was leading the training (the amazing Julie Rader) and by the next day, I found myself in her yoga class opening up into bridge pose with tears streaming down my face.  I felt a shift internally and KNEW Julie’s training would allow me to explore new pathways within myself.  Immersing myself in the practice of yoga,  opening my body and mind in such beautiful ways, and connecting more to my truth were exactly the shifts I needed in my life.

So, if you are like I was, and you aren’t really sure the teaching path is for you, here are a few reasons you should embark on a yoga teacher training ANYWAY :)

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  1. Like me, you’re craving a big shift.  You don’t know what it is exactly, but you know you need a new, positive direction for your life, and you are eager to connect deeply to your truth.
  2. You want to practice yoga all the time, anytime.  You LOVE yoga, Period.  You just can’t get enough of it, and you crave a deeper knowledge of all the elements of the practice. There is a beauty and peace that comes from understanding how a class is structured: from calming the mind, to properly warming up and cooling down, to practicing safe alignment to go even deeper into poses, all of which can then lead you to a wonderfully rewarding home yoga practice anytime, anywhere, and anyway you need it!
  3. You’re craving a community and a group of like-minded friends you can create lasting relationships with.  One of my best friends in the WORLD is from my first yoga teacher training.  Two of my close friends that met in a yoga training just got married!  When you journey deeply into your body and mind surrounded by others who are doing the same, you are bound to connect in a profound way.
  4. You want to spread the yoga love.  It is not always about teaching classes or making money in the yoga business, it is about spreading healing wisdom and LOVE.  The things I have learned from my yoga trainings have made me a more grounded, connected, loving person and from that place, I not only am of service to myself, but to every single soul I encounter.  I am more compassionate, giving, and open-hearted.  I have probably helped as many friends and family members with mind and body needs as much as I have my private clients or those that come to my classes.  A simple conversation or a look at someone’s spine can help change someone’s health immeasurably.  So, whether you want it or not, you will inevitably become a TEACHER by spreading the yoga love.

Linda Baffa and Wendy Garafalo lead Yoga Teacher Trainings through Julie Rader’s Mukti Yoga School.  If you are ready to take this next step on your yoga journey,  you can join them this coming Fall for the 150-hour Foundation Teacher Training at The Green Yogi.  Class times meet on select weeks September 12th thru February 22nd ~ Fridays 7:30-10pm, Saturdays 12:30-6:30pm, and Sundays 12:30-4pm.  Early bird discount and Payment Plan pricing options available.  Click here  for more information and registration, or email any questions to Linda directly at lindasyoga@gmail.com.

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Green Yogi of the Month: Synneve Andrena

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Meet Synneve Andrena, our manduka sponsored Green Yogi of the Month for Manhattan Beach! Since February 2014 Synneve has taken over 95+ classes and has been inspiring our entire team with her dedication and positive energy in the studio. Congratulations Synneve and read on to Be Inspired. 

OCCUPATION: Chief Love Spreader at Love Inside Out

NICKNAME: Synneve (pronounced Sin na va) is a difficult name, so I have many nicknames. Cinnamon, Cinnabon, Scent of a Woman, and Synne are a few of them.

FUN FACT ABOUT YOU: I’m only 10.5 years old. (I was born on Leap Year, February 29.)

WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE INSTRUCTOR AND WHY? It’s difficult to pick a favorite Green Yogi instructor, because they are all unique and amazing. I like each instructor for different reasons. When it’s time to practice yoga, I find the one that fits my mood, schedule, and energy level.

WHAT IS YOUR INTENTION FOR YOUR YOGA PRACTICE? To fully align my mind, body, and spirit, so I can be the best version of myself.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE YOGA POSE? Savasana. To me it’s the most important pose and I love taking the time to feel the benefits of the entire practice.

WHEN YOU AREN’T ON THE MAT, WHERE CAN WE FIND YOU? Walking on the Strand, riding my bike, playing golf, cruising around Manhattan Beach, and exploring LA – art museums, music venues, sporting events, and restaurants.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU? Traveling! I have an adventurous spirit and traveling is my passion. I love exploring this amazing planet, learning, gaining a new perspective, and soaking up all life has to offer.

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN PRACTICING AND HOW HAS YOGA IMPROVED YOUR LIFE? I discovered yoga 11 years ago while living in Hawaii. Yoga helps me be the fullest expression of myself, because it gives me energy, strength, confidence, clarity, peace, and joy.

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First Yogi of the Month in Berkeley! Antoinette Pietras

antoinette YOM

Meet Antoinette Pietras, our very first Green Yogi of the Month in Berkeley! She has been taking classes at the studio since almost the day we opened and has racked up more than 97 classes since January 2014. Antoinette’s energy and love is so inspiring to our team and we are filled with gratitude that she shares her yoga practice with us. Read on to Be Inspired. 

Occupation:  Affordable Housing Development Coordinator for the City of Oakland

Fun Fact About You: I always wanted to do stand-up comedy!

Who is your favorite instructor and why? My favorite instructor is the one I am practicing with at that moment!

What is your intention for your yoga practice? To become more connected to my spirit, inner strength and wisdom.

What is your favorite yoga pose? Hands down my most favorite and least favorite pose is Warrior II.

When you aren’t on your yoga mat where can we find you? Hanging out at the French Hotel Cafe in Berkeley.

How long have you been practicing yoga and how has it improved your life? I credit my mom for introducing me to my first Yoga practice about 15 years ago when she invited me to join her for a beginner’s yoga class at the Downtown Berkeley YMCA. I have to admit, I was not in total awe after my first yoga experience.  At that point in my life, I struggled with the slow pace and stillness required of the practice. Needless to say, I never joined her again.

However, a few years later a co-worker invited me to join her at a Bikram yoga class and to my surprise, I enjoyed the challenge of practicing in extreme heat and continued on for about 5 years.

Fast forward to December of 2013, I had a hair appointment at the Chop Shop, which is right next door to the studio and I noticed the FREE YOGA offer written in cool bright colors on the front window of the studio. At that time, I was grieving the sudden loss of my older brother, who  passed away in early December, so the timing of the offer was in my mind divine intervention. I attended opening day with Mary leading the class and honestly, I have been hooked ever since and consider the studio one of my favorite sanctuaries to retreat to and get re-energized.  I am extremely grateful and appreciative of Mary, her amazing team of instructors and studio hands who work tirelessly and effortlessly creating and maintaining the ultra eco-chic spa like studio vibe by taking the time to illuminate candles throughout the studio before class, wipe the floor with environmentally friendly refreshing orange scent, ensuring that hot and cold water is constantly flowing, replenishing the jar of uber delicious tea bags and offering up the little bottle of lavender oil to apply to my temples to aid me through a more joyful and good smelling practice. Of course, this goes without saying, all the love and energy Mary and her team put forth behind the scenes as well to ensure a pleasant studio experience, for which I say “thank you”.   What I can share about my yoga experience this time around is that after my first flow class with Mary, I was in a total blissful state. Flow class has now become a great metaphor for my grieving process. Over the last several months, I have been able to move through some very choppy emotional waters and continue to do so as we speak. However, what I am learning and experiencing through my flow practice is to not so much focus on all my losses in life, like how my brother is no longer physically with me or why I cannot hold tree pose on my left side or why my hair is going all grey but to now be more mindful and focus on all my gifts and gains in life, like the fact that I shared 45 years of my life with my first best friend, an amazingly loving, caring and comical brother with whom I shared great belly laughs, summers in Lake Tahoe, Barbequing, listening to music, sharing our joys and sorrows and so on and so forth. Unfortunately, I cannot predict what the next huge life curve ball will involve but I know one thing, I will definitely FLOW with it!

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