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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