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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