What led you to become a yoga teacher?
You’ve practiced with them on YogaGlo. You’ve followed them on Facebook. You might even take their classes in person once in awhile if they travel to or live in your city. But how well do you know our YogaGlo teachers? We’ve created a new series, Ask a Yogi, so you can learn more about them by asking questions you’ve always wanted to ask.
From favorite poses and tips for beginners to deeper questions about how their practice has changed their worldview, our teachers will collectively answer a new question each week. If you have a questions that you’d like to “Ask a Yogi”, let us know in the comments or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll add your question to the list. Today’s Ask a Yogi question is:
- Elena Brower: Cyndi Lee invited me to her OM training. I was smitten.
- Kathryn Budig: It was a total accidental career. I moved to Los Angeles to pursue my acting career and learn how to teach yoga on the side to keep me afloat in-between auditions. I soon realized I was less than enamored with the grind of Hollywood and in love with yoga. My mentor, Maty Ezraty saw something special in me and put me on the Yogaworks schedule right after my teacher training. The rest is history!
- Jason Crandell: In 1997, I had just graduated with a philosophy degree and was in a Master’s program for International Studies and Political Philosophy. I was bored to death and teeming with anxiety about the future—and I didn’t want to be intellectually competitive for a living which ruled out my trajectory as an academic. My teacher at the time, Josh Feinbloom, asked me to take over his introduction to ashtanga classes. I was working nights at a warehouse and I thought, well, teaching yoga has to be better than this. I was right—but I was also in over my head. I had no training whatsoever (which was not uncommon at the time) so I made a bee line to Rodney Yee’s 2-yr teacher-training program where I felt at home and was taught the best way possible.
- Tiffany Cruikshank: I started teaching because at the time there weren’t really any studios and very few teachers. I started out teaching my friends and when I moved off to college I decided I wanted to share my passion for yoga since there weren’t really any teachers there. Once I started teaching I fell in love with it, I knew I found my calling. My parents always thought I would eventually quit yoga and get a “real” job…(lol) 16+ years later I’m still teaching and loving it more and more!
- Steven Espinosa: Honestly, I never intended to teach yoga. It happened quite by accident. I was working behind the front desk at a yoga studio. Checking in classes, sweeping floors, folding blankets and cleaning toilets. I was falling in love with yoga and really very content just to be of service. Chop wood, carry water, so to speak. Then one day, the owners of the studio said they were going to conduct their very first teacher training. Would you like to be involved, they asked? I said, sure. Why not? Sounds like fun! So I did. But never really considered actually teaching. Cut to: 3 months later and the day after teacher training ended I was asked to sub a class. I was terrified, but said yes. After the class was over I was offered a regular spot on the schedule. That’s a true story. I have come to believe that my teachers saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself. That was 12 years ago now.
- Marc Holzman: Here’s the chronology: In 1999 I moved to LA from NYC to continue my acting career. I took my first yoga class with Bryan Kest and fell in love with it. I knew within the first 5 classes that I wanted to teach it. The studio where I wanted to do a teacher training was offering an expensive program that I couldn’t afford, so I passed because I was flat broke. One week before the training was to begin, in a stroke of divine intervention, I won $50,000 in the lottery and enrolled. I’m not kidding. The rest is history. I’d like to take this moment to formally thank grace and the California State Lottery for helping me fulfill my destiny.
- Amy Ippoliti: Someone’s belief in me…I had been practicing for 11 years (since the age of 16). I applied for a teacher training with Cyndi Lee to go deeper and learn about yoga philosophy. On the first night I told Cyndi that I was only there to go deeper but did not feel I was ready to teach. She looked at me and said something to the effect of “STFU, you are going to teach!” and from that moment on, I rose to the challenge.
- Tara Judelle: I trained as a director for theater originally. I loved how people could use their bodies as instruments to tell stories about humanity. It incorporated everything I ever wanted to do. I was a writer/director, and thought that making films would help change people’s lives. When I named my production company Kali Films, I didn’t realize that the Goddess would make everything true. Arsonists set fire to the film set after 3 weeks of filming. I had my first out of body experience. Later while editing the film, I decided to take a teacher training to get back into yoga. The first week of the training was 9/11. That week I realized I wouldn’t be making films anymore. If my life could end in a moment, what had I done to contribute to the greater whole? From directing and working with actors I had learned to and loved working with people. Collaborating in movement and using one’s body to access deeper places of feeling, is all I really ever wanted to do. Teaching yoga has become the most creative endeavor, that more fulfills my deepest longing.
- Dice lida-Klein: I love yoga. Yoga has allowed me to discover and uncover who I am and who I’m becoming. I wanted to share what I love with others in hopes that they too could find something within their yoga practice. Whatever it is, yoga can help you get there.
- Kia Miller: I have been practicing since I was 15. I wanted to teach for a long time before I did the teacher training. Finally, when Chuck Miller and Maty Ezraty were about to leave Yogaworks I took their final teacher training. It was a defining moment for me. I was working in TV production at the time earning a lot of money, I knew that it was ultimately not satisfying and that I wanted to be doing something where I was going to be able to give back and be of service. I also wanted to be in the kind of work where you find you have more and more to offer as you get older rather than the other way around!
- Christina Sell: I had taught fitness for years and loved practicing yoga but never thought of teaching yoga until a friend of mine opened a yoga studio in Prescott, Arizona and asked me if I would come and teach at her studio. My primary teacher at the time was Manouso Manos, a Senior Iyengar Instructor. I went to him and asked him if it was okay if I started teaching since I was not sure that I was ready. He told me :”Everybody starts before they are ready; that is part of the process. As a new teacher make sure that 1) you do not teach postures that you can not do and 2) you maintain a close relationship with a senior teacher so you have someone you can ask questions as you go along.” I followed his advice and found that I loved teaching yoga mostly because for the 90 minutes I was teaching, I would forget about myself a bit and just give myself to the work of teaching. Teaching yoga became a wonderful “break” from the stress I had at the time. Another side note to my story is that my husband and I owned a coffee shop at the time I first started teaching yoga. In order to teach my two classes on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, I would have to replace myself at the shop and pay someone to work for me. I made $20 in each class and paid over $60 to be gone from the shop for the morning. So for my first year of teaching, I literally paid for the opportunity to learn to teach. I tell that as part of my story because I think its good for new teachers to know that the craft of teaching yoga is an investment on many levels!
- Sianna Sherman: The deepest desire in my heart is to serve real transformation in humanity. Through the transformative practices of yoga, I have journeyed from the pits of self-loathing in my late teens to true self love and honest embrace of my whole being. I wish for every single one of us to love ourselves fully and see the expansive truth of our marrow essence nature. Yoga is a pathway of love, transformation and the most profound recognition of Self. My dedication as a yogini is in service to humanity.
- Jo Tastula: My first yoga teacher advised me NOT to become a yoga teacher. Basically he told me not to give up my day job. I took that advice to heart, so when I finally did do a teacher training years later, it was to deepen my practice. Directly after the teacher training however, I was asked to teach and the rest just fell into place effortlessly. I’m extremely blessed that my first teacher guided me to build a strong foundation of practice. It’s only through practice that you have something to teach.
- Felicia Tomasko: My first awareness of Yoga came about when I was a high school student in the small town of Bethel, Connecticut. At the time, there weren’t any yoga classes held either in my school or in the town itself (that I was aware of, in any case), so my primary inspiration for beginning my practice came from books. Richard Hittleman’s Yoga: 28 Day Exercise Plan was my first foray into trying it out, along with books on kids’ yoga (complete with playful illustrations) I checked out from the local library. After some scouring, I found a meditation center around 40 minutes away, in Woodbury, run by a group of students of Dhyanyogi and Sri Anandi Ma.(A few years later, in Boulder, I received my first meditation initiation with Sri Anandi Ma). Then it was at the college Rec center, at the University of Colorado-Boulder, where I took my first formal classes. My first group classes were from an Iyengar teacher, in the mat-covered walls and floor of the wrestling room, making it a forgiving environment for learning headstand (covered in class #2). From the first day, the first pages, my first personal practice, I loved yoga. I loved the philosophical ideas written about transcendentalism by America’s first yogis, Emerson and Thoreau, whom I read voraciously in high school. I loved the expansive ideas espoused in my high school comparative religions class. I first became a vegetarian in high school (and in college, a vegan) after reading Diet for a New America by John Robbins, when it was first released. I think I was born a yogi. But becoming a yoga teacher happened when one of my yoga teachers, Shar Lee, a bodyworker/brilliant therapeutic teacher/practitioner of Tibetan cranial massage/and more, was hosting a teacher training over a nine-month period of time. I had every excuse as to why I couldn’t possibly attend, and to every reason I stated why I just couldn’t do it, she had a ready answer. Finances? Payment plan. Time: it’s over nine months, we’ll work it out. Later? You must do it now; this is the group of nine other people with whom you must study. I did. And I never looked back.
- Harshada Wagner: I knew from an early age that my calling was to be close to God and to help connect other people to God. I surely wasn’t going to sign up for an organized religion. That wouldn’t have been real for me. I discovered yoga and the whole wider world of yoga and that fit both my personal quest and also my calling to serve. Meditation, I find, is a way for people to connect directly to God. There is no belief, no dogma, just direct experience. Everyone is hungry for love, and meditation is a way to connect to most reliable source of love.