Yogi योगी Insight (part 5 in a series)

If you are coming here for the first time, you have entered part 5 in a series about aspiring and experienced yogis’ journeys. I hope that you enjoy it and follow along. Namaste!

I met Danielle about a year ago in a C2 class at CorePower Yoga. She was deep in her relax zone before class, but we spoke afterward and we have been buds ever since. She is an amazing woman who used her private practice experience on her mat to launch and pave a path of inspiration off her mat. Danielle’s credentials include TEDx speaker, author, host of The Danielle Daily Show, just to name a few! I am grateful that she made time to participate in this series.

Danielle Watson

Yogi: Danielle Watson, E-RYT 200
Studio: Private Practice

Q: Who or what influenced you to take up yoga?
A: Massive anxiety. I took up yoga in graduate school as an attempt to save myself from spontaneously combusting from the stress of it. I remember lying on my bed crying at night because it felt like I could not find the off button for my brain. Even in my sleep I was thinking and worrying, which led me to feel tired and anxious all the time. I was already physically flexible but heard that yoga was good for calming the mind, so I decided to give it a try to relieve some of the pressure I was feeling.

Q: How long have you been practicing yoga?
A: I started in 2002, so 16 years now!

Q: What aspect of practicing yoga are you most passionate about?
A: Svadhyaya (self-study) and tapas (discipline). For me, these are the two keys to developing into the person we want to become. Asana practice is something I do most days of the week, but practicing these two niyamas is something that I am committed to working on every moment of the day.

Q: What keeps you coming back to your mat?
A: My asana practice is like a great big cosmic dumpster where I go to dispose of my mental garbage. Often times, when I walk into the studio I feel spectacularly human … vulnerable, anxious, or just plain not in a good mood. My mat is a space where I can safely unload the emotional burden of my humanity whether it happens to be sadness, loneliness, grief, anxiety, or shame. I walk out of the studio feeling lighter, freer and ready to keep marching toward becoming the woman I was meant to be! I like to practice daily when possible because, for me, yoga is the mental health equivalent of brushing my teeth. I love the clean feeling!

Q: What is most challenging for you in your personal yoga practice?
A: Letting go of judgment. I often find myself critiquing how others teach, especially when it comes to what is safe and unsafe for new students. I have to remind myself that it’s none of my business anymore!

Q: What is most fulfilling for you in your personal yoga practice?
A: Seeing my practice grow and change. My practice is a lot like bamboo … so much happens beneath the surface before you can see what has been developing, and then suddenly new abilities come bursting out!

Q: Who or what influenced you to start a private yoga teaching business?
A: I started out teaching classes at a studio, but quickly realized that the pay was not very good. I knew that I could work fewer hours and make more money if I started offering private sessions. Also, I  really liked having a close relationship with my students and offering an in-home practice often led to me becoming a part of a family.

Q: Why did you decide to stop your private yoga business?
A: I decided to stop teaching yoga when I realized I was meant to do something more with my gifts and talents than what I was currently doing. It was a difficult decision for me because my clients loved me and I felt guilty about giving up something that helped so many people so much. I finally decided to stop and give away all of my yoga books and gear when I answered an important question for myself. That question was, “If I can do this much good with something I know I am no longer meant to be doing, how much good could I do with something I am meant to be doing?” I knew the good that I was meant to do was a lot more and that sealed the decision for me.

Q: How long did you teach yoga?
A: About eight or nine years.

Q: What insight do you have for someone thinking about starting a private yoga business?
A: All you really need to get started is an extra mat, a strap, and some blocks. It’s tempting to buy a bunch of nifty yoga props, but work with your clients first and then buy more equipment later as you determine the specific need(s) of your clients. Often, students have/want their own equipment so they can use it at home so you may not need to buy fancy props because they will buy on their own what you recommend.

Q: What piece of advice do you have for a new yoga teacher?
A: I don’t think new teachers often realize how much anxiety new students have about being in a yoga class. People are worried that they won’t fit in because they are not flexible, don’t know the poses, etc. I think it’s important to give a voice to that fear at the beginning of an intro class by saying something like, “If you’re here for the first time today, congratulate yourself for being brave! You’re not going to know how to do all the postures today, but you’re not expected to. After you’ve been here a few times you’ll get the hang of it and see yourself starting to improve. I’m proud of you for giving this a try!”

Yogi योगी Insight (part 4 in a series)

If you are coming here for the first time, you have entered part 4 in a series about aspiring and experienced yogis’ journeys. I hope that you enjoy it and follow along. Namaste!

I met Katie through Power Yoga Teacher Training. We became friends and shortly after she said: “I’m going to call you Kimbo, do you mind?” I liked the playful spirit of Katie’s intention and was like, alright! Now, whenever I hear “hey Kimbo” I know instantly that it’s her and it makes me smile. Take note of Katie’s name because she has a natural gift for teaching yoga and I’m confident that as she continues to hone her skills, she will make her mark in the yoga world!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Yogi: Katie O’Donnell
Future Studio: CorePower Yoga

Q: Who or what influenced you to take up yoga?
A: I started practicing yoga in college in North Carolina when my friend Laure Bongiorno recommended it to me. I played collegiate soccer and I was dealing with an injury at the time that left me with fairly limited workout options. Laure recommended hot power vinyasa as a way for me to stretch and to get a good sweat. I attended a few classes with her, sweated a lot, loved it and decided to sign up for a membership!

Q: How long have you been practicing yoga?
A: I have been practicing yoga on and off for about five years, but I became serious about it and more committed to the practice two years ago.

Q: What aspect of practicing yoga are you most passionate about?
A: When I first started practicing yoga I was most aware and passionate about the physical benefits. I liked the way it made my body feel and I could see tangible changes in my physicality. As my practice grew over the years, my passion shifted more toward the mental benefits of yoga. I feel more at ease, open-minded and confident when I practice regularly. I find that just an hour on my mat helps me to let go of any negative feelings I may be having and it helps me to process other feelings in a more rational and sensible manner. I have more patience, for myself and for others, and a deeper understanding of my daily thoughts and feelings.

Q: What is most challenging for you as a yogi?
A: Meditation. It is something that I have wanted to incorporate into my daily routine and practice for a while, but I haven’t quite been able to. I think I need a jumping off point, some guided meditation resources to start the process nice and slow, and of course actively setting aside time daily to meditate.

Q: What is most fulfilling for you as a yogi?
A: So far it has been sharing with others how accessible yoga can be to everyone! Yoga looks and feels different for every individual. For some it may be studio time, for others, it may be yoga at a gym, or privately practicing at home. Every pose can be modified in some way to make it achievable and often times themes resonate with many individuals. It’s fun to dedicate an hour or so to your well-being — mentally and physically; we all need that! The sense of accessibility is something I aim to bring into my own classes to help make every student feel that they are comfortable, confident and safe on their mat.

Q: Why did you take Power Yoga Teacher Training?
A: I decided to take PYTT because I wanted to deepen my yoga practice. I wanted to uncover something within myself; find a passion, learn something new, and connect with wonderful like-minded individuals. I also wanted to bring more consistency into my practice. I tend to fluctuate in how much I take a class. One week I’ll go five times, then not attend for three weeks, come back for two days after that, etc. I needed a commitment from myself that I was willing to put myself and my practice first for eight weeks consistently.

Q: You just graduated from 200-hour PYTT, what is your short-term plan? What is your long-term plan?
A: Ideally, my short-term plan is to audition to become an instructor for CorePower Yoga this fall. Long-term I’m not entirely sure. It’s exciting that opportunities for yoga instructors continue to increase as awareness of the benefits of the practice grow. It would be fun to experiment with options in terms of private practice offerings. I think one thing I can say with certainty is that I am interested in starting some sort of free community class or getting involved with locations that offer that. Yoga is for everyone and I want to help bring it to as many individuals as possible!

Yogi योगी Insight (part 3 in a series)

If you are coming here for the first time, you have entered part 3 in a series about aspiring and experienced yogis’ journeys. I hope that you enjoy it and follow along. Namaste!

I heard through the yoga grapevine at CorePower that Jenn was a great teacher and I had spoken with her a few times at the front desk. One evening, I decided to take her C2 class and the rest is history! She became one of my favorite instructors, a friend, a mentor, and one of the leaders of my Power Yoga Teacher Training (PYTT) program.

Yogi: Jenn Price
Studio: CorePower Yoga, Fairfax

Q: Who or what influenced you to take up yoga?
A: I had just moved back to the east coast. I was at home transitioning from a corporate job to being a new mom. Once I was able to have some free time I started attending a yoga studio within walking distance of my house. I was looking to get back into a physical activity and wanted an hour of time to myself. I started off with Hatha yoga. I liked it because it felt really good on my postpartum body. I had always been very athletic and the class made me feel like I was accomplishing something. I immediately found myself wanting to go back more and more. I liked doing something just for myself. Later on, I took a Power Vinyasa class led by Jaimis Huff. It was the first Power Vinyasa class I had ever taken and it knocked me off of my *ass! I was like that does not qualify as yoga! I didn’t return to her class for a long time. Jaimis ended up being one of my biggest mentors and a friend that I still reach out to today for guidance.

Q: How long have you been practicing yoga?
A: I took my very first yoga class in February 2015 — the Hatha yoga class.

Q: What aspect of practicing yoga are you most passionate about?
A: I love the challenge of arm balances, backbends and inversions. For me, one of the juicy detoxifying aspects is to be able to slow down and treat myself inside and out.

Q: How long have you been teaching yoga?
A: Since April 2016. I did my Teacher Training at CorePower, but I had never practiced at CorePower before I did Teacher Training there. I reached out to the CorePower corporate office in Denver to inquire about training opportunities. I was connected with Liv, the studio manager at the time. The first class I took at CorePower was Liv’s C2 class. I loved that CPY Teacher Training was intensive. CPY’s programs are unique because the number of classes they require is definitely a lot heavier than other places.

Q: What is your mission as a yoga teacher?
A: I hope that everyone leaves with a deeper sense of connection to themselves. I want people to feel gratitude for who they are and that they are supported. I want my classes to be inspiring so that people feel energized and a sense of accomplishment, but more importantly, awareness for how truly strong they are. I know my classes provide physical challenges, but it’s also about breaking down mental walls that we create for ourselves and thinking in our heads that we can’t do something.

Q: What aspect of teaching yoga are you most passionate about?
A: It’s similar to what I’m passionate about in my practice — striving to teach self-love through an understanding of what happens on our mat, what we can and cannot do and how that translates in our life. I want people to know that they can come to the mat as they are raw, broken and messy and that there are no expectations. I want them to learn through their yoga practice that the love for themselves if it’s not already there, can grow from an awareness of who they are, what they want to be — experience growth on their mat.

Q: What is most challenging for you as a teacher?
A: The constant pressure I put on myself to create innovative sequences that continue to turn it up and take it to the next level for students is a challenge. I realize that I put that pressure on myself. It’s the same as in my own practice — I have expectations of what I want to do and I’m always having to remind myself that it’s not about the postures.

Q: What is most fulfilling for you as a teacher?
A: The friendships and connections that I have made with students. It’s important that I always teach from my heart and what feels right for my body. It’s a big chance you take when you put something like yoga that is sacred and personal to you and share it, hoping that others feel the same. The CPY community has been so accepting and supportive of me and my teaching — embracing my sequences and my mentality of yoga off the mat. Knowing that students resonate with what I teach and the life lessons that I share is awesome! It’s what links us together and is the whole point of yoga.

Q: How do you come up with your themes/intentions? Your sequences?
A: My themes are always related to something that is going on in my life or a conversation that I had recently with someone in my class, a friend or family member. It’s important to me that the themes I share are authentic so that I’m connected to what I say. I think that’s how it translates to something genuine and more importantly, impactful. Someone recently commented to me that it always seems like I am speaking from my heart. I replied I am. I hope to inspire my students, and if I’m sharing personal stories of what’s going on in my life I’m allowing the energy of our class to uplift me in return — it’s a reciprocity, coming full circle.

In regard to sequences, I always strive to pick an area of practice that allows students of all levels to have something to work on when they show up to take a class. It can be a focus on a specific part of the body, a particular part of yoga like backbends, inversions Ayurveda (holistic healing), or the moon cycle. Sometimes it can be based on one of my student’s requests — if they have something specific they really want to work on. At the end of the day when you come to my class, you know that you are going to get a good flow, some drills to strengthen for arm balances and inversions.

Q: What is some advice you have for a new yoga instructor?
A: Always teach to what feels right in your body and what speaks/radiates from your own heart. Also, try not to fall into the teacher’s curse of losing sight of your own practice. Make time to stay committed to your practice. It doesn’t have to be a studio class — it can be cultivating a home or self-practice. Keep some time sacred for yourself!

Yogi योगी Insight (part 2 in a series)

If you are coming here for the first time, you have entered part 2 in a series about aspiring and experienced yogis’ journeys. I hope that you enjoy it and follow along. Namaste!

I met Gina in college up north when I was working at an alternative rock radio station. I looked up to her and thought she was very cool, which still holds true today! Fast-forward a few years (alright, more than a few years  :/ ) I learned that Gina became a yoga instructor with a faithful following.

Gina Galli

Photo by Gina Galli

Yogi: Gina Galli
Studios: Antigravity Yoga Lab in Emmaus, PA | Steel Fitness in Bethlehem, PA | The Center for Better Bones

Q: Who or what influenced you to take up yoga?
A: 
Yoga has been in and out of my life for several years. My first so-called “yoga experience” came when I was in college and I was taking a Modern Dance class and the instructor said today we are going to do yoga. I thought it was kind of weird, but I sort of like how I felt afterward. I don’t think I did yoga again until I was in my mid-20s when I went to Sedona, Arizona, with my brother and we took a yoga class. I remember having a strong spiritual and euphoric feeling. In my 30s I took a regular yoga class when I started competing in long-distance road cycling events. The trainer and another friend recommended hot power yoga classes as part of my training. I started to incorporate a Baptiste Style practice and I fell in love with the physical aspects of yoga.

Q: How long have you been practicing yoga?
A: I would say regularly for about 14 years.

Q: You shared through social media that you have a new beautiful dedicated yoga space in your home. Who or what influenced you to create it?
A: I was teaching a couple of private yoga students. My boyfriend decided we were going to finish our basement and that he wanted to build a small yoga space for me so that I could teach private sessions and small classes.

Q: How long have you been teaching yoga?
A: I have been teaching yoga since 2012 and AntiGravity (Ariel yoga) for a year and a half.

Q: What is your favorite style of yoga to teach?
A: I love teaching very physical, sweaty hot yoga classes. I’m trained in Hatha yoga and I love when I have the opportunity to connect a physical practice with the more spiritual side of yoga. However, AntiGravity is a totally different experience altogether. It’s my “playtime” where I get to feel freedom in my body in no other way I can feel it in any other place in my life. ex. aerial yoga/silks

Q: What is your mission as a yoga teacher?
A: My mission as a teacher is for my students to move in ways physically and mentally in which they feel stronger — empowered to move through fears and/or anything that may be holding them back. I love when one of my students says “I got what I didn’t even know I needed” out of your classes. I am blessed to be able to pursue my passion for yoga and help people in my professional job. I work for Dr. Susan Brown, a nutritionist, and we treat clients who have low bone density and bone health conditions like Osteoporosis. Yoga is a form of exercise they can do to help stretch, strengthen and build stronger bones. They are fearful and my mission is to help them overcome their fear. In addition, I want to connect, create and be part of an amazing community of like-minded people through yoga.

Q: What aspect of teaching yoga are you most passionate about?
A: The healing benefits of yoga — when students come to a class and they are physically struggling through illness or an injury and they find relieve and release through the teachings.

Q: What aspect of practicing yoga are you most passionate about?
A: I love how yoga can be ever changing. I personally embrace the spiritual journey of yoga and incorporate components of it into my daily life. I read the Yamas and Niyamas often and try to stay true to Patanjali’s eightfold path.

Q: What is most challenging for you as a teacher?
A: I am devoted to teaching yoga and I look forward to every opportunity I have to lead a class. It is a privilege and an honor. When the room is filled I shine, but those moments where nobody shows up to class or you have one person and then you never seem them again are rough. I try not to let it get me down or take it personally. Even if I only have one person in my class, I make sure that one person gets the best class!

Q: What is most fulfilling for you as a teacher?
A: Seeing a yoga room filled with students and then at the end when they come and talk with me and share how they feel is great. It is very rewarding to know that you were able to provide your students with a release, relive and relaxation. I love teaching yoga — the helping and healing aspects fill my cup!

Q: How do you come up with your themes, intentions, sequences?
A: I consider myself a continuous student in developing my own self. I’m always reading, journaling and studying. I often bring my studies into class for themes. I have a life coach and we talk about many areas of development and she often inspires my teachings.

Q: Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years in the discipline of yoga?
A: I hope to still be teaching. I’m 50 years old and I have some limitations and injuries that do not allow me to move in ways I did in my 40s. My personal goal is to stay active into my 90s! I started teaching at retreats with Dr. Susan Brown and focusing on the many benefits of yoga for the aging body. In the fall we will roll out the Better Bones Exercise Evolution channel where you can subscribe to our videos on Better Bones Exercise Evolution. I’m looking to expand and travel to help women age gracefully and comfortably, and inspire them to keep moving!

Yogi योगी Insight (part 1 in a series)

Last year, I decided to deepen my yoga practice and sign up for a Yoga Sculpt Teacher Training. I completed the five-week course and earned my certification. Then an opportunity came along to take it a step further and work toward my 200-hour teacher training certification, which ends in two weeks. I have had the honor of meeting many amazing yogis, each with different levels of experience and intriguing backgrounds. Eternally curious, I thought it would be fun to interview the yogis to learn from them, apply their wisdom to my teaching and share the love, light and knowledge I gain from them along the way! I hope that you enjoy this special series. Namaste!

I met Lauren a few years ago as a fellow student in an afternoon sculpt class. We instantly hit it off!

Lauren Lipton

Photo by Lauren Lipton https://www.ellethreephotography.com/

Yogi: Lauren Lipton
Studio: Down Dog Yoga

Q: How long have you been practicing yoga?
A: I began practicing yoga in 2011 and it became embedded in my lifestyle ever since. It was a good counter to the Crossfit I was doing as well.

Q: Who or what influenced you to take up yoga?
A: I was working at Lululemon in Clarendon and as part of the job, we were influenced to practice yoga. I stumbled across Down Dog Yoga in Georgetown and was hooked ever since!

Q: How long have you been teaching yoga?
A: I have been teaching yoga since 2015; initially at my old Crossfit gym and now at Down Dog Yoga in Herndon.

Q: What is your mission as a yoga teacher?
A: To help people transform their lives and to see the possibilities that open up when we step on our mat. Our mats are a reflection of the world and how we interact and respond. I love seeing people grow on their mat and taking risks to become stronger.

Q: What aspect of teaching yoga are you most passionate about?
A: I love the breath work involved in Baptiste yoga. The deep breathing gives way to a deep-rooted moving meditation that really shakes up the core and transfers energy. I always feel at ease and calmer after I practice.

Q: What is most challenging for you as a teacher?
A: I would say the most challenging aspect of teaching is holding the energy in the room. There is no music in the class to carry on poses and for people to drift away. I am a guide who continually leads people to their breath to stay in their body and away from the chatter in the mind.

Q: What is most fulfilling for you as a teacher?
A: I love when people keep showing up to do the work!

Q: How do you come up with your sequences?
A: I follow a sequence derived from Baron Baptiste, called “Journey Into Power.”

Q: Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years in your yoga practice?
A: I will continue to practice this type of yoga — the heat is such a heart opener and power vinyasa helps heal injuries I have and keeps me strong.

Lauren is also a talented freelance photographer. Check out her website: 
https://www.ellethreephotography.com/

Sneak Peek: 2018 Healthy Adventures

“When unforeseen obstacles arise, change your plans for how you will reach your goals, never give up on your goals or yourself.” – Gal on the Go

My healthy adventures schedule may appear tame now, but you never know what’s going to come up, and that’s part of the fun!  😉

DATE EVENT LOCATION
May 6 Race for Hope 5K
http://www.teambt.org/
Washington, DC
May 11 & 12 Ragnar Trail Relay
(Team: All the Good Names are Taken)
Zion, UT
June 2 Bay Bridge Paddle Annapolis, MD
September 22 SeaWheeze Vancouver, BC

 

Tote-Worthy

galotgo_bag

Get your very own limited edition #galOTgo reusable tote bag for only $10 (+shipping for out-of-state)! It’s the hottest accessory this spring/summer!  😉  I am selling the bags to raise funds for big races I am participating in as part of my healthy comeback, and to promote women to live fearless lives through my galOTgo brand!

I was training for a Spartan Trifecta weekend, then, in 2016, things took a turn and I underwent two major surgeries that caused me limited mobility. I felt helpless and depressed. My best friend Jenny encouraged me to turn my mindset around by setting new physical goals. I picked three major races to focus on and have worked very hard to rebuild my strength and mobility through occupational therapy and yoga classes. I found mental strength along the way through my community who are pillars of support and keep me motivated.

The classic black tote has the hashtag on one side and makes for a fun conversation piece as people try to decode it like a personalized license plate. The bag is 12×12.75×8 with an 18″ carry strap and removable plastic bottom insert. The bag is great for:

  • workout clothes
  • beach gear
  • diaper bag items
  • shoes
  • groceries
  • and more!

I keep reusable bags in the trunk of my car and on my coat rack at home for use on the go!

NOTE: If you are local I will deliver bags to you directly; if you live outside of the Northern Virginia area I will ship bags to you. To place an order, please email me at galOTgo@gmail.com

Thank you!

Unexpected Inspiration

Power Your Happy

My good friend Chhayal randomly sent me a book in the mail because she was thinking of me. Yes, I am lucky to have such a friend! The book she gave me titled Power Your Happy by Lisa Sugar is autographed. Bonus! I have a treasured autographed books collection. I know, e-books are convenient, etc., but there’s something special about a hardcover book. I scanned the teaser on the back of the book and was intrigued to start reading it. I began with the Introduction and related to the content so strongly, that I was unable to put the book down! 2016 was a bummer of a year, to say the least having two significant surgeries. Friends recommended a variety of uplifting books for me to read, but I just wasn’t in the mood or open to sunshine and rainbows subject matter. I am not sure if it was the topic of the book, timing or a combination, but I am very happy that I didn’t set it aside. Lisa’s words sparked a fire in me! I readjusted both my personal and career goals, and I now have a fresh outlook and plans for how to achieve these new goals. I didn’t want to mark the book with a highlighter since it’s autographed, so I tabbed all my favorite parts. As you can see from the photo, there are A LOT of tabs!

I recommend you buy and read Power Your Happy, but here are a few excerpts…

“…what you find yourself doing in your spare time is the passion you should pursue. Don’t decide what you want to do with your life; let your life tell you what your path is.”
[This statement helped to take the pressure off the question family and friends frequently ask me — what is my dream job? — by shifting my focus on my passions as a guide to the answer instead of an overwhelming black hole of possibilities.]

“S*** happens — to everyone! You don’t deserve special treatment because you are having a bad day. … It’s how you grow from these catastrophes, big and small, that shape you into who you become.”
[Reading this tough love statement helped me snap out of my pity party.]

“May we walk forward with compassion in our hearts and may we replace jealously with joy. And at the end of the day, always remember that all that you need is vision to see where you are going, strength to get you there, and faith that you will end up exactly where you deserve to be.” – Ian McAndrew, Lisa’s SoulCycle instructor

‘Burst’ing With Talent

My friend Jaxon made a bold move to follow his passion and change careers from working in a cube to working behind a camera. I participated in the fitness section of his portfolio. It was a blast! Photos by Kelohimography

“Don’t let a win go to your head, or a loss go to your heart. Keep the faith and trust in the process, put the work in and your time will come.” – Brooks Laich (my fav athlete because of his talent as a hockey player and his life values)