Buddhi Yoga is committed to providing outstanding classes taught by San Diego's best yoga teachers. Buddhi Yoga is a premier yoga studio located in La Jolla, California. We offer daily yoga classes, workshops & teacher trainings
Stephanie Jones Embodies All the Qualities of a Great Teacher
Steph has been teaching at Buddhi for a few years and she’s one those people that try harder than most. We’ve seen her perfect her FlowLIFT classes with openness and grace, take additional yoga trainings for fun, and start her own online business faster than you fan say “Dayum!” Naming her Buddhi Yoga Teacher of the Month has been a long time coming and we couldn’t be more excited that she’s a part of our team. Get to know her a little better below and stop by to see her for vinyasa and FlowLIFT classes.
Tell Us How You Got Into Yoga
The first yoga class I ever attended was just for fun. I wanted to see what all of this yoga buzz was about. I liked it, but I was a committed runner at the time, so I’d drop into classes on a non-regular basis. I’d show up maybe once a month, feel incredible, but never commit.
What Made You Want to Take Our San Diego Yoga Teacher Training
I moved to California in May of 2016 with the slightest idea that I wanted to start teaching yoga. My practice had evolved at that time and I felt a calling to try teaching. I attended one of Goldie’s yoga classes, chatted with her for a few minutes after, and then signed up. I was in the, “if not now, then when” mode. It felt right. I was definitely the random teacher, but I didn’t mind.
What’s Your Favorite Thing About Being a Teacher
Being present. Teaching yoga requires such immense presence that when I leave a well-taught class, I feel high. A high I can’t achieve from anything else.
What’s On Heavy Rotation in Your Music Playlists Right Now
For yoga, I’m loving “Feels Like A Sunday” by Elderbrook and “My Love” by Until The Ribbon Breaks. I prefer music without lyrics for yoga. For FlowLIFT I LOVE “Flower” by Moby and “Stir Fry” by Migos. Anything that makes me and my class feel like a badass.
Why Did You Sign Up for Teaching the FlowLIFT Workout
I stumbled upon FlowLIFT by accident. After Yoga Teacher Training at Buddhi, I hadn’t found any yoga classes to teach for a few months. I heard Buddhi Yoga started FlowLIFT, so I called one of the founders and asked her if I could try teaching the class. She said, “Have you taken the class?” I said, “Well, no.” She told me to try a class and that we would chat after. My first class was SO HARD. I wasn’t quite sure if I would be up for the challenge, but I kept at it. It didn’t get any easier, I just got in better shape. After a couple of weeks of consistently attending class, I became addicted, auditioned, and took the training. Now, here I am – FlowLIFT obsessed.
What Do You Think Is the Most Challenging Thing About Being a Yoga Teacher
Ah, this is a good question! For me, finding jobs at studios other than Buddhi has been a challenge. Buddhi is one of the only studios that gives teachers the freedom to teach their own style. I feel really constricted if I can’t express myself through my authentic teaching style, so fitting in with other studios has been tough.
Tell us three things a lot of people don’t know about you
I love spending time alone. I’m an extroverted introvert, so I often choose my alone time over going out with friends. I used to be a financial analyst and my dream was to work on Wall Street. I read a book a week. My favorite book is The Big Magic.
How Do You Envision Your Life in Five Years?
Teaching a San Diego yoga teacher training! My 5-year goal is to teach teachers. Yoga Teacher Training was one of my favorite times in my life, so I want to recreate that experience for myself, except I’ll be on the other side of things.
What Is Your Pet Peeve
Haha oh gosh. Is a pet peeve just an aspect of yourself you haven’t accepted? We each have them for different reasons. My personal pet peeve is when I don’t give myself time to move my body every day. I get easily irritated and impatient. When I make time for myself, I’m a better person and a better teacher.
Stephanie’s Teaching Schedule
Stephanie teaches vinyasa yoga on Thursdays at 6:30am and FlowLIFT on Friday at 4, Saturday at 7:30am and Sunday at 12:30. Stop by and say hi or visit her online at Steph Yoga.
Have you ever wished there was one place to go for yoga and cardio? As yoga studio owners, we realized we had to go elsewhere for strength and cardio training and wouldn’t it be great if we didn’t have to leave our studio for a complete workout? Well, sometimes wishes do come true. Buddhi Yoga is your one stop shop for yoga and workouts. Hello FlowLIFT.
For over four years, Buddhi Yoga has offered various styles, from Vinyasa to Slow Flow and Kundalini. All of these keep us calm and flexible, and some classes can also offer strength-building postures. But, what about cardio, resistance training and a profuse sweaty workout? We prefer the more effective internal heat than hot yoga.
To satisfy our need for a killer workout, we used to have memberships at various places around town. Amanda liked to go to Pilates and I would bounce around between Orange Theory, cycling classes and personal training gyms. We loved those workouts, but it gets expensive and we lost interest after a few months. That’s when FlowLIFT was born with all the elements rolled into one.
The FlowLIFT Workout Has It All
FlowLIFT makes you sweat more than you do in a three-mile run and you work muscles impossible to target with machines. The multi-planar moves with weights in FlowLIFT make your entire body work together to reach tiny stabilizer muscles that make you lean – especially in the hips, thighs and arms. Who doesn’t want that? Since the class flows at a steady, rigorous pace and you never pause to set up moves, you achieve cardiovascular fitness and burn almost 500 calories in just forty-five minutes. The format of the class is always the same but the complex moves change every time which keeps your mind from wandering and there’s no boredom.
Since 2016, Buddhi Yoga has offered FlowLIFT classes. Yogis looking to add more strength training to their routines have become hardcore FlowLIFT addicts and we attract the exercise enthusiasts who normally shy away from yoga. It is a beautiful thing to see. Our FlowLIFT classes are more popular than ever and our certified instructors are growing their classes fast. The best part is we are still madly in love with the workout. It never gets old and teaching the class is even more fun than taking it. We’ve received such positive feedback from people all over the country doing our classes online. Like us, they finally found something that keeps them engaged and in shape. The added bonus is they no longer need several memberships to different studios and gyms.
Buddhi Yoga – Your One Stop Shop
Home Workouts and Yoga Online
For those of you that can’t make it to the studio we’ve got you covered online. Buddhi Yoga members get free access to one of our sites, yourBuddhi Yoga or FlowLIFT Fitness.
Each of these sites are $18/month, or you can get the Dual Membership for $24. It’s a great resource to have when you’re on the road or don’t feel like leaving the house. Our yoga site gets you access to over 150 on-demand classes as well as weekly livestreams from the studio. The FlowLIFT site releases a new class with myself (Carolina) and Amanda every Monday.
I met Sheel when she walked into Buddhi Yoga to take my vinyasa class one Wednesday morning. Her presence and beauty struck me right away and I was very intrigued. It was one of those “I have to be friends with that woman” moments. Since then we have become great friends and we love to take each other’s classes. I had done Kundalini a few times before, but learning and practicing from Sheel was a whole new ball game. Her teachings and this practice have been a huge upgrade for my life in every possible way. We are so lucky to have her La Jolla Kundalini classes at Buddhi Yoga. She is, as they say, the real deal. It was my pleasure to sit down with Sheel, my teacher and sister from another mister, to find out more about the magic of Kundalini Yoga.
You teach Kundalini Yoga. I am often asked “what is that?” Can you give us a little rundown of what exactly Kundalini yoga is?
Sure! Kundalini is a school of yoga that works with the energy points called chakras. We utilize posture, movement, breath, meditation and mantra for the sole purpose of having Spirit Rising up the spine and into your life in order to make the mundane moments of our day magical. Unlike Vinyasa classes, there is no flow, we do poses with movement for 1 to 3 minutes, sometimes longer. We stay in what I call the “zone of uncomfortableness” to crush mental limitations and open a doorway of consciousness that is limitless and in line with our true nature which we call “Sat Nam.”
What drew you to yoga and Kundalini in particular?
I have always been an anxious person. I had a daily mediation practice and regular vinyasa practice for several years that made my anxiety bearable. I just accepted it would be a part of my life, and that was that. My first kundalini class I had an experience that the energy I was creating and sending through my mind and body matched and neutralized the anxiety at a very deep level. After a few minutes into the practice I had this overwhelming sensation that not only was I okay, but everyone and everything was going to be okay. It was an energizing release into another realm of consciousness I had never been able to access. After that, I was hooked.
You are a busy mother of two with a full life. Can you give the other mothers out there some tips on how to make time for your practice and why it’s so important to make it a priority?
Absolutely. The great thing about Kundalini is that even 90 seconds of breathwork can change the frequency of your mind, the chemistry of your body, your next thought and action, and trajectory of your life–bringing it into alignment with more joy and ease. When you think about it like that, how can you not make time?
The other thing is that women are the heart of their homes. So when we practice there is a huge return on that investment of time and energy because everyone we live with gets the full benefit of our practice.
Try this, close your eyes and put the tongue to the roof of your mouth. Notice what this does to the diaphragm. Draw the breath into the low belly, breathing long and light through the nose. Try 3-11 of these a day, preferably outside with your feet touching the earth. Commit to 10 days in a row, put a reminder on your phone. I promise, someone will tell you that you seem different, and more calm, from this simple commitment.
I’ve been to other Kundalini classes where the teacher only plays mantras. I love that you play the beautiful mantra music but throw in more modern tunes as well. You also don’t wear a turban or all white when you teach. Were you nervous to break from these traditions? What made you want to create your own unique style?
No I wasn’t nervous. I was waiting for the right time. I grew up in a traditional Sikh family, and my father and the men in my family wore turbans. I grew up listening to gurbani kirtan (mantra music) on long road trips. However, since I can remember I have always been a seeker of authenticity and joy. Because of that, I could enjoy these cultural experiences without over-identifying with them. My life path has been a journey of soaking in traditions, whether it is Kundalini, Sikhism, Hatha Yoga, etc., and then distilling the truth that keeps me the lane of authenticity and leaving the dogma in the rearview mirror.
It was right after I turned 40 that something began to feel inauthentic when I played certain songs because that is was what has always been done or I had learned to do in a teacher training. Now I research the mantra, figure out which Guru or sage it came from in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, why it is powerful and going to give us a sense of freedom in our cells, and then when I play a mantra I make sure to get the class to a certain frequency so that power of the sound current does what it is supposed to: change the DNA of the practitioner and activate it to a higher dimension of being. Sometimes I just need a good beat to create synchronicity among the 30 trillion cells of each student—pop music and hip hop are pretty powerful at doing this!
As for turbans. I do wear a headwrap when I practice at home and for some of the longer meditations I teach like at the 11th Day Lunar Cycle experiences . The acupressure created by the fabric at the temples and around the cranium makes me feel like I have a container to go deeper into meditations Where I come from, turbans are 20 feet of ironed cloth and the tradition of tying it is a beautiful production that the whole household participates in. It’s very much related to the Sikh identity. I respect people that go to the lengths required to wear beautiful, freshly-pressed turbans, but right now in my life it feels like it would be a costume if I wore one. Plus, I tend to pick pretty physical kriyas, if I wore a turban, it would come flying off in the first few minutes of class.
Speaking of your awesome music, give us your top five songs on your rotation right now for your class.
Gobind Gobind Gobind Sang by Bhai Harjinder Singh Ji
Ride by Lana Del Rey
Tu Hee Tu Sat Kartar by Sidan & Sampuran
Light House by MC Yogi
The Hatenaughts of Melancholia by Finback
Sheel teaches La Jolla Kundalini at Buddhi Yoga every Monday and Saturday at 10-11:15am. You can take classes with her online on her website Kundalini with Sheel. Follow her on instagram to find out about special classes and events with her like the 11th day of the moon meditation this Wednesday at Buddhi Yoga.
We love Andrés! He has been our main DJ for Buddhi events, and when he expressed an interest in becoming a yoga teacher, we were beyond stoked. His presence is pretty rad, and we love having him around at the studio. Keep reading to find out why our yoga teacher of the month is so awesome and be sure to stop by and see him for a Vinyasa class with dope tunes every Monday night at 6:45pm.
How and Why Did You Get Into Yoga
I was first brought into yoga through my meditation practice. My Mom introduced me to meditation early on and around the time I was starting to meditate, I also had a deep interest in reading about esoteric philosophy. I noticed that a lot of the philosophy I was reading and learning at the time referred to yoga philosophy and yogic principles. The philosophy behind the path of yoga really resonated with me and a lot of what was going on at that age. However, it wasn’t until I took a family trip to Mount Shasta when I was seventeen that I first started to really inquire about the practice of yoga and what it meant to me. My personal studies continued and a few years later I moved to the fast-paced and endless hustle of New York City for college. Meditation was still very much a part of my practice, and it was in NYC that I started taking my first Ashtanga and Vinyasa classes. Since then, my journey, love, and exploration of the practice of yoga has continued to evolve! Funny enough, I decided to step up the physical side of my yoga and study more of the asana side of the practice as a way to balance work, late nights and travel.
Tell Us How You Got Started as a DJ
DJing was something I initially took up purely as a hobby. I wanted to immerse myself in something that complimented my deep passion for music and sound. Music was my first love. I started playing classical piano when I was seven, guitar when I was sixteen, and went on to being in bands through high school, and continued to play guitar and piano through college. I eventually saw DJing as a way to expand my love for music, explore something different, and enter a whole new world. After picking up DJing, I was obsessed. I decided I wanted to give it a shot professionally and found my first gigs in downtown San Diego playing for the Searsucker restaurant group. Through that I connected with some amazing people, landed more gigs with other clients, continued to build my DJ business, and the rest is history!
How Do You Choose the Music for a Yoga Class
The music I choose for classes is based on what I feel the songs are emoting. I’m listening for what will correspond to a class flow, the desired energy I think will serve best, and what will connect and energize the students. When I first started bringing music into the yoga space, I gave a lot of consideration to what types of songs would relate to different postures and flows. For example, with balancing postures, I’ll usually gravitate to something with a deep, resonant, 4/4 beat; something that supports rooted, concentrated, grounding energy. With a faster Vinyasa sequence we might hear more percussion in the song, higher energy and more elements to the track. With Savasana I’m looking for stuff that’s super etheric and usually nothing that the mind can attach to. Just like every pose has a purpose, I like to think that with selecting music for yoga, or just DJing in general, every track has its own purpose and will carry it’s own energy. Ultimately I want each song, like each postures, to serve the space and people in some way or another.
What Has Been the Best Opportunity that has Come from DJing or Yoga
DJing has been incredible in opening up opportunities to work with amazing people and brands around the world. I’ve gotten to travel, play in beautiful places, meet interesting people and really explore a big part of our culture as humans. Music is the Universal Language! Along with that, it’s by way of DJing that I got back in touch with yoga. It’s funny to think, but DJing and music actually played a big part in me teaching yoga! Music and yoga, in my experience of the two, are intrinsically connected and they both continue to bring me back in tune with each other! (pun intended )
What is Your Favorite Thing About Teaching Yoga
The notion of healing; That we are all healers and we all have the ability to heal. When that idea connected for me, I was all in. We look around the world these days and it can be so easy to see so much suffering and pain everywhere. At the same time, there is also so much beauty if we look for it and allow ourselves to see and experience it. I believe we all have such an incredible responsibility to bring some sort of healing through what we do. Personally, by teaching yoga (and playing music), if I can have any part in helping be a guide on a healing path, then I’ll have no problem sleeping at night!
Where Do You See Yourself in Ten Years
I see myself continuing to do what I’m doing now but on a larger scale. I see building bridges between different cities internationally, communities, and tribes of people. At the same time, using music, yoga and celebration to break down any walls or barriers that may cause people to be in pain for whatever reason. I see myself expanding even more outside the U.S., working with a variety of clients and people, introducing new businesses that carry the intent of connection, and continuing to teach yoga wherever I am. In the next ten years I also intend to grow my yoga practice by studying new healing modalities so I can incorporate them into my teaching practice; Ultimately expanding the level at which I am able to serve, heal and connect the dots, so to say.
Are There Any Poses that Frustrate You and What’s Your Favorite Pose
Ha! Yeah. I have a hard time clasping my hands behind my back in gomukhasana. My shoulders are so tight! If I had to pick a favorite, it would be Sirsasana (headstand). Imagine, if humans are like an hourglass, sometimes we’ve got to flip ourselves upside down to get our energy moving properly! Sirsasana gets the energy moving. It’s the best! Also, it’s great for people who travel and are on the road constantly. If you can stand up in your hotel room, you have enough room to stand on your head!
If You Could Teach Anyone a Private Yoga Class (Present or Past) Who Would it Be and Why
I think it would be my grandfather. He was an incredible athlete and there are so many photos of him in certain postures that look so yogic in their nature. Even just posture-wise and how he carried himself, he was definitely an inner yogi, and I’m pretty sure that he didn’t practice it in 1940’s Mexico and Spain. Although bullfighting could not be more different in nature in terms of the intent, I think the common theme of extreme inner focus rings true with what I do. A different era, but same intent.
As a Yoga Teacher Why Do You Think Music is So Important in a Yoga Class
It’s important because of vibration. We all are composed of atoms of vibrating energy. Sound, music, and all vibration impacts our own vibration and the world around us. When we tap into how we are working with energy, whether it’s through our own or someone else’s, as we can do with yoga, we literally sync up with the vibration that is around us; And that can be the vibration from music or other people. I can also say that the absence of music and focusing purely on the vibration, sound and resonance of Ujjayi breathing can also be deeply transforming for someone’s practice. Tapping into that field and the power of vibration can create incredible shifts…
What’s On Repeat Currently in Your Playlists
I’ve been loving Paws by Palms Trax! Such a rich track.
We love seeing more men in yoga, so when a local trainer brought in two of his gym mates to class, it made us pretty happy. Over the course of the next few weeks Erol Dimmitt and his buddies kept showing up! It became the mid-week yoga party with just the right amount of testosterone. Here we are over nine months later and they’re still going strong attending four classes a week early in the morning before work. We wanted to feature Erol, an ex-pro golfer who has discovered many benefits from a consistent yoga practice. Next time you see him in class, say hello!
Tell Us How You Were Introduced to Yoga
Anthony Roumell, our trainer, brought me to Buddhi Yoga and wow! It has been fun!
Are There Any Physical and Mental Changes You Have Noticed Since You Started Maintaining a Regular Practice?
I don’t like using the word flexible because it sounds weak. However, I see an increase in my range of motion while still maintaining the horse power that is vital to an athlete regardless of being a golfer or a football lineman.
Here is my transformation mentally. Imagine yourself on your mat almost fully undressed in exposed positions no more than six feet away from a stranger who is also in their exposed position, and not for a moment do you sense your exposure. All you hear is your breath.
In Your Opinion, What Are the Most Important Qualities of a Good Yoga Teacher
Aware and patient (Jenna), hands-on (Leah), caring (Andres) , a little combat (Magdalena) and confident (Carolina)
You Mentioned That You Might be Interested in Getting Your Yoga Teacher Certification. Tell Us More
I enjoy developing movement patterns like a cook explores recipes. I love to exercise since it really helps the ability to play golf better and hit the ball harder and further. As we get older, everything becomes more difficult to do and the harder it becomes, the less we do it or we make efforts to avoid it. Yoga opens up the range of motion to make us better functioning human beings. Now add strength to that and you have bottled magic. If I were to conduct yoga classes they would be for people who want to become stronger and mobile. Golf is the perfect example of grace and power while still maintaining accuracy.
Take Us Back to Your Golfing Days
Ahhh, the was-once days! I grew up in Europe born to an American (Polish) Dad and Turkish mother who gave me all the support as a young man and opportunity to play golf. It was my first love and has never left me after all these years until I met my life’s partner, Nicole. The path took me from European DODSEUR Amateur Champion all the way to Head Professional at some of the most renowned golf clubs in Germany while globe trotting with some really interesting personalities. I love to teach and did some 40,000 hours during my career, and to this day I can honestly say I gave each and every lesson the best I had at that moment. Franz Beckenbaur (a soccer player) once said after a lesson, “he has the golden eye”. Well, now at 57 the eyes don’t see as well, but I can fix a golf swing faster than an oil change at Jiffy Lube.
It made us so happy that you and the “muscle boys” were coming to yoga because men are outnumbered in classes and they seem to need it just as much, if not more. What would you say to the men out there who haven’t yet tried yoga for fear of not being flexible enough or because they still think it isn’t a good workout?
Yoga, like any other sport or fitness activity, needs a mentor. People don’t understand Yoga. Youth is wasted on the young! The young person is young, healthy and mobile so why would they be thinking about increased mobility and life-long awareness at a young age? They don’t. I think Yoga will grow as people become more aware and also out of necessity…Yoga is in a good place and if you care about a friend, treat them to a yoga class at Buddhi.
Does Erol Dimmitt Have a “Goal” Pose
There are poses I feel I can see myself from the third person, and there are those that I can only imagine how they work. I’m finally mastering the headstand and feel that soon I will do a handstand in class without hurting a neighbor.
What’s Your Favorite Thing About Buddhi Yoga
I love the atmosphere and the people. How do you explain something that comes so naturally and just feels right?
Teacher training is an experience that changes people’s lives and gives insight into who we are and what truly makes us happy. Most people who choose to take a yoga teacher training aren’t sure they ever want to teach yoga. A lot of the students also haven’t been practicing for a long time. There’s a misconception that if you’re doing a teacher training it means you’re “advanced’ or “good at yoga”. I had only been doing yoga for six months when I signed up for my first teacher training. I had zero upper body strength, so I couldn’t do a vinyasa or any of the arm balancing postures including plank. Teacher trainings are progressive. Students go over the basics in depth and learn new alignment techniques no matter how long they’ve been practicing. Good vinyasa yoga teacher trainings also aim to create a solid foundation of philosophy and meditation, which results in a lot of positive mental and emotional shifts.
What I Noticed After I did a Vinyasa Yoga Teacher Training
After completing my first teacher training I went on to teach yoga full time. I discovered how powerful it is and I ended up feeling compelled to continue sharing it with others. Some of the most prominent things I noticed after finishing up my first teacher training were:
Increased overall strength – I noticed that my upper body and core improved drastically. This lead to better posture, less back pain and more endurance in other activities.
I had new tools to fight stress – If I encountered a stressful situation, I no longer wanted to turn to negative stress relievers like drinking, eating, or mindless distractions. I instead turned to meditation, breathing, yoga, and other self-care techniques.
I learned to eat better – Being so immersed in yoga teachings for six months, I naturally wanted to eat better. My body craved clean foods and more plant-based options. I noticed how I felt when I ate processed, fatty foods, and it was easier for me to choose healthier options to fuel my body.
I was less reactive – Things that used to bother me about others suddenly stopped being so annoying. I wasn’t triggered as often, and if I was, I had more control over my thoughts, words and actions.
I could go on and on, but I also wanted to offer you other experiences from some of our teacher training staff. Thank you to Jenna, Goldie and Jon for taking the time to share their thoughts.
I moved to San Francisco and the first thing I did was find a yoga studio to make it feel more like home. Yoga Tree became my home and Les Leventhal became my teacher. I had an epiphany in his class that signaled my need to change paths. I kept trying to force a career because it was “safe and responsible.” A day later I signed up for my first 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training and as a result, my entire life changed. I never planned on becoming a yoga teacher, let alone making it my full time career. I just knew it was something I had to do at that point in my life. This decision to invest in myself became single handedly the best decision I’ve ever made. It changed my life’s trajectory. I think everyone should do a YTT whether you want to teach or not!
After spending eight years as an elementary school teacher, I was emotionally burned out and looking for a fresh start. During my time as a school teacher, the yoga studio was my sanctuary. I remember looking at my yoga teachers and thinking, wow that must be such an amazing career — They all seem so light and happy. Enrolling in my first vinyasa yoga teacher training literally changed my life. It not only allowed me to switch gears and start a new career path, but gave me an entirely new heathy outlook on life. Before starting training, I wasn’t fully aware of the other Limbs of Yoga, beyond the physical practice. My training introduced me to yoga as a way of life, not just as a way to make my body strong and flexible. I am beyond grateful for my guiding teachers, many of which I still am able to learn from today. Teaching yoga has connected me to so many wonderful people and taken me to some amazing destinations around the world. I feel so fortunate to be able to do this for a living.
I started yoga in a teacher training…it’s hard to put into words the magnitude and depth of where I was at that time. I was very fortunate to look up to the lead instructor as a friend and mentor. It is safe to say though that if it weren’t for my teacher and his practice, understanding and ability to embody the yoga lineage, I would not be on this planet right now. Teaching yoga just happened for me. It wasn’t the plan; or so I thought.
Photos by Hale Productions & Erika Kyte | Written by Carolina Vivas, Buddhi Yoga 2017
Sara took our teacher training a few years ago and it has been amazing to see her grow and evolve. Whenever she walks into the studio she’s always smiling and radiating positive energy. We know that her passion for yoga will take her career in lots wonderful directions and that she will influence many lives along the way. We hope you enjoy her interview below and be sure to check her out subbing and teaching her regular class every Thursday at 4pm.
What Made You Want to Become a Yoga Teacher
The first yoga class I took left me feeling more self-aware, calm and accepting. When I found yoga at a time of high stress in college, it was the only way that peace came easily and I learned how to let go. It quickly became my favorite thing to do, so much so that I wanted it to be in my life all day, everyday. Yoga impacted me by showing me that I was capable of rewiring ways of thinking, believing and being, but it also helped me find the space to have more compassion for myself and others. I’ve never been able to connect with people more easily than I can now, and I feel the practice has given me the ability to show my vulnerabilities and not feel afraid. Helping people to find that space on and off the mat is a dream, because I know how much it impacted my own life and how grateful I am because of it.
What Has Been the Most Rewarding Thing About Teaching Yoga
I love teaching yoga for many reasons. One reason is that it takes me into a “flow state”, where my mind stops at the studio door and suddenly teaching feels more like meditating. It’s like diving into each breath, noticing the space in each moment and creating something greater than myself. The hour disappears and I also disappear in that time, but I have never felt more present. It’s quite the feeling, and it never gets old… just better with time. Another reason I love guiding people in their practice is seeing them fall in love with the poses, watching them notice small changes, and even surprising themselves. However, there’s nothing like witnessing students coming out of savasana looking calm and at peace.
What Do You See Yourself Doing in Ten Years
I would love to still be teaching yoga, leading teacher trainings, traveling more, and running retreats. I would also love to become a writer and have published a children’s book by then!
What’s Your Favorite Thing to Do in San Diego
Besides yoga, I really love the beaches, spending time in coffee shops making playlists or reading. Paddle boarding is something I’m looking forward to come summer.
What’s Your Go-To Grub Spot
Cafe Gratitude or Fish Shop
Which Song is on Heavy Rotation in Your Playlists
I love Never Be Like You, by Flume. Or lately it’s also been On Hold by The XX.
Got Any Advice for People Who Still Haven’t Tried Yoga
The key we’re all looking for to Pandora’s box of self-awareness, consciousness and compassion can be found through yoga and breathing. Research teachers and ask about classes, then pick one with a slower pace to start, where being new is celebrated. It will motivate you to branch out and try all the classes offered so you can find what you like best.
What’s the Funniest Thing that Has Ever Happened to You While Teaching
When I first started teaching, I offered to help my friend with his handstands. I didn’t realize at the time that when people go upside-down they become much taller with the added height from the length of their arms to support them up. So, my calculations were off and when I went to catch my friend’s leg, I accidentally caught something else! Luckily, we’re still friends. But, I don’t catch guy’s legs in handstands anymore… just in case I miss.
What’s Your Least Favorite Pose
It used to be Warrior 1, but now I love that one. Side crow always gives me a bruise on my quad, so it’s probably that one.
Tell Us About Your Mindfulness Classes and Workshops
I used to teach classes on mindfulness regularly at USD and Rancho Valencia. That all started 2-3 years ago when I wrote a book, which I sold to go with the lecture class I created. My path to that place started with yoga, teaching yoga, and staying curious about how to change my ways of being, thinking, believing, and seeing myself in relation to the world around me. There are many ways to classify mindfulness, and I cover many of those, however, one aspect that I feel is imperative to look at is how life always shows us that whatever we believe we are, we eventually become. Sometimes it can seem like the path to uncover what is unconscious is too difficult or uncomfortable to explore. Yet, it is much harder to stay unaware of our beliefs or close ourselves off to seeing ourselves because those beliefs show up whether conscious or unconscious. Ultimately we learn and relearn the same lessons over and over to wake us up to what it is we believe so that we can become even more conscious, connected and self-aware. In a world that is full of fear, being mindful means you have decided to keep clear intentions of not falling into the victim role. or to believe that “life is happening to us,” but instead take responsibility for the life we create with our thoughts. In my workshops I expose you to the possibility that you create who and what you want to become. I show you how this happens and how it effects every aspect of our lives, because beliefs are pervasive. Those thoughts we mindlessly think are dangerous if we don’t want fear to show up as hard lessons. I also offer suggestions on how to change and rewire your mind for a more conscious experience of life’s ups and downs. My belief is that all aspects of life, the good, the bad, and the heavy stuff are all necessary and beautiful, because it leads us to appreciate more. To me, that’s what happiness is all about; Being able to appreciate and accept what is no matter what shape it takes.
We recently graduated our fourth group of yoga teachers this past summer. Each training has been unique and memorable, with students coming from all over the world. Some completed the San Diego yoga teacher training program in the four-month format, meeting every other weekend, while others chose the three-week summer intensive, studying six days a week. Both programs offer a comprehensive foundation on yoga postures, meditation, breathing techniques and many other subjects. At the end of the training all students are capable of teaching yoga classes for all types of practitioners. We introduce our trainees to various styles in hopes that they teach classes in their own unique way based on what resonates with them the most.
A Lifetime of Learning About Yoga
After completing their first teacher training, most teachers feel overwhelmed and not confident enough to start teaching. We remind them that a 200-hour yoga training is just the beginning. If teaching yoga is what they want to do for a living, then they have to be prepared for a lifetime of learning. There was an image going around online a few years ago that showed a diagram of an iceberg in relation to yoga. The small tip of the iceberg above the water was labeled “yoga poses” and the huge ice mountain underwater was labeled “the rest of yoga.” I think about this image often because it’s one of the main reasons that made me want to switch careers and become a yoga teacher. I knew that no matter how much I learned about it, there would always be more. Yoga is such a vast practice encompassing so many things that most of us will barely scratch the surface.
300-hour Yoga Teacher Training San Diego
Our 300-hour yoga teacher training San Diego is a great way to continue your yoga education at a leisurely pace. Think of it as a diverse and rich extension of your first training. Instead of simply going over the basics, you will spend many hours dedicated to specific topics such as chakras, subtle anatomy, in-depth breathing techniques, intricate sequencing, and precise adjustments. This advanced training for yoga teachers is comprised of on-going 15-hour weekend modules (Friday evening to Sunday midday) and several five-day intensives over the course of a year. You can sign up for the entire program, or pick and choose the segments that suit you best. All modules will be repeated again the following year with varying electives if you prefer to spread out the training over two years or more. This advanced training is done on your own time, at your own pace.
Why Certified Teachers Need More Yoga Education
Having a completed 500-hour Yoga Alliance certified degree will make you a well-trained and valuable yoga teacher. When hiring instructors, most studio owners give preference to teachers with this credential based on the number of hours you have invested and the quality teacher that it yields. Stay tuned for more information on the Buddhi Yoga Advanced Teacher Training beginning May 2017. In the meantime, visit our events page for upcoming workshops registered with Yoga Alliance as well as our mentorship programs.
I’ve known one of my favorite La Jollan’s Kathleen Rafaat for quite a while now and I really admire her for many reasons. When Carolina and I were thinking about who should be our next student of the month, Kathleen was the obvious choice! Over a few cups of her famous Lean Tea, we talked about her amazing athletic accomplishments, dedication to her health and the very important work she’s doing for the people of Nepal.
Let’s kick off this interview with a question about an accomplishment of yours that I think is truly amazing. Tell us about the Iron Man Triathlon you completed when you were 60 years young.How did you train for it, and what was your biggest takeaway from such an intense experience?
I began triathlons when I was 50 after my daughter talked me into participating in a Sprint Triathlon. I didn’t know how to swim, bike or run, so that began my life into becoming a triathlete. I was working 60 plus hours a week at the San Diego Zoo with two teenagers, a dog, a husband and large home, so you could say my life was already full!
During those 10 years, I retired from the Zoo and became a professional triathlon coach, nutrition counselor and personal trainer, working for Joe Friel, the “father” of Triathlon. I participated in many Sprint, International and 70.3 Ironman distances and my goal was to get to Kona, the dream of most Triathletes!
I love the outdoors, competition and goals, so an Ironman sounded perfect for my 60th birthday. I trained 20-40 hours a week for a year. My body and mind was happy as I finished Ironman Canada! Little did I know a few weeks later I would be diagnosed with colon cancer and my new goal would be to survive!
Another thing that is so inspiring about you is the work you have been doing in Nepal for the past few years. What inspired you to help the people of Nepal and can you tell us a little bit about the cause?
After my cancer treatment was over and I was well enough to travel, I found inspiration in Nepal during my first trip in 2014. I connected with OM Handicrafts, a singing bowl shop, after the earthquake and was moved to raise money to build shelters for the people of Kathmandu. A small group of Nepali’s started a non-profit to find towns that had no support after the earthquake. Thanks to many of my friends and Buddhi Yoga, I raised enough money to buy over 20 shelters.
Raising money was not enough so I packed my bags and headed to help build and support other volunteers in 2015. In 2016, I again traveled to Nepal to begin the task of building a small school in Bodgaun, a village four hours away by bus and a two hour walk through rice fields.
During your time there you also learned how to use singing bowls for healing. I have experienced a session with you and thought it was amazing. What is some of the meaning behind these healing sessions?
When the Nepali’s had festivals and there was no work to do in the month I was there, I became certified in Tibetan Singing Bowl Healing and attended a retreat in Meditation at Kopan Monastery. As someone who has gone through intense pain during chemo and radiation, I knew others needed some help in managing pain. The singing bowls are not only good for pain but truly allows people to quiet their mind to heal their body. Each bowl placement represents an area in the body to release tension and pain, and as you said, it is a wonderful experience!
You also council people on nutrition and how to eat to stay lean and healthy. What are some common mistakes you see people make when they are dieting? What are a few tips you have for people trying to shed a few pounds the right way?
Most people look at diets and exercise as a quick fix to get to their goals. Honestly, the answer is simple. It is a lifestyle that should be maintained each and every day. Clean food, physical exercise and a love of life, no matter what you are going through. My big advice is to “eat for your day.” If you are moving, eat. If you are sitting around, eat less. Also, I love the Lean Blend Tea that I make. I began researching tea to help stay healthy as I went through cancer treatment, and I am still here!
What is your motivation for coming to yoga? For the physical benefits or is there more to it for you?
I go to yoga to be able to stretch my muscles that are tight from weight lifting and running. Also, due to so much radiation, my muscles in my legs are not supple and yoga helps to keep me moving correctly. I also use the time in yoga to reflect, which keeps me grounded. Also, I love seeing my friends and meeting new like minded people at Buddhi!
I watched you beat cancer like a champ a few years ago. How has your exercise routine and yoga practice changed since going through that ordeal? Do you have any words of wisdom for people going through cancer treatment that you wish someone had said to you when you were diagnosed?
I so wish I had support during my treatment time, but not many groups are around for colon cancer like there are for breast cancer. I was alone in my decisions on what to do for myself. Thankfully, being an athlete, I knew I had to move and take care of my body so I made time each week to get a massage (thanks Amanda), facial, acupuncture and I walked everyday. As soon as I could sit comfortably, I started yoga. I cried most days since it was hard just to sit in a yoga pose, but each week got a little better. I sometimes still find myself frustrated but try to remember those first days of walking outside and smelling the clean air and hearing the birds sing.
Kathleen’s Magical Lean Tea
I personally drink Kathleen’s Lean Tea everyday and love it! See below for the ingredients and all of its nutritional benefits. It’s available at Buddhi yoga and the whole Buddhi crew gives it a big, giant stamp of our approval!
LEAN TEA is a custom blend of certified organic teas to help stimulate the metabolism, increase mental awareness, boost the immune system and is a powerful anti-oxidant and anti-aging blend, along with reducing cholesterol.
The blend contains organic green Sencha, organic Monkey-Picked white, organic Black Pu’erh, organic Brazilian Mate, organic Red Rooibos, organic Ginger, organic Gunpowder and rosebuds.
The LEAN TEA provides Vitamins A, C, E, B1, B2, Niacin, B5, Calcium, Manganese, Iron, Selenium, Potassium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Chlorophyll, Flavonols, Polyphenols, Antioxidants and 15 Amino Acids.
Made for people with busy lives that need the ability to stay focused, healthy and alert. Drink it to boost your metabolism and keep hunger at bay. Also used for endurance athletes during training.
TO PREPARE: Bring water to boil, let rest for 5 minutes. Use one large tablespoon of loose tea in a metal filter with a glass pitcher holding at least 8 -12 cups. Pour water slowly into filter and fill glass pitcher with water. Let steep for 6-10 minutes. Remove filter and let cool. Best to keep in refrigerator for 2 or more days. Drink between 2-4 cups daily.
The loose tea is enough to provide 30 servings of 8-12 cups, which is about 12 cents a cup!
Ashtanga Yoga has an undeserved reputation within the yoga community as being inaccessible to beginners. The practice is a common target for criticisms ranging from assertions that the system was created solely to be practiced by teenage boys, to accusations that the ancient text upon which the system is said to be based on never existed. At best, these myths are debatable. At worst, they deter aspiring yogis from discovering a powerful style of yoga that can be personalized and practiced with a modest time commitment each day.
Ashtanga is a Movement Meditation
In its purest form, the repetition and individualized instruction common to Ashtanga Yoga create an ideal foundation for beginners to build their yoga practice. What’s more, Ashtanga is designed to save time by incorporating other elements of yoga, such as breathing and sense withdrawal techniques, into the physical practice. The Ashtanga practice becomes a moving meditation in this way as students combine the poses with Ujjayi, or victorious, breathing; specific gazing, or drishti points; and certain energetic seals known as bandhas.
The physical Ashtanga practice works like a sandwich, with a student’s personalized practice wedged between a fixed set of opening and finishing poses. The opening positions include sun salutations and foundational standing postures. They work to build heat in the body, which can facilitate detoxification, and prepare the student for postures that occur later on in the practice. The finishing postures include basic inversions and other positions that transition the student to the final resting pose.
The middle portion of the Ashtanga sandwich is also derived from fixed posture sequences. The poses are typically prescribed by a qualified teacher that assesses the student’s proficiency and determines which postures should be practiced. Once assigned, the student can practice the postures at a level of intensity appropriate for them on each particular practice day.
This individualized style of teaching is known as the “Mysore” method, a reference to the home city of the K. Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute in India. Students can also practice in “led” classes, whereby the vinyasas are counted aloud by a teacher. In either case, the focus is directed inwards, rather than on the teacher or which postures might be coming next. Practicing this way can enhance awareness, generate tranquility, and set the stage for self-realization.
Start an Ashtanga Practice Today
If you have been contemplating starting an Ashtanga practice, give it a try! The practice conveys a deep experience through well thought out sequences that can be memorized and mastered at your own pace. Catch Michelle Hackett teaching Ashtanga at Buddhi Yoga every Tuesday from 10-11am and if you’re ever in Carlsbad, take class with Tim Miller at the Ashtanga Yoga Center. Tim is a direct student of Pattabhi Jois and has had a consistent practice for over forty years.