Yoga District Thu, 20 Jul 2017 15:55:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Meet Peach, our sister & teacher training grad from the Philippines! Wed, 22 Mar 2017 20:19:47 +0000 Kat's Teacher Feature Pic

Meet Peach, one of our beloved teacher training graduates from Manila, Philippines! Read on for Peach’s story about the journey which brought her to yoga–and the Yoga District teacher training all the way from the Philippines!


What is your name?
Peach Cristine P. Mascariñas

How long have you been practicing yoga?
I’m roughly on my 7th year now- on & off the mat. I was first introduced to yoga when I was in college. Back then, my priorities were different as I wanted something intense and pursued powerlifting.

Why did you choose to enroll in Yoga District’s teacher training program?
Taking a yoga teacher training to deepen my practice was at the back of my head for quite awhile. There was too much going on in my personal life as well as at work for me to just leave everything behind. I told myself that if I find a good program that resonates with my life principles that will be my sign from God and the universe to give it a go. I’ve been searching for a yoga teacher training program for at least a year before I found Yoga District’s Teacher Training Program. There were a lot of options to choose from – from celebrity yogis leading the training to training venues that seemed more of a vacation than a training, differences in curriculum and of course, tuition fees that ranges from reasonable to absurd. Unfortunately, most of them were too commercialized. Something didn’t feel right.

I found Yoga District as one of the very few, if not the only one, that is in sync with the things that I value – a good curriculum with diverse yoga styles for diverse student communities, simplicity, educating others and sincerity in spreading yoga to everyone. It wasn’t all about the money. YD has programs in place to help students pay for their trainings – payment plans, full and partial scholarships, work-study program. YD also hires their trainees which only means that they have confidence in what they are teaching them. What impressed me the most is that it also has FREE yoga teacher training for DC Public Schools teachers. Its vision to make yoga accessible to the many is not just all words.

I did my pencil pushing and weighed everything out – tuition fees, miscellaneous fees, airfare, lodging, transportation costs, food and thousands of miles away from my son. I am from Manila, Philippines and aside from the fees, I will be spending at least 24 hours flying to DC and another 24 hours flying back home. For me, time is money. I wanted to find a school that would use my money in doing something better for this world and only Yoga District met this requirement.

Aside from your 200 hour certification, what did you gain from your teacher training that you hope to share with others?
I gained not just a new set of yoga friends but I gained a family in DC! I love my co-trainees and my teachers/mentors!!! They provided a safe, non-judgmental space for me to be myself and to grow. We still keep in touch up to now supporting each other in life’s struggles. YD community-vibe really felt like home.

If you had to describe your life in the form of a yoga pose, which pose would it be and why?
Hanumanasana! It takes a lot of work to get through life, to get into this pose. Nailing the splits doesn’t happen overnight. To get to where I am now in life, I had to take it slow and steady. I have to know when to push myself and when to pull back. I had to work hard on opening myself up to a lot of things – and the pose requires open hamstrings as well as the hip flexors. There will always be times when u just have to let go and surrender yourself. And just like Hanuman, I’ve taken and still taking a lot of leaps of faith for the people I love.

Kat's Teacher Feature Pic

What is your favorite thing to do in your community?
My favorite thing to do is to spend some quality time with my son traveling, playing, watching movies/tv series as well as getting massages together.

Describe your personal circumstances or experiences that made you want to share yoga.
Yoga saved me and is continuously saving me.

Sometime 2010, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune thyroiditis and my cortisol level was so high. Doctors couldn’t give me any medications just yet for so many reasons. I got frustrated with my condition and felt helpless. That’s when I decided to stop my monthly lab tests and doctor visits and instead, I decided to try out Bikram Yoga. I couldn’t let a day go by without going to a class. My blood tests showed that my thyroid function and cortisol level went down to normal. This deepened my love for yoga even more. I eventually explored other types of yoga.

I started traveling a lot for work in 2013. I didn’t have a home studio. Though the frequency of my yoga practice went down, the very few times I’m on my yoga mat, I felt like I was home.

Very few knew what I was going through or that I was even going through something in 2015. I knew that I have no control over the situation, over the people around me but I can control the way I respond to what’s happening. I can’t fix everything but I can fix myself. I decided to seek refuge to my yoga mat. Yoga became my tool for self healing. It taught me to love myself and to listen to my inner voice. I learned that I can better take care of others if I take care of myself. I redirected my negative emotions/energy to something productive- yoga classes. Physical strength and flexibility are just “side effects” of practicing yoga. Yoga gave me my inner peace. It taught me the value of self acceptance, self love and happiness in solitude.

What advice do you have to others sharing seeking to share yoga with others?
You have to start with yourself. Once they see it in you and see how yoga positively changed and is continuously changing your being, it is so much easier to share it with others.

Kat's Teacher Feature Pic

Please describe a challenging moment that you have experienced in training, how you faced that challenge, and what you learned from it.
Long days, tons of information and unnecessary pressure I was putting myself into worrying about the final practicals can be overwhelming. For my final practicals, i decided to teach a sequence I prepared myself instead of the set sequences of Power Yoga or Dharma 1 which reflected more of my creativity and personality. During my actual practicals, my favorite teacher was assigned to observe my class, I felt even more pressured. I joined my students in the breathing exercise and the mini meditation part of the sequence because I badly needed it. It calmed me down. Laughing it out when I made mistakes made it so much easier.

I learned that taking time to breathe and meditate calms me down and gives me a fresher perspective of things. Always being my goofy self, not taking life too seriously is the way to go.

How did enrolling int the Yoga District teacher training affect you personally and professionally?
Before my training, my definition of deepening my practice is nailing advanced poses. Yoga District Teacher Training Program opened my mind about what yoga truly is. My teachers/mentors focused on yoga philosophy. Yoga is not just about getting into the poses. It’s not a performance. The physical aspect is just a small part of the picture. Fitness is just a side effect of yoga. The training instilled the value of self-care. As a teacher, this is very important because students will look up to you. You can’t pour from an empty cup.

I’m hyperactive. I’ve appreciated the value of breathing and meditation. They say that what you hate the most is what you need the most. Post training requirements strengthened the roots of these new habits I’ve gotten from my training.

I’m not there yet. And it’s ok to be a work in progress.

]]> 0 Diversity and inclusion with Mary to honor Black History Month Mon, 13 Feb 2017 17:02:14 +0000

I never dreamed of becoming a yoga instructor. That dream, if any, was further deterred by the lack of Black bodies and faces that I saw in the media and in my yoga classes. Little did I know that yoga was to be my path to self-awareness and self-knowledge.

Yoga is the stream of consciousness that we always seek. The sacredness of yoga lies in diversity and the ability to think outside the box. It is my belief that yoga is a means to achieve social justice and health of our communities. My yoga practice began in 2009 with a Wii Fit balance board and has since then, transcended to a practice of mental and physical discipline and flexibility. The most important lesson that I learned in my early days of yoga is that the practice is for anyone – regardless of religion, body type and/or nationality and race. With time, came self discovery and the peeling away of society’s stipulations for how we should approach and treat our fellow humans.

Tenets of justice are inherent in the practice of yoga. When we look deeper, the notion of race is a baseless historical and cultural distinction between groups of people based on the color of one’s skin. Pre-conceived beliefs further fuel discrimination against groups, and most pronouncedly in the U.S., Black and Brown people. As a Black woman, I am often the only brown face in yoga class. In fact, I was somewhat hesitant about beginning my practice because first, I feared it to be a societal trend and second, rarely did I see a face like mine practicing asanas. Against all odds and with the spirit of encouragement, I decided to pursue yoga more deeply, teaching me to seek truth towards a path of enlightenment and justice.

Yoga calls for diversity and inclusion. My recent intensive yoga teacher training at Yoga District was one of the best experiences in my life and with a small, yet diverse group of 5 other students, I learned things over the course of 200 hours that I have adapted and continue to adapt in my everyday life. The Yoga Sutras teach us to drop the veil of subtle ignorance and self-doubt to discover one’s true self and nature. With this, yoga brings about a sense of peace and conviction within self to treat the next person as we would like to be genuinely treated. “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” – Former President Barack Obama

United with you,

– Mary @mary2thegame

Practice with Mary in a special class to honor diversity, inclusion, and Black History month on February 25 at our Columbia Heights studio.

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Meet Ben! Mon, 13 Feb 2017 16:34:54 +0000 Kat's Teacher Feature Pic

Meet Ben, one of our beloved instructors, as he shares a little about his yoga journey, personal teaching insights, and philosophy. Get to know Ben.


What is your name and what is your favorite style of class to teach, and why?
I identify with a hot and strong flow.

Describe your personal circumstances or experiences that made you want to share yoga.
I can’t differentiate one discrete experience but I do hope that joy of joining breath and motion is something I’m able to share.

What advice do you have to other sharing or seeking to share yoga with others?
I would offer: don’t take ones self too seriously, yoga is a joyful experience and I would hope that people learn to laugh and love the process.

Please describe a challenging moment that you have experienced teaching, how you faced that challenge, and what you learned from it.
Public speaking is part of teaching yoga and something I consistently find challenging. I constantly learn that making mistakes is ok, and that when I trip up in what I say, just to learn to laugh and keep going.

What pose or practice do you like to teach to help students feel empowered? To relieve stress? Please describe how you saw this practice work with an individual or group.
I think standing forward fold is the best pose to relieve stress, the process of releasing effort to allow gravity to open up the back and shoulders brings so many benefits.

Kat's Teacher Feature Pic

How has sharing yoga affected you?
I think that growing up and living in Washington DC the mentality is very Type A, very perfect, very flawless, and when I started yoga my personal practice had that as a goal, I was going to always have the perfect posture with the perfect breath and always matching with the perfect yoga tights. I think that teaching yoga threw me into the deep end really quickly and let me accept my own mistakes as just part of the process, and to really appreciate making them, appreciate laughing at myself, and appreciate creating space in my class for others to try new poses and if they fall over to have the space to laugh at themselves and try again.

Could you describe any best practices in sharing yoga that you apply regularly in your classes?
The precept of non-attachment. In DC generally we are too often our professions or our educations, and yoga is such a wonderful way to let all of those things slip away and let us truly enjoy breath and movement.

What is your favorite thing to do around town?
I will never stop being amazed at meeting the people that come to town to affect change. This ranges from meeting people socially, at protests, professionally, socially, that have this internal fire inside them to make the world a better place. I guess that’s my favorite thing to do around town.

What is your favorite thing about the DC yoga community?
Love. in one word. The amount of love I’ve received and been honored to have been able to give to others has been life changing.

If you had to describe your life in the form of a yoga pose, which pose would it be?
Tadasana or mountain pose, stable and strong but vulnerable and open all at the same time.

How long have you been in DC?
I am one of the rare few that has been born and raised in the DC area. I’m the fourth generation of my family that has lived in DC, my great grandmother came to DC after being released from the Japanese internment camps in World War II and my family has been here ever since.

Meet Ben in the yoga classroom

]]> 0 YD community volunteers at D.C. Central Kitchen: by Kelly Tue, 17 Jan 2017 13:22:16 +0000 IMG_1013
“By doing service, you purify your heart. Egoism, hatred, jealousy, idea of superiority vanish. Humility, pure love, sympathy, tolerance, and mercy are developed. Sense of separateness is annihilated. Selfishness is eradicated…You begin to feel oneness or unity of life. You develop a broad heart with broad, generous views. Eventually, you get Knowledge of the Self.” ― Swami Sivananda

Last month for the holiday season, Yoga District members were given the opportunity to volunteer with DC Central Kitchen for an evening meal prep shift. A large group of yogis participated! Hear from YD teacher, Kelly B., about the experience here (and keep an eye out for the next volunteer date under the “Workshops and Specials” section of the Yoga District website, or sign up with DCCK directly!).

As I sit down to write these words it is a new year, and December 23rd feels very far away. And yet, if I close my eyes and turn on some Herbie Hancock tunes, I’m transported back to D.C. Central Kitchen, chopping up bell peppers.

You like Jazz music?” chef William of DCCK asked as a group of us assumed our post in front of chopping boards, chef’s knives in hand, gloves on, aprons on, hair nets in place to tackle the vegetables before us. So, it was jazz music that set the rhythm for our evening of slicing and dicing.

That night, 14 of us from the Yoga District community gathered to volunteer for the evening meal prep. When we arrived, we watched a short training video, met with the wonderful, warm and hilarious staff there and suited up for our various tasks. Our 3-hour shift including lots of chopping—carrots, peppers, green beans—and lemon zesting, too.

Admittedly, I struggle to find the meditation in cooking at home. I am constantly trying to multi-task and perpetually burning pans, taking short-cuts, becoming distracted. But at DCCK, it was nice to find myself so intently focused on a single task. The repetition and the focus was therapeutic. Not to mention the sense of tiny accomplishment—but accomplishment nonetheless!—as you gaze finally at a mountain of chopped vegetables.


Because the food is all donated, it’s not always pristine—there are spots and such to cut around. But I was surprised to see just how much we got out of it and then of course delighted at the sheer volume of food waste that was prevented and ultimately turned into delicious, healthy, fresh meals for the individuals that DCCK serves – 5,000 people a day, in fact. Because that’s of utmost importance to DCCK’s operation: they believe that all people deserve healthy, dignified food, but they also believe in training people for jobs that will give them economic opportunity. Their mission is to use food to “strengthen bodies, empower minds, and build communities.” Sounds a lot like why we practice yoga, too, right?

This was my first time at DCCK, and I’ve already signed up for a shift/month for the next few months. The community that they’ve built is admirable and the work they do is so important, I can’t recommend their volunteer program enough. If you have the time, please check out their calendar to sign up online (keep in mind that shifts fill up quickly!), or keep an eye out at Yoga District for future outings that we organize. It is an amazing way to serve and honor the wonderful D.C. community that we live in.

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What I Learned Teaching Community Yoga Classes Tue, 06 Dec 2016 18:05:47 +0000 screen-shot-2016-12-06-at-1-13-14-pmBy Anonymous

More months had past since the end of the classroom portion of Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) than I had originally planned. As with most other tasks, the YTT requirements were taking longer than I anticipated and delays between the tasks had eaten up time as well.

I had tried scheduling my own class in a park near home and posted it to yoga group on Facebook. Of course I chose a place close to me at the time most convenient to me. Not enough people were interested though. I rather envied some of my classmates who seemingly had endless amounts of friends who always wanted to take Yoga classes. So I would take a deep breath and remind myself they had to deal with other issues that I probably could never guess.

My second plan was to teach on my vacation when I would visit my parents. I asked my Mom who also practices Yoga for potential places to teach community classes. She asked some people and came up with several potential places.

My first class was in a studio that had volunteer staff and asked only for donations from the students. The studio was downtown where parking could be difficult, but also was over a Health Food Store giving good convenience for self care and also good energy.

Practicing my Yoga at Yoga District, it always takes some mental adjustment for Yoga classes in my parents community. They live in a place popular with retirees. So in my preclass greetings I made sure to go around and ask about issues. Some of the students told me some of the issues they had. I mostly had to stick with my response “not to push it or do anything that makes you feel too uncomfortable.” I wasn’t going to provide any hands on assistance and I was hoping they would understand their own limits.

Standing in front of a class with students you don’t know is probably intimidating for most first time teachers. I certainly felt the pressure. I started with some breathing exercises. This probably helped me relax at least as much as it helped them. I brought my guitar and went through the Chakra clearing exercise accompanying the C Scale. I had a moment of self-consciousness, wondering if they’d think I was too “hippy-dippy” for performing this exercise. Still, I was in a rather progressive area in a Yoga Studio, so it couldn’t be too far out.

I started the asanas with a Table series then moved into one of my more preferred series for Level I Yoga, Integrated Moon Series. About 15 minutes into the class a Yogini rolled up her mat and started to leave. I inquired if there was a problem. She said she wanted more of a “Flow Class”. I had become somewhat more comfortable by that time in the class. At this point a student was now rejecting my teaching style. Fortunately I’ve had several experiences in Leadership and Group Organization. I have come to learn from those experiences that pleasing everyone was not only improbable, but rather something of an impossibility. So someone not liking what I was doing somehow was more normal than not. I had survived the rejection. It was not a big deal, and I became calmer after that.

As class went on, I would check in with some of my students when they weren’t getting into the final asana. They would affirm or tell me perhaps something new about their health issues. I had to let go and let them perform their own practice.

I got to the end of the class without any other major incident. While talking with some of the class in the post-class time, I received a comment that I did hold the asanas a ‘long time’. Though this same Yogini said another instructor had held the poses too short a time to experience them.

For the second class I taught at a Community Center with the Senior services wing. There was one student who was a staffer and probably in her 30s. The others were Seniors. One or two had some experience in Yoga. The last one had little experience which was years ago.

With this class I really needed to keep the asanas within their range. As such we kept it almost exclusively on the mat. We started with gentle neck stretching, then side stretching, forward stretching, table and locust, Dhanurasana , Ustanasana, and Bridging. I tried conditionalizing may of the asanas with “if you are able to”, “if this works for you”, or “if you can do this without straining yourself”. Dhanurasana was challenging to one, but instead of it hurting, she ended up laughing which brought some levity to the class.

Our class room had a couple of doors and several people were coming in for lunch that day. This made for several distractions, but it was manageable. I was prepared to do a few more asanas, but with the impending lunch, I had to cut class a few minutes short.

My third class proved the most challenging and also to be a study in patience in chaos. I signed up to teach an after-school program for kids. The staff had gym mats lined up in the second story room. I could hear the children coming long before I could see them. I wondered how this was even going to work as they numbered over 30. Surprisingly, about a third raised their hands when I asked how many of them had taken Yoga before.

I would talk about the pose while demonstrating. I would give a few adjustments while teaching, but the student to teacher ratio was too large for me to give much personal attention. Their ages were about 5 to 12 giving a wide distribution in growth and maturity. While most did try to do the asana, several gave up and laid down. A group or two would have some sort of talking circle and may do some of the asanas at their whim. If the noise level rose, I would have to talk louder over them. I started to shorten my explanations and move on to the next asana as quickly as possible.

Hopefully a provided a somewhat meaningful or at least entertaining portion of their afternoon. I doubt I’ll never know if I planted the seed for future Yogis and Yoginis.

I wasn’t able to schedule all my classes while I was visiting my parents. So, when I returned a classmate suggested teaching at Libraries organized by With Love DC. I signed up for a couple of teaching slots.

My fourth class had a few students in it. One was a Senior and hadn’t practiced since her grandchildren had moved out a few years ago. She spent only a few minutes practicing before deciding that she didn’t want to continue. I asked if she had access to the web so she could try self practice before trying to come to another class. She said she had DVDs with Yoga classes and she was not the ‘giving up’ kind. Hopefully, she will continue her practice.

The rest of the class went well. I returned to the Integrated Moon Series. The small size allowed for lots of time for me to observe the individual students. I was able to give a good amount of personalized adjustments. The feedback was positive.

I taught the fifth class in the same library a week later. The student body was different and the finicky Metro trains made me late. I was a bit disappointed that none of the previous class came back, but this allowed me to teach the same routine without boring anyone. With the same surroundings and the same routine, I was able to feel the most comfortable teaching. While leading the second Dhanarasana I demoed, and the students followed in rolling a little for and aft and then rocking left to right. This produced one of my favorite reactions: smiles and laughter. The students gave positive feedback.

In the end of my first five Community Class teaching, I would say I still have a tinge of envy for those who could teach their friends for all their Community classes. As often happens in life, the more challenging events teach us more and allow for more growth than a more comfortable path. I had to learn to adapt to different ages and abilities. I also had to adopt to new classrooms and distractions. In the end, trying to make the class work for the majority of the Yogis is the best a teacher could do.

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By Andrew: I will build bridges, ladders, passages Tue, 15 Nov 2016 15:36:01 +0000 for-yd

Andrew, one of our beloved teachers, shares his reflections following the outcome of the presidential election.

So I believe part of my job as a yoga teacher as in life is to not avoid issues that may present themselves, to try and share a truth of myself and that of the students. In hope of demonstrating our shared existence and to celebrate each individual’s light.

I hope to both challenge and enrich, physically and emotionally. In being open with my own struggles, my joys and my aspirations; I try to demonstrate that our paths are often no different, the path of life generally has no right way.

The intention if followed by the action to do no harm is the only way, everything is possible and brighter when we avoid harm physically and emotionally.

I often feel so very blessed with kindness from others that my glass overflows with gratitude.

My job as a yoga teacher, as a person, is to pass on what little I think I know. My hope is to pass on the many instances of kindness and further enrich our shared tapestry, so we may all have glasses that overflow.

Do not be discouraged by the hurt of another, be buoyed to recognize it as an opportunity to share your love and understanding. Be a warrior, bring truth, there is no truer truth than love. Be love, you are unbreakable if you are love.

I love you and if it makes you feel better then go ahead build a wall if you must but know this, it is a cage for you. I will build bridges, ladders, passages, i will stand with those you think to lock out.

My geographical accident of birth did not make me more special but more actively responsible to reach out and share, to espouse my freedoms so we may all be free.

I can only be free when we are all free.

So I love you and hope to fully be of service in helping you break free from your hatred. Make no mistake it may hurt a little, nobody said it was going to be easy, doing no harm is sometimes fraught with struggle.

We rise to the same sun, it will be as such till we are no more. I’ll ask you to come sit next to me and will share my bread, this tree has fruit and shade enough for all of us.

I will watch out for you even when you least want me to, it is my way, be love.

Big love

Andrew Howard Bsc (Hons) Ost

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Get to know Marci Mon, 31 Oct 2016 19:17:17 +0000 Kat's Teacher Feature Pic

Meet Marci, one of our beloved senior teachers, as she shares a little about her journey with Dharma yoga and personal teaching insights and philosophy. Get to know Marci.


What is your name and what is your favorite style of class to teach, and why?
My name is Marci. I love teaching Dharma Yoga. The practice and teachings of Dharma Yoga fundamentally changed my life. I feel a deep connection personally to the practice and it remains my own personal yoga practice. As a classical tradition, it is considered a complete practice. This sense of completeness feels very experiential for me. I have seen a significant reduction in my stress since I started practicing many years ago along with an immense increase in the amount of awareness I have in any given moment about what I’m thinking and feeling. My heart and mind has really opened up to possibility, I love people I care about in my life more deeply than I knew was possible, and I really savor the simple things life. It feels like a hardened shell that I was wearing for so many years to survive and get by in life as an overwhelmed go getter has melted away with this practice more with each time I show up to my mat. And as that hardening melts away, a softness that is open and receiving comes in.

I realized after practicing for many years that I spent a good portion of my life extremely disconnected from my body where some of the best information about ourselves lies. From emotions and feelings to guide me to what is best, to indications of when I’m stressed, the body is a miraculous wealth of information that I was missing for many years that Dharma Yoga uniquely reconnected me to.

I feel more whole, more complete, more authentically myself. I love sharing this practice because of how much it transformed my own life and how I’ve continued to be blessed to a witness to watch how it transforms others. Sri Dharma Mittra is really a living example of dedication, love, and the spirit of Yoga. His generous sharing of these teachings until now at at the age of 77 inspires me to share them with others. When a practice changes your life and you uncover a new level of joy, peace, and self love, how would you not want to give that away to everyone you know?!

Describe your personal circumstances or experiences that made you want to share yoga.
I tell people I came to yoga backwards, starting first with mediation and mindfulness. I had in my mind that I would become a religious scholar many years ago and was training for that, studying under the tutelage of different teachers of diverse traditions. And then yoga entered my life and everything changed. My meditation practice deepened, my mindfulness practice became far more profound, and I found myself yearning to be on my mat. Upon the urging of one of my teachers, I agreed to enter my first yoga teacher training. I took the stop to deepen my own personal practice and study. Then the opportunity to teach came up and the same teacher encouraged me to start teaching, so I did. I recognized it as an important responsibility of mine and blessing to share all the teachings I’ve received and continue to receive. Knowledge that we receive is a gift to be shared and passed on, not kept for ourselves.

When yoga entered my life, it created a pivotable shift in my life towards cultivating a level of joy I had no idea was possible in my life. I’m dedicated to sharing the practices and teachings that created such a beautiful level of empowerment and freedom for me with others, knowing that all practices, when practiced consistently, end up at the same beautiful watering hole of freedom.

What advice do you have to other sharing or seeking to share yoga with others?
First, share, share, share! Nothing is coincidence. Everyone who feels deeply connected to yoga and called to share the teachings should follow their heart and share. Each of us have a unique role in being a channel for something Greater and how those teachings are transmitted through each of us is entirely unique. And THAT is beautiful.

Second, share what is true for you. The practices that spark inspiration, awareness, joy, and peace. I think the most important piece of sharing yoga is to share the teachings and practices you have experienced yourself first hand. This keeps you grounded, focused on your own practice which can often get lost amidst sharing, and ensures an authentic transmission.

Third, be yourself. You could read a million articles and opinions about what to and not to do. How to and not to share. Share in a way that feels true for you. That feels joyful for you. If you’re experiencing joy in sharing, that is infectious and those you connect with will share in that joyful energy.

Please describe a challenging moment that you have experienced teaching, how you faced that challenge, and what you learned from it.
I recently received news from my mother that my uncle had passed while transiting between studios to teach. As a well of emotion started to rush over me in the taxi ride I found myself facing some important decisions. I was scheduled to teach my next class and I checked in with myself to make sure I felt that I could be present for my students. The answer was yes. Then I checked in with myself to see if I thought I could connect with a joyful energy for them, and I said yes. I choose to greet my emotion with a lot of love, acknowledge the mixed emotions of sadness and relief for the end of his suffering. When I showed up to the classroom I used it as a teaching opportunity before we began moving to share the recognition that life is always changing and the choice we have in each moment to celebrate the blessings we have that are easy to forget when we get caught up in the business of life. How I handled this news for me was a turning point in recognizing how much self love and compassion I have cultivated inside through my practice. And most of all, that as I give myself more and more permission to be human, I give my students permission to do the same. To let go of the pressure to be anything other than who we are. As students received my story with grace, it was a reminder of how much a softened heart with ourselves can create a softened heart in others.

What pose or practice do you like to teach to help students feel empowered? To relieve stress? Please describe how you saw this practice work with an individual or group.
For poses, I love teaching arm balances and inversions because students often have stories inside their minds about what they cannot do and when approached with an attitude of possibility, they often discover they can do more than they thought. One of my favorite moments in the classroom continues to be when a student gets headstand or an arm balance for the first time. The look of surprise on their face is one of the best gifts I receive. This process empowers them to open up beyond the limits of their mind of their mats as well. To go for the job they want. The relationship they want to cultivate. The article they want to write. Whatever it is, these poses that evoke a sense of fear in many teach us that if we have courage to show up regardless of our fears and believe in possibility, miracles can happen.

I also love integrating mindfulness and meditative teachings. This empowers students to realize the power of their mind and that with the turn of a thought they can fundamentally change their experience of reality. It’s empowering to realize that the only person that can steal our joy is ourselves. When we decide to stop being our own thief, we start being our best cheerleader.

And finally, chanting. When I first started chanting in a classroom as a student I found it awkward and strange. But I kept doing it. Soon it became my favorite part of the practice as I found myself relaxing into giving myself permission to sing without limitations, like a child again. It was so freeing to let go of the “”should’s”” and just enjoy the opportunity to sing in community. This celebratory practice is something I believe we have lost over time in modern culture and I love to reconnect people to in my classroom.

Describe a yoga posture, breath or meditation practice for which your students taught you a practical application.

My students teach me the power of receptivity. Without fail, I am often blessed to have a student come up to me after class and share how they have gotten into a pose they never knew was possible. Or how a teaching has transformed their job, relationship, or career path. I’ve had the blessing of seeing students move past their fears to recreate their lifestyle in big and small ways with a dedication to staying open. To believing possibility exists. To noticing when they are closing off and opening back up. My latest practice connected to receptivity is to notice when fear is coming into my life, to pause, and to connect with the mantra “I trust.” It is the knowing that if I trust myself, I trust possibility, and I trust that regardless, everything is always perfect…there is nothing to fear. This pause and mantra reopens my mind when its feeling constricted.

Please describe a yoga posture, breath or meditation practice that any of your students connect with and why. Have they taught you a practical application for this or any other pose?
I have seen many of my students connect with the meditative practice of gratitude and the power of how it transforms our minds. The energy of gratitude fills our internal well of fullness and creates a certain level of resilience that when challenges meet us (which is inevitable in life), we are able to meet them with more presence and bounce back more easily. I often encourage students to write a gratitude list on a daily basis, to start their yoga practice as an offering to someone or something they love, to celebrate the blessing of making it to practice when they could have gotten stuck in transit, to be grateful for the movement their body creates, the breath that their body initiates without even asking, and to their neighbors for creating the practice together at the end of the class.

How has sharing yoga affected you?
Sharing yoga turned my life upside down in a beautiful way. I fell in love with it so much I ended up leaving my office job and dedicating my time full time to sharing yoga, meditation, and mindfulness, to teaching stress management programs, and intuitively coaching people to move from feeling overwhelmed to thriving much like I did over a healing journey process. Sharing yoga several times a week reminds me of the beauty of humanity, the richness of human connection, the inherent goodness in people, and the power of consistent practice to transform our lives. My students are some of the greatest blessings and teachers in my life. At the end of each class I feel more open than before, I feel more love, and I am reminded of how special these teachings are. I often learn something from my students questions, conversations with me, and how they engage the practice. My students keep me connected to my personal practice and spiritual path more than they realize and I can ever express. I am definitely the lucky one, so thank you for the opportunity to continue sharing with Yoga District!

Could you describe any best practices in sharing yoga that you apply regularly in your classes?
Non attachment, nonjudgemental awareness of what’s arising, gratitude, courage, and loving-kindness are the practices that guide my life most and I love bringing into the classroom. Non attachment, experiencing life without expectations and clinging is the single factor that allows me not to suffer. This means that sometimes the body has energy and can do a full energetic practice and sometimes the body needs ease and asks us to choose the first easeful options offered in a classroom. Nonjudgmental awareness of what’s arising helps to cultivate the sense of being the Witness. Connecting to that deeper changeless part of ourselves that can see what we think, feel, experience at any given moment. From this place of awareness we can choose the pose options, the thoughts, the actions, that cultivate our wellbeing, balance, and happiness. When we are unattached and aware of what’s arising, it creates space in our minds for facing our fears, expanding our minds and our hearts through gratitude and loving-kindness practices. I encourage students to exercise courage by trying options they believe their body cannot do and discovering for themselves what is possible. Each class includes an opportunity to dedicate the practice to someone or something each student loves. This act of an offering is both a way to connect with non attachment and gratitude for all the support we have in our lives at any given moment if we open our eyes to it. And finally, loving-kindness which is the cultivation of friendliness, love, kindness, and compassion towards ourselves and others. I love to include mantras and chants that connect our minds to this essence, and encourage students to exercise a lot of love and compassion towards themselves in their practice and their neighbors around them. Ultimately, whatever we cultivate on our mats helps us as we walk out the door of the studio. So the question is, what are you cultivating on your mat? Because it will follow you when you leave. This means that huge transformation can happen if we dedicate ourselves to cultivating specific qualities, skills, and states of minds on our mats. Science tells us we can literally rewire our brain. And that, is pretty miraculous. I love being a part of that process with community in the classroom.

What is your favorite thing to do around town?
My all time favorite thing to do in the city is walk, people watch and chat. I find DC to be such a rich place with fascinating people and places. I love striking up conversations with strangers since everyone has a unique story and perspective. I’ve had some of my biggest moments of insight from unexpected conversations on the metro and while waiting for tea/food. DC has taught me how to find wonder and beauty amidst the busy buzz of the city. I also love the arts, music, and creative scene in the city along with good food.

What is your favorite thing about the DC yoga community?
Diversity and size. As the community continues to expand, it feels like there is a class and teacher for everyone around the city. This makes the practice accessible and more likely that people will find their “yoga home.” I am constantly hearing about new gatherings, new styles, new events, and activities.

The people that compose the DC yoga community are pure soul gold. Most of my closest friends are from the DC yoga community, so I’m extremely grateful for the community and the opportunity to connect with some of the most beautiful people I know. These last few years have led to a cultivation of friendship at a level of depth I never knew was possible. That’s pretty special.

If you had to describe your life in the form of a yoga pose, which pose would it be?
Headstand. I recently had to stop practicing headstand personally because of a neck condition. This pose took me many years to finally master and soon became my favorite pose. It represented the fear that I decided to face and walk straight through every time I showed up on my mat to practice. When my doctors advised me to stop practicing headstand, the pose taught me how to let go and surrender. I’ve come to realize that fear is an invitation for spiritual growth, and letting go and surrendering to “what is” in any moment is how I can experience joy as life continues to change. This pose reminds me of how I conquered my fear and how I later had to let go as my body changed.

How long have you been in DC?
A little more than 10 years.

Meet Marci in the yoga classroom and/or sign up for her free, extended Dharma Yoga Maha Sadhana workshop-style practice and community potluck on Sunday, 11/13.

]]> 0 Meet Danny! Mon, 31 Oct 2016 15:43:47 +0000 Kat's Teacher Feature Pic

Danny, one of our lovely instructors, shares a little about his views and journey teaching Yin Yoga, Core Yoga, Tai Chai, and Qi Gong. Get to know Danny.


What is your name and what is your favorite style of class to teach, and why?
My name is Danny. I love teaching most styles yet particularly enjoy yin & core yoga, as well as any tai chi/gi gong.

Describe your personal circumstances or experiences that made you want to share yoga.
Seeing people move forward and change positively in their practice along with the realization they are developing and want to further their practice.

What advice do you have to other sharing or seeking to share yoga with others?
Compassion, patience and encouragement.

Please describe a challenging moment that you have experienced teaching, how you faced that challenge, and what you learned from it.
I have had a few challenging moments–for example, when there is a person with physical disabilities in the class, my teaching is under greater scrutiny. It forces me to be clearer and more precise with both my verbal communication and hands on attention. I learn greater compassion, patience and gratitude each time. Additionally, I am inspired by those who have physical disabilities and still continue living their life to the fullest.

What pose or practice do you like to teach to help students feel empowered? To relieve stress? Please describe how you saw this practice work with an individual or group.
I would say overall it’s helping the students to breathe. Unifying their breath with their mind/body is what empowers each individual to release their tension/stress –not just physically but also, once practiced enough, mentally and emotionally.

Describe a yoga posture, breath or meditation practice for which your students taught you a practical application.
I feel the wellness practices that I have been fortunate to study, which also include thai massage and medicine, water therapy and tibet rites, have been inspiring and help developed my practice in so many ways. Particularly as I mentioned, being more compassionate, patient and grateful — which in turn advances my own practice.

Could you describe any best practices in sharing yoga that you apply regularly in your classes?

What is your favorite thing to do around town?
Sampling new restaurants and exploring D.C. parks as well as the Smithsonian.

What is your favorite thing about the D.C. yoga community?
I would say its the friendly attitude and communal feel towards each other.

If you had to describe your life in the form of a yoga pose, which pose would it be?
In teaching both yoga and tai chi/qi gong, I would say that there are a number of poses which describe me. Yoga-wise the downward dog (simple yet complex in its entirety) and for tai chi, holding the ball (still movement).

How long have you been in DC?
3 years backwards and forwards from Australia and Asia, in particular, Bali, Singapore and HK. I actually went to High School and College in the US.

Sign up for Danny’s Qi Gong workshop on Sunday, 11/6.

]]> 0 Finding safety in failing by Diana Fri, 09 Sep 2016 18:43:10 +0000 Kat's Teacher Feature Pic

An easeful and consistent yoga practice with beloved YD teachers, Andrea, Heather, Candice, and Cynthia has provided Diana with “a safe space to fail, and a space to learn more about not only the body, but also the soul”. Please read on to learn a little more about Diana’s beautiful journey developing a practice and gradually becoming more at ease with simply “being”…


How long have you been practicing yoga?
14 months – those last 2 months matter! 🙂

Please describe your first experience doing yoga.
About 16 months ago, my friend recommended I take up yoga to help with emotional and physical stress.

I put my nose up to it saying I only like the last 5 minutes where you just lay there and take a breath.

About 6 months ago, did I finally fall in love with yoga, both Dharma Flow with Heather, Yoga with Cynthia, Flow Yoga with Andrea, and finally, Kundalini with Gisela.

About a year ago, I began Kundalini yoga with Gisela, and I feel Kundalini is the core, or foundation, of my yoga practice.

When I speak with people about yoga, people who have practiced for 20 + years, they ask me, “What is Kundalini yoga?”

Well…It’s hard to explain…

Kundalini is an emotional and spiritual practice.

You will leave a class, with your back hurting from all of the breathing, but not sweaty. It’s not a physical “workout”, rather it works out your emotions…

It’s corky too.

One class we snorted. Another class we banged against the ground to let all of our anger out. The “”anger class”” is what I call it. My favorite themed class in Kundalini.

One class, we walked around on our knees and elbows. We also whistled. In this class specifically, we were working on the second chakra.

We conclude each class by singing an Irish song after every practice… Weird… But, in this song, we dedicate each chorus first to ourselves, second to someone we love, and lastly to someone we may have a quarrel with and/or who is in need of spiritual uplift.

It took me 6 months to see how I have grown emotionally and spiritually because of Kundalini alone. I have felt and seen and have even been told, I have mellowed out. I am calmer. I breathe more, both physically and emotionally. Gisela and Kundalini is my therapy. It really is.

Honestly, I sometimes dread going to Kundalini because it’s one of those things that is going to be difficult. No, it’s not Ashtanga where you’re following a sequence specifically, regimented, and a billion people are in the class and you’re sweaty. Ashtanga, a practice which I have grown to very much appreciate, but Kundalini is a little…different.

Kundalini is not for everyone, but it should be.

If a person wants to grow spiritually and emotionally, and take time to work on their insides, not just their outsides, then Kundalini will help.

It has developed a practice of yoga for me in which yoga is more of a spiritual growth, and less on a mission to become more flexible. Believe me, I still hope to conquer a perfect “dancer” one day, but I would like to be joyful in the process… 🙂

What do you like about yoga?
Since moving back to the District, I have spent the last two years trying to build loving and caring communities around me. A lot of it has been up and down, a lot of mistakes, a lot of opportunities for growth and to become more self-aware. A lot of time to realize, I am simply human.

However, coming up on my two year anniversary of moving back, what yoga (specifically my 4 teachers at Yoga District: Gisela, Andrea, Heather and Cynthia) has done for me, is that it has provided a safe space for me to fail. A safe space for me to learn more about not only my body, but my soul.

After two years, of the ebb and flow, I have learned to slow it down. To not rush relationships, time, or goals, including goals one may have with yoga. As with art, as with another human, one’s relationship with yoga should not be rushed. It should be a practice of subtle growth; growth in which 6 months later you will say, “Wow, my mind no longer becomes anxious when this _______ subject is brought up. Huh, I can reach past my toes now… That’s cool.”

Why do you practice yoga at Yoga District?
I practice at Yoga District because of the teachers and the communities they build among their students. Heather said it one day before class started: she said, coming to practice sometimes feels like a bunch of friends, just getting together, hanging out, spending time together, practicing yoga. It really feels like that when you begin going to a regular class… familiar faces become familiar yogis… A community is born.

And, I won’t lie. The yoga is affordable, and close to my apartment….:) ”

What is your favorite pose, and how does it make you feel?
It may not be my favorite pose per se, but I remember Cynthia telling our class that sometimes when a person comes into a specific pose such as hip openers, emotions that we were not aware of, could be released, could come up out of us unexpectedly. Well, my emotions seem to come out when I am in “forward folds”.

There was one week a few months ago, which was pretty hard on me. A transitional phase in life; necessary change.

Half way through Heather’s class, I “collapsed” and began to sit on my mat. I stopped my practice in the midst of it all. I went into child’s pose.

I began crying. I began to quietly cry in the middle of class.

As Heather motioned for another series to begin, with such grace and ease, she came over, and ever so gently pressed her hands on my lower back to deepen my fold.

I began crying even more.

I felt her warmth, I felt her love, I felt community while simultaneously feeling broken.

Three days later… I was in Andrea’s class, emotionally exhausted, still… And, once again, I stopped my practice in the middle of class. I sat down on my mat, and went into a forward fold. Andrea, as Heather did, came to deepen my fold.

And, once again, I began crying.

This time however, I went with it… I went with what I was feeling and what was apparently bottled up, deep inside…I allowed myself to not only cry, but also to “give in”.

Give in to not only my emotions, but finally, of my understanding of what Cynthia and all of my other teachers have taught, that yoga is a practice of self-awareness. Self-awareness, meaning coping and loving, both the good and bad, within ourselves.

So, I guess the pose that has altered my views on the meaning of yoga, is a forward fold. Nothing fancy, nothing thrilling, but it certainly has opened myself up for opportunities of self-discovery and relief.

Washington DC can be a hectic place where people can become stressed-out and overworked. What would you say to your fellow DC residents to inspire them to practice?
We all need to slow it down…. Stop rushing… Stop rushing everything… Either our desires will be fulfilled or they won’t. And if they aren’t, it’s OK. You’re OK.

We are all going to be OK.

Have you done yoga/meditation outside of yoga class? If so, can you describe the circumstance (what made you want to do yoga outside of class and what the effect was)?

My mentor who first introduced yoga to me, proposed I begin my mornings with this, everyday:

1) Think of three things you are grateful for, from the following day. It could be that you were thankful for a good happy hour. A good conversation with a family member over the phone. A meeting went well at work. Doesn’t matter, three things you are thankful for that occurred the previous day.

2) Set your intention for the day. Many yoga teachers say at the beginning of most classes, “set your intention for you practice”. I have taken that a little further and continue to set my intention for each day. Again, the “intention” could be as simple as, just let me enjoy work, the meetings, my colleagues. It could also be, let me obsess just a little less over this situation today, and be present.

The idea is to be meaningful, but it doesn’t necessarily have to take up a lot of your time. Meditation can be daunting if one thinks they have to wake up at 6 AM in the morning everyday to meditate… Although that’s wonderful, sometimes its impractical… What could be cool instead, is to “meditate,” throughout the day. Remember who and what you are thankful for, drawing back into the presence and out of our minds. That way it can be done anywhere, at anytime. All day.

How do you feel your practice at Yoga District has affected your stress level and the ways you deal with stress?

Yoga has helped me to get a little bit out of my head… To not be so anxious and rushed… I catch myself sometimes doing long and deep breathing when riding my bicycle or walking… Yoga has helped me realize how breathing, intentionally, alleviates underlying pain.

How will yoga continue to be incorporated into your life in the future?

I plan to have yoga be a part of my spiritual growth throughout the rest of my life. Sort of like church each Sunday, I plan to have yoga be a spiritual time for me reflect on my body and mind, everyday.

What do you want to share with others about how yoga has touched your life?

I think after this novel, people are tired of reading about how yoga has influenced my life. 🙂

Would you consider a yoga teacher training program to deepen your practice and/or to learn techniques for sharing yoga with others? If yes, please explain.

Maybe I could teach in the future. But right now, I enjoy being a student. I enjoy learning more about yoga and myself. I am in no rush to become a teacher; I think right now I am supposed to be a student.

]]> 0 Meet Nay! Fri, 09 Sep 2016 16:39:39 +0000 Kat's Teacher Feature Pic

Meet Nay, one of our beloved instructors, as she shares a little about her journey to Yoga District and her experience since — both practicing and teaching in the Dharma Yoga tradition. Get to know Nay.


What is your name and how long have you been a part of the Yoga District community?
My name is Nay (pronounced like “eye” with an “N” before it). It’s an Arabic name and literally translates into “flute”. I started taking classes at YD in 2014.

How did you come to Yoga District?
Having been a gymnast for nearly a decade, I used to mainly practice yoga at home. In 2014, one of my good friends asked if I wanted to attend a yoga class with her at a studio less than a block away from her apartment. Little did I know that she would introduce me to such a welcoming community. A year later, I started thinking about ways to deepen my practice. That’s when i saw an announcement in the YD newsletter about the 2016 Winter Teacher Training. I embarked on this life changing experience in January of 2016 and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to now share my passion for yoga in my classes.

What do you try to convey to your students in your classes?
I try to get students to be compassionate towards themselves by being mindful about the signals that the body is sending, and making the practice their own — enjoying any modifications or amplifications their bodies feel like taking. It is only by learning to be compassionate with ourselves that we will be able to be compassionate with others.

What do you like about teaching the DC community?
DC is a busy city where people are hard at work all day. With the political and lobbying tension on the streets of DC, along with almost extreme weather patterns, i often times feel like the city gets to me. This is why I enjoy hosting a safe, non-judgmental space where people can relax, and perhaps even join in meditation to center themselves and connect with their life journey.

What would your advice be to someone who thinks yoga isn’t for them or that they aren’t “flexible enough” for it?
This is one of the most common excuses people give to justify why they don’t practice yoga. It is important for people to see beyond the deep poses that are advertised on social media. Yoga can be any position the body takes when the breath is easy and the muscles are relaxed. Straining and forcing oneself to make shapes with the body is not the purpose of yoga. Yoga is the union of the body with the mind; calming the breath and being mindful about the body’s needs.
In addition, I can’t stress how much consistency in practice helps improve the form of a body. Not everyone is built in the same way: some people may naturally be more flexible, while others may have stronger muscles, and others have even better balance. Wherever you are, practicing gradually and regularly will transform you physically and mentally.

Where do your sentiments lie on the “yoga as spiritual practice” versus “yoga as body shaper” spectrum?
I certainly was first attracted to yoga’s physical aspect. Even when I started the Teacher Training program I was so skeptical about the spiritual aspect. At first I used to get irritated by chanting in Sanskrit and sitting still in silence; however week after week, I slowly started understanding the purpose of breathing and meditative exercises and started feeling a sense of inner contentment. Not only that, but after discussing yoga’s philosophical roots, I noticed how closely they matched my own spiritual beliefs. So in short, I sure have a long way to go, but I’d say i’m currently leaning more towards “yoga as a spiritual practice” side of the spectrum.

What is your favorite style of class to teach and to practice, and why?
Dharma. I never thought I could resonate this much with the teachings of Sri Dharma Mittra. Whether spiritually or physically, it all makes perfect sense to me. The practice itself focuses on hip openers and backbends (my favorite parts to work on) and it is meditative. No matter what mood I’m in, after teaching or practicing a Dharma class, I can’t help but feel at peace. Also, I’m an environmentalist at heart, and feel that we have to save Mother Earth before human actions make her unrecognizable to us. Sri Dharma teaches compassion above all else, and I believe that it is only by being compassionate with all living beings that we will be able to leave our planet a better place.

Practice with Nay.

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