My very first yoga teacher was the beautiful Neena Shahani, who lives, practices and teaches in Vancouver, British Columbia. I credit Neena for teaching me presence and breath work, which allowed me to finish a PhD thesis! I owe so much to this woman for that, and especially for her introduction to yoga. Love. Love. Love.
When I arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia, which, for those of you who don’t know, is literally across the country of Canada (3,804 miles/6122 kilometers), I had the good fortune to land on the gorgeous shoreline of the Aspotogan Peninsula. Cathy Guest welcomed me into her heart and into her studio, the Sail Loft Yoga Studio. By studying the eight limbs of yoga philosophy with Cathy, I found a way to reconcile my Christian upbringing, my need for asana practice and my desire to live well. For me, yoga is a physical practice and also a spiritual one. I believe the two work together. That doesn’t mean that I changed my faith to Hinduism or Buddhism. Rather, I believe that the principles of the eight limbs can be found in any religion. Yoga is my way to ‘perfection in wisdom’ by creating a place that allows for awareness and change— in body, mind and spirit.
Not only am I thankful for her teachings of Ashtanga Yoga, but Cathy gave me my first opportunity to teach yoga by substituting for her. How generous is that?! Cathy also gets credit for re-igniting my passion for cycling. She and her fab husband, Philip, run Freewheeling Adventures, a rockin’ local-national-international adventure travel company.
Mi Guapo and I now live in Southern Oaxaca, Mexico for several months each year. I’ve been diagnosed with severe arthritis in my knee and the warm weather, the salty sea and OF COURSE, my regular practice of yoga has kept me mobile and (mostly) pain free when I’m there. When we first arrived, I practiced with the wonderful Mario Corella of Rancho Cerro Largo. Then, the beautiful—inside and out—Kine Røst found me through our mutual friend, Javier Gomez Huesca, who along with his partner Paco, runs the fanfriggintabulous La Provedencia in Zipolite. Kine and I have teamed up to offer extraordinary yoga vacations. We created YogaFreedom.Rocks and hosted an amazing group of yogis in Iceland in 2017.
Kine asked me to teach a class that she’d attend as a test of my teaching abilities, and as the saying goes, the rest is history. I will be forever grateful to Kine for taking a chance on me. Forever. She invited me to be one of the first yoga teachers of a new yoga studio that was in the process of being built. That beautiful space, Pura Yoga, gathers amazing yogis from all over the world, but it is Kine whose energy permeates the space. Trained and certified in Critical Alignment and Therapeutic Yoga, Kine guides her students, including me, under the moniker of Yess Yoga. If you are ever in Oslo, Norway during the spring and summer, I totally recommend you find out where she’s teaching. You won’t be sorry. Better yet, come on down to Zipolite, Oaxaca, Mexico and discover the studio that she built. Not only is Kine an incredible teacher, she’s also an amazing, award-winning graphic designer. Do you like the Blue Lotus Living logo? If so, check out the rest of Kine’s work!
To get to this point on my yoga teaching journey, I’ve had the good fortune to learn bits from different yoga teachers, and all of them have had an influence on my larger understanding and practice. I’ll never forget that day. Eoin Finn’s workshop focused my teaching and life mission. He taught me that it’s a.o.k. to love your students, this practice and this life. He also affirmed my profound feelings of connection between nature and yoga. I am grateful. I am also grateful for Kathryn Budig. During a workshop at Halifax Yoga, Kathryn re-ignited my love for this practice. At the time, I was taking myself and my yoga a bit too seriously. With her Aim True talk and her ability to teach me to be calm while trying to do Vrschikasana (!), I created a process in my life that gave greater significance to self-forgiveness and self-recognition of my zeal for excitement. Yes, excitement in yoga! I learned about meditation styles and found my own from Joanne Seviour.
For 300+ hours, I was taught by Hart Lazer of United Yoga Montreal. Not only did Hart teach me to teach Ashtanga influenced by Iyengar, he gave me the confidence to teach well. Along with Angie Birt and Seth Daly, Hart’s wisdom and guidance changed my body and my mind, for the better, I believe. Not a day goes by that I don’t hear Hart’s voice.
This is how we started our practice (translated by his teacher, Ken McLeod):
The four instructions of Gampopa
Nice. Thank you, Hart.
Nancy Wile of the US-based Yoga Education Institute and Jason Crandell guided me on my 300-hour advanced teacher training online and in person. They both taught me that authentic and informed practice is what makes a good teacher. They inspire me, and I am grateful.
I feel connected.
Pace is perfect – not too slow, not too fast. Appreciate ability to extend or not depending on how I feel that morning. Content is great. I have knee and shoulder injury, so good that class allows for that adaptation.
I have had the pleasure of being a student of DeNel’s in both a yogic and an academic setting. Teaching by example and showing mindful attention to all pupils shines through in her instruction. Her yoga classes strike an ideal balance of fun and structure and her teaching is informed and tailored to the individual. I have come away from these sessions with an invigorated yet calm spirit and the inspiration and confidence to make yoga a part of my daily routine. The positive energy that DeNel projects is contagious, I consider myself very lucky to have caught as much of it as I have!
Yoga for Absolute Beginners; or, for those who Absolutely Want to Begin Again! Learn/review foundational breathing, poses and philosophy. Six week series to get you going in 2021.
Practice on your own time, according to your own schedule. Mix and match classes that fit what your body tells you it needs. Rent individual classes or purchase a subscription.
The cost is $3 per rental, or purchase a $10 subscription for access to all of the classes. For $60, you can have access to ALL live classes and ALL video recordings.
COMING JANUARY 25, 2021. Begin the new year with equanimity and calmness. Join me on a journey. A mediation journey.