One of the first things I do when I meet anyone new – and I do mean anyone – a friend, a business colleague, a potential future husband – is ask them if they have a yoga practice. I ask people if they do yoga because I know from first-hand experience what having a yoga practice does – it changes ones life. I am always curious to know how yoga affects others and what brought them to their mats in the first place. As it turns out, most of the stories I hear from other yogi’s are similar to my own story of yoga, if not in perfect alignment.
My love (obsession) for yoga was not love at first sight. Like all beautiful relationships, it developed over time and there were moments of miscommunications. In the first few months of my steady practice, I experienced mental moments of despair.
“I’m so weak in my core. I can’t do that pose.”
“Ughhh, there’s sweat dripping into my eyes.”
“How is that guy on the mat next to me doing crow pose, then pushing up to an inversion and then jumping back to chaturanga all in seemingly one fell swoop?”
We’re always our toughest critics, aren’t we?
Then, about six months into my steady three-days-a-week practice, the chatter in my mind changed.
“Oh, wow! I can do this pose now!”
“I hope this class is sweaty today, my body is craving it.”
“Ohh… [from continually watching and learning from the strong man beside me] I now see that I need to align my arms here and engage these specific muscles to get into crow pose.”
Side note – I still don’t have the fell swoop crow to inversion to chaturanga down – maybe in another decade I’ll conquer it, or perhaps in other lifetime.
By simply making the commitment to myself to continue showing up to my mat, my core got stronger. My body found familiarity in the poses. My mind turned negatives into positives. Yoga changed my life from the inside out and continues to help guide me into being the best I can be. If this happened to me, I assume it has happened to others – or why else would there be 36 million people in America practicing yoga?
Knowing just how much yoga changed my own life, I started to imagine what it had done to the ones who actually took on the role of teaching it. I reached out to four Los Angeles based yoga teachers – Whitney Allen, Joe Kara, Mary Beth LaRue and Mia Togo – who have left a footprint on my yogic heart. In these discussions, we delved into what their own yoga practices have taught them and also what made them become teachers. While putting together this piece, I realized that it will never cease to amaze me how people are so much more alike than we are different, truly showing that yoga – fully living its definition – is union. We all can find a common ground – especially if that ground is made of a plethora of yoga mats.
Check out some of Heather’s favorite Yoga instructors below
I first took Whitney Allen’s class at Center For Yoga (YogaWorks Larchmont) roughly five years ago. At that time in my life, I would go to a class every now and then – basically whenever my schedule allowed for it (which was pretty much never). A few years later, I became a more frequent yoga practitioner, making yoga one of my top priorities on my daily to do list. Read More >>
Everyday during late summer of 2015, I would wake up, pack up my computer and yoga mat, and then head to Wanderlust Hollywood for the entire day – writing and yoga-ing. On one August afternoon, I was sitting outside enjoying my tea and working on my project when Mary Beth LaRue sat down next to me. Read more >>
It was kind of a fluke when I first took Joe Kara’s class two years ago. A friend of mine and I were planning to do a yoga class followed by dinner – Joe’s class just happened to be the last one of the day, so it made sense time wise that we ended up there. Cut to two years later, you’ll find me in Joe’s class at least twice (if not four) times a week. Read More >>
I walked into Mia Togo’s class during summer of 2013 when life had pretty much gotten the best of me. I was at the very beginning of my Saturn Return – what I refer to as the astrological Bat Mitzvah – which is around ages 28-30, when one steps into full-blown adulthood. Between working a job that required a lot out of me and breaking up with a man I thought I was going to marry – in classic Saturn Return style – my life was untethering itself. Read More >>
Meet Author Heather Reinhardt
Heather Reinhardt has her fingers in many pies (both metaphorically and IRL – she loves pastries). She is an author, speaker, make-up artist, Angeleno, yogi, yerba mate addict and expert manifestationalist.