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Meet Rachel Gonzalez of Sama Tree in La Canada Flintridge

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rachel Gonzalez.

Rachel, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
As a child, I was a shy daydreamer who loved to dance and make things. I was known as the peacemaker in my family. Though, growing up in a military household I learned to adapt and be flexible which has helped me a lot in my life. In my mid 20’s I found meditation and have been an active meditator now for over 20 years.

In 2006, I started dabbling in yoga while living in Seattle. In 2012, my family and I moved to Southern California, but it wasn’t until 2014 when I started to integrate yoga into my life. During 2014, I started mindfulness training courses with Mindful Schools and began reading and researching anything I could find on mindfulness. There was a strong calling for me to share movement and mindfulness with children and adults. This is when yoga teacher training came in the picture. I started my yoga teacher training in 2015, at Spiral Path Yoga Center in The Yoga of Mindfulness & Accessibility program, as well as Yin Yoga I & II, with Addie deHilster. In 2017, I completed Children’s Yoga teacher training (RCYT®) through HiYoga! with Kelly Wood. I also completed training in Restorative Yoga, Accessible Yoga and Prenatal Yoga. Once, my (RYT® 200) teacher training ended I taught non-stop to get confidence and experience, that’s when I came up with the name Sama Tree for my business. “Sama” for the sama vritti pranayama (breath work) and “Tree” because I find beauty and strength in trees.

My children’s programs started in 2017, Mindful Children’s Yoga and Mindful Pogis: A Yoga and Mindfulness Program for Preschool Children, both at The Community Center of La Cañada Flintridge. I love teaching children, it warms my heart. Children really bring a spark to my day and they keep me on my toes.

Creative expression has always been important to me. Before becoming a yoga teacher I was a photographer, dancer and crafter. I wanted to create products that other yogis could use to support their practice. So, I created Sama Tree Apothecary & Essentials. I make zafus (meditation cushions), bath salts, yoga mat sprays, candles, room sprays, eye pillows and other items to help remind us to take time for ourselves. On occasion, I still do photography, which also helps with my marketing and recently have incorporated dancing in my Yoga+Dance classes.

My new yoga space, Sama Tree in La Cañada Flintridge is a special, small and cozy space for me to have private yoga clients, small groups and my Sama Mama classes (pre and postnatal yoga). I wanted a home for Sama Tree Apothecary & Essentials and an intimate yoga space where small groups can gather, practice, create connections and feel supported.

With my love of children and my children’s programs, I created a book for children to learn about mindfulness and yoga, The Mindful Child Journal, A Four-Week Journal for Exploring Mindfulness and Yoga (now on Amazon). It is an interactive book where there are lessons and activities that children can do and practice. This book teaches children (ages 8-12) the basics of mindfulness in hopes they will use these tools throughout their lives and maybe want to learn more about mindfulness and yoga. I believe it’s our responsibility to teach our children to be more patient, loving and kind to themselves, to others and to our planet.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I’ve worn many hats in my life so far. Finding your purpose in life takes time and it hasn’t always been easy. I struggled with my health (autoimmune) for the last ten years and it really has made me appreciate everyday in my life. This is where Mindfulness helps me. All the lessons I’ve learned thus far has really made me the person I am today. Trying to make something for myself, never losing hope and believing my dreams; step by step I am finding my way.

We’d love to hear more about your work.
I am a yoga teacher, mindfulness facilitator and now author. I’m most proud of my new yoga space, children’s programs and my new book, The Mindful Child Journal. I’m most known for my children’s yoga and mindfulness programs. I love that the students in my adult yoga classes find my classes creative and inspiring.

My business, Sama Tree is just starting to lay its foundation. I love that my new space can bring small groups together (Chandra Sister Circle, Yoga Teacher Circle, Yoga Book Club, Mindful Craft Workshops, Sama Mama Pre & Postnatal Yoga). My space is a boutique yoga space/studio, very cozy and small; different from the yoga studio model. I’m looking forward to seeing how it grows and how I can serve my community.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
There are many people who have supported me throughout my yoga journey. My husband has always believed in me but keeps me in reality. My sons help me to remember it’s important how I model myself as an adult and entrepreneur. They have always supported me in my dreams. My younger sister has always pushed me to work hard and stay true to myself. My mother is a strong woman and reminds me to keep my head up. My father taught me humility and patience.

I have a group of friends and yogis that I can always lean on and share ideas. My mentor and yoga teachers, Addie deHilster and Peggy Burt of Spiral Path Yoga Center chose me in their yoga scholarship program due to my dreams of making a difference in our youth and they have always been big supporters and cheerleaders. I also want to thank The Community Center of La Cañada Flintridge for allowing me to bring my children’s programs and workshops to their community.

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