Today we’d like to introduce you to Trina Altman.
Trina, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Teaching movement is actually my third career. My first job out of college was at Goldman Sachs. When I realized that investment banking wasn’t for me, I became a fashion designer.
However, by my late 20’s, I found myself isolated in an East Village apartment, completely ignoring my body, depressed, and in pain. A friend dragged me to a Bikram yoga class, where I sweat, stretched, and remembered how much fun movement could be. I began to feel better immediately.
I started to explore different styles of yoga and eventually, Pilates. Movement became a source of peace in my life and an escape from my day job. Finally, I knew what made me happy, so I decided to transition from the office to the mat.
I completed my 500-hour teacher yoga training, and then I enrolled in a STOTT Pilates teacher training. It was through studying Pilates that I realized how little I knew about anatomy.
I asked myself, “How can I engage with my body and others’ if I don’t know what is going on under the skin?” Traditional yoga and Pilates had taught me to execute poses and exercises, but it became clear to me that even with modifications, not all exercises and poses were appropriate for all people.
After hundreds of hours of teacher training, multiple certifications, and success as a teacher, I began a new phase in my career. I began to ask, “Why are we doing this pose? How does it affect the body’s tissues? What daily life activities will it help me with? If yoga is a healing practice, then why do so many people who practice yoga have pain?”
After over a decade of studying movement and exercise science, and educating hundreds of teachers, I’ve discovered that there is no single best or right way to move. Rather, it is more beneficial to teach to the individual in front of you.
This is only possible when you have an understanding of human movement, a toolbox of exercises, and the critical thinking skills to apply them appropriately. Realizing this inspired me to create live and online courses like Yoga Deconstructed® and Pilates Deconstructed®.
Today, I take an interdisciplinary approach to foster an embodied understanding of yoga and Pilates and their relationship to modern movement science. I help my students strengthen their weak links and become more embodied movers, so they can reduce their risk of injury.
I teach all over the world and here in LA around these concepts, so other teachers can do the same for their students.
Has it been a smooth road?
When I started practicing and teaching yoga, I found I was very good at the poses. Almost all of them came naturally to me. My hypermobile joints and lax ligaments allowed me to express almost any shape with little effort. The more I practiced yoga, the better I felt until I didn’t.
This caused me to turn to Pilates and while it helped me develop some strength, it wasn’t enough to cancel out the wear and tear I’d begun to feel during my yoga practice. I felt like a fraud because I was supposed to be teaching people how to feel better when I felt awful and couldn’t help myself. “Am I just supposed to live with this?” I wondered.
I knew my body craved a more well-rounded approach to yoga, but I couldn’t find the kind of class or information I needed to best address the joint pain I was experiencing. Even more frustrating was the number of students who approached me with similar challenges and I wasn’t sure how to help them.
This inspired me to pursue more education and study other forms of movement. I discovered that an interdisciplinary approach based on the individual worked best for addressing repetitive stress injuries and being a more embodied mover. I used this information to help myself and my students and now teach these concepts to other teachers.
Ultimately, I am grateful for the challenges I’ve faced because they’ve made me a better and more compassionate teacher.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Pilates Deconstructed® and Yoga Deconstructed® story. Tell us more about the business.
I am probably best known for applying concepts and ideas from Somatics, modern movement science, and corrective exercise to yoga to help teachers and their students become well-rounded movers and practice yoga with fewer injuries.
This is different from the traditional approach to yoga, which is more “practice and all will come.” I believe that while there are no inherently bad movements, it is important to prepare our bodies for the tasks that we ask it to perform and yoga is no different.
Integrating these concepts into yoga and Pilates classes and privates, helps more people experiencing the physical and mental benefits of yoga with less pain and injury. I am currently writing a book for Handspring Publishing called Yoga Deconstructed®: Transitioning from rehabilitation back into the yoga studio that synthesizes the work that I do.
How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
I see both the yoga and Pilates industries shifting from the guru/lineage based model which is a ‘vertical’ or ‘top-down’ approach to learning towards a more horizontal, crowd-sourcing approach that prioritizes ‘student-centered learning.’
- Website: www.trinaaltman.com
- Instagram: @trinaaltman
- Facebook: Trina Altman-Yoga and Pilates
Samantha Jacoby, Michel Andreo