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#ODDLight: YTT Yoga Alumni Edition

November brings us a v v special ODDLight feature. While we LOVE our teachers here at One Down Dog, we also LOVE our students. On the blog this month, we’re showcasing that love by featuring some of our fabulous Yoga teacher training alums. We’re getting to know more about them, why they love yoga, and what they most value from their YTT experience. Check back in a couple of weeks for another dose.

If you read these profiles and they inspire you to pursue teacher training, you’re in luck! We have another cohort of ODD teacher training starting on January 31st! Find more info here or speak to one of our lovely desk staffers the next time you’re in one of the studios.

Katie Walsh

Nickname: Katiewalsh (one word), K-Dub, Kwalshy (this dates to college)
Hometown: St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands

What’s your ODD love story?

My ODD love story is YTT! I joined the studio in 2015, and for 2 years I was the kind of person who showed up, took class and left. I had friends who practiced at the studio and favorite teachers, but I didn’t really participate in the community that much. That all changed when I decided to do YTT (I took Sabrina to coffee to ask her about the program, and she said to do it!). Now ODD is a true hub of my LA community. I’ve forged meaningful friendships with my fellow ODDYTTIES and with the teachers and staff at the studio. ODD has even produced a fruitful freelance writing gig (thanks to Cindy!) And now I get to practice teach here too. YTT was so amazingly life changing for so many reasons, but the fact that it made ODD my true LA spiritual home, full of friends, has been one of the best parts.

How do you define yoga?

It’s all yoga. I’ve told friends who are nervous about taking my class all that’s required is showing up and breathing. Yoga is the union of breath and movement, but truly, it’s the union of body and soul, however that happens for you.

What is one small fact that most wouldn’t know about you?

One big fact is that I was born and raised in the Caribbean—on the island of St. Croix. My parents still live there and I try and go back every year. I’m a proud Crucian and native Virgin Islander.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

Reading minds! But I think I’m getting better at it 🙂

What’s the biggest thing you’ve gained from doing teacher training at ODD?

Oh my goodness, EVERYTHING. I remember the first night of YTT, Jess mentioned how life-changing it can be and I was skeptical. I was so wrong. I cried with gratitude within the first hour of our first Saturday with Bri, and texted my mom that I could not have waited one second longer to have done this. Not only did I gain a whole posse of new friends, a supportive community, a whole new world of knowledge about yoga, the body, and the mind, but I can actually teach a yoga class! The biggest thing though, is probably the knowledge, acceptance, and trust in myself I gained during YTT, as well as the tools to hone that.

What is your favorite asana pose and/or sequence and why?

I love Single Pigeon and could hang out in it for hours. If super-warm, King Pigeon is fun too. It just feels delicious and healing in my body. Having done teacher training, I now know just how important it is to open those hips, physically, mentally and emotionally too!

 

Kathryn Corrales

Nickname: Kat
Hometown:
Morristown, NJ

What’s your ODD love story?

When I moved to the LA from the Inland Empire, I knew two people that practiced yoga in the area. When I asked them for studio recommendations, they both recommended ODD, independent from one another. I took that at the first sign that it was THE place to be, it took only one class to know I had found my new yoga home. I loved EVERYTHING about it, the graffiti walls, the music in class, the teacher that encouraged us to give ourselves “a huge fucking hug” during cooldown, the sense of community that I felt immediately, and the dancing!!

How do you define yoga?

Yoga is everything. As cliché as it may sound… it’s where mind, body and spirit unite. It’s where I first found my self, it’s how I shed what doesn’t serve me. It’s my church, my therapy and my gym. It’s freedom and it’s discipline at once.

What is one small fact that most wouldn’t know about you?

I’m part Hawaiian.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be? 

That power that Sabrina the teenage witch had, where she just pointed at herself to change outfits and was magically transported to where she needed to be, no more getting ready or commuting. Is that just the anti-lazy superpower?

What’s the biggest thing you’ve gained from doing teacher training at ODD?

This is a hard question to answer because I gained so much from it, it’s difficult to choose one thing.
I have to say that it’s confidence. I gained a huge sense of confidence in myself and my knowledge of what serves me and what doesn’t. I gained the tools to build boundaries, in the best way. Having always been a “yes” person, I finally learned when to say no. It’s not what I set out to learn in TT, but it was what I needed.

What is your favorite asana pose and/or sequence and why?

This is constantly changing. A good old sun salutation A never fails to feel good, and I do love Malasana but Savasana is always the best asana.

 

Elena Rangel

Nickname: Never had one!
Hometown:
Phoenix, AZ

What’s your ODD love story? 

My favorite love story with ODD is the love I found with my fellow teacher trainees. I feel so blessed to have to have such a strong bond with a few of the women in my class. They have become women I am overjoyed to see around the studios and anytime we grab coffee or hanging out we never stop laughing.

How do you define yoga?

I define yoga as the practice of feeling better. Whether that means sitting and breathing for a few minutes or flowing through a yoga class it’s all yoga to me.

What is one small fact that most wouldn’t know about you?

I love ramen and try to eat ramen in every new city I travel to.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

I know it’s basic but I really want to fly. I used to dream about it when I was a kid and I’ve always loved being up high!

What’s the biggest thing you’ve gained from doing teacher training at ODD?

Wow picking one thing is hard but I have to say the community and friendships I gained. Like a lot of people in LA I’m from somewhere else so having such a wonderful community where I can go and everyone that works there is amazing and I see friends in class really makes this place special.

What is your favorite asana pose and/or sequence and why?

One pose that always puts me in a state of immense gratitude is pigeon pose because at the beginning of my asana practice I couldn’t do pigeon and had to modify with reclined figure four. So it’s a beautiful reminder of how much our bodies can change and to continue working towards the poses that seem impossible right now.

 

Katie Wong

Nickname: Parents call me Kate, strongly dislike it. Wish I had more it got confusing with 3 Katie W in our ytt group

What’s your ODD love story?

I started my yoga journey at One Down Dog. I used to be really into indoor cycling and was committed to Audrey’s classes. Sweat was the first yoga class I ever took and I barely made it out alive. The challenge is what initially pulled me in and the teachers kept me coming back. Time spent out of the house and on my mat helped reduce caregiver fatigue, so thank you ODD!

How do you define yoga? 

You know that sweet moment that can happen in a class, when everyone sighs at the same time? It makes me check back in and feel the collective energy of everyone in the room. Yoga is connection to the self and to others. It makes me a better human.

What is one small fact that most wouldn’t know about you?

I have never traveled outside of the country, but I will be backpacking in Thailand mid November.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

Ability to fly. Driving in LA is too stressful.

What’s the biggest thing you’ve gained from doing teacher training at ODD?

I am painfully shy and have gained so much confidence from ytt. Very much attributed to the wonderful friendships I’ve made. If you’re considering teacher training, make the jump! You will find your people and continue to fall in love with the practice.

What is your favorite asana pose and/or sequence and why?

Favorite pose is any grasshopper variation. My usually dirty feet help keep my foot from slipping and it’s a fun silly shape. New fav is Stonehenge, learned that cozy pose from Natalie. I’m the person twitching through savasana so give me all the props!

#ODDLight: Armen Menechyan

For this month’s ODDLight, we bring you Mr. Armen Menechyan. Never taken his class? Expect details cues and thoughtfully designed sequences along with some laughs. Catch him at 8:15 on Saturday mornings in Eagle Rock for a FLOW. You’re sure to come away with all the good feels.

Name: Armen

Nick Name: I don’t have one.

Hometown: LA

Favorite Place: Barcelona, Spain

Favorite color: Yellow

What’s your sign? Gemini

Most embarrassing moment?

Accidentally farting in the 5th grade in front of my peers as I picked up my pencil from the floor and also during a yoga class in savasana (lentils are my fave).

Fun Fact most wouldn’t know about you?

I prayed for a sister and my parents saw me doing that. I got one 9 months later so the story goes.

Share a story or anecdote with us!

I like to tell the story of my last day in Nepal. I was taking my last cold shower in December and it was a few days before Christmas. I had this moment of shock and disbelief that I’d be home soon and even though I wanted to return, a part of me was quite content and at ease spending 30 days in a Buddhist monastery. By the way, I had no idea I was going to a Buddhist retreat when I first signed up for it. I simply thought it was a meditation course. It ended up being the real deal with Tibetan monks and 5am wake up calls. I digress. I realized that I hadn’t really thought about my return home. During that shower, I realized that I had left a pretty awesome job and that I’d return to nothing lined up. It was such a liberating and scary moment, and I constantly go back to that day to recognize that somehow it all worked out. I could’ve chosen to worry about an uncertain future or trust that it would all work out. I try to live every moment of unease or uncertainty like that day on the 15th of December, 2015. Somehow, it all works out if there is dedication and effort. Somehow, if I’m following my path, there is a sense of effortless effort.  I return to Patanjalis sutra 2.42 often, especially when I need to ask myself those big questions during moments of grand transition. I think it’s pretty magical to be able to be guided by these teachings from 1000s of years ago in 2018.

When you aren’t at the studio where can you be found?

Well, these days I am teaching middle schoolers full time. But, I’m either taking a walk in Los Feliz, hiking Griffith, having a coffee in Los Feliz or chilling at my parents house a few blocks away.

How do you define yoga?

Yoga is a practice of inquiry. More specifically, at this point in my practice it is an inquiry of the body and mind, and their intimate interrelationship. Yoga also provides for an observation of the Self (the ego powered concept of Self) and the self (the higher self). To be able to sit in stillness to observe the fluctuations of the mind is sitting in a state of yoga. Asana, which means “seat”, is also a great opportunity to sit within a shape and observe, be an inquirer of the mind’s reaction to the seat. Above all yoga is any practice that makes one a better human being, and even that is relative.

Why do you teach?

Because I learn better that way.

What brought you to become an instructor?

It just happened. I’ve been a classroom teacher for many years and I took some time off to study yoga.

What is your favorite song to play in class?

Anything sort of eclectic I guess with 45-65 BPM

What is your favorite pose or flow? Why?

My favorite pose is shoulder stand supported with a chair. For years, shoulder strand was my nemesis. But, I am learning to cherish it.

Memorable yoga moment?

There are so many. This is an unfair question. How do I do justice to all the teachers who have brought me to this point in my practice, I am not sure, but for those moments I had with them, I am grateful. I’ve been fortunate to have carved the time to learn from many teachers the past few years and continue to take part in intensives. Those “aha” moments are what I live for and sometimes they happen during a regular practice. For example, today, I felt something I had never felt after 15 years of practicing and it was in a standing forward fold. Go figure!

How did you first hear about One Down Dog?

Groupon. I had just returned to the states after living abroad for 6 years and I was back on the market. ODD was nearby and the newest studio in town.

What is your favorite yogi prop or piece to wear or use?

Im a blanket guy these days. Every class has a blanket. It’s important for me to be able to access seated postures with proper support for the pelvis. Is that too nerdy of a response?

What special causes or non-profits do you hold dear to your heart?

I love to be of service to the LGBTQ community. But, the most passionate work I’ve ever done is when my best friend and I founded a yoga and meditation initiative for social changemakers in the country of Armenia. That project was very dear and near to my heart. In short, we offered yoga and meditation to LGBTQ, Women’s, and Children’s rights organizations and their staff members.

Are there any links, @names, and #hashtags you would you like us to use in promoting you and your happenings?

@packyourmat

Would you more likely tell your boss they had food in their teeth or let it slide?

I’d definitely tell them. I think it’s rude not to.

What was the last book you read?

Currently I am reading Medieval to Modern Early Times, which is a 7th grade textbook. But, on the daily, I read Mark Nepo’s The Book of Awakening.

Do you dream? Lucid dream?  

I usually have quite lucid dreams if I’ve had something heavy or salty to eat at night. Often, after an intensive yoga training weekend, I have very telling dreams.

If YOU were a color what color would you be? Red

#ODDlight Mandee Miller

What you know about Mandee? Not enough, you say. Well, you’re in luck! This month’s #ODDLight feature is none other than the fabulous, hilarious, bootylicious Mandee Miller. If you haven’t met Mandee, she’s a beaming ray of light

Name: Amanda Miller

Nick Name: Mandee

Hometown: Byron, IL

Favorite Place: My home.

Favorite color: I’d have to say red 🙂

What’s your sign? Cusp Babe: Capricorn and Aquarius

Most embarrassing moment? There are so many it’s hard to pick! I recently taught a whole class with a hole in my crotch. Thankfully, I was unaware of the fact until the class was over. You’re welcome for the crotch show!

Fun Fact most wouldn’t know about you? I have an alter ego for my female mudwrestling group, Mud Queens of Chicago: Jane Wayne Gacy

When you aren’t at the studio where can you be found (favorite past time)? I am mostly working throughout the city training private clientele, teaching at various Equinox clubs, and hanging at my home with my fiance and our cat, Shorty.

How do you define yoga? Unification in all capacities within oneself and with our world.

Why do you teach? It is a true passion of mine; I feel connected to it in a way I used to feel about acting, singing and improv.

What brought you to become an instructor? An instructor at LA Fitness who’s class I frequented approached me about teaching and I haven’t looked back since! Thanks Elise Cohen!

What is your favorite song to play in class? I’ve been playing a lot of ZHU remixes that match most of the varieties of classes I instruct: Ringos Desert Pt. 1

What is your favorite pose or flow? Why? I love moving from Warrior 2 to Extended Side Angle and back up through Warrior 2 to Reverse Triangle.

What special causes or non-profits do you hold dear to your heart? I was paired up with Makeovers That Matter by ODD’s founder, Jessica Rosen, back in 2016 and have been working with their team in support and empowerment of our female veterans. Being able to make a difference in the lives of women who fought for our freedom has truly been a blessing and an honor.

Memorable yoga moment? Getting my very first yoga client in Chicago after graduating TT 🙂

How did you first hear about One Down Dog? Molly O’Neill told me about it when I moved to LA and met her at Wanderlust <3

What is your favorite yogi prop or piece to wear or use? I wear a mala bracelet made and gifted to me by Layla Guest of Layla Guest Designs.

Connect with Mandy via the gram! @mandeemillerfitness

If you’re looking to get some more Mandee in your life, be sure to check out her BUTT class on Wednesdays at 9:15AM in SIlverlake!

BONUS QUESTIONS!!!

Would you more likely tell your boss they had food in their teeth or let it slide? Tell them. Always.

If you could have any super power what would it be? To be able to fly

What was the last book you read? Stephen King’s short stories collection, Bazaar of Bad Dreams

Who or What is your spirit animal? Bill Murray

If YOU were a color what color would you be? Leopard Print

 

ODDlight fam feature – Valerie Smith

Meet Valerie! She’s our Manager Liza’s BFF, our resident tarot guru, and a crusader of curiosity!

Name: Valerie Smith
Nick Name: Val, Wife (Liza only tho)
Hometown: I adopted Long Beach, CA as my hometown after 9.5 years there, but technically I’m from the Bay Area, a small town called Fairfax. Which is also an adopted hometown but that’s my story and I’m stickin to it.
Favorite Place: Ireland! I spent 10 days on a solo trip to Connemara there last year, exploring the land that my mother’s mother’s family comes from; and all its sacred, witchy, mystical beauty. One day I will go back and spend a summer there while writing a book.
Favorite color: Have I mentioned lately how much I love orange?! I was never that big into orange
before but right now, that color is driving me wild! I can’t get enough!

What’s your sign? Leo Sun, and oh-so-proud! Can’t wait to ring in our season with my birthday at the end of this month. I’m also an Aquarius Rising (which explains my deep obsession with the soul of humanity and also why I hate rules) and a Pisces Moon (tapping into all my feelings and intuitions).

Most embarrassing moment? WELL. I’m a Leo so I don’t embarrass easily. But, a few years ago was out dancing for a friend’s birthday. I’m not a subtle dancer, ever, but this particular night I was EXTRA flamboyant, flinging myself across the dancefloor—until I hit a spot where somebody had just moments before spilled their beer. I did a sort of cartoonish, banana-peel fall forward in front of the entire establishment. I thought the only thing injured was my ego so I jumped right back up but actually I hurt my ankle and couldn’t really walk on it for a few days.

Fun Fact most wouldn’t know about you? People always ask me if my FULL SLEEVE TATTOO is new? No, dudes, I’ve had the fortune teller on my arm for over 10 years, long before I ever saw myself as doing intuitive work. Her name is Esperanza, which means hope. The truth is that my whole life I dreamed about living the life I have now, for the most part—but I never thought it was possible. Now I’m choosing to believe and follow my dreams and maybe just maybe tattoo them on me so that they come true.

When you aren’t at the studio where can you be found (favorite past time)? DANCING! Ideally. I just started taking dance classes, and I’m obsessed. But also, just any dance floor where my feet can move as quick as possible.

How do you define yoga? A pathway to enlightenment, the Divine. A way toward inner-knowing.

Why do you teach? I never took a formal course in tarot, but I pieced together everything from reading with friends, online resources, and my own experiences. A couple of years after I started, I organized bi-monthly meet-ups with friends who wanted to learn. So we would get together and share—but I realized soon that I was actually leading/teaching these gatherings…Liza would come to them and she encouraged me to start teaching! I learn best with others, so I like to create spaces where we can learn together. I tend to focus on what it is that I need and then I create a class around that…and it usually resonates! So we all get to come together, learn, and heal collectively. It’s a dream.

What brought you to become an instructor?
Well I don’t teach yoga, but I came to teaching tarot because of Liza! She told me I was a good teacher, I had no idea. And then as soon as I started it was so fun and fulfilling that I just kept on teaching!

What is your favorite song to play in class? Well…I’m really in love with Kadhja Bonet right now…both her albums are amazing, and filled with healing songs, beautiful lyrics, and cosmic harmonies. But a favorite right now is Another Time Lover from her most recent album. She’s playing my birthday weekend and we should all go.

What is your favorite pose or flow? Why? I’ve really been vibing on peaceful warrior pose, and I’m sure its partly the name. One thing yoga is absolutely amazing at, is calming our fight or flight mentality. I love the idea of a Warrior of Peace, or compassion, or love, or healing; this pose suggests to me receptivity and adoration of something beautiful and greater than our normalized habits, reactions, and ways of being. It challenges us to BE BETTER.

Memorable yoga moment? Unfortunately my most memorable yoga moment recently came when I was really sick and trying to work through it—I was already way overheated in my body—then I went to class and…got a bloody nose! I had to sneak out to the bathroom, and then take the rest of the class basically in childs pose. Maybe this is obvious but sometimes I have a hard time slowing down…

How did you first hear about One Down Dog? From Liza like four or five years ago! It’s the only yoga studio I’ve been to in LA which, I guess is a little crazy, but…when you know you know!

What was the last book you read? Emergent Strategy! It’s a must read for anyone doing social justice work right now, I think. adrienne maree brown (all lower-case) writes in an easy, accessible way, and I’M HOSTING A 6-PART PRACTICE GROUP ON THE BOOK STARTING THIS SUMMER! The book takes different elements of nature and applies it to relationship building as tools for organizing. The theories are really interesting, and the challenge is: how do we learn to apply them in our lives?? So that’s the work that we’ll start doing this summer!

Do you dream? Lucid dream? DO I DREAM!? Boy oh boy yes. I feel really lucky to have a relationship with my dreams. Recently my dreams have been pretty funny, but not super informative or important. Last night I dreamt about women’s wrestling because I’m watching GLOW. But I certainly receive some big dreams on occasion, including lucid dreams. I used to fly whenever I was lucid dreaming, but now they are maybe less fun but more useful. During a nightmare recently, I became aware I was dreaming and used that knowledge to send love and compassion to those trying to hurt me, as well as set some boundaries…and then the “bad guys” started to become more beautiful, and
not dangerous. And I woke up without falling back asleep into a nightmare! I also plan to lead some dream workshops. My work as a spiritual counselor/guide also includes dream interpretation and working with dreams on an emotional/spiritual level.

Who or What is your spirit animal? WELL I’m not indigenous/native and so I’ve decided not to use the phrase “spirit animal” since I would be appropriating a particular aspect of indigenous culture without fully understanding it/respecting it. Also I don’t have permission to use it. But! A very similar phrase that I DO feel comfortable using is animal familiar. That would be my dog, Chula, who is me in dog form. When I’m thinking about animals that are meaningful to me on a psyche-intuitive-spiritual level, I break it down by Mind-Body-Spirit-Heart. So right now, my heart is represented by a lioness, for courage, collaboration, and femme strength. My body feels like a bee, buzzing from one thing to the
next, searching for what’s next. My spirit is and has felt like a mockingbird, singing all the different songs; and my mind feels like a butterfly in its chrysalis: still in the process of her becoming.

What is your favorite yogi prop or piece to wear or use? In my Sufi tradition, we have prayer beads called a tesbih. It’s similar to malas, they look very similar though they’re used a little bit differently. I made my own prayer bead necklace last year, and it’s probably the spiritual tool that means the most to me.

What special causes or non-profits do you hold dear to your heart? I’m very much in support of the Reform LA Jails initiative, which is lead by hardworking organizations such as Dignity and Power Now,

Are there any links, @names, and #hashtags you would you like us to use in promoting you and your happenings? @queermysticdreaming

Second Wednesday of the month there’s an intuitive tarot workshop, and this month every Tuesday catch CONNECT on the theme of curiosity.

#ODDlight Feature – Amy McGuire

It’s Amy in the ODDlight! This babe has been rocking our worlds for about 2 years at One Down Dog. An important fitness oriented element and a woman who makes a point to learn everyone’s name. Smart, silly, and so damn strong – check her out!

Name: Amy McGuire

Nick Name: Mac

Hometown: Dumas Texas, Farmtown Oklahoma, Tempe AZ, Pasadena Ca haha

Favorite Place: In the sky or in the water

Favorite color: Orange

What’s your sign? Leo

Most embarrassing moment? Too many to have a most; they are just too frequent and my brain has waaaaay too much stuff going on up there to index that info.

When you aren’t at the studio where can you be found (favorite past time)? Skydiving!

How do you define yoga? I don’t think I do.

Why do you teach? I teach because people need the reminder of movement, peace, to pull away from the dog and pony show we live in daily.

What brought you to become an instructor? An injury. Yoga saved me from surgery and nasty scars.

What is your favorite song to play in class? Whichever one makes me cry or dance that week.

What is your favorite pose or flow? Why? I love a lotus mudra flow. It’s expressive, expanding and breathable.

Memorable yoga moment? Falling over in a wide-legged forward fold into a wall where I was then pinned during a public class.

How did you first hear about One Down Dog? Several of my co-teachers taught/teach there and I had to check it out.

What is your favorite yogi prop or piece to wear or use? (favorite mala etc) Aromatics! Gimme smoke, gimme oils!

What was the last book you read? The Luck Factor

Do you dream? Lucid dream? I dream a lot! Many of them seem real, which can be a good or bad thing given the subject matter!

If YOU were a color what color would you be? I am a color and it is YOU.