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#ODDLight: Yoga Teacher Training Alumni Edition 2

Hey ODDballs. We’re back this week with another round of #ODDLight Teacher Training alumni features. Keep reading to learn all the juicy details of their lives and as well as what they got out of doing teacher training at ODD! And if you’re really moved by what they have to say, the next round of ODDYTT starts in January!

Shaharyar

Nickname: Shari
Hometown: Lahore, Pakistan but my heart is in LA, so it is home

What’s your ODD love story?

My teacher training crew, aka oddyttdawgs, is quite the love story. It’s truly amazing to have the unconditional support of people who are always down to accompany each other on anything. You probably won’t find a group of 20 people that love each other more.

How do you define yoga?

In one word: devotion. It’s commitment to personal and spiritual growth. Basically, yoga is life.

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

I usually overthink things but I am very impulsive, or should I say intuitive, when it comes to major life or financial decisions. I didn’t come to yoga or ODD through classpass or anyone I knew. One day I decided that I should practice yoga. I walked into ODD that evening, signed up for the new student special and took my first yoga class ever.

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

Ability to time travel!

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

Awesome teachers who are so knowledgeable and inspiring. They are mentors who continue to guide me through this journey.

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

These days I’m committed to pincha mayurasana. I love working towards a pose that seems impossible at first. Going from “I will never be able to do this pose” to “I will get there one day” is my favorite part of the asana practice.

Meg Bradbury

Nickname:
Hometown: Pasadena, CA
What’s your ODD love story?
Initially, I first came to ODD in 2014 for two reasons; one, I wanted a yoga studio that played music I loved and wasn’t stuffy or stuck. Two, at the time, I used yoga as cross training for all the running I did and I loved that ODD offered classes like SWEAT. While that second reason doesn’t exist anymore*, the first reason — contemporary relevance/perfect irreverence — continues to delight me, every time I unroll my mat.
*backstory: Several years ago I was dx’ed with an eating disorder that, among other behaviors, expressed itself in obsessive exercise. As I first approached recovery, I stopped running and then took a break from all forms of exercise, including yoga. As hard as this was, it was a vital part of my healing and gave me the insight into what my body really wanted and needed in terms of movement. I came back to ODD after just about a year away and it was coming home. I was welcomed back with such warm and open arms. Stepping into one of the ODD studios and unrolling my mat remains one of my most sacred and safest spaces.
How do you define yoga?
Yoga is remembering, with breath and with movement and with stillness, that I am whole, able to love and be loved, and connected to every living thing.
What is one small fact that most wouldn’t know about you?
I was a second gen Hollywood punk rocker circa late 70s (pre Henry Rollins, yo) and have so! many! stories! and got into so! much! trouble!
If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
I wish it were something magnanimous and in service to all humanity, but I seriously just really fucking want to fly.


What’s the biggest thing you’ve gained from doing teacher training at ODD?
Sangha. Totally. My YTT cohort and teachers have become not only friends but family, with all the messy, inevitable times of grief, self-reflection, doubt, fear, and vulnerability a close group goes through during yoga teacher training. We counseled and consoled and celebrated and cried and laughed and overshared and nicknamed and fell asleep during story hour and listened and heard and we became teachers. TOTALLY One Down Dog teachers. Together.  #bravespace
What is your favorite asana pose and/or sequence and why?
Right now it’s trikonasana. I find a lot of expression and openness there, and there’s a way my body just shines into it happily, like a belonging.  A slow, syrupy Sun A, too, feels full of love. The slower the better. Pleasure, grace, poetry.

 

Hannah Elder

Nickname: Banana, Banana Welder, Han, Han Solo, Hanzo
Hometown: San Antonio, TX

What’s your ODD love story?
I was a serial Groupon-er when it came to yoga until I realized a good chunk of my friends practiced at ODD. I fell in love with Cindy’s sweat class immediately but it was in one of Adam’s classes in November 2016 that I had what can only be described as a spiritual experience. I was so stressed and angry and confused and scared and when we were in savasana this wave came over me that just said, “You’re going to be alright. Everything is going to be alright.” I had never ever had an experience like that and I knew I was on to something special. Finding not only a practice that worked for me, but a community and a physical space has also been instrumental in my sobriety. I didn’t come to yoga to get sober but it’s definitely helped.
How do you define yoga? 
Self-study. Svadyaya is one of my favorite yogic ideas and it’s what I always come back to. I explore my body and my mind and a connection to a higher power and my mood and so many other things that I’ve only found access to through yoga (for now).
What is one small fact that most wouldn’t know about you?
I was born at home in the house my dad still lives in (bonus fact- the address is my IG handle)
If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
Flying! Or teleporting. But I think flying because then I could enjoy the ride and flying would be faster than driving anyway.
What’s the biggest thing you’ve gained from doing teacher training at ODD?
Community. It feels cheesy to say but it’s so dang true. We all brought such unique elements to the group and rely on each other for different reasons. It also pushed me to get more involved at ODD- introduce myself to front desk staff, go to more workshops, etc.
As I’ve also started to teach my own classes it’s been so helpful to be able to reach out to YTT friends and say, “Is this how it is for you? How do you handle this certain situation?” You learn it all in training but putting it into practice is a whole new ballgame.
What is your favorite asana pose and/or sequence and why?
Super into Warrior 2 right now. It’s a pose we do so often and I feel like it’s easily overlooked so I’m trying to be more aware in my home practice. In class lately it seems to be where I find the most gratitude. Sinking lower and stretching longer and trying to find new aspects of it and just so grateful I have a body that can do any of this.

#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!

Fall into an Easeful Fall Routine with Paula Pister

This week on the ODD Blog, we’re bringing you a little wisdom nugget from yoga health coach and ODD FLOW instructor, Paula Pister. Although the temperatures in LA are slowly creeping back up, it is indeed fall. And as with any major shift, we need to set ourselves up to successfully ride nature’s new wave. Paula is helping us do just that with these three helpful steps for transitioning from Summer to Fall according to the principles of ayurveda.

This post is just a little taster of all that Paula has to offer so definitely head over to her website, Mind, Body, Bright, to read this article in full and check out some of the other amazing content that she has to offer.

STEPS TO TRANSITION FROM PITA SEASON TO VATA SEASON (SUMMER TO FALL)

By making a gradual adjustment of diet and lifestyle from summer to fall and enjoying seasonal routines and self care practices, you can make a healthy transition between seasons and prevent problems that may arise as we get further into fall. Keep in mind that what is happening outside is happening inside of you too. Like increases like, this is why we want to do the opposite to find balance in our body, mind and spirit.

1. CREATE AND STICK TO A DAILY SELF- CARE ROUTINE:

Do the same things at roughly the same times daily – When you wake up, eat, exercise and go to bed. The body loves predictably and routine. Because of the light, airy and drying qualities of this season, it’s important to balance it with grounding, nourishing and more structured practices.

Go to bed early – If we want to optimize our energy levels, our productivity and our attitudes we MUST be well rested. I see this “habit of sleep” as the one we build all our others habits on top of. If we’re not getting the sleep we need, we can’t fully operate at our greatest potential. If we’re tired, depleted and stressed out, we’re approaching each day in a state of fight or flight. We’re not making the best decisions on a regular basis, we’re not showing up in our relationships as awake, tuned in and accessible as we could be and most of all we’re at risk of all sorts of dis- ease and health issues. Ideally, we want to be going to bed by 10pm and waking up before 6am. Check out my blog on sleep for more detail.

Wake up early – Enjoy the magical early morning hours. This is the best time to tap into creativity, establish a mediation practice or journal. Use this quiet time to set your daily intentions, activities and connect to the bigger picture.

Rub oil on your body -This season can be very drying in many climates. Oil helps to calm the nervous system, ground energy and awaken the tissues. If you enjoy a little fragrance, vetiver, geranium, and citrus essential oils are great this time of year (either applying directly to the skin or using in a difuser). Using your own hands to heal your own body, tells your body that you’re paying attention and is also very grounding.

Move your body– The best times of day to exercise are in the early morning and evening hours (6–10 a.m. and 6–10 p.m.). Vata is very easily aggravated by fast, mobile activities, so instead think slower activities such as walking, hiking, swimming, biking, yoga, and tai chi. In the evening hours think more restorative and less energizing activities- even light housework, bouncing on a trampoline, going for a walk with friends or family.

2. TRANSITION INTO A FALL EATING:

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Think seasonally– This is my favorite season of foods with squashes, roots and late summer season fruits and veggies. The markets are vibrant and overflowing. Shop the outer aisles of your local grocery stores and choose what’s new in this season.

Consume less rawfood- Begin to shift from astringent foods such as raw salads to warmer foods and more cooked foods. Making this shift gradually will be easier on the system. Consider the warming and grounding qualities of root vegetables, soups and stews as you move though this new season.

Best foods for Vata season – Oily, nourishing foods that are high in protein, high in fat, brought to life with warming, stimulating spices, and served hot, will help to keep moisture in and help you stay grounded through the vata season. Favor the sweet, sour, and salty tastes. Breakfasts of cooked grains are perfect at this time of year. Lunches and dinners that include steamed vegetables, hearty grains, soups, and stews are grounding and moisturizing. If you eat meat and eggs, this is one of the best times of year to enjoy them. Dairy products and most nuts and seeds are also beneficial. In general, you’ll want to reduce your consumption of raw vegetables, cold and frozen foods, as well as the bitter, pungent, and astringent tastes.

Head over to Mind, Body, Bright to soak up more of this awesomeness!

#ODDBeats: Armen Menechyan

This month’s musical vibez are brought to you by the one and only Armeeeeeeeeeeeen Menechyan (*said in sports announcer voice*). Now, if you’re saying to yourself, “Who’s this Armen? He sounds great,” you’re in luck because he is this month’s ODD Teacher Feature and you can indulge in all of the intimate details of his life through this blog post.

Here’s something to put on in the background while you read:

#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