From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:...

Table of Contents
From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... Table of Contents

Table of Contents

I. Introduction
The Pathway

Leah’s Story

II. Yoga As Career
The Basics

Getting Started

Some Basic First Steps to Becoming a Yoga Teacher

Beyond Teacher Training: DOs and DON’Ts

Living As A Yoga Instructor

A Few Tips on Earning that Extra Bit

III. What Next?
Keeping It Up

Get Going

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From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... Table of Contents
From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... Table of Contents

IV. Useful References for Career
Yoga and Life Reading

Basic Yoga Terminology

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From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... Introduction



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From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... Introduction

The Pathway

In many ways, yoga saved my life. Most yoga practitioners can probably relate to that
statement. Through yoga, self-transformation occurs throughout your lifetime in multiple
spheres – body, mind, and spirit – to ultimately and continually bring you more in tune
with yourself.

Photo Credit: David RE Photography

I realized fairly early in my life that I wanted less time in my cubicle at work, and more
time on my mat. Back then, I wasn’t really sure how I would make that a reality. Now,
about a decade later, I teach internationally, I represent Nike as their Global Yoga
Ambassador, I’m sponsored by various brands that I really believe in, and I’m blessed
with the opportunity to share my journey with you here.

I truly believe you can make anything happen for yourself. I believe you can – and must –
seek to discover and live your passion. My yoga practice initiated and established this
pathway for me, and I hope my story will inspire you to find the same for yourself.

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From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... Introduction
From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... Introduction

Leah’s Story

When I usually talk about how I ended up teaching yoga, the story begins with my college
major, and how I became one of those people whose major ended up being completely
irrelevant in life. Reflecting upon it now, the first big life decision that started paving my
yoga path was choosing where to attend college, as I was to end up in the yoga capital of
the Western world.

I had been accepted to all the University of California campuses to which I had applied.
I’m not sure how they rank nowadays, but back then, UC Berkeley was known as the
“best” school, particularly for majoring in Business, which is what I (read: my parents) had
decided I should be doing. Business was to be a sensible, respectable path to go down.

I remember coming home from school one day and seeing two big envelopes on the
kitchen counter (big always meant YES and small always meant “we regret to inform…”,
so there really was no surprise factor by the time the mail was actually opened): one was
from UC Berkeley and the other was from UCLA. My parents were thrilled about my
having been accepted to Berkeley, and simply assumed that that was where I would be
going. There was no discussion; they didn’t ask me what I wanted to do. Why wouldn’t I
choose the “best” option that also happened to be about a one-hour drive from home, on
top of which, my best friend was going to go there too?

When you receive these letters of acceptance, you’re asked to reply back to the school,
informing them whether or not you will be accepting their admission. I made a gut-driven
decision without telling anyone at the time. In a flash of a moment, I checked “No” to
Berkeley and “Yes” to UCLA, and dropped them into a mailbox simultaneously so that I
wouldn’t be able to change my mind. I was definitely afraid of how my parents would
react, but I knew it was what I really wanted to do, and I just had to do it. I really felt a
calling, and I went with it. This is probably the first time I made an intuitive leap that
would powerfully direct my life, more and more onto the road less traveled.

UCLA was great because they gave you two years before you had to “Declare Your
Major.” I took a variety of subjects during these first two years, with one eye on the
Business-Economics major, but my other eye open to what else might be out there for
me. I struggled in nearly all my Bus-Econ-related classes, whereas I excelled effortlessly

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From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... Introduction

in my English and Philosophy classes, sometimes even receiving A+s! When it came time
to Declare My Major, I wanted to go for English. I felt a responsibility to my parents
though, so I called my dad from campus one afternoon. I remember walking nervously
back and forth across the main pavillion as I made this call.

“Hey Dad, so, it’s time for me to decide what I’m going to major in.”

“Great, are you going to do the Business-Economics major?”

“Um, actually, my grades aren’t good enough for me to apply for Bus-Econ, but I can get
into Econ.”

“Oh, okay, well, I’m sure Econ will be fine.”

“Yeah. But, I was maybe thinking of doing something else.”

“Really, like what?”


Long Pause. “English?”

“Yes, English. I love my English classes and I’m doing really well in them.”

“But, how are you going to get a job with a degree in English?”

I didn’t have a good answer to that. My dad is a reasonable person, has never been
unfairly strict with me in any way. I’ve always had a lot of respect for him for having
created the perfect career for himself, and though I didn’t want to do exactly what he
does, I did want to learn from the way he made his decisions. And when I realized I
actually had no idea what I could do with an English major right out of college, practically
speaking, I reluctantly went with Economics. I continued to take English electives for fun,
and during my last year, I realized I could graduate with an English minor. This made me
happy because it was something I did for pure enjoyment, even if it wasn’t going to get
me a job right away (or ever).

When you’re in the college sphere of Business or Economics or anything thereof, there
are several pre-paved pathways laid out for you. From my vantage point, all of these
pathways seemed overly competitive, confusing, and kind of boring. I went through the
motions of joining a Business Fraternity (co-ed), attending various professional seminars,
and applying for thankless, unpaid internship positions to pad my resume. Upon
graduating, I landed a job as a Portfolio Analyst at TCW in Los Angeles. I had to dress in
professional attire everyday (though I never met with clients so I didn’t understand why it

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mattered what I wore), and since we worked with the stock market, I had to be at work
by 6 a.m. I sat in a grey cubicle and developed a close-knit relationship with my computer
as I ran reports, processed new accounts, checked for trader errors, and performed
other mundane tasks that were not challenging or remotely stimulating. TCW had over
400 people in the LA office alone, and I felt it: simply a number, unimportant, and unseen.
I had some lovely colleagues, but mostly we would complain about our boss, our tasks,
our low pay; it wasn’t very uplifting.

I figured I would stay for a year. That was the minimum amount of time you needed at a
job in order for it to “count” as valid experience for your next job. So “they” said. But
more and more, I felt de-energized and unmotivated. I rebelled by being barefoot under
my desk, and by always leaving a suit jacket on my chair as if I’d worn it into the office,
but never actually wearing it. I yearned for ways I could express my vitality, my creativity,
my heart, my Self. But I kept telling that Self: Just stay for the year.

At this point I’d already been practicing yoga recreationally. I had started by taking
sporadic classes at the UCLA gym when I was still a student, and then a friend took me to
Santa Monica Power Yoga, a donation-based studio. This friend really wanted to take me
to her regular teacher’s class, but by divine chance, a different teacher – Ally Hamilton –
was subbing that class. I remember how disappointed my friend was (which had nothing
to do with Ally; it’s just that my friend had specifically wanted me to try class with her
teacher). If you’re a yoga practitioner that is very committed and attached to a particular
teacher, I’m sure you’ve had this same experience of disappointment when that teacher
isn’t there at the last minute. It didn’t much matter to me at first, because I was
completely new to the studio and all their teachers anyway. But as Ally’s class went on, I
felt powerfully pulled to her, and this was the moment that my relationship with yoga
started becoming something more than something I did to stay in shape.

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From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... Introduction

Photo Credit: David RE Photography

Back in the cubicle, I remember a particular moment when I was processing an
application for a new account. The client was giving the company millions of dollars to
invest on his behalf. I had to make a phone call to check a detail, and as I was on hold, I
heard very loudly my own inner voice say, “How is this, what I’m doing right now, helping
make the world a better place?” This was a pivotal moment for me on my career path,
this revelation that what was important to me, my heart, my soul, was to somehow
contribute to making the world a better place. I had no idea how I was going to do this, as
it is a lofty and enormous mission statement indeed, but a most important first step – a
mental one – had been made.

I have no doubt that becoming more and more committed to my yoga practice was what
enabled me to start hearing my inner voice more loudly and clearly. What got me
through my uninspiring work day was knowing I would be on my mat soon. I just loved
how I felt, I loved accessing a different area of my brain, and I certainly loved my
teacher, Ally. From the very beginning, almost unconsciously, I trusted her completely. I
listened carefully to everything she said, and almost effortlessly was able to remember
her lessons and guidance. My mind was quieting, and my heart was opening.

Hoping for a job I might like more, I started looking for other opportunities. I wasn’t fully
convinced yet that I should leave the finance industry completely, as I did have my

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From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... Introduction

Economics degree and almost a year of experience at my first full-time job. But I was
sure I didn’t want to do anything like I was currently doing. I wanted less
cubicle/computer time, and more face-time with real-life people. Tired of the big
corporate environment, I sought smaller companies where there might be a chance that I
could matter.

A month short of hitting the one-year mark at my first job, I was offered a position as an
associate at a boutique investor relations firm. Not heeding the caution of my friends and
colleagues about invalidating my only work experience to date, I gave my notice and was
off to start fresh. This new job seemed more promising. There were only six of us in the
company, and we sat in a contemporary, open space (no cubicles!). My tasks were to
include facilitating earnings report conference calls, writing press releases, general client
management, and research. It seemed like there was more room for creativity and
learning, and I didn’t have to work such anti-social hours. I even had my first business
trips to meet clients and attend conferences.

The job itself wasn’t so bad. I did get to interact more with people, which was great, but I
found myself simply not caring about a company’s stock report and how that affected
their stockholders. I essentially still found it difficult to care about other people’s money. I
thought to myself, “Surely there are better ways I can spend my time?”

As I tried to picture myself doing this job, or a similar one, for the next 40 years, I felt
hollow, hopeless, and just plain miserable. My inner voice kept piping up with important
but difficult questions. Where was the meaning in it? Is this really how I’m going to spend
my whole life? More often than not, I came home from work and threw myself face-down
on my bed, and cried into my pillow about the seeming pointlessness of it all.

I started turning to my yoga practice more and more. Being in the yoga studio, on my
mat, was absolutely my happiest of happy places, where I felt like I truly belonged. As I
focused on the simplicity of breathing, I became clearer about what mattered to me,
about how I wanted to spend my time and energy. Ultimately, I became clearer about
who I am.

I stayed at this job for less than six months, and when I left, I gave absolutely no notice (a
two weeks heads-up is customary, of course). In hindsight, this abrupt departure had
been building over time. I was frequently usurped of due credit on various projects by my
more experienced colleague, who was much more skilled at playing the corporate game
than I was. As a result, when it came time for our reviews, I was given no bonus, and an
insignificant raise, while my colleague’s salary, which was already more than double my
own, was taken into six digits. I found this very difficult to stomach. The final straw

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happened shortly afterwards.

It was January, and it happened to be the week of my birthday. I was having a party on
Friday, but early in the week, I caught a cold, and by mid-week, I had lost my voice. I was
not feeling very well at all, so I called in sick on Thursday, saying I would work from home.
I had invited my colleague to the party, as we were sort of frenemies after all, but I
hadn’t mentioned the party to the bosses. It wasn’t that I had anything to hide. It was just
that they were a bit older than us, married with children. I hardly thought they would care
about my 24th birthday.

Obviously my colleague had said something to them in my absence, because one of my
bosses sent me a sarcastic message in an e-mail. In it, he accused me of taking the day
off for the party (which didn’t actually make sense, because had that been my intention,
wouldn’t I have taken the actual day of the party off?), even though I had been in the
office all week up until that point, and everyone had seen that I had been sick. The tone
of the e-mail was disrespectful, self-righteous, and simply out of order. It was so out of
order that it instantly empowered me to make the best career decision I’ve ever made.

First thing on Friday morning, before the others would arrive, I went to the office with a
typed letter in hand. All the letter said was:

“Please accept this as my immediate resignation. Thank you, Leah.”

I packed up my desk, left my keys, and skipped out of there without so much as a
backwards glance.

I had no plan. I didn’t even have an idea of what I wanted to do next. All I knew was that I
had enough money saved up to pay rent and expenses for the next 3 months, it was my
birthday, and everything – in all its uncertainty – just felt right.

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From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... Yoga As Career


Yoga As Career

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From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... Yoga As Career

The Basics

“Yoga” is a positively enormous topic that is impossible to cover in depth in this book, let
alone in one chapter. It’s also important to remember that I as an individual yoga
practitioner and teacher have a necessarily subjective understanding of and viewpoint on
what yoga is to me, and this is what I’d love to share with you here. [For further
information on the general topic of yoga, please consult the References Section at the
end of the book.]

There are differing viewpoints on how old yoga actually is, but most yogis would probably
agree that it’s been around for several thousand years. Some of the oldest known yogic
teachings appear in the Vedas, which are an ancient Indian body of texts that serve as
the basis of Hinduism and are composed in an archaic form of Sanskrit. Sanskrit is the
language of yoga. “Yoga” means “to yoke.” The Sanskrit root “yuj” means “to join” or “to
unite.” Yoga philosophy is rooted in both Hinduism and Buddhism, both of which stress
the importance of meditation and the practice of physical postures. The other main
classical texts of yoga are the Upanishads, the Bhagavad-Gita, and the Yoga Sutras,
where Patanjali delineates the Eight Limbs of Yoga.

These Eight Limbs offer various guidelines to yoga, the practice of which ultimately leads
to a state of bliss and oneness. The physical practice of yoga asanas is one of these
limbs. The original meaning of “asana” is “to sit still,” but today it is understood to refer to

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From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... Yoga As Career

the physical postures of yoga. Perhaps most accurately, “asana” means “postures
practiced with ease.” Asanas together with breathing techniques (pranayama) comprise
the category of Hatha Yoga.

Like most people in the Western world, I was first interested in yoga for its proclaimed
physical benefits. I’d heard and read that it was a good workout, and I admired all the
photos of super-fit yogis in impressive poses. I’d always been interested in different types
of exercise, from being 12 years old and doing my mom’s Cindy Crawford’s “Shape Your
Body” VHS tape at home to waiting in a long line of fellow UCLA students at our school’s
gym for Billy Blanks’ Tae Bo classes. I even asked my parents for a treadmill for
Christmas one year (and they got one for me!). So it was only natural that I would find my
way to a yoga class.

Yoga’s health benefits are seemingly endless. At the outermost level, a regular yoga
practice will help you lose excess weight, tone your body, strengthen your core, and of
course become more flexible over time. You’ll look and feel great, and let’s be honest –
who doesn’t love those benefits!

Yoga improves balance (physical, mental, and emotional), reduces stress and anxiety,
reduces pain in the body, detoxifies internal organs, aids the digestive process, increases
energy level, decreases fatigue, helps make the body more resilient to injury, and
reduces high blood pressure. This list could probably go on and on.

When I first became a serious practitioner, I was at my heaviest weight ever. This was
because after college, all I did was go to work, which as we’ve already established,
basically consisted of sitting in a cubicle all day long. I then went home and typically
ordered take-out because I was so tired and drained from work. It wasn’t a very healthy

By establishing a regular yoga practice, my body essentially became lighter. The
interesting thing about this that was very different from my experience with other forms
of exercise was how effortlessly the physical changes seemed to come about. Even
though the classes I was taking were quite dynamic and physically challenging, because
the teachers made the physical aspect so secondary, it didn’t feel like I was trying to
achieve any sort of physical goal. I was much more encouraged to do less and take it
easy than to push myself. The intention was completely different from doing that Cindy
Crawford exercise tape or various forms of cardio workouts.

I actually didn’t even really notice how much my body was changing at first. What I did
notice – and this is what I most appreciate about yoga – was how much better I felt, how

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much lighter I felt inside. With every class, I felt purged. I imagined it to be what going to
therapy might be like. I also noticed that I wanted to be a kinder, calmer, and more
patient person. I’ve never known any other form of exercise to have that effect.

At its purest, the physical practice of yoga is a moving meditation. To me, meditation at
its simplest means to be aware of and fully engrossed in the present moment. So the
practice of yoga is about the individual becoming unified within – in body, mind, and spirit
– as well as unified with the present moment. It is about yoking what you are physically
doing with your state of mind and state of being, as well as with conscious breathing, all
right here and right now. Through this process, you can’t help but purge negative
thoughts, false ideas, self-judgment, and criticism. There simply isn’t room for all that
when you’re practicing a pose and concentrating on what the feet, hands, spine, core,
eyes, breath, and mind are all doing. And so you shed layers of untruths, and get closer
to your own essence, which ultimately, if predictably, is really just love.

Reading through those ancient texts, you’ll learn about samadhi (blissful state of oneness
with the divine), siddhis (supernatural powers), moksha (liberation), enlightenment, higher
consciousness, spiritual mastery of the mind, the ability to sit still endlessly or to make
one breath last several hours, even levitation. I’m pretty sure that I’m pretty far from
levitation. And I can honestly say that it doesn’t matter to me at all whether I ever obtain
any of those supposed markers of a master yogi. For me, my yoga practice is where I

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From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... Yoga As Career

truly started to get to know and like myself. It’s where I became happier, more confident,
and more connected to and at peace with myself. It feels good to feel this way. And that
is why I practice.

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From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... Yoga As Career

Getting Started

In Santa Monica-Los Angeles, they say that now there are as many aspiring yoga
teachers as there are aspiring actors. I’m not sure how accurate that statement is, but in
recent years, there’s certainly been an influx of new yoga teachers not just in Southern
California, but globally. This makes it a pretty competitive marketplace, and the question
then is, how can you make yourself stand out?

The yoga career path is a unique one, different from becoming a teacher at a school or a
trainer at a gym. Unlike those career paths, there are fewer definitive credentials and
mandatory guidelines for becoming a yoga teacher. It’s more like being a professional
artist. Sure, you need basic technical training, but what will separate you from others is
your personal interpretation, perspective, expression, and communication. The technical
information must be balanced by your inspired and impassioned creativity and authentic
voice. I think that’s what will separate the yoga teacher who just teaches classes from the
yoga teacher who creates an abundant yoga career.

The first official step to turning your yoga practice into your professional career is to
attend a Teacher Training, which is where you will receive a Teacher Training Certificate.
But before your first Teacher Training (and you’ll more than likely do several throughout
your yogi-lifetime), I think it’s pretty important to have a good grasp on your practice.
What that means to you will be very personal, but I can tell you that my teacher Ally
taught me that it doesn’t mean you have to be able to stick your ankle behind your head,
balance on one hand, or as mentioned before, levitate. This was something I had a hard
time wrapping my head around at first. I think it was a combination of self-doubt, setting
impossible expectations, and fear.

In early 2005, I was spending a lot of time with Ally, who mentored me from the
beginning and still continues to be my greatest teacher. She has always been supportive
of and confident in me, often more so than I was in myself.

“You’re so ready to do a Teacher Training,” she told me one day over iced teas on 2nd
Street in Santa Monica.

“But I can’t do a handstand in the middle of the room yet.”

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From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... Yoga As Career

Laughing good-heartedly at me, she said, “You know teaching has nothing to do with that.
You have a great practice but more importantly you’re living this stuff, and you get it.
You’re totally ready.”

So while you don’t have to be able to flawlessly do every yoga pose out there (which is an
impossible feat for most of us anyway, and honestly missing the point), it would be worth
your while to have a clear understanding of most of the poses you practice in your
particular style. This of course will depend on what your personal practice is. For me as a
Flow practitioner, it meant knowing Sun Salutations including the Vinyasa of Plank, Low
Plank, Cobra, Upward Facing Dog, and Downward Facing Dog, Warriors, Triangle, Tree,
Side Plank, Pigeons, and Bridge, to name a few poses. It meant knowing Ujjayi breath and
the importance of Savasana. It meant practicing six days a week and having a regular
teacher. Not that I had to be able to “do” all of that “perfectly,” but that I had a practice –
my practice – and that I had a basic understanding of the physical aspects as well as my
own inner experience of these foundational parts of the practice. And it just makes good
sense to already know what the poses are called prior to starting your Teacher Training,
so you’re not spending valuable time at the training fumbling around with definitions.

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From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... Yoga As Career

I also did my own reading before my first Teacher Training. With the help of Ally and
Google, I decided to read texts such as the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, the Bhagavad-Gita, the
Yoga Sutras, and Yoga and the Quest for the True Self. I treated it like being in school,
but it was better than any subject I’d ever studied before because I was so inspired by
what I was learning. I still have those first books with all my notes written in the margins.

My first official Teacher Training was with Erich Schiffmann at Sacred Movement in
December 2005. I was the youngest trainee, and it was one of the most magical times of
my life. From morning to night, my only responsibility was yoga. I unrolled my mat and
used it to do my physical practice, to sit back and listen to Erich’s mind-opening lectures
and stories, and to lie on my belly whilst diligently taking notes. I was surrounded by like-
minded yogis and yoginis who felt warm, fuzzy, and peaceful to be around. It was the first
time that I got to experience how life might be if I really did become a full-time yoga
teacher. It felt so good, so exciting, and just so right. Being in that first Teacher Training
cemented my intention and motivation to continue on this path.

Erich was an enormous part of all this magic. When I reflect upon being in his training,
what I remember most is just his presence. His purity. His embodiment of yoga. This
inspired me. It helped me start to be able to mentally articulate the connection between
this physical-seeming practice and what I was feeling within. I know without a doubt that
this was the perfect training for me. And it is so important that you find the perfect
training for you. Ally had suggested that I try Erich’s classes to complement the practices
I was doing with her as their teaching styles are very different. After just a couple of
Erich’s classes, I knew – I felt – that his would be the right Teacher Training for me. Forget
selecting a training based on how many hours or points you will get, or how famous the
school or teacher is, or any of those details. Feel for what feels most right for you.

After completing the training, I received my first official Teacher Training Certificate from
Sacred Movement, which technically meant that I had Erich’s and the studio’s approval to
teach my own classes. I also went one step further and enrolled in the Yoga Studies
Certificate program at UC Irvine, where I took college extension classes in Buddhism,
Sanskrit, Subtle Energy, and Yoga Philosophy. I then got yoga teacher insurance (some
studios require you to have it as their own company policy won’t cover individual
teachers), and I was officially ready to teach.

Along with my certificate and insurance, I created a professional digital portfolio
consisting of: my resume, a couple good photos, a description of my class, and my
biography in long and short form and in first and third person. I also asked my teachers
and managers for personal referral letters so that I could always have these available.

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From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... Yoga As Career

Some Basic First Steps to
Becoming a Yoga Teacher

1. Establish a practice with one main teacher and take their class often.

2. Have a good grasp on your practice.

3. Read.

4. Attend and complete a Teacher Training with a teacher who really inspires you.

5. Get yoga teacher insurance.

6. Put together your resume, and keep updating it.

7. Ask your teacher(s) and managers for reference letters as a personal touch.

8. Have some photos taken, both headshots and full body pose shots.

9. Write a detailed bio and a shorter bio, and have both available in 1st person and 3rd

10. Write a thoughtful class description that explains your style of teaching. Speak from
the heart.

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From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... Yoga As Career

Beyond Teacher Training: DOs and


…continue taking classes, workshops, and trainings. You’ll always learn something,
even if it’s what not to do.

…practice on your own at home. It will spark your creativity when it comes to
sequencing, pose variations, and articulating the experience of yoga in your own

…have your own foundational sequence that you know inside and out. You’ll need it
for auditions and for days you’re not as switched on.

…practice teaching your loved ones and get their feedback.

…recognize and minimize your use of “um” and “uh” and “oops, sorry, I meant . . .”

…become comfortable with some degree of silence when you’re teaching, just like
when you’re sitting with someone you are very close with and not every moment has
to be filled with chatter.

…make eye contact with your students.

…err on the side of caution when teaching an advanced pose or working with an injury
(be it your own or your student’s). If there’s any doubt, skip it. Remember the practice
is meant to be healing.

…learn how to teach mixed levels. Be able to offer easier modifications as well as
advanced variations.

…check in with your teachers. They want to support you.

…practice, practice, practice. You need to keep your own cup full in order to keep

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From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... Yoga As Career

Photo Credit: Nike


…get bogged down by someone else’s standards or guidelines. Teaching yoga is your
art form.

…regurgitate the sayings of another teacher without citing them.

…robotically go through the motions of a generic set sequence. Channel the flow!

…worry when you mix up your left and your right; some of the world’s best teachers
do that too.

…try to say everything you know about a pose when teaching that pose.

…try to say everything you know about yoga in one class.

…get too caught up in how many people are or are not in class. This will distract you

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From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... Yoga As Career

from your teaching.

…rush into class if you’re late. Always arrive with grace and calm.

…take on too much. Avoid yoga teacher burnout.

…compare yourself to other teachers. They’re on their own paths.

…expect yourself to be perfect. It’s impossible.


Making eye contact with your students can be unnerving. There are a bunch of them, but
there’s only one of you. I wouldn’t say I’m particularly shy, but I’m certainly not super
comfortable in front of a lot of people. When I first started teaching, I would look out at
everyone, but rather than making direct eye contact, I would sort of look at the spaces
around or behind them. Seane Corn talks about how she used to walk into her class
exactly on time, and as she walked in from the back of the room, would say, “Alright,
everyone, come into Downward Facing Dog!” This way by the time she got to the front of
the room, everyone would be upside down and facing the other direction. I felt relieved
knowing that even she had to overcome some nerves.

Erich Schiffmann says he is still nervous when he teaches today. To me, he exudes
absolute calm and peace. If you ever practice with him, you will probably notice that he
sits at the front of the room, with his eyes open, looking out at everyone. Wordless. He
sets up his space: his recorder (he records all his classes, which is another good tip for
you to consider), his singing bowl, his clock, his towel, and his water bottle. He gets
settled. Grounded. Sometimes several minutes go by. I’m not exactly sure what his
internal process is, but I think he’s simply waiting for the moment when it feels right to
begin. Without rushing. Without presenting a perfectly scripted beginning. Anytime I’m
feeling nervous or otherwise uncertain, I do my best to channel Erich.

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From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... Yoga As Career
From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... Yoga As Career

Living As A Yoga Instructor

The short answer to whether or not you can support yourself just on teaching yoga is:
yes. Because of yoga’s ever-growing popularity, there is a pretty consistent demand for
yoga teachers. If you keep your eyes, ears, and mind patiently open, you’ll get enough
work over time.

I started teaching in Santa Monica, which is known as the mecca for yoga in our modern
day. Supposedly there is more hatha yoga happening there than in India, which of course
is yoga’s birthplace, meaning Santa Monica has more studios and classes than anywhere
else in the world. On the one hand, this is great for a burgeoning teacher because there’s
a lot of potential; on the other hand, there’s also going to be a fair amount of

Before quitting your day job, do some due diligence on how your particular yoga
community runs. Talk to all kinds of teachers about their particular experience, those
teaching full-time to those teaching part-time, established teachers versus newer ones.
Research all the studios and gyms in your area, as well as other venues where there
might be classes, such as recreation centers. Figure out if you’d be employed full-time at
one location or if you’d be a self-employed freelancer. I’ve done both.

When I first started teaching, I got on as many Cover Lists as I could. Rather than
randomly reaching out to gyms and studios, I was introduced by my teacher Ally, a
seasoned and established teacher. I’m certain that having Ally recommend me made the
gym and studio managers more open to meeting and auditioning me. Any time I was
asked to cover, regardless of time, location, pay or any other convenience factor, so long
as I was available, I said yes. I even got a BlackBerry (this was pre-iPhone days, though I
am still a BlackBerry girl) so I would see when someone would send out a mass e-mail
looking for last-minute cover, and I could reply as quickly as possible. And then when new
class timeslots came up as timetables were refreshed, because I’d been so diligent and
committed to covering classes, these managers were more likely to think of me and offer
me my own classes. In less than two months, I had built my own full-time teaching
schedule of 25 classes per week.

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From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... Yoga As Career
From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... Yoga As Career

Photo Credit: David RE Photography

As a yoga teacher, you can definitely support yourself with 25 weekly classes. The pay
rate will depend on what you are teaching where. Generally speaking from my
experience, gyms tend to pay a flat hourly rate, studios pay an hourly rate plus a
commission per student, and one-on-one lessons pay the highest hourly rate. Of course
there are many variables within that framework. A lower-end gym will likely pay less than
a higher-end gym. A brand new teacher will receive a lower rate than an experienced
one. Figure out what the standard is where you live, and know your worth. At first you will
probably want to take any teaching opportunity for any amount of pay. This is fine in the
beginning as you’re getting more experience; we all pay our dues. Eventually, be
confident and fearless in asking for what you know you deserve.

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From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... Yoga As Career
From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... Yoga As Career

A Few Tips on Earning that Extra

Offer package deals to private clients. Have a set one-off rate as well as a discounted
package rate. This is great for both you and the client. You’ll be able to serve them
better with a long term arrangement, and everyone loves a discount!

Organize your own group classes with little to no overhead costs (such as offering a
yoga class every Saturday morning on the beach). You can work out a fee structure
that is mutually beneficial to the students and to yourself. Even just charging $5-10
USD (which is definitely a bargain price for a yoga class in most major cities), you can
earn a healthy amount. You can do package deals here too. Just make sure to check if
you need a work permit when teaching in public areas.

Diversify your teaching portfolio. You want to get your name out in as many yoga and
yoga-related communities as possible. This obviously includes studios, but don’t
discount gyms as there can oftentimes be a very strong yoga community at gyms,
even though sometimes a yoga class at a gym can be viewed as hierarchically
beneath a yoga class at a studio. You gotta be open-minded. Teach at gyms, different
types of studios, and even schools (I went back and taught at UCLA); find some private
clients and initiate your own class that you manage and therefore profit from

Be patient as your classes begin to grow. It’s common for a new class to take up to a
year to really build consistency. Know that there’s always a transition period if you’re
taking the class over from another teacher. It’s very likely that not everyone is going
to love your class. It’s okay. Those people will leave, making space for new people who
will love your class. And then it will take time for students to make your class part of
their regular schedule. Eventually you’ll all be in the flow together. But there will
probably be some bumps along the way.

I vividly remember one of my first classes where I had my first experience of having
regular students. It felt so great, so validating. Week after week, the numbers would
grow. The class filled to the brim, and people would arrive early so that they could secure

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From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... Yoga As Career

a space. And then one evening, there were just 11 people in class. I remember counting –
only 11? I felt so dejected. I waited a couple minutes before starting, wondering if
perhaps there had been a traffic jam on Olympic Boulevard, which could totally have
been possible as it was rush hour. But no one else showed up, and as I started teaching,
all I could see were the empty spaces.

My mind started racing:

“What did I do last week that everyone hated?”

“Did I get the name of a pose wrong?”

“Did I try too hard and annoy everyone?”

“Why do I suck so much?”

“I shouldn’t be teaching yoga.”

Oh, that self-doubting voice was working overtime, all the while taking my focus away
from the 11 beautiful people who were there with me, in that moment. You know when
you look at those optical illusions, and depending on how you focus your eyes, you either
see a beautiful princess or the gnarled profile of a witch? Partway through the class, I had
that experience. My perception flickered from those empty spaces to the yogis who were
actually present. And I realized I wanted to give my energy to them, not to phantom
spaces that represented people who happened to not be there that day for reasons that I
could not possibly know.

It’s important to not get bogged down by logistical details and count heads and constantly
do the math to figure out exactly how much you will make from each class. Have a good
idea of what your basic weekly earnings are, but don’t obsess. With classes that pay a
per-person commission, I personally choose to ignore the commission. So at the end of
the month, it ends up being a bit of a financial buffer, rather than something I depend on.

Ultimately, we teach to teach, whether to a handful or hundreds of people. It has to come
from your heart. I think that has to be the driving force to teach, or to do whatever job
you decide to do. My dad said to me years ago, “Follow your heart, and the money will
come.” It’s similar to a popular new age philosophy: “When your intentions are pure, the
Universe delivers.”

At the same time, of course it’s important to be realistic. We have to pay our bills and put
food on our plates. If packing your schedule with yoga classes isn’t making ends meet
(yet), it makes sense to find other work for some financial padding. When I first quit my

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From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... Yoga As Career
From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... Yoga As Career

full-time finance job, I started working part-time at my yoga studio – Bryan Kest’s Santa
Monica Power Yoga – and in a nearby retail shop. The part-time yoga studio job evolved
from the fact that I was always at the studio anyway, taking class and wanting to help out
and to just be there as much as possible. I started as a volunteer, sweeping the floor,
dusting, taking out the trash, and folding clothes in the studio’s store. Then a paid front
desk position came up which I applied for and got, and I eventually became the studio
manager and Bryan’s assistant. The other part-time job was low stress, close to the
studio, and really just a source of extra income. As I started teaching my own classes, I
started tipping the job scales. I cut hours from the retail job before eventually leaving,
and then did the same thing with the studio job.

I would recommend setting up a similar situation when you first start teaching, as it will
likely take some time before you have enough of your own classes to feel financially
stable. It makes sense to work within the yoga community, because you can then be privy
to information as it happens, such as a new time slot opening up. You’ll also get a behind
the scenes education on how the yoga business operates. It can also make sense to do
something else completely unrelated, so long as it doesn’t stress or burn you out. You
need the best of your energy for teaching!

Practical tips: Getting started as a professional yogi

Research your local yoga community.

Get referred by an established teacher (that you know personally, of course) when
submitting your resume to gyms and studios so you stand out amongst other

Start by teaching at gyms.

Get on as many Cover Lists as possible, and be totally available to cover classes
whether the timing isn’t ideal or the class is far away. Say YES.

Diversify your teaching portfolio. Studios, gyms, community centers, schools, private
clients, etc. You’ll become more visible, and get more experience.

Be confident when negotiating pay rates.

Be entrepreneurial and start your own class.

Immerse yourself in the environment you most desire teaching in, ie your favorite
studio, even if it’s in a non-teaching role.

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From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... Yoga As Career
From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... Yoga As Career

Be okay with having non-yoga part-time jobs if you need the extra income. Even yogis
need to be grounded in the real world.

Be patient.


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From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... What Next?
From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... What Next?


What Next?

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From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... What Next?
From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... What Next?

Keeping It Up

Once you’ve reached a comfortable place where you officially consider yourself a full-
time yoga teacher, you can start to personalize and create your own career path. One of
the coolest aspects of the job is that we aren’t confined to one space for an entire day. I
don’t know any yoga teacher that sits in one studio from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. churning out
classes. (I actually can’t decide if that sounds awesome or mundane . . .) This means
you’re going to have pockets of time throughout the day. Some of the time you’ll
probably be commuting from one class to the next. Some of the time you’ll probably
want to do your own practice. But what about the rest of the time?

I’ve always looked at my career as owning my own business and brand. As such, even
when I’m off the mat, I’m often still working. This includes everything from brainstorming
to answering e-mails to creating new connections to putting good vibes out there and
setting intentions. How you direct all this energy and for what purpose is the exciting part
– it’s totally up to you.

First, you have to figure out what is most important and exciting to you, and clearly set
that as an intention, just like you might set your intention at the beginning of your yoga
practice. Some people know right away how they visualize their career path unfolding. If
you’re not sure, you can start by posing questions like these to yourself:

Who is a teacher with a career path I’d most like to emulate? What steps did they take
to get where they are today?

What is my favorite thing about the practice of yoga? How can that inspire my
decisions and my career direction?

In five years, what new or different teaching experience will I hope to have manifested
and achieved? In ten years?

What are my life priorities and passions, and how can I ensure that my teaching
career ultimately supports who I am as a person?

Second, get your intentions and hopes and dreams down in solid form. I like writing Life
To Do Lists on index cards, with little tick boxes that I get to happily tick upon completion.

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From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... What Next?

I also have a digital list on my BlackBerry that I add to the moment something comes up,
no matter where I am. Some people create collages or dream journals. However you
want to do it is fine, but make something tangible. It’s a very practical application of the
idea that thoughts become things.

Be bold in this thought process. No holds barred. You can keep it totally private so there’s
no need to worry about what anyone else might think of it. You can also edit it as time
passes, as intentions change. But dream big, bigger than you can figure out logistically in
this moment. From my experience, it works.

Through the years, I’ve written down a lot of big hopes for the future. A lot of the time, I
felt silly and sheepish, and said to myself, “How on Earth is that ever going to happen?”
But I put it out there anyway.

Here are a few of my personal and career Life To Do’s over the years:


I want to live somewhere amazing, like London, with the love of my life.

I sometimes fantasize about being a writer.

I hope to teach my own yoga class sometime in the not so distant future.


Travel the world teaching yoga.

Write a book(s).


Publish articles.

Become an ambassador.


Multiple sources of income: teach, model, write.

I am continually amazed by how things really do manifest, sometimes right down to the
very detail. I could never have known back in 2002 that I would meet an Englishman who
would whisk me off to London and whom I would marry. I laughed at the generality of my
wish to travel the world teaching yoga. At the time I could not possibly fathom that I
would become involved with Nike, and that it would open up the doors of the world for

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From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... What Next?
From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... What Next?

me. (It’s ultimately also how I met my husband, by the way!)

Photo Credit: David RE Photography

The key is, you don’t have to have the answers or game plan right away, or even ever.
The most important thing is to know what you want, and to stay open to opportunities. Be
patient and persevere, without grasping or forcing. It’s not all that different from working
your way into a new or challenging yoga pose.

That said, think practically about how to go about getting what you want. As in all careers,
networking is an important component, particularly in a service-based one such as
teaching. Your work depends on people, as well as your ability to forge and sustain
relationships with those people. You need people to know who you are and what you’re
all about. How are you going to present yourself to the world?

As cliche as it may sound, we really do have the world at our fingertips. So access the
world. The most obvious digital mediums are Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, and your own
website. Be active and available through one or all of these mediums, and be mindful of
how you’re presenting yourself. Let people get to know who you are, what is important to
you, what you think. Be yourself; people can spot a fake. And be wary of too much self-
promotion, as no one respects or appreciates arrogance. This is a fine line and you’ll
have to figure out for yourself what is right for you. You’ll attract certain kinds of people

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From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... What Next?

and experiences based on what you put out there. And rest assured: there will always be
a ripple effect; sometimes the ripples will have a very quick and obvious impact and other
times it may be more like a slow, trickling stream. Something’s always percolating
though, I’m sure of that.

For me, there is no separation between my brand as a professional yogi and who I am as
a person. When I stand up in front of a class, have a one-on-one conversation, or post
something online, it’s me. I aim to be as open and as honest as possible (while
maintaining a degree of privacy when it comes to personal things because the world
doesn’t need to hear my every last rambling!). I talk about what’s important to me in the
moment or what I’m currently studying. I initiate dialogues about what I’m interested in
and curious and passionate about. This reaches out to people who are in a similar sphere,
and so a connection is made – be it in real life or in the digital ether. And in our modern
times, both real and virtual connections are important.

My relationship with yogitoes started when I was working at the studio, and my job was to
pack and ship mail orders. A few years later when I became a teacher, yogitoes asked to
profile me as one of their Brand Enthusiasts. My relationship with Jade Yoga started when
I approached their booth at a conference, simply to gush about how much I loved their
mats. I had no idea that I was talking to the CEO of the company, who would later ask me
to be in one of their ads. My relationship with Nike started with a single e-mail with the
subject line: Nike would like to meet you! (I literally thought it was SPAM at first.) They
had heard about me through one of their Elite Instructors and were interested in getting
to know me after seeing my website.

So put yourself out there, not with the expectation of gaining anything, but with the
intention of genuinely getting to know people and letting them know you. I think this is a
markedly different perspective from blasting out your resume or paying for an ad . It’s
fine if you want to do that as well, but don’t underestimate the importance of allowing
things to unfold organically. Every single experience you have had, are having, and will
have is leading you somewhere. The more you embrace and value these experiences,
the further they will take you.

To help get your wheels turning, here are some career paths you might consider to take
you beyond teaching classes at your local gym or studio:

Lead or organize events: workshops, conferences, trainings, retreats.

Assist other teachers: locally or on the road. This is a great way to travel and teach,
and to meet people and studios who may later invite YOU to teach in the future.

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From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... What Next?

Build a media presence: model, social media, blogs, online classes/tutorials, DVD.

Build your own community of projects and people you love: give your time, energy,
and support.

Become a Brand Ambassador.

Open your own studio.

Design a new product or become a distributor an existing one.

Create and brand your own style of yoga.

Yolk your personal passions within the context of yoga, ie yoga plus surfing, hiking, or

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From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... What Next?
From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... What Next?

Get Going

As varied as “yoga” is in its meaning, practice, and expression, so are all the potential
career paths for the aspiring professional yogi. There is no one road to travel by, and
even if there were, I would urge you to create your own diversions.

You probably already know this much about the physical practice: No two people are
created the same, and as such, no two people are meant to look the same in a pose. The
poses are designed to be experienced and felt from the inside out. You aren't meant to
move at the exact same cadence as your fellow yogi, you aren't meant to go as deep as
he does, you aren't meant to do everything she does. Some people will never get their
heels on the floor in Down Dog because of the way their ankle bones are structured. So
you can bet that some – most – people will never get their ankle behind their head. Your
yoga practice is not a race or a competition or a showcase of your skills. As Bryan Kest
often says in class, “I look around and see a beautiful thing. I see a bunch of people doing
the same pose differently, to their own personal degree, rather than a bunch of drones
trying to outdo one another to achieve some meaningless goal.”

It’s no different when it comes to your career. Treat it like a creative work of art, and not
a rat race. We walked out of that cubicle, remember? Watch out for negative thinking
patterns of self-doubt or that voice of comparing and contrasting. I catch myself
sometimes: “Wow, that teacher has a million times more Twitter followers than I do.” It’s
totally normal and human for these thoughts to come up; what’s important is to not feed
or buy into it.

Focus instead on creating your own path doing what you love. Set your intentions, be
ready for opportunities, and say YES. You never know where those opportunities are
going to take you.

In 2006, I took the opportunity to organize and assist on Ally’s retreat to Maui. Since then,
I myself have taught throughout Asia and Europe. Years ago, I also helped a couple
friends who were starting their own yoga clothing brands. I modeled for them in
exchange for some clothes. Now I represent Nike as their Global Yoga Ambassador and
Spokesperson, and I am featured in the Jade Yoga Mat ad campaign. I started writing as a
freelance volunteer for a free yoga publication – Namaskar Magazine - based in Hong

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From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... What Next?
From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... What Next?

Kong. And now, well, here I am with you.

So dream big. Work hard. Breathe. And enjoy yourself.

Handy Checklist on How to Stand Out and Stay Relevant

Get your name out there! Market yourself: website, photos, create your brand and
perhaps even a logo.

Say YES to any opportunity that feels right, even if it’s small and unpaid.

Practice karma yoga: offer free or donation-based classes to your community,
organize a yoga-beach clean up, help out!

Maintain beginner’s mind: continue attending trainings, study on your own.

Find your particular speciality: anatomy, philosophy, nutrition, music/Kirtan, etc.

Be yourself: let your teaching style reflect who you are.

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From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... Useful References for Career...
From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... Useful References for Career...


Useful References for
Career Starters

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From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... Useful References for Career...
From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... Useful References for Career...

Yoga and Life Reading

The Yoga Classics

Asana Pranayam Mudra Bandha


Hatha Yoga Pradipika

Yoga Sutras of Patanjali


Leah’s Personal Favorites

YinSights: A Journey into the Philosophy & Practice of Yin Yoga by Bernie Clark

a resource to balance a Yang understanding of yoga

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

an allegorical novel on finding your destiny

Yoga and the Quest for the True Self by Stephen Cope

a modern-day look at yoga philosophy

Bringing Yoga to Life by Donna Farhi

how to integrate yoga philosophy into real life

The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran

poems on life

Living Buddha, Living Christ by Thich Nhat Hanh

a look at the parallels between the teachings of Buddha and Jesus

Mudras by Gertrud Hirschi

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From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... Useful References for Career...

an explanation of energetic hand gestures

Eastern Body, Western Mind by Anodea Judith

a correlation of eastern energetic principles and western psychology

Yoga Anatomy by Leslie Kaminoff

a resource of foundational yoga poses with detailed illustrations

Awakening the Spine by Vanda Scaravelli

a philosophical look at yoga anatomy

Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving into Stillness by Erich Schiffmann

Erich’s personal story and a detailed asana glossary

Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki

the basics of Zen meditation

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

a guide to living in the present movement

Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu

a Chinese classic text on the art of Living


Online Resources

To connect with Leah:

Ally Hamilton :: my teacher, owner of Yogis Anonymous, online streaming yoga classes

Erich Schiffmann :: my teacher, author of Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving into

Bryan Kest :: my teacher, owner of Santa Monica Power Yoga

Seane Corn :: my teacher, yogini activist of Off the Mat

Rudy Mettia :: my teacher, yoga warrior

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From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... Useful References for Career...
From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... Useful References for Career...

Global Yoga Ambassador for Nike :: Nike Training Club App, yoga especially for athletes

Ambassador for Jade Yoga :: my favorite mat; eco-friendly, cushy, & sticky

Brand Ambassador for Vita Coco :: 100% pure coconut water

Enthusiast for yogitoes :: original SKIDLESS® yoga towel

Eckhart Tolle :: author and spiritual teacher

On Being :: spiritual media space

Elephant Journal :: a blog on the mindful life

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From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... Useful References for Career...
From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... Useful References for Career...

Basic Yoga Terminology

Categories of Yoga

Bhakti Yoga: Devotional Yoga is rooted in Hinduism, and its main practices include
prayer, chanting, and seated meditation.

Jnana Yoga: The Yoga of Knowledge is primarily an intellectual practice.

Karma Yoga: The Yoga of Selfless Action is the practice of serving others.

Raja Yoga: Royal Yoga is focused on the cultivation of the mind and encompasses
Patanjali’s Eight Limbs of Yoga (which is also known as Ashtanga Yoga, not to be
confused with Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga), which then encompasses Hatha Yoga.

Hatha Yoga: The physical practice of yoga, which includes asana and breathing


Styles of Hatha Yoga

Ashtanga Vinyasa: Usually simply called Ashtanga, this is a regimented and rigorous
flow practice that consists of set sequences which increase in level of difficulty from
one series to the next. Traditionally, Ashtanga is taught and practiced in Mysore style –
a self-practice that is supervised by the teacher. The students make their own way
through the poses, and the teacher is there to offer adjustments and answer
questions. There are also Led Ashtanga classes, which means the teacher talks the
students through the poses.

Flow / Power / Vinyasa: I personally consider these three terms to be interchangeable.
This category of practice is derived from Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga and therefore shares
many of the same characteristics. These styles, including Ashtanga, are arguably the
most dynamic and physically challenging of the different types of Hatha Yoga. The
main difference is that unlike Ashtanga, Flow, Power, and Vinyasa styles do not work
within set sequences. Rather, from one teacher to the next, the actual practice can be
quite different.

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From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... Useful References for Career...

Hot: Hot Yoga is derived from Bikram Yoga, similar to the way Vinyasa is derived from
Ashtanga. Bikram Yoga consists of a set sequence of poses and is practiced in a
heated, humid room. Rather than flowing from pose to pose such as in a Vinyasa
class, in Bikram, a pose is practiced, followed by a momentary rest, followed by the
next pose, and a rest, and so on. Hot Yoga refers to any style or sequence of yoga
that is practiced in a heated room. Sometimes it looks like the Bikram sequence, other
times it looks more like a Vinyasa class, in which case it’s often called Hot Flow.

Iyengar: Iyengar Yoga focuses primarily on alignment and the use of props. Whereas
you might do upwards of 50 different postures in a Vinyasa class, in the same amount
of time in an Iyengar class, you might only do a dozen. It is a microscopically detailed
style of yoga.

Jivamukti: The word Jivamukti is interpreted as liberation while living. Jivamukti Yoga is
a form of Vinyasa Yoga that is characterized by its ethical component. It emphasizes
veganism, environmentalism, animal rights, and political and social activism. Jivamukti
classes also always involve music and chanting.

Kundalini: Kundalini Yoga is focused on awakening the energy that sits at the base of
the spine. This “Kundalini” energy is said to be in the form of a sleeping serpent that is
“coiled up” at the base of the spine. Through various practices targeted more at the
subtle body of energy channels and chakras rather than the external physical body,
the intention is to awaken the Kundalini energy so that it uncoils and travels up the
spine to the crown.

Restorative: Restorative Yoga is focused on relaxing the body in restful – usually
seated or reclined – postures that are held for an extended period of time. It is often
taught with the support of props.

Yin: Yin Yoga is a quiet, passive practice that targets the deeper connective tissues,
ligaments, joints, bones, and fascia in order to maintain mobility in the body. It
balances out the more active muscular, ‘yang’ forms of yoga.

Yoga Therapy: Yoga Therapy adapts yoga for people with health challenges, such as
illness or other chronic conditions.

Yoga Nidra: Yoga Nidra means yogic sleep. It is a meditative practice intended to draw
you into a conscious, dreamless, deep sleep.


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From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... Useful References for Career...

My personal style of practice and teaching…

Vinyasa: The word ‘Vinyasa’ has three important interpretations. Firstly, the most
commonly understood definition is that Vinyasa means linking breath and movement.
This is where the concept of a dynamic flow comes from. Secondly, Vinyasa can also
refer to a specific set of poses that are often done repeatedly. A well-known Vinyasa is
going from Downward Facing Dog to Plank to Chattarunga to Upward Facing Dog and
back to Downward Facing Dog. That Vinyasa is always practiced with conscious,
flowing breath, which ties back to the first definition. Thirdly, based on its Sanskirt
roots, Vinyasa means to place in a special way. Literally, nyasa means ‘to place’ and vi
means ‘in a special way.’ When considering this interpretation, the idea and
philosophy of Vinyasa opens itself up to dive much deeper than its physical aspects.

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Hyperink 43
From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... About The Author
From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... About The Author

About The Author

Leah Kim
Leah Kim graduated from UCLA with a degree in Economics, but it wasn’t
long before she realized her life would be much better spent on the mat
than in a cubicle. With the guidance of her first mentor Ally Hamilton, she
has devoted her life to yoga, and has had the privilege of regularly practicing with many
internationally recognized teachers while living for nearly a decade in the modern-day
yoga mecca of Santa Monica.

Since the spring of 2009, Leah has been Nike’s Global Yoga Ambassador. She travels on
behalf of Nike’s yoga program as their spokesperson and head trainer. She leads Nike
Training Club Yoga events, designs yoga programs for Nike, and is featured in Nike media
publications. She is currently based in London.

Cover photo credit: David RE Photography

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From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... About The Author
From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... About The Author

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From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... Other Awesome Books
From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... Other Awesome Books

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From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... Other Awesome Books
From Office Hell to Yoga Heaven:... Other Awesome Books

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