Paulina’s Thoughts on Half Moon: “I love half moon! I love how open it is, and I love how the pose can be modified or varied in so many different ways. Half moon feels different in every class, depending on my strength, focus, or balance that day — it’s a great way to check in with my body.”
Paulina started doing yoga back when she was in high school where it was a gym class option. “I was a non-athletic and uncoordinated child — to this day, I flinch if someone throws me a ball — but was fortunate yoga was offered,” Paulina said. As a serious violinist, she wanted a practice that would ground her, improve her posture, and remind her to focus on her breath. As a delightful side-benefit, she realized yoga helped her sanity and was a solid stress-reliever. In the ten years that followed, Paulina kept up with the practice off and on until about two and a half years ago when she discovered O2’s Cambridge studio. “I tried other yoga studios but felt like just another anonymous face dropping into a class. When I came to my first Power class with Mimi, though, I was blown away by how she remembered everyone’s name — even mine! — and how complicated and creative the sequences were,” Paulina said, adding, “O2-style yoga helps me keep a ‘beginner’s mind’ and I love the emphasis on strength and an alignment-based practice.”
It didn’t take Paulina long to decide to take the leap and do Mimi’s 200-Hour Teacher Training in the fall of 2015. Even though Astanga was very new to her, it made sense and drew her in, making the practice near and dear to her right out of the gate. “Once in the teacher training, I was hooked. I found planning classes to be so fun and challenging, and I loved the O2 community of practice and wanted more of it!” Paulina said. Her “day job” as an educator had prepped her for the joy of what she calls “hard fun” — as challenging as it is joyful. Or joyful because it’s challenging. Either way, the payoff for the work is that the student earns that satisfying feeling of accomplishment. When she’s not at the studio these days, she’s still working in education, now as a PhD student at Harvard where her focus is on computer science education, creativity and constructionism with the ultimate goal to establish a student-centered learning environment that is fun, playful, and challenging — sounds like the goal of each and every one of our O2-style classes! No wonder Paulina picked us as her yoga home base.
And it’s no wonder Paulina’s one of our most creative and fearless teachers. Her classes are designed to encourage students to find their own edge, to dig a little deeper and see what they’re capable of that day, for that practice. But there’s more to it than that — Paulina is very methodical about what she teaches and why, reflecting always on an important lesson she learned from Mimi. “Whenever I have a crazy idea for class, Mimi would say, ‘Why do you want to do that?’ She has always pushed me to be creative but also thoughtful in how I sequence and structure a class. When I plan a class now or when I do other things, I can hear Mimi in my head asking me, ‘But why?’ It’s always a good way to stop and reflect on my actions,” she said.
Paulina, your capacity for creative thought and your earnest study to challenge yourself as a teacher and a student is a great inspiration to us all. Hard work and dedication pays off — thank you for being a great example of someone who is always ready to take a leap and try something new and also reflect on how “the experiment” went with the goal always to keep getting better and better. It’s truly a joy to be part of your journey as a teacher and a student.
What’s your favorite pose to teach?
“Upavishta A & B, with some core work and leg taps in between! So fun, so hard, and usually there’s some laughter involved.”
What’s your favorite pose to do?
“Transitions involving koundinyasana – even though they are challenging and don’t always work out, I love trying them.”
What’s your “dream pose”?
“Tittibasana/any of the straight arm balances. I don’t think I’ve quite figured out that balance yet!”
Do you play music in class?
“I don’t — I found that, as a musician, the pace of my cues will change with the tempo of a song, and that proved to be too complicated and distracting for me as a teacher. In an ideal world I would craft an different perfectly choreographed playlist for every class, though…”
Any fun facts?
“I just started taking aerial classes (silks, trapeze, and hoop), which has been a fun and new way to challenge myself, and a different way to get upside down.”
Anything else about your teaching you’d like to share?
“I love requests! As a student, don’t hesitate to ask me to teach something you want to practice.”
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Originally posted on June 15, 2017. View it on O2 Yoga's website here.