Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Getting to Know You: Sarah Rose

We are so excited to have added five brand new teachers to our regular schedule this spring, so we wanted to take a moment to introduce you to each of them.
Today, we’d like you to meet Sarah Rose, the third and final member of #TeamSarah on our teaching staff — and also the final one of our brand-new-five for us to introduce to you.  Herein referred to simply as Sarah, she found her way to O2 back in 2008 (same as Cambridge manager Sarah Wolf!) when she decided to check out the yoga studio down the street from her Somerville apartment.  Before rolling out her mat for the first time, she had a long daydream-like interest in yoga, learning a few poses casually from the internet but without escalating that curiosity to finding an actual studio.  “I heard about yoga from my parents and relatives, who would remark on how the West ‘stole it from us,’ but they never actually practiced themselves,” Sarah said. The game-changer came in the form of a class on positive  psychology she took at Harvard which dealt with forming new habits to create new neural pathways in the brain (“In other words, jump-starting change at the cellular level,” Sarah explained) and that’s what motivated her to do something about her lingering interest in giving yoga a try.
Many years later, she decided to put some action to this notion she’d been nurturing in the back of her mind about pursuing a 200-Hour Teacher Training.  She had a close friend (shout out to Vanessa!) who’d completed Mimi’s TT program in 2013 and couldn’t recommend it enough. “After achieving Reiki Mastership in late 2016, I decided to take the plunge,” Sarah said.  She set her sights on 2018, but with the help of a generous gift from her mother was able to enroll in 2017’s program. “I am endlessly grateful. I feel privileged to have been born into such a wonderful and supportive family,” she said.
Sarah’s intention with doing the training was to go on to become a yoga teacher.  “I had already begun offering my service as a Reiki practitioner to the local community via 1:1 sessions and healing circles.  Yoga and Reiki seem to complement one another well as healing modalities, and both have been such an integral part of my life and my own journey towards healing,” she said.  So it was essentially a no-brainer that she’d audition for Karma. “I wanted to step up to the challenge,” Sarah said, adding, “Teacher Training worked my brain in ways it hasn’t been utilized in years, and it was exciting to me.  Interacting with students, who were amazing and supportive, only made it all the more stimulating. After TT, I decided to go to back to school, and I’m now officially a philosophy student.” Doing Teacher Training taught Sarah many things, but most of all that she was capable and that ignited fire within her lead her back to the land of higher learning.
On her path to be a yoga teacher, Sarah has gotten some great advice, especially this nugget from Elliott: “Be compassionate — not just to others but also to yourself.  You’re still learning. Things will get easier as time progresses, and you’ll notice that your inventory of words will expand.” Now as we are in the early stages of enrolling for the TT Class of 2018, Sarah encourages those looking to evolve to take the same leap she did be part of this already great group of yogis.  “Not only will you learn new things about yoga,” she said, “you will learn new things about yourself. It is an opportunity to grow and evolve, both as a practicing yogi and mentally/spiritually as a human.”
When she’s not at the studio, Sarah is working at Harvard in the office of Technology Development while also pursuing the previously mentioned graduate certificate in Philosophy and Ethics. She’s also a Reiki Master and amateur herbalist.  “Making holistic/alternative health accessible to the community is a passion of mine,” Sarah said. She also dabbles in playing the ukulele, painting, collage-making, and creative writing.
Welcome to the team, Sarah!  We are so looking forward to watching you grow as a teacher and practitioner.  Students, you can join Sarah for 5:30pm Basics in Cambridge every Wednesday evening.  For her full teaching schedule this week, click here.

Getting to Know You: Becky Murphy


We are so excited to have added five brand new teachers to our regular schedule this spring, so we wanted to take a moment to introduce you to each of them.
Becky_tripod headstandToday, we’re getting into Becky Murphy’s backstory.  Becky took her first yoga classes in college, though without fully connecting with what the practice had to offer.  When she moved to Somerville in 2013, her roommate suggested she check out the yoga studio a block from their apartment (“Spoiler  Alert: it was O2,” Becky said), but even then, her practice remained sporadic. That all changed in 2015 when she went to one of Ann’s Power classes: “It absolutely murdered me in the best way.  I don’t think I’d ever felt that physically exhausted before,” Becky recalled. She was surprised by how peaceful she felt in savasana that night, all of the stresses and anxieties that usually pinged her brain now suddenly quiet.  “I didn’t know my head could be that still,” she said. That was enough to convince her that maybe she should stick with this yoga-thing and hope to have that same experience every time she got on her mat.
Beyond the sense of inner calm it gave her, Becky also admitted that she enjoyed the “spectator sport” of coming to class.  “I loved going to class and watching — usually with my jaw on the floor — as other students popped up into the craziest arm balances and inversions,” she said.  What that awe did was inspire her to work towards achieving those advanced poses and eventually lead her into a super-regular Astanga practice. “It was amazing finding something that was so physical but where I felt like no matter how often I went or how much progress I made, there was still room to keep polishing,” Becky said.
Eventually that drive to push her practice further and better understand her evolution as a yogi inspired her to sign up for Mimi’s 200-Hour Teacher Training program.  Well, that drive and, as she put it, “a healthy dose of peer pressure.” We do always love when our committed regulars decide to take the leap and do TT with us — we see those longtime students as our ideal TT candidates because we know they will get so much out of the experience.  Becky was certainly one of those students so we were delighted when she was our first student enrolled in the Class of 2017.
Going into the program, Becky’s goal was to deepen her capacity as a yoga student.  “I had zero interest in becoming a teacher… I was mostly interested in getting a better idea of how to practice in a way that would be safe and sustainable for my body so that I could minimize the risk of future injuries,” she said.  But when the training came to a close, she made the last minute leap to audition for the Karma program and intern as one of our new teachers. “I found cuing small sections in class to be stressful… I was also nervous that my love for practicing yoga wouldn’t necessarily translate into the ability to teach,” Becky admitted, adding, “With some very helpful nudging from friends and a bit of curiosity to see if I could rise to the challenge, I decided to give [Karma] a shot.”  She did, indeed, rise to the challenge and graduated from the Karma program to the regular schedule at the start of March 2018.
Overall, doing Teacher Training taught Becky a number of important lessons that range from understanding her body in space — “I am useless at lefts and rights,” she confessed — and also how she utilizes language when she’s nervous or trying to employ both English and Sanskrit.  “Most importantly, I found that if you just keep breathing, you can get through everything,” Becky said. And now as a new teacher, she’s gaining a whole other perspective of herself as the one standing in front of the room instead of being the one on her mat. She worried that her recent entry into being a yoga instructor might be more apparent to students who would, in turn, judge her harshly.  “So it made a huge difference when Mimi pointed out that by teaching yoga with care and compassion, you’re only going to make someone’s day better,” Becky said. That realization took the pressure off in a very freeing way.
Becky_TreePoseOnARock
So what advice does she have for you, dear yogi-contemplating-doing-teacher-training?  How about this: “There are so many reasons to enroll. If you are hoping to understand what’s going on anatomically so that you can keep everything safe and healthy, then Teacher Training is for you. If you want to know how to sequence a class to help you get deeper in your own practice, then Teacher Training is for you. If you want an excuse to eat more food at the cafĂ© and spend even more time in the studio, then Teacher Training is for you.”  Cheeky. But we like that last one. She then added, “Honestly, it can feel really overwhelming and nerve-wracking, but every time I could get through another day (or even survive on an hour by hour basis), I would feel really proud of myself. It’s tough, but it’s worth it.”
When Becky isn’t at the studio, she’s reading and baking.  “I’m such a grandma at heart,” she sighed.
Welcome to the team, Becky!  We are so looking forward to watching you grow as a teacher and practioner.  Students, you can join Becky for 6am Basics in Somerville every Tuesday morning.  For her full teaching schedule this week, click here.

Getting to Know You: Rebeccah Marsters

We are so excited to have added Rebeccah_horsefive brand new teachers to our regular schedule this spring, so we wanted to take a moment to introduce you to each of them.
Today, we’d like you to meet the marvelous Rebeccah Marsters.  Rebeccah has incorporated yoga into her fitness regime since her college years, dabbling in the occasional yoga video or class at the gym or even on her own at home, but it wasn’t her main athletic go-to.  “I used to be a pretty hard-core gym rat, doing Body Pump and Body Attack and all those terrible sounding things. I still love the gym but my body made it clear to me that if I continued in that vein I was going to burn out pretty quickly,” Rebeccah said.
Lucky for her, she discovered her neighborhood yoga studio, O2’s Somerville location.  “When I established my practice at O2 it maintained the physical elements of working out that I loved, but in a much more sustainable way,” she said, adding, “On top of that the mental practice of being present and the spiritual aspects that are part of yoga as a whole are such important tools in continuing to decrease my stress and anxiety, and improve my peace of mind and sense of contentment. There are days when I get on the mat and begin to breathe with the teacher (or students) and realize I haven’t taken a deep breath all day!”  She realized that her yoga practice offered both the physical and mental/emotional connections she craved.
Besides proximity to home, what drew Rebeccah to O2 was the strength of the teachers and their unique, challenging sequencing skills.  “I never got bored — and still haven’t. Plus to find a style of yoga that my husband would do with me was a huge win. We’ve been going to the same class together almost every week since we first started practicing,” she said.
After practicing at O2 for about two years, Rebeccah’s curiosity about Mimi’s 200-Hour Teacher Training program started to percolate.  She wondered what it might mean for her life to take this challenge on — what would the endgame be? Eventually, she decided to take the leap because she loves to learn, loves yoga and wanted the experience of combining those things.  “I knew I wanted to deepen my practice, and I’ve always been sort of an all-or-nothing person, so I figured, full-immersion yoga learning!” Rebeccah recalled. And that’s certainly what O2’s TT is — a deep dive into the nerdiest possible depths of yoga sequencing, theory, the anatomy of the body in motion, hands-on adjusting, and so much more.  Perfect for anyone who loves O2 and has a genuine curiosity about the how’s and why’s of our vinyasa style.
Like a fair amount of our TTs, Rebeccah figured she’d do the training for the love of yoga and not go on to teach.  She never thought of herself as having the patience to be a great teacher…and public speaking went against her desire not to be the center of attention, characterizing herself as more of a “behind the scenes” person.  “But part of this whole process, and my yoga/spirituality journey in general is being more open minded, so I never said ‘definitely not,'” she said.
And when Teacher Training came to a close and discussion about Karma tryouts became more centralized, it crystallized for Rebeccah that she did, indeed, want to give this iteration of the experience a chance. Or, at the very least, she listened to the inner voice asking her to take it one step at a time.  “There was never really a moment where I decided to try out for Karma. The whole process just rolled on. I continued to ask myself ‘Is it a definite no?’ And it wasn’t, so I just kept taking the next step. Being able to say ‘no’ is an important skill, don’t get me wrong. But with the exception of expending too much energy and depleting myself, which I’m getting better at with age, I usually regret the ‘no’s more than I regret the ‘why nots?’ Nothing is permanent, so why not try something on and see how it fits?” she said, convincing herself.  We here at O2 were already convinced and knew Rebeccah would be a fabulous teacher, so we were so thrilled to hear she wanted to keep going with the process. And it certainly is a process! As Rebeccah puts it, “Teaching Karma, and teaching in general, is pretty nerve wracking for me. It’s not like ‘oh I can do yoga, so I can teach yoga!’ There are so many components at play sometimes it feels like rubbing your stomach and patting your head while standing on one foot. But at the end of the day I learned that I have a lot to offer, even if I haven’t been teaching for years. I have my compassion, my energy, my voice, my acceptance of myself and my students. If I make that connection with even one student it’s worthwhile.”
Besides the empowerment — and humility — she gained through the Teacher Training process, she also realized quickly that, given the same set of tools, everyone is going to develop their own style of teaching. “And that’s ok — it’s desirable, in fact! We’re not supposed to all become Yoga Teacher Barbie. We’re supposed to figure out the specific skills and knowledge that we have in our arsenal, and how to disseminate that knowledge to our students in a way that fits in with O2’s ideology,” she said.  She’s gotten some great advice, too: “Breathe and smile! And don’t try to be a DJ. Someday I might play music during my classes, but I’m still focusing on the basics, plus I have this fear that I’d make a very zen, yoga-appropriate playlist and then some technological glitch would cause hip-hop to blare halfway through savasana.” Rebeccah—half camel
And as a great receiver of advice, Rebeccah’s a great giver of advice, too!  To anyone pondering Teacher Training, she has this to say: “If it’s not a definite no, then it’s worth doing. Yes, it’s a time and financial commitment, so be realistic about it, but no matter what the outcome is, the experience will be worth it. And practice your vegan baking for snack time.”  Definitely that last part, for sure!! Ain’t no time like snack time during Teacher Training at O2 Yoga.
When she’s not teaching or practicing, Rebeccah is taking absolutely gorgeous professional-grade food photos for social media, sweating in spin class, baking or cooking at home, continuing to explore the food and wine scene with her husband, at the Gardner museum staring at the courtyard, reading, hanging out with her stepdaughter on the weekends, or cuddling her “four legged baby,” a French bulldog named Melba Toste, while doing a crossword and sipping a martini. She loves, loves, loves to travel and has an ever-growing list of places she wants to visit…and is in full-on planning mode for a trip back to one of her favorite places on Earth, Paris!  We bet she’ll get some great food photos while she’s there… We’re already drooling.
Welcome to the team, Rebeccah!  We are so looking forward to watching you grow as a teacher and practioner.  Students, you can join Rebeccah for 7am Basics in Cambridge every Wednesday morning.  For her full teaching schedule this week, click here.

Getting to Know You: Alissa Kossar

We are so excited to have added five brand new teachers to our regular schedule this spring, so we wanted to take a moment to introduce you to each of them.
Today, meet the bright and bubbly Alissa Kossar.  Alissa had been doing yoga for about five or six years without great regularity, before her sister brought her to her favorite yoga studio, O2.  “At first I was hesitant and secretly hoping I wouldn’t like it, as I sometimes like to be Alissa_supta badha konasanacontrarian with things my sister likes, but I quickly found that was impossible,” Alissa admitted.  Thanks to what she recalls as “the warmth and skill of the teachers, the unique and challenging style, and the kind, encouraging community,” she quickly felt very at home — and became part of our family, joining our workstudy team in Cambridge and emerging as one of our favorite smiling faces in class.
So imagine our delight when Alissa casually mentioned one day that she was thinking about doing Mimi’s 200-Hour Teacher Training program.  We got pretty excited.  Our program is a very intense and practical undertaking that is ideal for students who are already very involved at the studio.  It’s a deep dive into the how’s and why’s of the O2 style, so being familiar with our classes and really loving them is a key element in getting the most out of TT.  So for a student like Alissa, we were thrilled to see she wanted to take her practice to that next level. As she puts it, “I wanted to experience my practice in multiple ways and see it through more lenses in order to deepen my personal understanding and practice of yoga in an environment of care and warmth.”  She came into the training with a dream to one day own a children and family yoga studio — a place where families could find a community to help center and ground themselves — and obtaining her 200-hour certification was a big first step towards that goal.
What surprised her, though, was how much she enjoyed creating and teaching O2-style sequences to adults.  “I realized that one of the reasons I enjoyed practicing at O2 so much is because of the way the teachers here have helped me deepen my practice within a regular class, and I hope through my teaching I’m able to connect with my students and spread that community, kindness, and feeling of accomplishment within themselves.  So I continue to teach!” she said.
As a new instructor, Alissa’s benefited from some great advice and gotten some helpful feedback, including a gentle reminder that everyone’s practice is an individualized experience — which helped her relax when she got in front of the room to teach. “I would get nervous that I would forget something and it would ruin the class, or that the students were listening and watching and maybe judging everything I said or every choice I made. But they really aren’t. People show up for themselves, just as I do when I practice. This advice helped me step outside myself a little and remove that bit of self-centeredness that made me so nervous when I taught, and I think made me a better guide to those who show up for themselves,” she said.  As long as she’s teaching a thoughtful sequence, the rest will work itself out.  This reassures her when she steps to the front of the room to start class and helps her enjoy the time spent with her students — and it’s a lesson that she can apply to life outside of teaching yoga, too.
In related fashion, Mimi also gave Alissa some advice that has made a big difference:  “She told me that if nothing else, try to give as much kindness and love as possible. There is so much dirt in the world, and one of our roles as a yoga teacher (and person, one could argue!), is to try to balance that out and bring positivity to the students that come to class, be a source of encouragement and support for them, and make sure you help set up an environment to make sure they feel better after class than they did before it. I love this simple and accessible philosophy for teaching and living, and I think it’s one of my favorite pieces of advice I’ve ever gotten!”  Setting the stage for an uplifting, empowering, and peaceful experience invites anyone entering the space to absorb those vibes and intentions and hopefully reciprocate and honor the inherent compassion therein.Alissa_vashystasana
Clearly, Alissa got a lot out of our Teacher Training program and her transition onto the regular O2 schedule.  As a fresh graduate, what advice does she have to offer anyone considering making the leap to enroll in TT? Besides, yes, it’s wonderful, go do it, Alissa has this very practical take on that decision-making process:  “Think about why they want to do it. Do you want to learn how to teach a creative and balanced yoga class? Do teacher training. Do you want to deepen your understanding of what yoga is, what it is built on, what it encompasses, and so much more? Do teacher training. Do you want to challenge yourself and take your asana practice further? Do teacher training. Do you want to yoga nerd out with other yoga nerds? Do teacher training.”  While it can seem like a nerve-wrecking, daunting undertaking, it’s a fantastic opportunity to step outside your comfort zone and see how, as the weekends of training go by, you acclimate more and more to the challenges presented in TT until they feel like the incredibly fun adventure that they are.
When Alissa isn’t at the studio, she’s working at an early childhood education center on her path to becoming a pediatric occupational therapist — just like her TT Class of 2017 cohort, Sarah Coombs — and is in the process of writing some children’s books.  She also loves communing with nature, having hiked the entire 2,000 miles of the Appalachian Trail, and is currently planning to hike Long Trail in Vermont. And, of course, she adores playtime with her cat.
Welcome to the team, Alissa!  We are so looking forward to watching you grow as a teacher and practioner.  Students, you can join Alissa for 8:30am Basics in Somerville every Friday morning.  For her full teaching schedule this week, click here.

Getting to Know You: Sarah Coombs

We are so excited to have added five brand new teachers to our regular schedule this month, so we wanted to take a moment to introduce you to each of them.  First up, we’re meeting a member of the Sarah Squad.  There are two Sarahs joining our teaching staff — Sarah Coombs and Sarah Rose — so along with Sarah Hoffman (and Cambridge manager Sarah Wolf), it may take a few moments to connect which member of #TeamSarah we’re talking about, but stick with us — each Sarah is her own unique, wonderful part of our team.
Today, we’re introducing you to Sarah Coombs (herein referred to simply as Sarah).  She started practicing with us about four years ago when a talk therapist suggested yoga as part of a stress-relief regiment.  “I was very skeptical at first but given that the O2 was at the end of my street in Somerville, I finally decided to give itSarah March Yoga (21 of 16) a try,” Sarah recalled.  “I was hooked almost immediately. I did not feel intimidated by the community at O2 — in fact I felt very welcomed — and I noticed positive changes almost immediately.  Connecting to my breath and my body did in fact help me feel calm and I also loved how I started to see myself getting stronger. I have always been somewhat accident-prone and was never particularly athletic, so seeing progress with yoga postures brought me an internal sense of accomplishment I hadn’t found elsewhere.  The first time I managed to hold crane pose for a few seconds, I felt like I had defied gravity!” Unlike her previous scattered attempts at a yoga practice over the years, Sarah had finally found her yoga-home with us at O2.
And as her practice continued to build, she started incorporating aspects of yoga into her “day job” in rehabilitation science where she works as an occupational therapist who often helps clients improve strength, balance, and motor planning.  “Last year I took a short course on using yoga in pediatrics and began using yoga poses in treatment sessions with my clients. I started running small yoga groups for 5-7-year-olds and received a lot of positive feedback from both the kids and other staff.  I realized that I wanted to delve into this further, thus prompting me to enroll in Teacher Training,” Sarah said. At first, her goal was to use her 200-Hour Teacher Training as a stepping stone to do an adaptive yoga training. But as she worked towards that first goal of earning that RYT, she was surprised to learn how much fun she has teaching O2-style vinyasa classes. “I never would have thought I would want to try out for Karma or teach at the studio, but I really like it!  I also discovered in Teacher Training that I enjoy planning sequences. I know it’s a skill that will continue to grow, but I love the opportunity to be creative and I love seeing how creative other O2 teachers are with their sequencing,” Sarah said.
Stories like Sarah’s are so great — and just one of the many paths that lead yogis to Mimi’s Teacher Training program.  Some folks know they want to teach, some have no aspirations to teach, some think they want to teach (or think they don’t) and come out of the program with a deeper understanding of their practice that will then inform them of where the training will take them next. “My advice to anyone thinking about Teacher Training is that if they are feeling nervous about it, they should take the plunge and do it.  It will be a good challenge.  The best things I’ve done in my life so far were the ones I was scared of and had to push myself to do.  I would also say that even if you don’t end up teaching, Teacher Training will definitely deepen your practice and you will grow from it,” Sarah said. And maybe, like with her experiencesarahc_duckpose, TT will reveal a whole new way to share your love and appreciation for yoga to yourself and to the many corners of your world.
Sarah’s had the added benefit of heeding a few great pieces of advice since the start of her teaching:
  1. Learn how to speak concisely.  “You really don’t have a lot of time cuing a pose and it’s important to prioritize the information you are going to convey to your students,” she said.
  2. Like with most new things, you know more than you think you know!
When she’s not here at the studio teaching or practicing, Sarah loves to spend time knitting.  “Years ago I worked at a yarn shop and I also have experience with machine knitting and weaving.  These days I’m mostly knitting baby outfits for friends, but it’s definitely another passion of mine,” she said.  And another favorite past-time? Roller skating. “With old school quad skates, not inline skates! My favorite thing in the summer is the free outdoor Donna Summer skate dance party,” she confessed.  As if we didn’t already love Sarah, that really seals the deal.
Welcome to the team, Ms. Coombs!  We are so looking forward to watching you grow as a teacher and practioner.  Students, you can join Sarah for 7am Intermediate in Cambridge every Monday morning.  For her full teaching schedule this week, click here.

Teacher Feature: All of 'Em

Greetings.  It’s me — the Wolfstar.  I spent all of February making my way to practice with each of our teachers….and for fun, doing one Primary Series and one Second Series class.  Magically, that worked out to twenty-eight classes for a twenty-eight day month.
Why did I set this crazy plan in motion for myself?  I guess you could say I’m a fan of what we do here at O2 — the practice resonates with me and the community at our studios is just outta this world.  I’m a fool in love and since February 2018 marks the 10th anniversary from when I first set foot in a yoga studio — just so happened to be the one at the corner of Highland and Cedar in Somerville, Massachusetts…you know, the one with the big, purple awning — I wanted to honor this place that has meant so much to me, long before I started working “behind the scenes” as part of the management team.  February 2012 is when I was lucky enough to make that leap, and so this month felt like the right time to honor these milestones.
Here’s what I learned as I practiced with each of our teachers:  O2 Yoga is incredible.  OK, in all fairness, I sort of knew that before.  But this  experience reinforced that long-held opinion of mine by proving itself to be true every time I came to stand at the top of my mat in samastitihi.  It was also a good reminder that breaking out of my patterns and habits — even with something as simple as which yoga class I attend on a Monday — can change the course of my day in really positive ways. That even the newest teachers had so much to teach me.  That no matter how tired I was at the start of practice, by the end I felt like a new woman…and that was all thanks to the movements linked with breath provided by our skilled, dedicated, and wonderful O2 teachers.
I know some of you were following along with my Tour most days, but if you missed some or all of it, here’s the full journey compiled into a Facebook photo album.Aileen_side lunge
Now, I realize that not all of you have the time to undertake a challenge like this one.  Practicing with each of our teachers in a short time frame like this takes a lot of organization, determination, and, of course, total insanity.  But what about a smaller challenge:  why not take a look at the schedule and find a teacher you haven’t practiced with yet and attend his or her class.  Maybe you’re only going to Basics classes — or only going to Power classes — try a class level you haven’t been to in awhile.  Maybe you always practice in Somerville and have yet to make it to Cambridge — switch it up!  I’m not talking about every day, or suggesting you miss all of your favorite classes, but maybe try swapping one of your go-to’s up for something brand new to you and see how that goes.  I bet our teachers will even take a picture with you after class, if you want to mark the occasion in a formal way. Tag us on social media if you decide to do that. I know you’ll have a great practice, no matter what, and that is the main goal in all of this.  And when you’re part of a unique yoga community like O2’s where all of our teachers train with Mimi, it’s so worth it to roll out your mat with a teacher you may not know and realize that you’re in good hands, no matter what.
My 10 Years of Gratitude Tour may now officially be over — but you will see me in class tonight…and probably most days after that.  Why?  Because no matter what kind of day I’m having, yoga makes it better.

Teacher Feature: Tina Millar

Teaching at O2 Since: 2017
Tina’s Thoughts about Second Series: “Second Series. Sigh. I have not yet taken the plunge and taken an Astanga Second Series class – I probably should. I hear it’s a bit of a laugh. It’s backbend city with a trip down arm balance lane and not one, but seven headstands. What’s not to love?! Since I teach Basics classes, I look forward to teaching the very foundations of poses not regularly practiced in class. And as a practitioner, let the fun begin!”
Tina’s Current Teaching Schedule:
Cambridge
5:30pm Sundays – Basics
5:30pm Wednesdays – Basics
TinaMillarBioPicTina started doing yoga about three years ago as a way to chill out.  “I was in the midst of struggling with a chronic autoimmune disorder that over years was determined to be caused by multiple severe food intolerances. I opted to try my first yoga class at a hot (95 degree) studio, which seemed to help detox my body of impurities and my mind of stress. I was hooked on the athletic style of power yoga,” she said.  That newfound passion for the practice, along with her long-held love for nutrition and wellness, started to inform her day job as a speech-language pathologist, working primarily with children.  “It felt natural to use yoga as a tool to help people on a different level,” Tina said.  24068114_1658733744176672_3316425160084387610_n
So it was the natural progression for her to start looking to take it to the next level…and that’s when she found O2 in 2016.  “I was looking for a condensed teacher training program and two acquaintances mentioned [Mimi’s] — thanks goodness, too,” Tina recalled.  She enrolled in our Fall 2016 200-Hour TT and quickly became part of the O2 family, going on to teach Karma classesafter graduation before moving onto the regular schedule.  Last year, she also did two different ChildLight Teacher Trainings (hosted here at our Cambridge studio) and is living the dream of bringing yoga to the kids she works with in her “day job.”  We also occasionally get requests for kids’ yoga here at O2 — Tina would be willing to teach it if there’s enough interest — email sarah@o2yoga.com if you’re one of the interested and maybe we can get somethin’ goin’…
We are so happy to have her on our teaching staff and love her athletic, well-balanced classes.  Join her for practice sometime soon!

What’s the best lesson you’ve learned from Mimi?
“Lead with your heart – and I interpret this two ways. Firstly, lead with your heart in all aspects of daily living. Be kind. Be generous. Be helpful. Secondly, lead with your heart literally in poses. We all want to go as deep in poses as possible, but sometimes in order to build the strength and flexibility to go deeper, we need to be humble and take a step back (think seated forward folds).”
What’s the best lesson you’ve learned from teaching?
“Every body is different. Very different.”
What’s the best lesson you’ve learned from one of our other teachers?
“Have a purpose as to why you choose each pose in each sequence.”
What’s your favorite pose to teach?
“The vinyasa – because no other studio I have ever practiced at pays any attention to it, and it’s so important.”
What’s your favorite pose to do?
“Any and all arm balances.”
What’s your “dream pose”?
“Oh so many. Top three: Hanumanasana (splits), Adho Mukha Vrkasana (handstand), Padmasana (lotus anything – my dreaded hip flexors!)”
Do you have a mantra or a theme song?
“All of these things make me who I am.’ ~ AWOLNATION
All of the good, the bad, the happy, the trying, the awesome, the struggle, the hurt. It is all a part of my journey and who I am.”
Do you play music in class? Why or why not?
“I do not play music. Honestly, it’s one more thing to think about that I couldn’t be bothered with. People are bombarded with stimuli throughout their day, I like to give them 75 minutes of tuning out, and at some points listening to absolutely nothing and tuning in.”
Any “Fun Facts” you’d care to share?
“I used to be a powerlifter. I hold a New England record for squatting 225lbs weighing in at 114lbs. My personal best deadlift is 275lbs at the same weight.”

Teacher Feature: Carly Zampariello

Teaching at O2 Since: 2013
Carly’s Thoughts about Second Series: “Second Series is a lot of fun. In so many ways it’s the counter practice to Primary Series, which is all about inner focus and discipline through forward folds and binds. Second Series, or nadi shodana (‘nerve cleansing’ in Sanskrit), is all about playfully countering that spinal flexion and introspection with spinal extension, twists, hip and heart opening, and lots of animals! Traditionally, Astanga is taught as a progression through poses in a defined order, however that doesn’t necessarily mean those poses are more difficult. Yes, there are some crazy things in Second Series — like foot-behind-the-head, jumping crocodiles, and 7 headstands — but there are also more straightforward poses that we teach even in Basics classes, such as belly-down backbends, parighasana (gate pose), and ardha matsyendrasana (half lord of the fishes).
One of the things I love about the O2 style is having the freedom to mesh Primary, Second, and advanced series postures into a balanced flowing sequence, while still keeping some traditional elements like sun salutations, bandhas, and breath.  This month, you can expect to see some work towards arm balances and inversions, maybe some animal-themed classes, and the opportunity to let go and laugh a little bit as we jump and roll around.”
Carly’s Current Teaching Schedule:
Somerville
9am Sundays – Basics
7:30pm Wednesdays – Basics
Like many of us, Carly sort of fell into a yoga practice.  “I was working full time and going to grad school at night and one day, just decided I’d try it.  I wasn’t living a very active lifestyle at the time and found it to be a form of exercise that I actually enjoyed and looked forward to,” she said.  The studio where she started her practice offered a variety of styles, though Carly was especially drawn to the Anusara and short-form Astanga classes on the schedule because of their careful attention to alignment in postures.  “When I moved to Somerville, O2 was recommended to me for its Astanga-based style, so here I am!” she said.
That was eight years ago and in the time since, Carly has become an integral part of our studios’ communities, first and foremost as a student, later going on to be part of the workstudy team, serving as a both desk staff and cleaning staff, even helping out as the cleaning manager in the early days of the Cambridge studio, which opened in 2012.  Even more fun than all of that, Carly became a regular Adventure Yogi, journeying with us many times over to our annual retreat to Maya Tulum in Tulum, Mexico.  It was on those glorious beach day afternoons that she got to know teachers and fellow students alike and where the early seeds of “When are you going to do Teacher Training?” sprouted.
Carly made the leap to do Mimi’s 200-Hour TT in 2013.  “Originally, I didn’t really want to teach, just learn more about yoga. But with encouragement from senior teachers and fellow teachers-in-training, I was convinced to continue on with the Karma program,” she said.  And after Karma, Carly moved onto our regular schedule, saving a special spot in her week for the Sunday morning Basics crew in Somerville.  This 9am class is a favorite for many and is one of our most popular classes on the schedule.  Make sure to arrive early to get a spot — this one’s packed, no matter the season, no matter the weather.  Certainly, Carly and the countless regulars who attend have found a great Sunday Funday tradition together.
When she’s not teaching or practicing, she’s working at her Biotech job as an analytical chemist.  “It’s intense, focused, and detail oriented,” Carly explained.  There is no doubt that having yoga in her life gives her a chance to, as she puts it, “switch to the right side of her brain and be creative.”  It’s certainly an outlet that benefits many of us — and we’re so fortunate to have the calm, cool, collected Carly as such a key member of our teaching staff and student body.  Join her for class soon!



What’s the best lesson you’ve learned from Mimi?
“When I first started teaching, I was nervous, everything had to be planned and perfect, and I’d get easily thrown off if I forgot my sequence or someone wasn’t following my cues. Mimi said to me, ‘You’re going to want it to be perfect but you need to let that go. Chances are, no one will even notice.’ From then on, it got easier, I learned to roll with it, and even laugh it off when absurd things come out of my mouth, like ‘ankle’ when really what I meant was ‘elbow.’ And it happens so much!”
What’s the best lesson you’ve learned from teaching?
“My students are my teachers. As I teach, I’m constantly learning. Which cues work, and which ones don’t. How I can help students modify for what works with their bodies or limitations. When there’s a lot of grunting or sighing, maybe it’s time for child’s pose. And even if everyone has a look of complete misery on their face when they’re working hard, they almost always leave with a smile and a ‘thank you.'”
What’s your favorite pose to teach?
“Half moon and twists. The three most common requests are ‘hips, shoulders, and lower back.’ A combination of half moon variations and bound twists will hit all three.”
What’s your favorite pose to do?
“Forearm stand is always high up on my list. Recently I’ve also been enjoying koundinyasana. It was the first arm balance I was able to do and it’s still fun to find different ways to get into it.”
Do you play music in class? Why or why not?
“It depends. While I’m teaching, I like music in more advanced classes to keep things flowing, but for Basics classes I don’t want music to be a distraction for students. That being said, I almost always have something playing during savasana. I pick my music very carefully because for a lot of people, there’s an emotional attachment to music. I’ve chosen mostly ambient or contemporary classical that isn’t recognizable and doesn’t have lyrics.”
Anything else you’d like to share about your teaching or your practice or yourself?
“My favorite class to teach is Basics — and apparently I have a reputation for teaching ‘sneakily hard’ Basics classes… I like making O2 Yoga accessible to students newer to yoga and explaining alignment and how and why we do things as simply and clearly as I can. My sequencing doesn’t have to be complicated, and I like to have a nice balance of building strength and flexibility, while encouraging modifications or progressions along the way. In all honesty, teaching is not something I ever really saw myself doing, but it’s really amazing to watch students grow and progress in their practice over time.”

Teacher Feature: Barrett Reinhorn

Teaching at O2 Since: 2004
Barrett’s Current Teaching Schedule:
Somerville
7pm Sundays – Prenatal
2pm Mondays – Mommy & Baby
IMG-1141If you are a yogi-mama who’s had a baby in the last, oh, thirteen years or so, you’ll likely be familiar with this month’s Teacher Feature, Barrett Reinhorn, who’s been teaching our very popular pre- and postnatal yoga classes at O2 since 2004.
Barrett started doing yoga as a teenager after wandering into the Himalayan Institute in her native Buffalo, New York.  “I would take classes there a few times a month but what I really loved was their library.  I took out my first yoga video there (Astanga!) and bought my first book there (Iyengar!) and got hooked on strong, powerful yoga,” she said.  She took her first Teacher Training with Mimi’s teacher, Beryl Bender Birch, in 1997.  Then after college, Barret completed a 200-Hour Teacher Training program in upstate New York (“While living in a tent!” Barrett said) and then wound up in Cambridge crashing on a friend’s couch as she got her teaching career up and running just two days later.  “That’s right, I taught my first yoga class before I had my own apartment.  That was the end of 1999 and I’ve been teaching ever since in the Cambridge/Somerville area,” Barrett said.
Interest in teaching mamas-to-be came about five years later.  “Even though I was in my early 20’s, something about pregnant women in my class really focused me — I found that when a pregnant person came to class, I would watch to see how every pose affected her,” Barrett said.  That’s why she hopped a plane to Seattle in 2003 to do an extensive prenatal training and from there, the passion to specialize in this teaching area was born.  Barrett began working for a doula and childbirth education training program.  She met with leaders in the field of birth — researchers, midwives, and educators.  “It was an amazing incubator to be in while diving deep into teaching prenatal yoga,” Barrett said.  Now she leads her own Prenatal Yoga Teacher Training programs, Level I and Level II.  Level I with Barrett will be offered in our Cambridge Studio April 27-30.  Details about the training are available here.
How do all roads lead to O2?  Well, Barrett discovered our Somerville Studio right after it opened in 2001.  “I loved going to Mimi’s Master Classes — I even went up to Portsmouth a few times to take class there,” Barrett said.  Then in 2004, Barrett taught her first prenatal class in our Somerville Studio on a Sunday evening — and seventeen women attended!  Clearly, the class was a successful addition to the schedule and has remained there ever since.  “Literally a few thousand pregnant women have come through,” Barrett said.
And since many of our Frequently Asked Questions have to do with both our pre and postnatal classes, we thought we’d take a few moments to explain these specialty classes in greater detail…
PRENATAL YOGA is for women at any stage of pregnancy to attend.  No previous yoga experience is required as these classes are designed specifically for pregnant women.  Students who have an existing yoga practice can pick up a lot of very helpful modifications to use in their regular yoga classes, so at O2, we often recommend pregnant yogis check out a prenatal class or two as a companion practice to their regular one.  These classes also contain a community aspect where mamas-to-be can talk about how they’re feeling — physically, mentally, emotionally — which adds a lovely way to connect with the other women in the room.
MOMMY & BABY YOGA (or Postnatal Yoga) is for new moms to attend with or without their babies once their doctors have cleared them to resume exercise.  This class is intended to help rebuild back, pelvic floor, and core strength in a flexible environment that allows mamas to step in and out of class, as needed, should their babies need to be fed or changed or soothed.  Just like the prenatal classes, there is a chance for women to share some of their experiences with the group and get to know other new moms!  It should also be noted that the babies are not actual participants in the class but merely are welcomed into the space.  Most students tuck their babies in their carseats or swaddle their babies to rest in a comfy spot by their mats during class.  Babies are “too old” to attend once they become mobile (crawling, walking).
Pre- and postnatal classes are on their own pricing structure here at O2:  drop-ins are $20 and 6-class packs are $100.  These classes are IMG-1142transferable within pre- and postnatal class types but cannot be used for regular O2 classes.  Likewise, regular O2 class packages/memberships cannot be used for pre- or postnatal classes.  This is because of the specialty nature of the classes and the additional training the teachers (beyond Barrett, Devon teaches regular pre- and postnatal classes, and Jill will be leading a Prenatal New Year’s Eve class in Cambridge) have completed to have the expertise to work with both mamas-to-be and new moms.  There is more information about these class types here.
We are so grateful for the addition of Barrett to our teaching staff and know how much her students adore her, too.  She’s always learning more, attending trainings and lectures and keeping up to date with current trends in the birthing world.  She’s also a mom herself with two absolutely charming sons, ages six and two, so hers is a good brain to pick, ladies!  Thank you, Barrett, for all you’ve done to make our prenatal and postnatal yoga offerings some of the best in the area, not just by teaching the classes yourself but by training some of our teachers to lead them, too.  O2’s community is all the richer for it.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learned from Mimi?
“I took Mimi’s classes while she was expecting – so I learned that having a yoga practice is just about the best thing you can give yourself when you’re pregnant.   I was a decade away from having my own kiddos, but seeing another teacher be strong, safe and confident in pregnancy made me know that others could too.  I still remember her demo’ing a handstand while pregnant and saying, ‘Babies love to be upside down!’   And, it’s true! (No, we don’t do handstands in the prenatal class).”
What’s the best lesson you’ve learned from teaching?
“Abhyasa and vairagya!   Translated in a pithy way you can remember:  ‘Never give up’ (abhyasa) and ‘always let go!’ (vairagya).    For sure in my parenting this is true, but also in my own practice, teaching, work, marriage, etc.  It’s a teaching I am constantly re-learning.”
What’s the best lesson you’ve learned from another teacher?
“Beryl Bender Birch in the O2 Yoga studio many years ago said, ‘Someday you will have to let go of all the poses.’ And then she whispered, ‘But not today.’  Brilliant.”
What’s your favorite pose to teach?
“In prenatal yoga, Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon).   Many pregnant women feel exhilarated when, just days before giving birth, they’re doing such a graceful pose.  It’s pretty amazing to look around a room of twenty pregnant women and see everyone in this pose.  And then the smiles after!  In postnatal yoga, anything belly down like Shalabasana.  It’s so good to lie on your belly again and strengthen your back – plus you can do it face to face while your baby gets some tummy time too.”
What’s your favorite pose to do?
“Handstands, always and forever.”
What’s your “dream pose”?
“Press handstand.”
Do you have a theme song?
“I almost constantly have a song stuck in my head, and 100% of the time it is a kids’ song.  The downside to having a two-year-old.”
Do you play music in class? Why or why not?


“I enjoy playing wordless music, sometimes just at the beginning of class, and sometimes throughout.  As long as you aren’t spending all your time DJ’ing, I think music can create a ‘bhava,’ a mood, that is conducive to students feeling totally immersed in the experience.   Fun fact!   Lots of prenatal babies have been born to music from our class.  I write down what I play in class all the time for people to download.”