Thursday, September 15, 2011

Teacher of the Month: Gabriella Barnstone

By Rebecca Merritt

Gabriella Barnstone teaches from her growing love and knowledge of yoga. She is heartfelt, fun, wise and is able to meet you at whatever level you are practicing at with ease. She is a teacher who can take you from beginner to advanced student while continuing to challenge and surprise you as the journey progresses. No matter how advanced you become, she will remind you to keep a beginner’s open mind and to try not to stress about what’s coming next – whether it be in your practice, the class itself or life in general.

At New York Yoga, Gabriella teaches both Basics and All Levels classes. Her sequences work you toward a peak pose or encourage you to focus on one particular part of the practice each time, keeping her classes exciting and ever changing. Her classes will help you check your stress at the door, breathe and lose yourself in the Vinyasa flow.

You can visit Gabriella at New York Yoga on Mondays at 9:35am for Vinyasa All Levels, Thursdays at 11:05am for Vinyasa All Levels, Fridays at 11:05am for Vinyasa Basics and Saturdays at 1:05pm for Vinyasa All Levels. 

When did you first discover yoga?
I think a friend took me to Jivamukti back in the days when Madonna used to go there. But really I started doing yoga because I was taking dance classes and making my own dance theatre work. I was used to everything being so technical and I wanted it to be more idea based. So I needed something that could help me stay strong and loose but that wasn’t dance. When I got into yoga and found myself going all the time, never missing class, and from there just really interested in it.

How long have you been teaching?
When my first teacher training opportunity presented itself to me I thought, I have to do this, I can’t not. I have only been teaching for four years – I feel like a baby. I’m constantly learning something new. I did my 200 hour at Laughing Lotus and I’m currently working towards my 300 hour at Yoga Maya.

What makes your class unique?
My vague answer is me. I believe you teach who you are. I think that’s why it’s so interesting to take class with different people, because you’re bound to get a different perspective that is truly unique. I believe every teacher has something to offer for that reason.

What is your favorite pose to teach?
I love, love, love focusing on specific poses in my classes. It is hard for me to pick just one peak pose. I’m going to have to say Savasana. I am not “teaching” Savasana but I am offering it in every single class. I think that it is such an important pose. Most people will say they love it but I have had students who have a lot of trouble with it. Sukasana is that way too. But you do all the other poses so you can do this pose. I find the sitting and stillness can be very hard for people – it can be hard for me too sometimes.

What is you favorite pose to practice?
I have to say Downward Facing Dog, because it always feels like coming home. I do a lot of puttering and warm up on my mat. So when you come in to Down Dog its just the moment of coming to my practice.

Best advice for beginners?
One of my favorite Sutras is the yoga practice should be for a long time, with devotion and enthusiasm. So don’t worry about what you’re trying to accomplish. This will be never-ending practice. If there’s poses you can’t do, don’t worry about it, because there’s always going to be poses you can’t do.

Best advice for more advanced yogis?
Always be a beginner. Try to have a beginners mind about everything. Once you’ve lost that, what is there?

What is your biggest yoga pet peeve?
What’s interesting to me about pet peeves as a teacher is that there’s nothing you have seen that you haven’t actually done yourself. This is totally yoga because when things come as that may be a pet peeve they are usually something that we know we have done before and they are right in front of us to deal with.

Reader questions…

How has being a dancer influenced your practice?
I think it’s definitely what made me attracted to Vinyasa, because the flow and linking everything together is similar. It also influenced my practice because I already had an awareness of the body. Though the way that I’m aware of the body now is so vastly different thanks to yoga. My interest in specificity comes from my dance experience too. I love how specific the yoga practice is. Physically it’s a completely different thing but I’m constantly amazed at the poses, their alignment and how intelligent they are.

What are your passions besides yoga?
I have a dance theater company which is definitely a passion. And I really feel like the practice of yoga has made me stop and breath and enjoy things. It has helped me to enjoy my life outside of work – relaxing, cooking, going to the farmers market, etc. It has become my passion to enjoy the simple things in life.

1 comment:

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