Thursday, October 13, 2011

Teacher of the Month: Donnalynn Civello


By Rebecca Merritt

Any student taking class from Donnalynn Civello is a lucky one. She is always fully present, ready to support and offer words of wisdom. She is a teacher who offers something new in every class and will always leave you pondering life. Because of her philosophy and grace, students come back to their mat week after week seeking more knowledge from this beautiful teacher.

Donnalynn teaches a challenging class that pushes you to experience your practice and be the poses. You will leave class renewed – in part from her aromatherapy massages but more so – from the love that Donnalynn puts into her classes.

Come visit Donnalynn at New York Yoga: Mondays at 6:20am for Vinyasa All Levels, Wednesdays at 7:35pm for Vinyasa All Levels or 9:05pm for Candlelight Vinyasa, and Sunday mornings at 8:20am for Vinyasa All Levels.


When did you first discover yoga?
 I would have to say 1995. My ex was a vegan and a yogi.  He got me involved in the Jivamukti community.

How long have you been teaching?
Officially since 2005 but unofficially since 2003. I worked with Raji Thron at Yoga Synthesis. He was in Colorado for a while. He’s in New Jersey now. It was a certification in five different kinds of yoga. – Ashtanga, Iyengar, Viniyoga, Classical Hatha and Anusara.

What makes your class unique?
I like to try to make my class a place of respite from the day to day because the world out there is crazy. I try to create a space where students can just be and where they don’t feel judged. I want them to feel supported and feel special. I give them words for wisdom of living, to help the live the best life they can, and I also try to create this sort of sanctuary with aromatherapy oils and lotions. I very purposefully use five senses. I really try to give them a full sensory experience. But the most important is to help them de-stress and to feel special, supported and inspired.

What is your favorite pose to teach?
Tripod headstand. I love teaching tripod because its one of those poses that is so rudimentary but everyone’s intimidated by it. But once you break it down its really easy and people get excited and inspired that they can do something like a headstand. It encourages them.

What is you favorite pose to practice?
Pincha Mayurasana. I love inversions. This one in particular is such a subtle balance. The tendency is to arch the spine and it takes such a subtle adjustment to tuck the tailbone towards the heels. When you straighten out and all the vertebrae stack you catch the air and the balance – you feel weightless. You send the feet to the sky; you let the sky take it and all the weight transfers. I cold just hang out there. I love it. 

Best advice for beginners?
There’s no competition. Your practice is between you and your mat; don’t worry about what your neighbors are doing. No judgment. Listen, and be, and allow your breath.

I tell my students, I just want you to listen to me and let your body express itself. I just care that you listen and let your body have fun with it. I try to make my students feel nurtured and supported – I only care that they try.

Best advice for more advanced yogis?
Don’t think you know it all, because there’s a big difference between doing the pose and being the pose. There’s always room to take a pose deeper. Most people stop at doing the pose, but you need to breathe it and open up the chakras. Stop thinking “is this right, is this right.” It’s not about that. Once you know how to do a pose – that’s when the work starts. Knowing how to do it is just the beginning.

What is your biggest yoga pet peeve?
Celebrity yoga egos. I just feel like yoga is not about me. It’s about my students. The ego doesn’t have a place in yoga. If the egos there it becomes something else.

Reader questions…

How does being a nutritionist and Holistic Health Coach affect your practice?
Everything comes down to the fact that yogis need to have a clean diet. You are what you put into your body. And if you’re putting toxins in the body, the body is never going to achieve the subtle body connection of yoga.

Diet, mood, stress level, the amount of sleep you’ve had – are all part of your yoga practice. Understanding a holistic approach to life helps your practice. Everything comes out on your mat and it helps you understand what is going on in your life and your body.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
My dad was my teacher, he taught me everything. One of the best is that life is a game, and it doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it only matters how you play it. I remind myself of that when things get hard. The only things that really matter are our connections to each other. It doesn’t matter how much money you made, but it does matter who you stepped on to get there. Learning to relax and learning to not take life so seriously helps things to be and flow easier. Allow what’s meant to be or come to you, come to you.

1 comment:

  1. Are you ready to improve your life and well-being? Then you need an experienced NYC Yoga Instructor for those in the NYC area.

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