Deanna is a NYC-based, E-RYT 200. She was certified in the vinyasa method through Sonic Yoga Studio in Manhattan in 2009, and in prenatal from Om Yoga (Bec Conant) in 2011. A professional actress as well as an avid runner, Deanna brings a unique knowledge and study of anatomy into the studio to create a safe, healing, and athletic yoga practice. Emphasis is on the breath, the potential, and baby steps. She has taught at several yoga studios and fitness centers over the past six years, but has been a regular yoga instructor at Zen & Yoga in Forest Hills, Queens, since 2010.
1. Please describe, or tell a story, about your first yoga class or yoga experience.
I must have been about 14 years old and living in Greenville, South Carolina. I had gone to the library with my Mom and checked out a yoga VHS. I had heard about yoga from somewhere....perhaps a magazine? But, this was definitely before yoga was trendy. The video featured lots of monochrome spandex and no vista - the practitioners were in a bare, white room. No waterfalls or serene Hawaiian beaches here. Still, I felt like I was in on an exotic and ancient secret.
A little while later, I invited my neighborhood friends over to try it with me. They all went to an infamously conservative school in Greenville, and spent much of the class with arched eyebrows. It must have been too much stretching for them. But, this made me like it more.
I'm forever grateful to the mysterious yogini in burgundy spandex. I'm also pretty sure she had a delicious accent.
2. Describe or narrate your first time teaching yoga. What do you recall?
Apart from practice teaching sessions in our teacher training, my first time leading a class was for a friend of mine in 2009. In my apartment. She had agreed to be my guinea pig. You have to start somewhere, right? I cannot imagine going out and teaching in a studio without having experimented on my dear friends first. I owe Natasha a lot. The class lasted approximately an hour and I was certainly overly preoccupied with getting the "cuing" correct. Gotta make sure to forward fold on an exhale, right?? I'm glad I don't have to think about that anymore.
I do remember that my friend ‒ who had done lots of yoga before ‒ just raved about pigeon pose. Perhaps she was humoring me, but it worked. I felt confident. Pigeon pose is still one of my favorite asanas to teach. I also remember my friend asking: "In savasana, you're asking me to walk my shoulder blades together in order to open up my chest. But, when I do that, I feel like my back is tight and can't truly release." Maybe not an exact quote, but you get the point. I think this is a great observation, and perhaps emphasis should be placed on broadening the chest with breath, allowing the shoulders to melt into the ground, rather than "walking the shoulders in towards each other".
3. Last time you took a yoga class or workshop, what were your impressions?
The last yoga class I took was at a lovely little studio in my neighborhood. I had tried to work there when they first opened, but they were all squared away. Since then, I just go and practice with people. No need to tell them I'm a teacher. I like it better that way.
The teacher warmed us up with Surya Namaksara A & B, then added her flair. Then, we all moved to the wall for the last 25 or so minutes of class. I've discovered that I really like practicing against the wall. It allows me to approach traditional asanas in a creative-yet-safe-way. We did Paschimottanasana facing the wall, with the toes pressing into the wall. Just that subtle attention to detail felt great. We also did handstand, which I can only do against the wall right now. And we did wheel with hands on blocks (fingers and thumbs down) ‒ some of us pressing our hearts into the wall. Ended with legs up the wall. Ahhhh.
4. Describe the last time you taught a class or workshop.
I taught a "gentle" yoga class this morning ‒ which I joke should be called hungoverasana as it's 9am on a Sunday morning. It's a new class for me, truly a wonderful way to start the day. The students are particularly present and open-minded in this class, and yes, we also use the walls. We started in Sukhasana, practicing three-part breath (belly, ribs, chest). We would visit this three-part breath throughout the next 75 minutes. Cat/cow, gentle flow. Then we did this standing warm-up sequence I usually reserve for my prenatal clients, but I think it's cool and helpful so we did it today. Warrior poses with the heel against the wall, peaceful warrior where some of the students touched the wall. Then we faced the wall and did Downward dog, Warrior III (extending a leg), heart openers. Then on our backs for supported bridges and hamstring stretches. And I also ended with legs up the wall and a lengthy meditation. There was very little resistance in the room, which I was truly digging!