Teacher Feature : Tania Z

1. What brought you to yoga?
I remember taking my first yoga class in college around 1992 in a studio in Baltimore, Maryland out of curiosity for the spiritual aspects of it. I was a bit of a mystic seeker (still am) and was majoring in philosophy and writing and was regularly engaged in metaphysical studies- exploring meditation centers, Science of Mind study groups, etc.. For years after this, I would occasionally go to a few yoga classes here and there but it was nothing consistent. Honestly, it was hard for me at that point in my life to be so “in my body” and I remember having a lot of resistance- I hated downward dog…. It wasn’t until starting to do some deep therapeutic work emotionally, mentally and physically through Integrative Breathwork in 2001 (which I was first introduced to in 1994) that I was able to start to come into my own self so to speak and enjoy being in my body- and then I started to actually enjoy physical asana. And now I love it!!!

2. In what ways has yoga had a impact on your life?
The asana practice helps me stay in what Dr. Rick Hansen calls the “green zone”- the place where I can feel good/steady and normal. It’s something I feel I need a little of each day- like a way to helps keep me at a good baseline. I have a regular meditation and spiritual practice and listen to and read a ton on spiritual growth and feel like the asana practice just helps round all that out in a kinesthetic way. On a physical level, yoga gives me the strength and flexibility I need to keep up with my busy life and definitely helps my mood.

3. Favorite posture?
I think I do half moon (ardha chandrasana) every day in my kitchen- so definitely that pose. There’s something about that hip flexor and inner thigh opening along with creating space in the chest that feels like my body just needs to do it everyday.

4. What inspires you?
So many things! I chant a lot and adore so many chant artists- listening in the car, going to concerts, playing while I cook dinner, etc.. I recently went again to the Sat Nam Fest in Lenox, MA (Kundalini Yoga festival) to chant with some of my favorite chant artists- Ajeet Kaur and Snatm Kaur (and brought my son this year which was lovely). I also travelled to Connecticut to see Krishna Das with a friend and that inspired me in such a powerful way- I’ve seen him 5 times or more and each time it amazes me. I also participate in ceremonial sweat lodges and sacred pipe ceremonies and love my earth circle community.

5. Favorite playlist?
After being inspired by my own transformation through Integrative Breathwork, I studied for 2 years to be a trained practitioner which I’ve been doing since 2005. Since I use music in my Breathwork business with clients and when I offer workshops, I often purchase my music and make my own compilations. I’m still playing with compilations to use in my yoga classes and some I feel work better than others. Right now, I’m enjoying Karunesh’s Colors of the East cd. I also like the cd Nada Sadhana & Kevin Courtney.

6. What advice would you give yourself if you could travel back in time to the first time you stepped on a yoga mat?
There were so many years that I can see now looking back that I was depressed and underneath that, anxious. I think I probably could have asked for help sooner. Thankfully it was the Integrative Breathwork that awakened the momentum in me to start doing my own inner work. But I think in those early years, it would have been nice to tell myself that what I was seeking externally was all awaiting inside of me- and with some loving guided support I could access it and come home to myself.

7. How do you fill your time outside of teaching?
I am a master of wearing many hats- but I feel so tremendously grateful for the blessed work I do. Besides teaching yoga classes each week, I also see Integrative Breathwork and Somatic Breath Therapy clients, and lead workshops and classes combining these modalities as well as Reiki. I also assist in the classroom at Maine Coast Waldorf School and run a 2 week (in August) nature camp program for children from our 12 acres in Durham. I spend a lot of time being present to my son- I love being a mom. And I work hard at maintaining my own spiritual growth and happiness- using my own amazing support team and modalities, including trying to stay engaged in professional development opportunities.

8. What is your personal mantra?
This is a mantra as well as a daily practice for me- To stay in my inner core, and be present to my breath and ask in each moment to be guided by “love”.