spotlight for april

Danielle brings a lot to our team at Body Bliss Yoga. She is a professional dancer who still travels all over the US to preform, she is extremely down to Earth and couldn’t love her family any more. She is exactly the type of instructor we love having and we can’t wait to have you know her even better. Check out her classes in both locations AND her Belly Dancing workshop this month!

Meet Danielle Elizabeth

What inspired you to become a yoga teacher?

I like to think of myself as a guide or facilitator. I love facilitating positive self-exploration and presenting tools/steps we can take toward moving and living with compassionate and vibrant awareness. Yoga has been a healthy, helpful practice for me since my early teens. I have been a dance teacher for about 10 years, and an art teacher for a few years as well. I have used yoga inspired flow sequences in my dance classes because it pairs so well to work on building focus, strength, and flexibility. I have used breathing exercises in the art classroom to prepare for inspiring creative work with children. I came to a place in my personal practice where I also really wanted to learn more about the philosophy that inspired the inception of yoga, to connect with the roots and cultural context, with a group of dedicated yogis. It was just a very natural evolution that I eventually decided it was time to dive in deeper, to explore teaching full yoga sessions directly.

What kind of trainings have you pursued?

I received my 200hr certification through Yoga Bhoga in Portland, Oregon. Aside from attending Hatha, Vinyasa, and Kundalini yoga classes for many years, there have also been specific Viniyoga segments of my dance trainings.

What is one piece of advice you always give beginner students?

Wherever you are on your path is exactly where you need to be. Wether that’s feeling like you’re up for the challenge of trying something new, or feeling like you need to sit out and just watch/take deep breaths during class, it is all valid and helpful practice. Cultivating that awareness is Yoga. There is no need to feel ashamed or inadequate, especially when first beginning. If you do feel these things it’s okay… but your bigger practice is to make peace with where you are right now at the same time you are working on progressing. Its hard, but it’s all worth it.

What is your favorite asana and why?

That’s like asking me my favorite color… impossible to answer! But I guess when you boil it down I have a special affinity for Sukasana, easy seat. It is humbling, and where a lot of the work comes together with body, mind, and breath awareness. Body: when in correct alignment Sukasana can show us where we are tight, where we tend to unintentionally hold things in our bodies, what muscles are out of balance that we still need to remember to work with so that “easy seat” feels deeply easy. Mind: Sukasana can show us our capacity for controlling or letting go of our attachments to our inner chatter, helping us notice our methods for mental distraction, and practice making different choices. Breath: Sukasana requests awareness and offers a chance to breathe our fullest, deepest breaths. It asks the ego to metaphorically “take a seat” as well. Sure, its fun to try fancy balance poses, feels powerful to stand in warrior, open our hearts in backbends, impressive and “thrilling” to do inversions… But to purposely be still (in body and mind), without chasing too much sensation and sensationalism, takes great effort in our present society. Sometimes it even feels like a radical practice to go against the mind-numbingly fast paced, 2 second attention span we seem to be glorifying these days. Sukasana is where the fullness of yoga shows itself to me, and where I am most with myself in the practice (and thus connected with all others). Fun fact: It is the only asana, physical posture, mentioned in the Yoga Sutras – one of the earliest texts on yoga.

What is your favorite yoga related book?

Again, favorite (?!), ahh! I love BKS Iyengar’s Light on Life. I especially love his emphasis on bringing yoga into the “pedestrian” world. Yoga of the homemakers, people raising families etc. Making every day life work along-side a yoga practice is important to me.

What is one thing most people don’t know about you?

I have ridden a bicycle (packed to the gills with performance equipment) from Barcelona, Spain to Narbonne, France – via the Pyrenees mountains. The only other people we saw biking were pros training for the tour de france. It was pretty crazy.

Outside of the world of yoga, what are you really passionate about?

My family and friends, dance (all dance from everywhere, “good dancing” & “bad dancing” I love it all!), environmentalism, learning about and celebrating cultural traditions of the world, mason bees, hot showers, and large bodies of water…

What have you gained through your practice?

Awareness…
One of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves is a deep breath.
We are all connected on a deep atomic/molecular level regardless of spiritual preference and no life is more worthy or valuable than another, its all life!
The body is often smarter than the mind and has so much to teach us.
There is way more to yoga than physical fitness.
There is so much beauty in subtlety.
Life is full of paradox, on and off the mat.
For instance, to be balanced it is necessary to be comfortable off balance as well.
I learn so much every time I teach.
The more I learn, the more I realize there is so much more to learn!

This list is endless…Namaste!