Eliza Whiteman — yoga instructor, studio owner

Mind, body, spirit — yoga is a holistic experience for many. But did one element or another first draw you to the practice? That is, were you seeking to settle your mind? Have greater physical flexibility? Explore your true, spiritual nature?

it started as a cross trainer for my work outs after college and focus on balance, core and flexibility

How about now: does yoga feed your mind or your body or your spirit more, or are those elements more in balance than when you started?

I feel a majority of people start with the physical side of yoga and after awhile begin to explore the subtle side of yoga — so, yes, it took me many years to really understand and appreciate meditation, inquiry, philosophy — I feel more connected now to the whole concept of yoga- mind, body, spirit

How long did you practice yoga before you started teaching it?

I began practicing somewhere around 2001/2002 but didn’t really get into until 2003 when my husband was deployed for a year — dad my first training in 2007

When you’re teaching regularly, can you lead classes too often? How many times a week, and a day, might be too much?

yes, you can definitely burnout and it the biggest piece of advice for teachers, don’t forget your practice — every teacher has their various limits that correspond to their life — I’ve maintained 4-6 classes but I do take breaks so I’m excited to come back and teach

Do you have a preferred yoga style?

my preferred style is Power Yoga followed by Vinyasa — Power feels more athletic and I connect easily to that — It’s straight forward, structured and does a great job of weaving in the subtle yogic concepts

When you were starting out, what came easiest and what was more challenging?

I have a tendency to be hyper mobile/flexible so stretchy stuff was easy — therefore the strength aspect was a challenge — for lots of guys the opposite is true, they love the strength portions and loathe the stretches

From your experience as a teacher, can you generalize about what comes easiest for beginners and what is more challenging?

hands down one of the biggest hurdles to get over when you first start out is learning how to hold your arms up — we do this with so many poses and your arms get so heavy — I speak a lot about how to attain full engagement of arms/legs… how to have them hold themselves up versus weighing you down

What are the more difficult poses for beginners to execute?

Crow and Headstand — not that they are hard they just take a few classes to learn the hang of it

What have been the greatest benefits of yoga for you?

how to breathe, how to take control back from the stimulus, how to be in my body and how to meditate or be in the final resting pose

Apart from yoga, do you practice other techniques of mindfulness or meditation like breathing exercises, walking meditation, or body-scan meditation?

yes, all of the above! — they can all be experienced on their own and it’s good to practice bits here and there on their own — learning how to access mindfulness is one of the biggest superpowers we can build for ourselves — I teach students to drop out if the mind and fall into our body — we over analyze and overthink and it takes us out of the moment so learning when you’re in your head and how to use tolls to get in your body

Outside of a yoga session, do you ever just strike a pose and stretch? If so, which pose(s) and where?

all. the. time — Wall Dog —stand a few feet away from a wall, put your arms up the wall while pushing hips back, can sway side to side

while sitting — lean to one side, then other — twist to one side then other — then seated cat/cow, hands on knees, pull chest through and look up then round shoulders/back drop head

I do a handstand against the wall if things get too crazy

If I gave you an expenses-paid yoga retreat, where would you go?

I think always the beach, it’s just a good place to chill and reconnect — I like a nice white sand, Gulf of Mexico kind of beach!

—interview © Marshal Zeringue