Anya Foxen, pt1 — professor, author, “retired” yoga teacher

[note — this is part 1 of 2; here we focus on Foxen the yoga professional; part 2 (coming soon) is about her journey as a student of the practice]

As a yoga professional, what aspects — mind, body, spirit — do you pitch to someone who has never done yoga but is open to the possibility?

the connection between body and mind

Do you have a particularly strong relationship tie to any teachings or text?

a very tangled connection to Paramahansa Yogananda’s lineage — but it’s not what I practice

How long did you practice yoga before becoming a teacher?

3 years

How long have you taught yoga?

consistently for 3 years, very occasionally for the last 12

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

I’ve always struggled with this — more than a couple of times a week starts to be too much

Do you have a preferred yoga style? Do you teach others?

Hot Vinyasa

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

this is so person-specific

What are the more difficult poses for beginners to execute?

headstands and arm balances? no, actually, people really struggle with getting forward bends right

Apart from yoga, do you recommend other techniques of mindfulness or meditation?

I like body-scan meditation — it’s a good way to build basic awareness

Say you have a beginning student who has come to yoga for help with a bad back. They are already pretty chill, and you intuit they are only looking for the physical benefits from yoga. Do you leave it at that, or do you look for opportunities to promote the non-physical benefits?

I leave it at that — the other stuff will come if and when it makes sense

Do you have a favorite sutra or mantra or koan that you like to share with those in your classes?

be okay with it feeling good

You have a choice: lead a yoga class (1) outdoors on a beautiful day, overlooking the ocean, or (2) in a well-designed, very comfortable minimalist indoor space. Which do you pick?

the indoor space, for sure — it can be helpful to minimize distraction if that’s the kind of practice we’re going for but, as a teacher, I just really like being able to control my environment

—interview © Marshal Zeringue