September Teacher of the month Nyota Nayo

1) How did you start practicing Yoga? Tell us about your early yoga experiences.

 I began to practice yoga very early on as my mother at the time was into to Transcendental meditation and hatha yoga as a practitioner during her years when she was in law school.  I loved meditation and practicing yoga in the class at that early age, and even received a mantra along with my little friends at the time.  At that time I practiced as part of recreation in addition to training in dance.  As I got older and began traveling as a dancer, yoga was incorporated into our rehearsals, training and practice as performers.

2) When was the moment you knew that Yoga was different or special – more than just another “exercise” or way to be physical?

 Right from the beginning I knew that yoga was more than an exercise because the teacher  was very much into the meditative aspect of yoga and after a lengthy meditation practice we then went onto the postures in class – she was very disciplined and her practice was under the lineage of Amma and Babaji.

3) What is your favorite and least favorite pose, and why?

My favorite pose is Warrior – it grounds my energy as I am an air sign so I tend to be always in motion like air – the Warrior reminds me of stability and focus and centering as well as power and strength. My least favorite is down dog because since it is held for a while and I tend to like to move along,… I know that it needs to be held awhile but I like to fly!

) What practices do you use to feel more peaceful, present and content?

I use easy sitting in meditation along with several mudras and visualization, breathwork and silence as well as yoga nidra with awareness on the breath to be more peaceful, present and content

5) What Yama or Niyama do your find most helpful in your daily life, and why? (Yamas are “observances” that are recommended for relating to the outside world, and Niyamas are observances for dealing with internal struggles)

 In daily life I find that to deal with many external and internal struggles I reflect on forgiveness, letting go and gratitude

6) This month at Harlem Yoga Studio we are focused on the vishuddha(Throat) Chakra. What causes your heart to expand both on the mat, and off?

For heart expansion on and off the mat, I send out from my heart space non judgment and acceptance and healing of others as I heal myself – focusing on balance, harmony and being in the present

7) Telling something about teaching at Harlem Yoga Studio

 Teaching at Harlem Yoga Studio is a wonderful gift from the Divine through the owners Erica and Laurel. I have grown in my personal practice as a yoga practitioner, student and teacher and I have learned so much about myself as a person and teacher and I adore the many students that have come to my classes. I teach each class whether it is one student or a few or many from a place of helping each person to not only learn yoga postures (or bellydance !! ) but to help them grow as a practitioner and Harlem Yoga Studio gives that space for each person to find their center; in addition the Studio is a humble community of practitioners that is continuing to grow and evolve and is a gem in this sacred Harlem community.