Teacher Introductions - Amanda Larson-Mekler
Tell us your story
I accidentally stumbled upon a beach yoga class in Hawaii ten years ago and have been hooked ever since. Yoga for me started as simply a way to work out, but has since become a way to practice mindfulness both on and off the mat. Sometimes my personal practice is filled with inversions and fast-paced vinyasas and other times I prefers to curl up with a bolster for restorative postures.
My teaching has also evolved since I was first certified in 2009. I now teach vinyasa, hatha, and restorative yoga and often bring meditation and chanting into the practice. I have led eleven 200-hour Teacher Trainings since 2012 and value the unique sense of community cultivated in each training. In 2015 I completed my own 500-hour RYT and then spent seven months travelling around India to learn more about the history and philosophy of yoga.
When did you first get into yoga?
I took my first yoga class in 2006 on a beach in Hawaii. My dad and brother suggested that we jump into the class, and half-way through they ditched me! I had never been very athletic, but something about yoga pulled me in. As soon as we got back from the vacation I found a local yoga studio and have been hooked ever since.
What is your greatest weakness?
Chocolate. And that I sometimes have a very limited or fear-based perspective of what's actually possible.
What are you doing to improve it?
Meditating! Which is often messy and usually means just being still and watching my thoughts wander. But thoughts are powerful, and ultimately we see things as we believe them to be.
What types of Yoga do you have the most experience instructing?
Vinyasa! I love the connection of the breath and the movement, but I tend to also teach with elements of longer holds like in Hatha yoga. In the past couple years I've practiced more traditional ashtanga and also find myself drawing from that sequence, too. I also love teaching restorative yoga, pre-natal, post-natal, and chanting.
What do you like most about yoga?
That it meets me where I am. That it's an alarm clock for my thoughts and movements. And that I'll never be done with it; it will always have something to teach me.
What did you want to be growing up?
A doctor. It almost happened, but thankfully yoga got in the way of my plans!
Three words that describe yourself
Compassionate, thoughtful, observative
What do you value most in people around you?
A willingness to be vulnerable and open to change.
What's your favourite meal?
Anything with avocado.
What was your biggest challenge when you first started practicing yoga?
My need to be perfect. Crow pose put me face-to-face with this on a daily basis when I first started practicing. When the teacher would give time to practice arm balances or inversions I would never participate. I was terrified of falling on my face in front of other people. It was easier to stay in my safety bubble of child's pose. Now, though, I love arm balances and inversions because of the very fact that they make you fall on your face, laugh, forgive yourself, and realize that it doesn't matter.
What else do you enjoy doing in life?
Cooking, hiking, reading, traveling, and eating french fries.
What's your advice for someone that's just starting to do yoga?
Show up on your mat daily with curiosity, kindness, and no expectations.
How do you take your yoga off the mat?
By creating space between what I perceive and my reaction to it. Part of the magic of yoga is that over time it helps us differentiate between our story of what's happening and what's actually happening. I'd like to think that we as yogis have a gentle, peaceful ripple effect in even the smallest interactions by being less reactive.
What's your all time favourite yoga asana? Why?
It's always changing! Right now it's trikonasana because it makes me feel expansive.
What's your mantra?
A miracle is a shift in perception.
What posture is the most challenging for you? Why?
Utkatasana because my mind is consumed by how much I dislike it. It's a practice in trying to remember that sensation is temporary.
Fill in: I teach yoga because...
It makes me feel alive.