What would a #girlboss do?

Over the past year or so, I’ve been really addicted to podcasts. I subscribe to a bunch of them and listen to them in my car as I’m driving from class to class. One of my favorite podcasts is called #girlboss radio. Each week the host interviews a different woman who has somehow made a name for herself in her field. Whether she’s an artist, a CEO, a chef, or a songwriter, each woman has lots of wisdom to share about the path she’s taken and the experience of finding success as a woman in a male dominated world.

One of my favorite parts of the show is when the host asks each guest to name her “girl boss moment” of the week. She also asks listeners to share theirs on Instagram with the hashtag #girlbossmoment. A girl boss moment can be something like treating yourself to a day at the spa, meditating every day for a week, asking for a promotion, or kicking a bad habit. It’s anything that makes you feel like you’re the boss of your own life. When I listen to each episode, I try to recall my own girl boss moment of the week and it inspires me to create more of these moments in the coming week.

In fact, I feel like this hashtag, as silly as it may sound, has been just what I needed to push me towards certain empowering decisions lately. For instance, after struggling with fear and a list of excuses, I made the girl boss decision to take a trip to India at the end of this year, which is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.

I encourage you to give the podcast a listen, maybe share your #girlbossmoment on Instagram (and tag me too @yogalish), but most importantly, when you’re faced with a challenge, a tough decision, or just a chance to take care of yourself, ask yourself the question “What would a #girlboss do?” (Sorry guys, you can do the same thing but come up with your own hashtag!)

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Kale on Scale

I’m now writing weekly blog posts for a healthy lifestyle website called Kale on Scale.

Check it out and subscribe if you’d like to receive updates on my latest articles.


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City Love

I just returned from a quick trip to New York City, where I had the opportunity to sample a handful of awesome yoga studios and soak in the wisdom of some truly expert teachers. Though I’ve only been to New York once before, I’ve always loved the energy of big cities. I’ve had the good fortune of traveling to Paris several times, and it’s absolutely one of my favorite places. New York felt so similar to me that it was like discovering another home away from home.

If you too feel drawn to the excitement and buzz of the city, if you think the Big Apple may be calling your name, I’d love for you to join me on my next trip. I’m planning an urban yoga retreat for yogis who want to explore NYC and its incredible yoga scene. Let me know if you may be interested and I’ll be sure to keep you updated as the plans progress.

My little getaway to the city reminded me of the importance of following your heart. As the saying goes, you need to live the life you love and love the life you live. Pay attention to the people and places and pastimes that fill you with joy, that make you grateful to be alive. Keep leaning into the things that make your heart happy, even if they are unconventional or misunderstood.

“I tell everyone I smile just because I’ve got a city love” – John Mayer

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Cloud Nine Yoga Brea Alumni: CC Giang


AKS: What classes are you teaching?

CG: I’m teaching at probably the only place that gives me the flexibility I need, which is LA Fitness. I teach there three times a week and I also pick up some classes to sub.

HJ: How are you liking it?

CG: I like it but gym yoga is really hard to teach because the levels are so varied. You have your first time yogis, and then you have the ones who want to take it to things like side crow…so we play after class to get into different poses if I have time. I always offer “Let’s do some inversions together.” I really enjoy it, but at the beginning of the week, I dread it because I have to get my sequence together. On Mondays, I draw my sequence out and I stick with the same routine for all the classes that week because I feel like I get better and better with each class. It’s like choreography. It’s like dance. You can’t memorize it all. But now that I’ve been teaching for a while, I can kind of just wing it too. And after the hour is over I think “That was so fun. Oh it’s done. That went by so fast!”
I’m enjoying having adult conversations outside of my kids. I do have adult conversations but they’re always centered around our kids in school. With yoga, it’s a different kind of adult conversation. We talk about our ailments, our aches and pains, or how far they’ve come or what they’ve learned. So it’s fun.

AKS: How long have you been teaching now?

CG: Since May. So about seven months. I like the little bit of extra income. It justifies some of my kids’ activities. It’s good to be able to contribute in my own way. Being a mom is a full time job in itself, but it gives me a little bit of my own self-identity—to go out there and be CC the yoga teacher, not CC, Preston Westley, Beckman, or Lulu’s mom, or the wife… I love it.

HJ: While you were in teacher training, did you have specific plans as to what you wanted to do when you graduated?

CG: Yeah I did. I knew exactly why I was taking the training. I knew I was going to go teach at LA Fitness because when I was practicing there as a member, they asked if I was a yoga instructor and I said no and they said “If you get certified, we’ll give you a job. “ That was when the lightbulb went on and I thought, “Why don’t I get certified? I’m doing yoga almost every day. I should get paid to do this.” I had my timeline all planned out because I’m type A. My baby was still really young and I thought it would take me about six months to get certified. I thought I could start teaching and get better and by the time she went to school full time, I could start teaching a few studio classes, but I can’t now because there’s no daycare. That’s the only reason—because LA Fitness has daycare. I go to work and she comes to work with me. It’s the best.
So I knew exactly what I wanted to do and I came out of training and executed that plan.

HJ: How did you feel about the sisterhood and the bonds in our training?

CG: I miss everyone. I wish we got together more. Sadly, everyone’s so darn busy. I don’t even have time to hang out with people who live one mile from me. And I also work part time so my mind is constantly so busy and I take on too much. I’m one of those people who can’t say no sometimes. But I went through some bad health issues this year and it made me realize that I need to take some things off my plate and focus on what’s really important. And not get stressed as easily. The thing with type A people is we’re so organized and we think we can always do it all, and we can, but we do it at the expense of our own health.

HJ: Do you get to practice yoga on your own?

CG: Yes I do. Actually, every day. Even if I have just 10 or 15 minutes, I get in my down dog. The kids might try to do a handstand. They play basketball so I try to stretch them out because it prevents injury. And I get to use the gym for free so on days I don’t teach, so I take yoga at the gym.

HJ: Do you have any tips for how to keep up your own practice once you start teaching?

CG: You just have to get there. Just get those toes on your mat. It becomes an addiction. If I don’t go, I know for that whole day I’m in disarray. Maybe I’m a bitch. I don’t know. When you’re teaching, it’s different –you’re telling everyone else to relax, breathe in and breathe out, but you’re the one talking and watching everyone else. But when you’re practicing and they tell you to inhale/exhale, it’s just so meditative. I know I have to go practice. I know I have to get my yoga in.

AKS: With all the responsibilities that you juggle, do you feel like three classes (per week) is the right amount or would you ever want to teach more classes?

CG: I think three is good. I’m ok even with two. For me it’s just a side thing, something fun. I go out there, do my thing, teach it, continue to practice, and I have a lot of other stuff going on too.

AKS: Are you interested in teaching any other styles of classes besides Vinyasa or is that what you enjoy the most?

CG: I enjoy Vinyasa the most, but I kind of incorporate a little Hatha, where we hold our poses a little longer. I like to get them started really slow on the first sequence, then the second time we concentrate on the breathing, and the third one we dance—one breath, one movement—and that’s when we start to sweat. But they know where they’re going by that point because we’ve walked through it slower the first couple times. One time I did the exercise where we’re on our backs in happy baby and we just throw a tantrum! And I had to feel the energy of the class first, but when I took it and ran with it, everyone came to me afterwards saying “Oh my gosh, I don’t even know what that was. I don’t know if it was yoga, but it was amazing!”

HJ: What was the most memorable topic in the teacher training for you?

CC: For me personally, it was the philosophical part. I had the physical practice. I’m no Keno, but I think I have a pretty good practice. I’ve been working on things…but it’s grounding, finding your center, all that stuff. When you’re doing gym yoga they don’t really emphasize that, but I like to bring that into the class and I like to look for inspirational quotes and incorporate that so they can take something, not just the physical practice, but something to dwell upon after their practice. That’s what I really took away from the training. But other little things too, like all the pranayama exercises we learned. I’ll have them do the skull shining breath or ujjayi breath or alternate nostril breath.
Some people who come to my class probably just think “She’s crazy. I’m not going to get into that pose, or shake and cry” or “What is this breathing thing? I’ll just breathe out of my mouth. I’ll breathe however I want to.”
I always say gym yoga is totally different and you should give studio yoga a try.

HJ: But you can bring studio yoga to the gym.

CG: Yes, and I do. I bring my singing bowl to class. I bring my own Bluetooth speaker. I bring my essential oils. My students are like friends. I’ll make yoga mat cleaners and say “Next week bring a towel. The same place where you put your face is where you put your feet a lot of times so let’s me diligent about cleaning our mats.” So they all bring their towels and they come over and use my spray and they wipe down their mats so it becomes like a little community. I really enjoy it. I’m so glad I went through the whole training so I have this for myself.

AKS: Do you have any favorite yoga books or resources?

CG: I do! Yoga Sequencing (by Mark Stephens). I like this because it asks you “What do you want to work on—intermediate or beginner sequence?” And then they kind of guide you through the sequence that you can do. I don’t necessarily follow what they have but it gives me some ideas like “Oh I can get from here to there,” and it talks about alignment and I can steal a few little verbal cues like “Draw your navel into your spine.”

HJ: Do you have any advice for brand new teachers who just finished training or people who are considering taking the training?

CG: I think your first few jobs are really intimidating. You walk in there and you’re so nervous. Everyone is staring you down, but your students are also scared because you’re new to them too. They’re also scared that they may not be able to do what you’re asking them to do but if you can see it from their point of view, then it might relax you a little bit. Don’t always think they’re judging you, that you’re not going to live up to their expectations. Because maybe they’re thinking “Shoot, this is a new teacher. I don’t know if I can keep up with her,” or “How is she going to challenge or not challenge me?” Just relax the first couple classes. It’s easier said than done.
As far as going into the program, if you feel like this is something you want, regardless of if you want to teach or make extra income on the side, if you know it’s something you want to do, just do it because nothing bad is going to come out of it. It will be such a great experience. It was very trying as far as the time commitment, but if you think about it in the greater scope of things, it was only a drop in the bucket and it changes your life. And it’s not like you’re being tortured. You’re having fun! It’s some time away from your daily grind.

AKS: Any final thoughts?

CG: I always tell my students “We all have the same destination but we all take a different journey there. It’s your practice. If you’re going to do level 1, level 2, level 3, it doesn’t matter. Our final destination is just doing yoga.

We Cloud Niners like to say our style of yoga is the fun kind! Sounds like you’re upholding that reputation, CC!

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Making Plans and Making Space

I hope you’re enjoying a great start to your new year! I definitely am. I already got the chance to visit some good friends in San Francisco and I have lots of other fun travels on the horizon in 2016.

I’ve been doing a lot of self-study and deep inner work in the last year and even though my work is far from over (it’s never really over), it’s nice to reflect on the progress I’ve made. Here’s something that I’ve learned: It’s essential to make plans and take deliberate steps towards the goals you want to achieve, but it’s also important to meditate on the feelings you want to cultivate in your life and allow space for your path to unfold organically. It might not happen in the exact way you anticipated, but if you have clarity in terms of your intentions (I want to feel strong/independent/empowered/centered/etc.) then you will certainly move in the right direction.

So this year I’m making plans and making space to become the kind of teacher I admire and get inspired by. What about you? Where do you see yourself heading in the new year? Please share your thoughts and intentions. I’d love to hear them.

And speaking of teachers who inspire me, check out this article in LA Yoga by my teacher, Julian Walker: Come As You Are. It’s a great read for anyone, but especially for teachers.

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Cloud Nine Yoga Brea Alumni: Isabelle Laski




AKS: Tell me what classes you currently teach.

IL: I currently teach two classes a week. On Tuesdays I teach restorative yoga. It’s at a yoga studio within a martial arts studio (in Covina). The yoga studio is called Golden Monkey Yoga. And I teach at Unfold (in Brea) on Thursdays—the candlelight flow class—so it’s a gentle blend of Hatha and Vinyasa. Sometimes I’ll incorporate Yin depending on how everyone’s feeling that day.

AKS: Have you found that gentle classes are the style you like to teach the most?

IL: Yes, because I get a lot of beginners. Towards the end of teacher training I kind of figured out that I wanted to teach people who were still new to yoga or are a little scared to try it and they attend classes like that because they’re less intimidating. I don’t mind teaching a Vinyasa type class but I seem to really like teaching gentler, slower paced classes

AKS: How long has it been now since you graduated from teacher training?

IL: I started the program in late 2013 and I think we ended January 2014 and then I got my certification around March 2014. Almost two years. It’s kind of crazy; I feel like it just happened.

AKS: Having the experience of teaching for almost two years, what has changed the most for you as far as your evolution as a teacher? How do you see that you’ve improved?

IL: I was so nervous. It’s hard to get a gig after you graduate from the program, but I didn’t want to lose the momentum of teaching with my mentor. I started off doing free yoga at the park, just to make sure I didn’t lose everything. And I was really nervous about coming up with a sequence, wondering if it was challenging enough. I think I was hung up on “How cool is my sequence?” When you teach enough, you have a few set sequences or flows that you like to use, but I’ve found that it really depends on who comes to your class. This has happened so many times where I’m like “Oh I’m going to do this…” Like I just saw this move and it’s really cool. It felt really awesome. And then you realize that you have people who’ve come to your class who have no idea what yoga is or what down dog is and you’re like “Well, I guess I can’t use that this time.” You never really can plan for it. I think that’s one thing I’ve learned in the short amount of time I’ve been teaching.
And I’ve also learned about myself. You get so hungry as a new teacher that you want to take every gig, but then you’ll learn that not every gig is right for you. I feel like everything needs to click, and sometimes it just doesn’t. And you need to see what serves you as a teacher and if it doesn’t serve you then you can’t serve your class. I’ve learned a lot about that and what I want and what I don’t want.

AKS: Tell me a little bit about your plans for the future.

IL: I would eventually like to do the 300 hour teacher training, but I’m also really interested in the nutritional aspects. When we did the 200 hour training, I really enjoyed the Ayurveda portion of it and I feel like that’s something I’d like to incorporate in the future, to do some sort of counseling and maybe work with people one on one. Because sometimes people are a little intimidated to go to a class and they need a lot of help.

I also realized in the 200 hour teacher training that I really wish I took anatomy classes in college. As I’m teaching, I’ll blank out sometimes and think “What is that muscle called again?” And I’m like “Just stretch this part of your body.” So I definitely want to get more educated in anatomy and Ayurveda, more of the internal part of yoga. I currently work full time and I’m doing yoga because it’s my passion but eventually I would like for it to become my only thing.

I’ve also thought about being a traveling yogi and hosting events, so I’m still trying to figure out exactly what I want to do, but I know what I want to study. When I tell people I’m a yoga teacher the first thing they ask me is “Are you going to open up a studio?” But there’s so much more that you can do with it. I’m in it for the ride, which is so unlike me because I’m very much a planner and I need to know what I’m doing. But in studying yoga, you learn that you can’t plan for everything and things change all the time, so it’s been really great for me. I needed it.

AKS: Do you have any favorite yoga books or resources that you’ve learned a lot from?

IL: I’ve been reading a lot of Gabrielle Bernstein’s books. I think she’s super inspirational and I feel like she can relate on a modern level. I’ve also been reading the Radiance Sutras (by Lorin Roche) and I think it’s beautiful. And it’s one of those where you don’t have to sit through it and read the whole thing but sometimes you can just pick it up and pick a verse at random. I’ve been reading that and I have Eckhart Tolle on my list of things to read. I just get excited. I have a short attention span so I’ll start reading something and I don’t finish it right away. I think that’s the vata part of me.

Lately it’s been Gabrielle Bernstein and it’s not just books, but also subscribing to YouTube videos. What’s nice about these kinds of figures is that they’ll post weekly videos and it’s nice to watch it when you’re feeling a little stressed or a little yucky. When you watch it, you feel recharged again.
I feel like it’s (Facebook & social media) such a good resource that people are starting to use to connect to students. It’s really interesting to see how creative people are getting.

AKS: Do you have any piece of advice for people who are just graduating teacher training and getting started with teaching?

IL: Don’t be so hard on yourself. It’s so easy to be hard on yourself. No pun intended but be flexible. You never know what works for you. I never thought I would teach yoga at a martial arts studio but I really enjoy it. Don’t be so hard on yourself if maybe your audition didn’t go the way you wanted it to. Maybe it’s just not a good fit. And just take it one day at a time. And make your own opportunities.


We’re excited to see what opportunities Isabelle will be making next!

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Cloud Nine Yoga Brea Alumni: Kelly Kirkpatrick

kellykAKS: Tell us what styles of classes you’re teaching and where.
KK: I’m teaching a class called Yoga Blend at Private Fitness in Anaheim Hills, which I base around the students that are in the class. I’ll sometimes have a new student or I’ll have a student that’s 80, and then I’ll have a student who wants to flow, so I’ll adjust the class to the people that are in it.
I also teach prenatal yoga at Unfold Yoga in Brea. And I teach a Yoga Basics class every quarter at Unfold, just teaching students what they can expect in a level 1 Vinyasa class. And I’m going to be teaching a 5:30am class at Stella Luna Yoga in the new year.
AKS: What’s been your favorite style of class to teach?
KK: Prenatal yoga is really special to me. That’s one class I’ve taught consistently for a year and only had to sub out once. I just love everything about a mother taking care of herself and the connection with the baby, and teaching them poses that can relieve everyday aches and pains, and stresses and worries.
I also love subbing Hannah’s level 1/2 class (at Unfold). I enjoy teaching something more challenging. I feel like I don’t have to think so much about what to say, and they already know what’s going on and we can just have fun. But I also feel like it challenges me and that’s why I like it.
HJ: You’re doing your 300 hour training with Stella (Cloud Nine) now. How is that going so far?
KK: it’s going good. We’ve had two meetups. We just started to dive into yin yoga and aromatherapy basics. It’s a good group of people. There’s nine of us. I’m excited.
AKS: How long has it been now since you finished your teacher training and started teaching?
KK: This June was one year graduated and this August was one year teaching, so it’s been about a year and a half.
HJ: How do you feel with the development after a year? In the beginning, were you nervous?
KK: Yes. I’m still very nervous, all the time, because I care. After a year, I definitely still open up my training manual and look through old mentoring notes, which I can barely read because my handwriting is horrible. I got a great foundation out of the 200 hour and I still feel like I have more to explore within my own range and dive in deeper.
AKS: So, having a year of experience under your belt, do you have any piece of advice for new yoga teachers who are just graduating and getting ready to teach?
KK: To believe in yourself. To trust that you have what you need to get through your class and first couple of classes. To know that all the students there are very open minded and forgiving and that you will probably be much more amazing than how you critique yourself. To keep studying. I like to watch a lot of videos before I teach because it inspires me. To keep reading. Just keep educating, and keep doing it!
HJ: Do you have a favorite book that you can recommend?
KK: The Secret Power of Yoga (by Nischala Joy Devi) was the very first yoga book I ever picked up. I wish I could say I’ve read it. I’ve only gotten through parts of it, but it’s still very special to me because I’ve had it for so long and I’ve let people borrow it and I’ve gotten it back and now it’s required reading for the 300 hour training.
I’m also reading the Radiance Sutras (by Lorin Roche), which is really beautiful. You (Alisha) read it once in a class where I mentored with you and I didn’t know what it was you were reading until I picked it up and was like “Oh, it’s so juicy!”
Those are my favorite right now.
HJ: In the Secret Power of Yoga, just the first few pages, it really shifts the way you think about…not teaching yoga so much, but just life. And how yoga is all of it.
Do you have any memorable stories from the classes you’ve taught?
KK: In prenatal yoga, you have the opportunity to invite in a feeling of connection to the mom and her baby in a really sacred and safe space and I have a good memory of doing a guided meditation from a hypnobirthing book and I made some people cry, and that made me feel good. They’re connecting and I love that!
Subbing Hannah’s class was also rewarding, having her students tell me that they felt challenged and that they enjoyed the class, getting feedback from Hannah. That made me feel really good.
Also just building relationships. I do have an 80 year old yoga student. I think he’s my biggest fan. He was always really encouraging before every class and he’d say how much he loved my class. He’d get something out of it every time.
HJ: How do you feel about letting go (of classes, or relationships with students)?
KK: That’s my whole life! I don’t look back. I savor the moment and enjoy the relationships I have and then there’s no regret and I do what I need to do for myself at the time and keep going.
HJ: Are you able to see yourself 10 years from now?
KK: I’m happy to have accomplished the goal of becoming a teacher, and the small goal within that of being able to teach without demoing. That’s a big weakness, or opportunity, for me. And another goal would be adjustments. I’ve shied away from touching people.
Ten years from now…I just hope to teach excellent classes that make everyone happy. I always thought I wanted a studio but I’m not sure yet.
HJ: What would you say your strength is?

KK: Cuing the breath is something that I do really well. That’s all I do actually. We don’t do anything without a breath cue. I think what I learned from Cloud Nine is to teach my class based on the people that are in the room, so I’m constantly aware of what’s going right and what maybe needs to shift. I have a creative class. I wouldn’t say I ever teach the same thing twice. I think I can relate to you (Hannah) in the fact that it just comes. I’ll get my inspiration, and then whatever comes comes. And I always feel good about each class. It’s an escape for me. I just feel better. And that’s a strength.
AKS: Any final thoughts?
KK: I really found my home with Cloud Nine. You can just be yourself. And I thought coming into it that I had to be somebody else, maybe a better version of myself. But I like everything about me, my flaws and all…

So do we, Kelly!

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