How did you first get interested in yoga? In 1991 I graduated from UCLA with a bachelor’s degree in communications and business. Shortly thereafter I began a career in the music industry coordinating soundtracks for films such as Natural Born Killers, Heat and Twister. Seeking a lifestyle change, my boyfriend (now husband) and I left the country to enjoy time backpacking abroad. We began our journey in Australia where we picked apples to earn money, and first practiced yoga from the book “Fit for Life”. In three years of traveling, we visited 13 more countries meeting many friends/teachers along the way. Ultimately we arrived in India where we completely immersed ourselves into the philosophy and practice of yoga.
What change has yoga made in your life? Yoga feels so integral to my well-being. I can hardly remember life without it! I have been practicing since 1996 and am totally grateful for the tools it has provided, such as the principles of right action, self-study and openness. When I practice and teach yoga, I experience peace. I am reminded the present moment is a gift. So I guess rather than “changing me,” yoga helps me be my best self. When I forget, in life and practice, I begin again.
What inspired you to begin teaching yoga to others? Like so many yoga teachers, I wanted to share the joys and benefits of yoga that I experienced. I began teaching by donation in Balboa Park, San Diego. My husband and I then opened Yoga One, Downtown San Diego in 2001. How would you describe your teaching style? Alignment and breath based flow. I can teach in a variety of styles (having studied Iyengar, Anusara, Ashtanga and Sivananda yoga); however, right now my favorite practice is a dynamic, yet conscious Vinyasa inspired with tidbits of practical yogic philosophy.
What sets Yoga One apart from other yoga studios? Our mission is to help people live healthier, happier lives. We strive to offer a safe, loving, non-competitive environment for individuals to learn and grow. One of the things that may set us apart is that we have a fantastic community of students who we consider family. Yoga One is definitely a family affair. We also have wonderful teachers who teach optimal alignment and are inspiring examples of individuals being the change they want to see in the world. We attempt to always treat people the way we would want to be treated. We hope to inspire others to take care of themselves and each other with loving kindness.
How do you incorporate Vipassana teachings into your yoga lessons? Present moment-to-moment awareness is integral to the teachings of Vipassana and yoga. Perhaps not all of our instructors have studied Vipassana, but each teacher at our studio embodies yogic awareness on and off the mat.
What do you think is the one thing most people could do to improve their lives? The entire practice of yoga is so powerful, but if you have to distill it into one smaller part, perhaps considering all thoughts, speech and actions from the perspective of loving kindness (ahimsa) would be a good start! A teacher of mine taught us the simple phrase “Is it true? Is it nice? Is it necessary?” Living with this awareness is changing my life.
How important do you think it is to make choices to eat organic food and buy organic clothing and household goods when possible? Yogic ethics of course teach us non-harming and non-grasping. The earth is certainly worthy of these same considerations. Living a modern life; however, is a balancing act. I believe it is equally important to consider both what you do and how you do it. Do you judge those who are not vegetarian or do not eat organic foods? Do you consume consciously with gratitude?
What was the most memorable experience you’ve had as a yoga teacher? Just today, a student told me that ten years ago when she began practicing yoga with me she had stopped drinking due to alcoholism. She said that our time together helped her through that difficult period. Interactions like these, on a day-to-day basis, are what I find most memorable.
On a different note, I recently helped create iYoga Premuim, an app for Apple released by 3D4Medical. I wore a motion capture suit covered with electrodes and performed nearly 200 yoga poses over a 3-day period. Rachel Krentzman, of Embody Yoga Therapy, and I then detailed which muscles contract or stretch moving into and out of each pose. I wrote alignment cues for each posture as well and then recorded verbal instructions in a sound studio. The application reached the number one spot for best-selling health and fitness applications worldwide on Apple’s app store, with over 15,000 downloads in the first month.
What advice would you give to someone who is totally new to yoga? Be open to trying more than just one class – try a non-heated and a heated class, try a few different studios and teachers as well as a few different styles. There is so much yoga on offer today – it is easier to find a class close by, but perhaps harder to know what type of yoga will best serve you. You should leave class feeling better than when you arrived. Don’t compete with anyone or yourself, don’t judge yourself or anyone else. Listen to your body, your breath and your intuition. Don’t tolerate pain in your joints. Enjoy moving and breathing consciously Congratulate yourself for trying something new and making time for your well being!
Thank you for the opportunity to share. Namaste.
Amy Caldwell (E-RYT 500) has dedicated herself to the practice, study and teaching of yoga since discovering its joys and benefits in 1997 while backpacking throughout Asia, Australia, and parts of Europe. She trained in the disciplines of Ashtanga (Tim Miller, BNS Iyengar), Sivananda (Swami Sivanand, India), Iyengar (Roger Cole, Jo Zukovich, Eddy Marks) and Anusara (Diana Beardsley) combining elements of these styles into a dynamic and inspiring alignment-based flow. Amy co-leads Yoga One’s Annual 200 Hour Teacher Training course and has twice been featured on the cover of Yoga Journal including their 30th anniversary issue, as well as appearing inside for the “Home Practice” section. Amy and her husband Michael conceived and complied the Yoga One CD for Quango Music Group. She recently collaborated with 3D4Medical in creating the iYoga Premium app for iPad and iPhone which reached reached the number one spot for best-selling health and fitness applications worldwide on Apple’s store with over 15,000 downloads in the first month.