Over the years I have taken classes from many yoga teachers, and I have often wondered about their background and how they got into teaching. I’m sure I’m not the only one, so I decided to start a series of yoga teacher profiles here on the blog. First out is Lisa Steele, a much-loved yoga teacher at Yogalife in Seattle.
Send me a note if you know any teachers you’d like to see profiled!
Q & A with Yoga Teacher Lisa Steele
How did you decide to become a yoga teacher?
I was doing work study to be able to afford yoga at Cyndi Lee’s Om Yoga Center in NYC. I was there a lot, and I would see how excited and intense the trainees were during their teacher training, and how they would be practicing Sanskrit in the elevator, and their adjustments in the hallways. I wanted to be doing that! That’s really what drew me to the teacher training…to learn all the names of the poses in Sanskrit. And to deepen my practice amidst community. I didn’t think I’d be any good at the actual teaching part
Who have been your main teachers and influences?
The AMAZING Cyndi Lee and Jennifer Brilliant headed the program at Om, and supplemented the training with other teachers. I can never be grateful enough for that training; it was life-changing, and challenged me in so many ways I never could have imagined. Cyndi and Jennifer, Susan Orem, David Nichtern, Amy Ippoliti, Elena Brower…so many insanely terrific teachers at Om that inspired, humbled and influenced me.
What’s your personal practice?
I think it’s important for teachers to have a home practice, and also to support, learn from, and experience the classroom environment and other teachers. I meditate and practice in the mornings, and take classes as often as I can. I have a blast making up and figuring out different vinyasa sequences to play with in class when I practice and explore on my own. When I roll out my yoga mat, my dog Sandy always steps on it and does the most perfect downward facing dog you’d ever want to see.
Favorite pose? Least favorite pose?
I’m leading the Yogalife teacher training this year, and during one of our first meetings I had invited other teachers who’d also be in the training to attend. We sat around in a circle, and went around the room saying which pose was our current “conundrum” pose and which pose currently “delighted us”. One of the teachers responded with,
“My favorite pose is any asana that brings me closer to my Self. My least favorite pose is any asana that takes me away from my Self”. I think I’ll crib that answer.
What inspires you?
My dog. My family. The Yogalife Sangha. My students, who are my teachers. My friends. Springtime in Seattle. Poetry. Gardening. A good book. A perfect cup of tea. Yoga.