My Journey Into Becoming A Yoga Instructor….
By Andrea Bogart
If you asked me 10 years ago if I ever thought I'd be practicing Yoga, let alone sharing the practice with others as an Instructor, the answer would have been no. I giggle as realize I had never even heard of Yoga growing up so now when asked, ”How did I end up teaching Yoga?" it's not a short answer. There are several life experiences along the way that stand out which helped me profoundly discover my own Yoga practice and gave me no choice but to delightfully pay it forward.
After teaching my dolls a lot of choreography as a child, requesting to teach my own students as a pre-teen, being the HS dance team captain, moving on to coach and instruct through college and now for the past 12 years, class rooms of tiny dancers have blessed me with their cuteness one day a week, it's fair to say my theme of loving to teach has been a big part of my life. I remember my High School Athletic Director asking me to come back and be a motivational speaker for the graduating class just after me. Being well into gaining my “freshman 15” and getting partying down to a “T,” I wondered "Why Me?" He reminded me that I went to a college where I didn't know anyone and got accepted based on my dancing, not the ACT score (let me tell ya it was low!) I was given a scholarship with MSU's Sugar Bear Dance Team and he thought I could encourage other students to get involved, be brave and inspire them to go for what they want during that pivotal time even if odds were against them. That opportunity inspired me; it was something I really enjoyed and felt honored to do.
I moved to LA in 2000, age 22, with wide eyes and dreams of being in the popular dancing GAP commercials. I landed in a city filled with souls searching to find their way to break out and be seen. Dancing is what made my heart soar, and I believed in my talent. It was my outlet of self expression and my life revolved around it. The success I was having professionally was encouraging, it but didn't come without a lot of heartache, self-doubt, disappointments and concerns about my future. "What would I do in 15 years?" I asked myself, when my body wouldn't be able to keep up like it can now--assuming that at 37 I'd be considered old bones or something! Still very new in Los Angeles, a friend recommended an acting showcase class with Bobbie Chance, and that's where I started spending most of my time. I fell in love with the craft of acting. I continued to study with various A list coaches and learn techniques and styles. I performed in my first ever two plays, booked multiple National commercials, and guest starred on hit shows, booked leads in features and finally landed a role on ABC’s Daytime Soap General Hospital. My career was flourishing, and I felt proud to say, "I'm an Actress."
A miracle is a shift in perception from fear to love ~ Marianne Williamson
With a shift of my focus, I thought of being an actress like I did being a dancer: it takes discipline and dedication, and I knew confidence would only come with hard work. My body and mind craved working out, stretching and keeping myself in shape, which is a way of life for me, but I had to find what would work now since I wasn't dancing as often.
It's not easy to take a good look in the mirror and ask myself: am I really this healthy person I'm trying to be? Or is this what I think is healthy because I run, hike and work out at the gym, while the rest is just my fun life and nothing to worry about in this "self image" category. Being a lucky one with high metabolism didn't exactly have me overly concerned with what I ate and having been in a long relationship that involved socially drinking A LOT, concerns were arising physically in my body. So out came the microscope to assess my life. What I didn't plan for was the personal heartache I endured after ending a deep love and 7-year relationship. I needed some well-rounded healing desperately.
At that point, I had pretty extreme joint pain in several areas of my body, I felt bloated all the time, I was extremely tired mid-way through my days, had red, itchy patches showing up on my back regularly, craved sugar like a mad woman, was convinced my birth control had me completely imbalanced. To top it off I had adult acne and was heartbroken and sad but doing my best day in and day out to wake up and show the world I'm great. I really wanted to feel good and BE happy! I was desperate to figure out what was happening to me and worrying & stressing surly wasn’t helping matters. I needed BALANCE and to push through the rut of insignificance I was drifting into. Seeing a Holistic Dr. was my next step and seemingly an important one.
My first introduction to Yoga was at age 29, and it was oddly not one that had me wanting to go again. I share this now with all due respect to the practice because I now know how personal it is and how you have to find what works for you with all the teaching styles and variety of instructors and studios out there. A year later my addiction to Yoga came on strong when a girlfriend introduced me to Matthew Reyes at Yoga Hop in Santa Monica. It was a Vinyasa Flow style class where you dripped with sweat, awesome music was pumping with a lovely calming end into savasana to surrender. It was my jam! I started bouncing around taking classes all over with the great teachers you read about Andrea Marcum, Vinnie Marino, Annie Carpenter, Megan Townsend, Jake Ferreer, Joe Komar--to name a few. These teachers have been a big part of my growth, healing and newfound passion. Finding stillness, releasing stress, joint pain dissipating, rain drops of spirituality, always feeling better after a class... something was happening, something really, really good and not just in the room on my mat--I started to experience more joy in my everyday life. The way in which a consistent Yoga practice was changing my life gave me no choice but to combine it with my love for teaching, get certified and share this with as many people as I could. I want people to know how having a consistent Yoga practice can be, LIFE healing.
We work on ourselves in order to help others, but also we help others in order to work on ourselves ~ Pema Chodron
This was a waterfall effect for me wanting to change and live a healthier lifestyle. If you listen and pay attention your body will show you signs of what you need--it's up to us to ignore it or listen. Our relationship to food and exercise is certainly a struggle for most and it's so very personal. With the blood tests & symptoms of an auto immune disorder developing for me, I changed my diet completely, alcohol is no longer a wingman, and my love for life and carving out time for things I enjoy is a priority. It all works together and you have to do the work to find the recipe that works for you. The same worries that existed with my dancing career I quickly learned would all be factors in my career as an actress as well. It’s a roller coaster that is filled with rejection, and it’s not easy waiting for someone to say “Yes” you get to work; we want you. Just like life: life is a rollercoaster, it doesn’t matter what you do or who you have or don’t have in it, so finding that inner connection with yourself and learning how to nourish it with compassion & gratitude will help you outwardly share that with others. When you know you want happiness in your life you will figure out what you have to do to live it, but it is in fact a choice. So when you’re really ready, I challenge you to ‘check-in’ with yourself and to open up to the understanding we are NOT perfect beings. Give yourself permission to grow, be open-minded and see that possibilities are everywhere.
As breath stills our mind, our energies are free to unhook from the senses and bend inward ~B.K.S. Iyengar
I’ve been passionately teaching Mindful Vinyasa Flow Classes, Privates sessions, Small Group & Company Privates for 2+ years now. It feels ever evolving for me as a practitioner and as an instructor, and I’m incredibly grateful to all the students I share a space with and to the instructors sharing their gifts with others. I truly feel honored and excited about this beautiful communal and yet personal thing we call YOGA.
*Please note that not all experiences, beliefs, and ideas are shared by each member of “The New Hollywood.” We are a group of shepherds, not sheep.