Student Spotlight: Jared Rittenhouse

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What brought you to yoga? 

Well, I have been around yoga and spiritualism my entire life. My parents were “counterculture” and encouraged seeking, skepticism, and exploration. I was not specifically a yoga practitioner but I was exposed to many different angles of it from a young age. I ended up studying martial arts throughout most of my youth. Towards the end of my highschool years I was mostly concerned with finding work, social interactions, and love interests. I definitely was not focused on my mental, physical, or spiritual well being

By my mid 20s I realized a sedentary lifestyle and poor diet weren’t working for me. Two jobs, 7 days a week, and too many hours sitting at a computer. Something had to change. I dabbled in this and that. I eventually found my way to Escobar Training Grounds. I got the motivation necessary to live more actively training MMA there. After a number of years I was at a point where body stopped improving and started to hurt. MMA is somewhat “high impact”. I’m also not particularly competitive which didn’t help with some aspects of the MMA culture. I started looking for some balance. A bit of Yin for all the Yang. I started attending classes at the Shala. Mostly Flow and some Yin classes. Then getting into the Ashtanga program. After a period of time, around 1 to 2 years, I transitioned to just doing yoga. I love the crew at Escobar’s. I love the art aspect of martial arts. I miss kickboxing. But the change was necessary.

How did you discover the Tahoe Yoga Shala? 

I couple of my friends at ETG frequented and recommended the Shala. They also encouraged me to try Ashtanga yoga. I had no idea what that meant at the time but I was very fond of the forms involved with martial arts and they thought I would take well to the format. This ended up being an accurate assumption!

How has yoga enriched your life? 

I am grateful to yoga for the mind/body awareness it encourages. The connection between the breath and movement. Being mindful of the inhale and the exhale has had a huge impact on all aspects of my life.

Although flexibility is not my focus, yoga has made me more physically flexible. And possibly more mentally flexible.  Although strength is not my focus, yoga has made me physically stronger. And perhaps mentally stronger.

Yoga was also a catalyst. The allure of the Eastern philosophies beckoned. After simply practicing asana for a time I dove into the writings, lectures, and recordings of whoever I could find or was recommended. From current and past teachers, the Sutras, the Vedas, the teachings of the Buddha, those who came before him and after. What began as stretching has led me to realize there is a path.

What advice would you give to a person interested in starting a yoga practice? 

Just do it. Cliche right? Don’t worry about what shape, size, or age you are. My father just started practicing yoga regularly and he’s in his 70’s!

Don’t be afraid to go just for the physical. It’s why I started. I didn’t start to meditate, to chant, to pray, to zen, for the rich history. I didn’t even come for the savasana. I started for the stretches. I had no idea where it was going to lead me.

Conversely, don’t be afraid to go for the “spiritual” side either. It’s one of the things I love about yoga and one of the reasons I continue. It’s yours. There is no set linear progression. No prerequisites. No formula. Unless, of course, you want one.

On a more practical note, take it slow. I know that is what I would tell my past self if I could. Breathe. Listen. Strive less. It’s easy to get caught up in what others can do. It’s even easier to get caught up in what you can do! Stay calm. Sthira-sukham asanam. Try not to look for a quick fix either. It’s ok to enjoy a single class now and then but the real benefit is in the long game. Change can take time. The body needs movement and the mind needs focus. Everyday for as long as it is able.

What do you most appreciate about the Tahoe Yoga Shala? 

The Shala is home, familiar, comfortable, warm. Literally warm. It’s so wonderful at 6am on a cold winter morning! When the sun comes up and naturally lights the space. Even if I’m there alone early in the morning, there’s an energy to my practice I don’t get anywhere else. It is just what it needs to be.

I appreciate all the teachers. They each bring their own unique personalities and style. 

I appreciate the sangha. Everyone is accepting and dedicated.

How do you practice your yoga off the mat? 

There is movement, and yoga, in every single moment of existence. On or off the mat.

If you were a yoga pose, which one would you be? 

In the morning I am tadasana. In the evening I am sukhasana.

Tell us something unusual about yourself - the wackier the better! 

I think this was the question I spent the most time searching for a response to. I’m afraid I am not particularly “wacky”. I may even be somewhat humdrum. I’m ok with this. So, maybe I’ll simply end on a personal note. Whenever I finish practicing asana or sitting quietly, I say this prayer;

May all beings be peaceful

May all beings be happy

May all beings be safe

May all beings awaken to the light of their true nature

May all beings be free

Student Spotlight: Amy Carey

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What brought you to yoga?

I gifted myself a membership to a yoga studio for my 35th birthday because I saw yoga as a beautiful way to support my body and keep it strong and flexible for all of the outdoor activities that I enjoy; skiing, snowboarding, hiking, biking, running!  I was living in Mammoth Lakes at the time and felt blessed to have the eastern Sierras as my playground.  What I found in yoga was much more than a way to bring more energy, strength, and agility to my outdoor play.  I found a new way of “Being” in the world centered on the practice of presence and love.      

How did you discover the Tahoe Yoga Shala?

Seven years later I moved from Mammoth Lakes to Minden to start a family with my beautiful husband Cameron.  By that time I had completed a couple of yoga teacher trainings for the purpose of taking my practice deeper, and Yoga had become an integral part of my life.  One of my highest goals after arriving in Minden was to find a new studio space to enrich my life.  The thing that initially captured my interest about the Shala were the variety of class offerings (in particular I was excited to see both Ashtanga and Prana Vinyasa since these were the cornerstones of my practice in Mammoth).  I was also drawn in by the teacher bios and the connection I felt to the website and it’s messaging.  Even though the travel time is around 50 min from my house in Minden, I was inspired to give it a try.  

Brent happened to be teaching the first class I experienced at the Shala and I knew within seconds of the class starting that my soul had found home.  It was such a heart-felt coming home that tears started flowing when I expressed my gratitude to Brent after class.  Of course my tears were met with all of the kindness and compassion I could have hoped for.  Now, a couple of years after that first class, I’ve had the honor of learning from many of the great teachers and fellow practitioners at the Shala.      

How has Yoga Enriched your Life?

I believe that love is the most powerful force in the universe and yoga has provided me with a pathway to aligning with the vibration of love; a pathway to deeply loving myself, and a pathway to deeply loving all that is.  Yoga gifts me with the practice of presence.  From this presence comes the awareness of how my thoughts, feelings and emotions influence every cell in my body.  From this presence come the awareness that I have the power to cultivate what I need from within.  From this presence comes the practice of working with my breath, listening to my inner wisdom, and making moment to moment choices that get me back into alignment.  From this presence come the embodiment of what I choose; and I choose love!  

What advice would you give to a person interested in starting a yoga practice?

Have fun with it!  Make it ‘your’ practice.  Try to connect with whatever it is that keeps calling you back to the mat.  For me it helps to frame practice as a fun journey of trying new things with no attachment to ‘getting it right’.  Sometimes when I am trying something new it can feel a little uncomfortable; physically, mentally, and/or emotionally.  So my advice to myself in those moments is to be willing to try, be willing to listen, be willing to become aware of what is coming up, be willing to have the deeper reflection, and be willing to give myself sincere compassion and love in these moments.  This is what makes Yoga fun for me.  It provides continuous opportunities to practice awareness, gratitude, surrender and flow.  And with practice, it only gets better!  

What do you most appreciate about the Tahoe Yoga Shala?

I love and appreciate so much about the Tahoe Yoga Shala.  I appreciate that my smile lights up when I think about the studio space.  I appreciate that my smile lights up when I think about the teachers.  I appreciate that my smile lights up I think about the community that practices there.  The Tahoe Yoga Shala literally lights me up with love!  

To be a little more specific:  The studio is vibrant and healing.  With its large windows surrounded by nature and beauty, I feel the magic of being outdoors while being indoors.  I appreciate that all of the teachers hold a compassionate safe space for practice and expansion.  I appreciate that The Shala hosts incredible guest teachers and workshops to help students go deeper.  I appreciate the regularly guided practices of singing the Hanuman Chalisa, studying the Yoga Sutras, and Japa Meditation.  And the icing on the cake, I appreciate the heart felt connections I experience with the community that practices at the Shala.   

How do you Practice your Yoga off the Mat?   

My yoga practice off the mat is centered on practicing present moment consciousness and making choices from this state of awareness.  Just like my practice on the mat, it is not about being perfect, it’s about practicing.  For example, when I get triggered by something, I practice staying conscious with how I am feeling and what is coming up for me.  I practice choosing to pause in the moment and call upon my yoga practice.  I practice tuning into my breath and creating space between the triggering incident and my response.  I practice choosing to see what is being reflected to me as an opportunity for growth.   I practice holding my vibration in a state of love so I can respond in a way that is kind, honest and from a place that feels true and authentic to myself.  I choose to practice not going into states of powerlessness or reaction.  This is how I have been beginning to change things in my life and in the world around me: by practicing living my yoga, by practicing living in full alignment with the truth of source love that I am.  

If you were a yoga pose, which one would you be?

Natarajasana:  Lord of the Dance.

Joyfully dancing the dance of life, no matter the obstacles we face.  Choosing to let go of what is no longer needed in order to let in what truly serves.  The courage and strength to choose transformation through love!

Tell us something unusual about yourself - the wackier the better!

Ha!  From my earliest memories I’ve loved playing in my imagination!  I still love it!  I am a dreamer!  And when I go to that place of play, I often find myself talking to all of the beautiful things around me; seen and unseen.  I know…. Pretty wacky!