She Was Kicked Out Of Mysore. The Incredible Journey Of Natasha Teran
By Stephanie Santos
Natasha Teran is an Ashtanga yoga teacher based in San Diego, California. Her classes themselves are an invigorating combination of discipline and fun, which focus on proper alignment, the building of strength, and individual improvement. Natasha incorporates the lessons she learns from her own rigorous daily practice into her classes: her oft-repeated mantra is “Practice, practice, practice!” Natasha inspires her students by incorporating her yoga-inspired philosophy in every aspect of her daily life. Natasha sat down with us to share her yoga journey from her birthplace of Venezuela to California.
SS: Tell us a little bit about the pre-Ashtanga Natasha.
NT: I grew up with fitness being a big part of my life as my family has always been into fitness. I became a professional tap dancer at a young age. I have always liked to move and get connected with my body. From the age of 15, I was teaching step and aerobics classes at my local gym in Venezuela. I soon became a personal training, which I continued when I moved to the U.S. Even in the beginning, with a language barrier with my U.S. clients, I was happy to find that movement, breath and alignment are universal. I could still share my love of health and well being that has inspired me my entire career.
SS: How did you find your Yoga practice?
NT: In 2001, I stepped into my first yoga class, it was a Bikram class. I loved it. I took the teacher training, but eventually I found that I was looking for something else. I started searching. I soon stumbled into an Ashtanga class, it was a Mysore class. The teacher asked me if I knew what Mysore was and if I had ever taken Ashtanga. I smiled and thought, “What language is this guy speaking?” Needless to say he kicked me out, said I was in the wrong class. I never went back to that class. In 2003, in San Diego, I went to a yoga class at my local gym. After class the teacher said “you have a beautiful practice, you should go to Tim Miller.” I began studying with Tim and took his teacher training, only 3 months after meeting him.
*Tim Miller is the Director of the Ashtanga Yoga Center, he has been studying and teaching for over thirty years and was the first American certified to teach by K Pattabhi Jois at the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute in Mysore, India.*
SS: What has been your experience training so closely with Tim for all these years?
NT: I have fond memories of those early days, my first primary series class may have been one of the hardest classes of my life. I wanted to learn the practice and do it right, that was my goal of attending the teacher training. Eventually Tim asked me to start teaching some of his classes. Tim and I became great friends and have a great relationship.
SS: What advice do you have for new yogis?
NT: With all of my clients, we begin by building strength and not focusing on the flexibility. Sitting at a computer all day, hunched over the keyboard, seems to wreak havoc on so many of my clients who work in offices all day. I love that so many companies have begun to focus on ergonomics, but it’s not enough. Just changing the workstation will not give you the same benefits as moving your body, lengthening your breath and calming your mind. For that you need to dedicate yourself to come to the mat. I encourage small adjustments, to keep my clients from hunching and compressing their internal organs as they sit at their desk. I like to encourage them to picture holding the sky with the crown of their head.
Some people might be apprehensive to begin their practice of yoga with Ashtanga, but Ashtanga is for everyone. I would recommend that yogis new to the practice (even if they have been practicing other forms of yoga for years) start with Surya Namaskara A and B, the sun salutations. Ashtanga is a moving meditation and the link of breath to movement is essential. I urge everyone to experience the practice without expectation. When I began my practice I didn’t have a goal to be a teacher, it just ended up unfolding that way. Let the practice unfold for you. Find a teacher, one that inspires you and you connect with. The practice is not about perfection, it is about mindfulness.
SS: What has Yoga taught you?
NT: Through my many years of teaching I keep coming back to the concept of ‘Ahimsa’ a term for non-violence and compassion. I feel that the negativity of life is where we can find the beauty. Positivity is wonderful but we learn little from the times in our lives that are easy. It is important to enjoy the good things in your life, of course. We all have the tools to eradicate the negativity and the ignorance but at our own pace. When you spend time in difficult situations you are forced to grow and to find yourself. I teach my students not to fear difficulty, but to embrace the compassion within themselves.
To learn more about Natasha you can visit her website: www.natashateran.com.