Our Day in the Life of a Yoga Teacher series continues with a teacher I am completely in awe of. I am in awe of her strength, her vitality and constant commitment to being a human BEing rather than a human doing. In spite of her battle with Common Variable Immune Deficiency, she has been a lifelong practitioner of yoga, an athlete, a trainer, as well as a holistic nutritionist. She is a true spiritual warrior in every sense of the word and I am completely honored to present to you, a day in the life of Lori Tindall.
SY: Where do you teach? And what is your teaching experience?
LT: I first started practicing as a child in the mid 70s with my mother and the few teachers she knew. I was taught basic Eastern philosophy and practices throughout my childhood, and was particularly drawn to classical Yoga methods. My first Yoga practices on the hand knotted rugs doing lotus posture, lion’s breath, and meditation are still brilliantly palpable to me. My earliest influences were in the Sivananda lineage and I continued practicing it privately off and on over the years as I grew. I continued to attend workshops and trainings along with my mother, in various traditions, including Rebirthing Breathwork methods in the early 1980s. Meditation was always a central practice throughout my upbringing. After leaving corporate employment, I was asked to teach some Yoga classes in 1993 because I was a practitioner, and there was a need for a teacher. I then began learning about teaching Yoga itself along with personal fitness training and endurance coaching, which gave me a great base for the human anatomy. Over the years, I have found the depth of Yoga is substantially fertile and my ongoing studies and practice are compelling. I have continued studying coursework from A.G. Mohan, tutored material from the late Georg Feuerstein, in the area of Traditional Yoga, and intensives with many different teachers. I live in Boise, Idaho, teach public classes at Sage Yoga & Wellness, offer webinars, and do private coaching in holistic nutrition and wellness.
SY: What are the practices you do each day to keep things smooth sailing? What are your challenges? What are your goals?
LT: Each day I focus on my spiritual practice, wellness, exercise, centering, family, fun, quality nutrition, and of course fitting in my work and obligations. I was born with an inborn error in my immune system, which means major parts of my immune system are not functioning. It’s called Common Variable Immune Deficiency and it results in recurring infections. A simple cold virus could turn into pneumonia very rapidly. Due to the severity of my disease, I was never expected to live past 30 years of age, but I am well past that now at 45. I credit this to living really well. I was blessed to have received great advice from my doctor at the University of Washington Hospital in 1985. She said to have low stress, enjoy my life, exercise daily, learn as much as possible about nutrition, study various things, don’t work too much, and live as well as I could. I’ve taken this prescription for living to heart, and it’s worked. Yet, each day is different, so I try to be attuned to what would be most harmonious for my health and also fulfill my obligations and interests. My goal for each day is to make a difference in the World, to do good, and be of service.
SY: Describe your IDEAL morning routine.
LT: I have an alarm set for everyday at 6:55am, but I am awake by 6:30am and I begin pranayama in bed. The alarm usually concludes my session, for which I pause for gratitude and acknowledgement of the Divine and another day alive here on Earth.
Then I’m up. I always start with a cup of organic green tea, check my email and social media messages, and then I eat (or have a green smoothie) after being fully awake and hungry. I will use the Netipot and Your Ellipticals Best Home only as needed, depending on my health status. Most days I’m off to either swim, bike, run, or a gym workout. Some days I leave early to visit my grandfather, who I am a legal guardian of, which involves traveling nearly 50 miles each way. Many mornings I will be walking my two elderly dogs with my husband (if he’s in town) before my workouts.
SY: Describe your ACTUAL morning routine.
LT: I have a history of being very disciplined, as training and racing triathlons required it. So much of my daily life practice now is about supporting my ability to be tuned in, present, and flexible to my fluctuating needs and desires. Yet, there are always key elements that are present, such as green tea and the pause of gratitude! The rest is variable, but not likely. I often make time to visit with other teachers, as I have mentored countless over the years and feel that this is a valuable way I can contribute to our community, exponentially.
SY: Highlight of your day.
LT: Each day is different. I teach 2 public Yoga classes a week, so that this allows me the flexibility to travel with my husband, work with clients online which I usually schedule in the afternoons, and my various other projects. I am working more now with webinars and live online events, which takes a lot of behind the scenes preparations.
The average day includes morning pranayama in bed, then breakfast, and a workout. Late mornings I prepare for my afternoon appointments, or work on my webinar materials. After lunch is when I usually schedule my appointments, and then I do a short asana practice followed by meditation.
SY: Describe your evening routine.
LT: I teach only one evening class a week, so the rest of the week I will be reading (studying), doing meal preparations, and then watching a Netflix show with my husband if he’s in town. I do spend a fair amount of time preparing organic whole food meals, but they are simple.
SY: Describe your sleep routine.
LT: Regular sleep is paramount to good health, so I make it a priority. I will almost always be in bed by 10pm or earlier if needed. I read for about 15 minutes and then do pranayama. I have found that keeping a routine is very helpful, and often picking up my iPad is the trigger for sleepiness. Drinking an herbal “sleepy time” tea can be very helpful, wearing ear plugs, darkening the room, can all be helpful for a good night’s sleep–and I do all of these!
SY: Tell us about teaching yoga.
LT: Over the years I have routinely investigated my motivations for teaching Yoga. I first started teaching simply because I was asked, and it hadn’t occurred to me prior to this to want to teach. As time passed, it seemed that “door” was always open for me, even when my interest in teaching may have been waning. I always come back to a couple simple premises. The over arching importance is enhancement of life. I’m interested in teaching a practice to help create balance within the context of the modern World with high stress, long hours in cars, chairs, computers, and a generally sedentary life. To help produce longevity and functionality in living. Traditional Yoga offers valid and proven techniques that help people navigate difficulties, to have clearer thinking, and thus better living. Yoga is knowing our truest nature, and living from within this inner wisdom.
SY: Describe the type of yoga that you teach.
LT: The public classes that I teach are generally vinyasa based, with the use of modern functional movement patterns based on the latest research of human mechanics and movement. Yet, I am deeply committed to teach the classical methods of pranayama, mantra, meditation, philosophy, and ethics, which are regularly omitted in contemporary classes. The use of specific postures, pranayama methods, and the sequencing of these, can affect the energetic body greatly, contributing therapeutically or not, and an area of long time interest of mine. I have also worked with restorative practices extensively teaching a popular workshop called Quantum: Heal & Restore, and am bringing this back into my workshop offerings.
A current workshop I’ll be presenting at the Sedona Yoga Festival in February 2015 is Urban Sadhana: A deeper practice for the modern mystical Yogi. Moving within your own forces of nature and the cosmos, this vigorously liberating vinyasa based practice will ignite alignment with your highest (S)elf and the sacred within. Revitalize the flow of prana through your central channels, refine the subtle body, and co-create within the holographic nature of the mind-body matrix and the pulse of the Universe. Light hearted yet reverent, this is a contemporary and eclectic vinyasa practice infused with World beats, blessed silence, mantra, pranayama, and meditation. Diving deeper into the internal awakening through a seamless and progressive format that includes the often left out practices of Yoga. Strong standing postures, arm balances, back bends, and inversions will be offered, for an energetically balanced practice. Postures are modified for various abilities while honoring the contemporary science of bio-mechanics and student intuition.
SY: Most challenging part about teaching yoga?
LT: Probably the most challenging thing to overcome is the variety of mixed information that students are getting. I’ve been working to engage students to inquire and challenge information that is offered, and to see if it is true for them as well.
SY: Favorite part about teaching yoga?
LT: When students have a true integration of their Yoga practice in their everyday life. One of my students had quietly suffered from severe depression prior to coming to my classes, and considered admitting himself to a psychiatric hospital. I was unaware of his situation, and only was told this afterward. Through his practice of Yoga, he learned techniques to help navigate through the sea of conflicting thoughts and emotions that he was experiencing. He became clear of the true source of his depression which was remedied with a divorce and a change in employment. I would not hesitate to support his desire to seek medical attention and counseling had he decided to, but the use of classical methods can be very helpful, if taught, and presented correctly.
SY:Your personal practice.
LT: My practice is varied, depending on the time of year, my health, and activity level. If I am doing a lot of running, swimming, and cycling, my asana practice gets much more gentle. I find simple inversions to be very therapeutic for lymphatic flow and general health and I like to alternate them with restorative postures when I am fatigued. I feel that a solid pranyama and meditation practice is far more valuable than asana, yet most students can benefit from starting with asana. I vary this day to day as needed, but maintain pranayama and meditation as my foundational Yoga practice.
SY: Do you have a regular meditation practice?
LT: Yes. I began my Yoga practices as a child with meditation, and feel that this is essential. I am more relaxed with my approach, and like to take smaller more frequent periods of time for practice than longer ones. Yet, I do like to attend longer retreats and find those to be quite valuable. I mainly practice an anapanasati (mindfulness of breathing) based meditation, with additional techniques, called Vipassana.
SY: Do you practice yoga as much as you’d like?
LT: No, but I also like to have time for many other things as well. But honestly, if I really wanted to practice more, I would let go of the other things that I do.
SY: Where do you practice?
LT: I practice almost always at home, and alone. At this stage in my practice, I rarely go to teachers other than those whom I’m specifically learning from, which always requires travel. Yet, I do like to pop into a class now and then that one of my friends is teaching, just to enjoy the camaraderie.
SY: Do you have any tips and tricks for practice?
LT: Enjoy your practice, even if it is challenging. Be willing to listen to your teacher, but also trust your instincts, and do your thing if that feels right. It’s OK to ask questions, and it’s OK to decline hands on assists, it’s OK to find a new teacher.
SY: What is your best tip for beginners that want to try yoga.
LT: Show up! Then, rest when you like, work when you like, but without value or judgement on either. Give yourself permission to be present in your (S)elf, and enjoy yourself.
SY: What is your best tip for sticking to a regular, personal practice?
LT: Lower or limit your expectations of what you think this should look like. Just getting to the cushion or mat (or sitting up in bed for pranayama in my case) is the hardest part. Its far easier to commit to 5-10 minutes each day than an hour or more. Many students think a home practice is supposed to look and feel like a group class. I often recommend they start with 2-3 of their favorite postures/practices and let it unfold organically. 2-3 postures, and a short meditation could be just the perfect practice.
SY: What is your best nutrition tip?
LT: As a holistic nutritionist, I could wax on about this for awhile! Yet, if I were to narrow it down, I’d recommend to eat more vegetables. I find most people are not getting enough high vital nutrients, despite their calorie consumption. Food is considered to be the first Yoga because the physical sheath (kosha) is called the food sheath (annamaya kosha).This is the most basic way we can create clearer thinking and higher levels of consciousness. If we eat randomly, without much intention, or take intoxicants routinely, we limit our clarity of mind and being. This alone can become the obstacle. Yet, I do advocate occasional indulgences, and they should be good!
SY: What is the funniest thing that has happened while you were teaching a class?
LT: Sometimes my classes can get really full, especially in the winter months. I will often walk around while teaching, and I was ‘goosed’ once by a student doing downward facing dog, as they lifted one leg up. I reflexively squealed and everyone had a good chuckle at that.
SY: What is the most inspiring moment in a class that you were teaching?
LT: It’s almost anytime students are deeply reverent at the end of class, and they are really tuned inward, and fully content. When they practiced Yoga, and realized their truest nature. That’s real Yoga in action. Plus, when a student has been fearful of an asana or thought they were not capable of balancing on their hands, then they do it. The look on their face after doing an arm balance or such, the first time, is priceless! It’s not the tricky posture, but the inner shift of who they think they are,their perceived limitations and what they are capable of doing, is what is amazing to me.
SY: Why do you teach yoga?
LT: Good question. I was initially asked in 1993, and then I’ve been continually asked. So I keep teaching. There have been some periods that I thought I might move on, yet the doors stay open and students wanting me to teach. I find that my personal practice is the most important, and that I have something of substance to offer. Now, I feel compelled to teach a fuller perspective of Yoga, including traditional Yoga, within this modern framework.
SY: Coffee, Tea or Other:
LT: Green tea, please!
SY: Vegetarian, Vegan, Pescetarian, Meat or Other:
LT: Vegetable forward, paleo leaning, gluten free, dairy free, conscientious organic/Non-GMO food lover.
SY: Introvert, Extrovert or Other:
LT: Introvert…but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy teaching to large groups. I actually prefer it, but I also really like solitary time. I am deeply concerned about society, those in my life, in my groups, and in my classes. Yet, I thoroughly enjoy long meditation retreats with a vow of silence.
SY: Meditation, Asana, Pranayama, or Chanting
LT: I like anapanasati meditation since it is a breath based meditation…best of both pranayama and meditation. Yet I do like practicing and teaching chanting and asana!
SY: If you had to choose: Virabhadrasana III, mukha vrkasana, savasana or bakasana
LT: Savasana, but I do love Virabhadrasana III!
SY: Favorite place that I have traveled:
LT: As an active sun worshipper, Hawaii.
SY: Favorite place to meditate:
LT: Wherever I am–but especially someplace made sacred with intention.
SY: Favorite book:
LT: Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, translation and commentary by Sri Swami Satchidananda. Although it’s not entirely representative of Yoga fully, it certainly has much to offer for the modern Yogi.
SY: Your hero:
LT: The ‘underdog’ who has overcome obstacles and has thrived. And of course humble honest people who do good things in the World, and who behave ethically even when no one is watching. I strive to be this each day.
You can find out more about Lori, her classes, workshops, and her holistic nutrition coaching on her website: loritindall.com. For early bird pricing for her spring detox plan click here: loritindall.com/highvibrationsdetox. You can also read her posts: Food: The First Yoga and Detox 411.