A Day in the Life of a Yoga Teacher: Sarit Z Rogers

Sarit Z Rogers

Sarit Z Rogers

I met Sarit at an Eat, Breathe Thrive yoga workshop in Los Angeles. I was immediately drawn to her. She looked so cool, calm and comfortable in her own skin. Throughout the workshop, I continued to be charmed by her honesty, authenticity and welcoming nature that made anyone around her comfortable in her presence. When I found out she was an artist, I thought, “Of course!” When I found out she was a yoga teacher, again I thought, “Of course!” She animates all the qualities and talents of each superbly.

I  find it quite serendipitous that our theme this month at Share Yoga is “Seva/Selfless Service” and Sarit is the creator and founder of the “Love More Movement”, which is a movement to encourage people to love with intent through raising awareness and encouragement through a compassion revolution. Sarit is working on a book by the same name to be published next year. I ask her about this and more in my interview with her below. Here is A Day in the Life of Sarit Z Rogers.

SY: Where do you teach? 

SR: I teach regular classes to teens and tweens at City Charter School, at City High School, and for Uprising Yoga. I also teach private clients in the Los Angeles area.

SY: And what is your teaching experience, your training, your yogic education/path?

SR: I completed the Awakened Heart, Embodied Mind (AHEM) 200hr training with Hala Khouri and Julian Walker; I have trained with Uprising Yoga, Street Yoga, and also a Yoga for Self-Regulation online course with Hala Khouri and YogaEd, and Off The Mat’s (OTM) online Beyond Duality training.

The more I teach in different environments, I find myself deeply grateful for the training that I’ve had. AHEM provided me with language that is accessible and safe for all, it gave me access to my voice, something I struggled with for a long time, and it gave me a well-rounded awareness about alignment and anatomy. (Now I want to learn as much as I can about anatomy and find a way to totally geek out!) More than anything, I gained freedom in my own practice: the freedom from competition, my control and aim toward perfectionism, and it taught me how to dance again. Waiting for their 500 hour!!! (*hint hint*)

My path to yoga has been a long, windy road. I was introduced as a kid through my mom in the 70s. We regularly did sun salutations at Station 26 in Santa Monica at sunset. I had a cool book of yoga poses for kids that I loved and adored. However, I didn’t continue. I picked yoga up and put it down numerous times. I practiced through my pregnancy with my son, and continued after he was born, but I was always hesitant to go to public classes, so I relied on private classes through friends and video (yes, it was that long ago!). I didn’t start practicing regularly until around 2008, when I felt the call to get back into my body in a more direct way. I work with complex trauma and my meditation practice was triggering my PTSD. Getting onto my mat felt safe and accessible, and I was able to move through my emotions and fears with tear-stained grace.

SY: Tell us about the Love More Movement… what it is and what inspired you to create it.

SR: I founded the LoveMore Movement at the end of 2012/beginning of 2013 after a conversation I had with my husband. I found myself more and more frustrated with the consumptive nature of society. I wanted to flip it upside down. Instead of the classic mantra “we need more love,” I wanted to shift the perspective to “love more.” As a photographer, I wanted to celebrate people that were already “loving more” in their actions. Often times, these are people who are under the radar, teaching to marginalized populations, or a stay at home mom who dedicates all of her time to volunteer work and raising her kids, or someone who teaches meditation in prisons. The list goes on. To that end, however, I am creating a book containing all of these images, and answers to three specific questions that will hopefully inspire others to give back and be of service.  So often we get stuck in the mindset that what we have to offer isn’t enough. But it is. A smile to a stranger or making eye contact with a homeless person: those are acts of generosity. We hope to inspire Love in Action. We donate a portion of all sales to a monthly non-profit chosen by the community. In November, we donated 20% of all sales to the California Black Women’s Health Project.  www.lovemoremovement.com/shop

SY: Describe your IDEAL morning routine.

SR: I like quiet in the morning and time to move slowly into wakefulness. I am NOT a morning person. So for me, I would love to get up slowly, move my body in a gentle way. I would like to pause and take 10 mindful, deep breaths and set an intention. As my coffee brews, I would move to sit outside and meditate for 20-30 minutes as the sun rises and graces the sky with light. Setting the day like this, with intention sets the stage for equanimity and pause.

SY: Describe your ACTUAL morning routine. 

SR: Ha! Well, like I said, I am not a morning person. Mornings can be a little wild around here. Getting up is slow, but intentional. One of us makes coffee (usually my hubby), and my husband or I am nudging our 14yo up, which is considerable work. Lunch and breakfast are made, the hustle and bustle is in full motion. On days when I teach, I get up a little earlier if I can. It’s important to me that I make every effort to be grounded BEFORE I walk out the door; if that means doing a sun salutation or two while the coffee is brewing, I do it. And there is always time to take 10 breaths and feel my feet on the ground, even when I THINK I’m too busy.

My days are pretty varied, but they usually consist of teaching, writing, and editing photos. I teach Mon/Wed at the middle school, T/Th and every other Fri at the high school. I volunteer weekly at an Assisted Living, bringing gentle movement and games to the residents there, many of whom are on hospice. I have begun going into Juvenile Hall with Uprising Yoga and I am one of the Uprising Teachers teaching at Exeter. I try to take time solely for myself every single day, whether it’s a nap, a physical practice, a walk, or meditation. Self-care is paramount as is asking for help when I need it. There is strength in that.

Sarit Z Rogers

Sarit Z Rogers

SY: Describe your evening routine.

SR: With a busy family, it’s a matter of herding cats sometimes: the teen, the dog, the cat, the adults, but one thing that we do every single night, no matter what is sit down together for dinner. There is no technology allowed! Most nights, dinner is homemade – both my husband and I cook! But when things are super busy, we bring something in or go out. Still, sitting down together and creating that sacred time as a family is deeply meaningful. It’s where we discuss our day, check in with each other, tell terrible jokes, process what we need to process, and connect.

SY: Describe your sleep routine.

SR: I always read before I go to bed. Sometimes my husband and I meditate together, or do a mellow yoga practice together or separately. I definitely need time to regulate my body and start to slow down from the day. Lying on bolsters or with my legs up the wall can be a blessed time for me in the evenings! I am a chronic migraine sufferer, and one of my self-care processes around that is using lavender on the soles of my feet at night and massaged in my shoulders and neck. It soothes my nervous system and helps provide a restful sleep.

wildthing-yosemite©saritzrogers

Sarit Z Rogers at Yosemite

SY: Describe the type of yoga you teach.

SR: I teach a trauma informed, typically slow vinyasa flow. I like to teach my students to take time to pause and BE in the pose instead of rushing through it. To me, it’s where we can savor the breath and notice what needs our direct attention. I find this is where we can really lean in and start the process of opening up our hearts and letting the light in.

SY: Most challenging part about teaching yoga?

SR: Remembering my right from left!   

SY: Favorite part about teaching yoga?

SR: I love watching the light come on and knowing that everyone is having their own unique experience in a collective space. I love feeling into a room and engaging in the community energy that happens in a class. I am not separate from, but rather, a part of the process. I make mistakes, I have ah-ha moments, I am human.

SY: Do you have a regular meditation practice?

SR: Yes!

SY: Do you practice yoga as much as you’d like?

SR: No! At least not a full practice, but I do try to practice every day in some capacity.

SY: Where do you practice? 

SR: At Home, at Exhale with Hala Khouri or Micheline Berry, or at Santa Monica Yoga with Julian Walker

SY: What is your best tip for beginners who may want to try yoga?

SR: If you can breathe, you can do yoga. There’s no one to compete with and no one else to be but yourself. Allow yourself to be curious and find a teacher that resonates with you. It’s not one size fits all! And do your best to lean in and enjoy the ride!

YogiRoadTrip-106-Edit

Sarit Z Rogers – Yogi Road Trip

SY: What is your best tip for sticking to a regular, personal practice?

SR: Be kind to yourself. My expectations of what my practice should be and what it is are often deeply different. To be patient with ourselves and show up in whatever capacity we are capable of in that moment is enough. I recently had shoulder surgery and I was unable to do a lot, but I made a concerted effort to work on the entirety of tadasana every day, and it became a wonderful way to connect with my body, the earth, and my practice as a whole.

SY: What is your best nutrition tip?

SR: I’m in recovery from an eating disorder, so for me, it’s been a learning process about being kind to myself around eating in general and not feeling like food is punishment. So I would say eat with the mindset of having compassion, kindness and love toward ourselves. In times of being triggered, I use a variation of a metta practice to guide myself gently to nourishment. I silently say something like this to myself, “I am caring for my body; I am nourishing my body; I am being kind and compassionate to myself.”

SY: What is the funniest thing that has happened while you were teaching a class?

SR: Recently I was teaching boat pose to my teens and they were struggling and all of a sudden I tipped over and starting laughing. It was actually kind of fantastic. They not only laughed with me but they realized that their teacher was a goofball and not perfect and tips over like them. Teaching teens and tweens is always full of adventures.

SY: What was the most inspiring moment in a class you were teaching?

SR: Teaching to the women in DTLA fasting for 15 days to earn $15 an hour. There was a profound shift in my teaching when I did that. These women bravely fasted to stand up for their rights to equal pay. I went in not as a savior but as a person who believed in what they were doing. I had women who had never done yoga before, women who were exhausted from fasting, but we all came together in a circle and had a collective experience of mindful breath, and gentle movement, and lavender. They asked me back the day they were marching into City Hall—they wanted to feel energized to march, so we did a gentle, but empowering practice to energize and ground them. I ended up marching up to the door with them. Unfortunately, I couldn’t go in because I had to teach at the middle school, but it felt wonderful to move with them toward change.

Sarit

Sarit Rogers

SY: Why do you teach yoga? 

SR: I teach because it’s a way to give back. It’s a way to put love into action and to be of service to communities that don’t always have access to yoga. Yoga brought me into my body and it cracked my heart wide open. It has allowed me to love myself in a more complete way so that I can better love others. It has given me permission to cry and dance, to sing and feel my skin again. It has given me permission to build community and be with a sangha that is more like a family to me.

Quick, short answers ­choose one:

Coffee or tea? 

Well, both.

I am an … (vegetarian, pescatarian, vegan, omnivore or other)

Omnivore that leans toward vegetarian/vegan.

I am an (extrovert or introvert or other)

A noisy Introvert.

 If I had to choose… (meditation, asana, pranayama, other)

 Asana but only because I see it as a moving meditation, so I feel like we can do metta and asana, or concentration and asana, etc.

If I had to choose… (vira 3, mukha virkhasana, savasana, bakasana)

savasana

Favorite place I’ve travelled…

France

Favorite place to meditate…

Outside

My hero… 

Eve Ensler, my grandmother Roslyn, my son.

Favorite book:

To Kill a Mockingbird and Ocean at the End of the Lane.

See more of Sarit’s photography or book a session with her at saritphotography.com  Follow or donate to the lovemoremovement.com or find out more about Sarit including her teaching schedule at saritzrogers.

More in this Series, A Day in the Life of a Yoga Teacher

Kimberlyn Brown
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Kimberlyn Brown

Share Yoga Editor at Share Yoga
Kimberlyn Brown is a 500 hour yoga teacher and esthetician. Visit her website at pureshakti.com. "Yoga is to me, the gift of liberation. I have learned how to breathe more deeply, give and receive love more easily and how to live my life more fully. I am truly honored to share this practice with my students. My ultimate goal as a teacher is to empower each of my students to take what they learn in class off their mat and into their world."
Kimberlyn Brown
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Kimberlyn Brown

Kimberlyn Brown

Kimberlyn Brown is a 500 hour yoga teacher and esthetician. Visit her website at pureshakti.com. “Yoga is to me, the gift of liberation. I have learned how to breathe more deeply, give and receive love more easily and how to live my life more fully. I am truly honored to share this practice with my students. My ultimate goal as a teacher is to empower each of my students to take what they learn in class off their mat and into their world.”