One of the first instructors to the community, Sasha Nelson brings her vinyasa style flow to Primary’s studio – teaching professionals to harness their focus through the alignment of breath and movement. Here’s a little bit about Sasha via our weekly spotlight on the shared office space’s instructors.
How long have you been teaching at Primary and how did you get connected to the space?
I have been teaching at Primary since it opened! I first met with Brian through my sweet friend Paige, who works for Lulitonix, after Primary had decided to carry Lulitonix in their cafe. I saw the space when it was still being built, and its wellness-focused mission aligned with my own values toward sustainability of mind, body and planet.
Can you tell me a bit about the classes you teach here?
sweat + stretch on Monday mornings 8:45-9:45 am is my signature vinyasa-style flow class with attention to alignment and the connection of breath and movement. You will both stretch and sweat, in case that isn’t clear… I teach meditation directly after sweat + stretch on Mondays 9:50-10 am, in which I guide with varying techniques like breath awareness or, for example, labeling thoughts as “thinking.” Vinyasa on Thursdays 3-4 pm is similar to sweat + stretch, although perhaps a bit more broken down to clarify postures and transitions based on the collective level of the students in class that day. I teach rest + restore after vinyasa on Thursdays 4:15-5:15 pm, which begins with light movement to calmly open up the muscles, followed by heavily propped positions to support the body and elicit a deep relaxation response. You will never regret a restorative class, and it is essential for ALL types of people/bodies/practitioners, no matter what level you are. it is one of the most wonderful gifts you can give yourself and your overworked nervous system, and one of the only times during the day where we can breath with the support of props to ease commonly locked parts of the body.
How long have you been practicing yoga? Do you remember the first yoga class you ever took?
In a few of my dance classes in the past, my teachers would lead sun salutations or a few asana (physical yoga) postures, which at the time I was not a huge fan of. Pilates was my choice over yoga throughout high school and college as a supplement to dance. In 2008 during my first year in grad school for fashion merchandising, I finally took a full yoga class at my local San Francisco 24 Fitness – still not sure if it was on purpose or by accident. I thought I would be annoyed at how “slow” it was compared to dance, but I wound up working harder than I thought and weeping like a baby in savasana (final resting pose). The surprising challenge and my emotional response intrigued me, so I went back weekly to continue to unveil these mysterious inward discoveries. The more I practiced, the more I envisioned what it would be like for me to teach what I was learning in class. When I moved to New York in 2010, I ended up in Anya Porter‘s YogaWorks Soho vinyasa class by recommendation of the studio’s Yoga Advisor, who suggested Anya’s class when she heard that I was a hip-hop dancer. Coincidentally Anya had experience as a break dancer herself, and at the time she was developing Breakti, a practice she created using asana as a platform for exploring break dance. I signed on immediately, and the rest is history (kind of…).
What are the first three words that come to mind when you think about being a yoga instructor?
Student. Compassion. Attention.
How about your endeavors outside of yoga? Any other special projects or hobbies?
My blog is something that keeps me continually inspired and excited. As a certified Health Coach, I see clients one-on-one and host wellness events that merge the similar mindfulness components of food and yoga. Mindful Morning is a favorite of mine, which I host mostly at Primary: it begins with yoga and meditation, followed by a homemade healthy breakfast and good company – the most nourishing way to begin the day.
Your alarm goes off… what does your average day look like from start to finish?
Alarm goes off, avoid hitting snooze and opt for waking up as calmly and slowly as possible, down a glass of water, meditate for 10 minutes including a few minutes of pranayama (breath work), oil pull with coconut oil for 5-20 minutes, journal if I have time, hot water with lemon, prep for my day, stay away from technology until 8 am. Sometimes I practice yoga at home in the morning or go take a class at some point during the day at Kula. Depending on my schedule I run around to teach, and usually wind up having 2 if not all 3 meals prepared at home by me, whether or not I actually eat them at home or take them on the go – I find it helpful to create a general plan and do what I can to prep my farmers market veggies so they are mostly ready to throw together into a hearty macro bowl. Occasionally I will go meet a friend for something clean and delicious like Sweetgreen, Dig Inn, Hu Kitchen, a good matcha latte cafe, or a new special spot. In between class I work from my laptop, either from home or Primary, or one of my designated WiFi cafes based on my location. I love my cozy apartment with my boyfriend and enjoy the occasional Netflix indulgence – currently just giggled through all of Kroll Show. I do my best to be off technology by 10 pm and in bed by 10:30 pm (most of the time…).
What is one wellness practice that you swear by?
All of them! Meditation is probably the most profound because I am a physical and mental busy-body, so it is an amazing practice to teach myself over and over again to take precious time to sit still every day. Warm water with lemon, oil pulling, and drinking a lot of water in the morning has done wonders for my digestion. And learning to incorporate as many greens and seasonal farmers market vegetables into my diet has kept me healthy, happy and continually grateful for Mama Earth.
One thing on your bucket list for 2017?
Launching a special online program incorporating sustainability, yoga, clean eating, and mindfulness – stay tuned! And a big, beautiful trip to somewhere I have never been – not sure where yet, but I am ready for it.
If you could pack up and go anywhere right now, where would you go?
Australia or Tahiti.
What’s one piece of advice for someone who is new to the practice of yoga?
Keep showing up, over and over again, without judgment or expectations – you will never be required to know everything, and there will always be something to learn both about the practice and yourself. The practice is as simple as continually coming back to the present moment, which helps to ease both body and mind – the more we keep showing up, the less unattainable the complete and unconditional compassion seems. Keep it up.
Find Sasha’s classes (and the week’s schedule) via the The Studio by Primary .
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