Before we were all confined to our living spaces, Leslie was constantly on the go! An avid traveller, teacher and acrobat between Pole fitness and aerial yoga. But as time slowed down, she found herself, and fellow Mindful Life practitioners on the mat 2-3 times a week with energy-centric classes such as Odaka Flow, Yin, and Digestive Yoga.
It's safe to say that although she's an aerialist at heart, Leslie's been helping us all stay grounded during these crazy times! So we're loving the opportunity to get to know her a little better on an Instructor Intro special of the MLP All-Stars.
Hi Leslie! How are you holding up during this crisis?
Honestly, I’m doing really well. I have my own worries of course, but I’m an introvert with too many hobbies, so I’ve been training for this my whole life! I spent almost all of last year burnt-out, injured, and sick, so I’m so grateful to have this time to rest and recover my strength.
Where in the world are you? Tell us a bit about yourself!
I’m currently living in Dubai. We’ve been living and teaching here in the UAE for 4 years. Before that, we were living in Japan. I’m originally from Florida, USA, but I have no intention of going back. I love living abroad and exploring new places. ️
How long have you been teaching yoga, and what pushed you to become an instructor?
I’m very new to teaching yoga. I just started here with the MLP at the beginning of April! I got my 200 hour RYT certs in Tokyo 5 years ago, but it was mostly just to deepen my own practice. The past couple years I began to want to start teaching yoga, but work was taking up all my energy so it didn’t seem feasible.
I quit my job back in February to recover my health and brush up on my yoga skills, and signed up for my 300 hr RYT. This ended up being cancelled because of COVID-19, but it forced me to explore my options a bit more. I ended up discovering yoga therapy and am now training to become a yoga therapist instead.
Yoga is such an incredible tool for all-around wellbeing and health. It’s helped me in so many ways, so I want to learn as much as I can to share this knowledge with others as well.
When did you start practicing yoga (before you started teaching) and which yoga study did you practice the most?
I started practicing yoga almost 8 years ago after lower back issues were keeping me from doing any other exercise. I’ve always preferred to get my rigorous exercise from other activities, so I like my yoga practices slow and chill. In the beginning, I practiced a lot of Hatha, and this is still my favorite in terms of pace/challenge. Nowadays, I tend to practice mostly Yin and restorative.
What is your favorite posture? Your least favorite posture?
My favorite postures are hip openers- I think it would be a tie between Pigeon and Low Lunge. I could do these two all day.
Poses I HATE are Chair and Warrior 2 My arms and shoulders get a lot of work from Pole, so anything that makes me work to keep them elevated is a no-go for me.
Mat of choice? (And why!)
I love my Jade travel mat! It’s super light, SO grippy, and you can even fold it up into the size of a small book. It’s awesome, but it’s very thin so I don’t recommend it if you like a lot of cushion.
Set the scene for your perfect practice - paint us a picture!
This is pretty simple actually. Most people would probably say practicing outside, but I like to practice alone, in my house, with not very many clothes on.
Also ideal to have:
-Lots of sunlight
-Essential oils in my diffuser
-A slow, chill song on repeat (sounds crazy, but helps you get into that ‘flow’ state. Try it sometime!)
What’s the biggest myth about yoga instructors? Set the record straight!
That we love going to yoga classes. This may not be true for all yoga teachers, but I find it’s harder to enjoy group classes the more you know what your own body wants, because then you just want to do that instead.
Any advice to newbies? (And oldies?)
There are SO many ways to practice, so find what works for you. Tailoring your practice to YOU is what will make it enjoyable and set you up to be consistent In the long run. Really notice how certain Asanas/Pranayama/practices make you feel, and begin to build up a tool kit for yourself. It took me a long time to find a way to practice that really felt right for me and my body, and even then, it still changes from day to day. Rather than forcing yourself to do a certain practice or pose every day, take it one day/practice at a time. What do you feel like doing right now, and what kind of practice/postures/etc. does your body naturally gravitate towards today? Then do that- even if it just means lying in savasana the whole time.
Leslie teaches Odaka Flow on Wednesdays and Sundays, and Yin Yoga on Mondays (GST). Join her this Friday, May 22nd for a life-changing session of Digestion Yoga at 7pm! Your tummy will thank you!