Meet Sara Allain-Botsford, a true All-Stars of the MLPC. Sara was one of the first to join Alex through her experience with starting the MLPC back when the world was well, let's just say uncertain, March-ish 2020. She completed her 30 day challenge for the months of April and May. Then she shifted from being just a regular student to a teacher for the MLPC. A well involved member of the community. Fun fact, Sara was the first friend Alex made when she moved to Abu Dhabi when she bumped into her at a yoga studio￼. She was also the one behind the meeting of Princess (the famous cat) and Alex.
I had the opportunity to ask Sara a few questions and gratefully she answered them. Thanks Sarah, enjoy the interview everyone!
Where in the world are you? Tell us more about yourself?
Sara: I live in Abu Dhabi with my husband and three cats. I met my husband in Abu Dhabi in 2014 while I was working from New York University in Abu Dhabi (NYUAD). I have been traversing between Abu Dhabi and California ever since. We married in 2018. I am from California, born in Santa Monica. I've lived in South Florida, New York, Paris, Abu Dhabi, and the East Bay of San Francisco where my parents live now.
How long have you been teaching yoga and what pushed you to become an instructor?
Sara: I’ve been teaching yoga intermittently since I completed my first 200 hr yoga teacher training in the fall of 2016. I decided to pursue the training to cultivate a personal yoga practice at home or while traveling and have the option to teach yoga between jobs. The training was offered by the studio that I had been practicing at for several years, I knew and liked some of the teachers in the program. I needed a way to revive myself after I had spent the summer caring for my father during some of his intensive cancer treatments. I was really burned out so I thought get to work doing something you enjoy: yoga while looking for a real/serious/stable job. It can always be a back up plan.
When did you start practicing yoga (before you started teaching) and how did yoga change your life?
Sara: My first yoga experience was when I lived in Fort Lauderdale. I was 17. There was a yoga class at my gym that my mom liked so I started going to. Then I didn't do any yoga until my last year of university. There was a bikram yoga studio near my apartment so I went. It was a completely different fitness experience and I loved that there was a sequence that I could follow and learn. I did my first 30 day yoga challenge the following spring. It helped me to recover physically from a few injuries and to focus. After five years with bikram yoga I was needing a change and tried different studios and different classes. I was thinking why do I practice yoga... so much. There's a steadiness and calmness of mind that it helps me cultivate which benefits me plus it feels good.
If you had to describe your teaching style, how would you do it?
Sara: I think about all of my favorite things and try to put them together in a smooth flow when I make a class in a way that is accessible for students. What do I like about my teachers? I try to put that into my classes. I can't fit everything of course. Sometimes I design a class around a transition I really like. I try to connect breath with movement the way music helps you dance, breath helps you flow through the asanas. I try to make everything flow and transition smoothly, no obstacles, nothing unnecessary, unhindered.
What is the intention you try to instill in your students?
Sara: I try to help them focus on being present in their movements, connecting their breath with their movement, to be grateful for making time to do yoga and to enjoy what they're doing...even when they're on the foam roller. Movement is healthy.
What is your favorite posture? Your least favorite posture?
Sara: This has evolved over the years. In the beginning it was plow, I enjoyed how the pose stretched out my back, it felt wonderful. In bikram yoga it was dancer pose. When I was doing a lot of yin yoga it was queen's pose. Half moon. Recently I've been thinking a lot about warrior 3; I like that you can vary the arm position and it's a great pose for transitions. Legs up the wall is always good. My least favorite pose is a tie between camel and triangle, they're physically uncomfortable for me. I know how to do them but I struggle physically.
What is your favorite Mat? And why?
Sara: I’ve had on my eye on a jade mat for years because they're nicely padded providing cushion without being spongy and not too thin. I like the texture too, your hands and feet can grip the mat a bit. I'm currently using a Lixada yoga mat I bought from Amazon that I'm very happy with because it's a good color, there are some lines and circles which I use for alignment, it's padded but not to cushiony and it has a non-slip surface. Best of all it was a fraction of the price of a jade mat. I'd recommend it to anyone.
Set the scene for your perfect practice - paint us a picture!
Sara: I’m not a morning person but my most enjoyable practices have been in the morning. I get up, make a lemon ginger tumeric and honey tonic, then get on the mat and see what my body needs. I have some physical therapy exercises that I work into the flow. Everything starts from a sun salutation. Sometimes it's freestyle, I add in whatever whenever, sometimes it's very prescribed, 10 reps each side. I like to end with a few minutes of meditation to quiet the mind. The most important thing is to move with the rhythm of my breath. Then a healthy breakfast :)
What’s the biggest myth about yoga instructors? Set the record straight!
Sara: Yoga instructors can do every asana. It's not true. It also depends on what you mean by do a pose... to its fullest expression? There are so many poses and variations that I would have to do them all day everyday to keep the muscles memory needed. Teachers keep learning and practicing after they complete a training.
What was one of your most heartfelt moments in teaching?
Sara: In the summer of 2018 I taught a class as sub, the teacher canceled last minute. I had only taught a handful of classes so I was pretty nervous. At the end of class a fellow work trader aka karma or energy student/worker said it was such a great class, she really enjoyed the meditation at the end. She had seen me around the studio for years but didn't know I was a teacher too and she was considering doing the same training at our studio. I felt like a real teacher.
Any advice to newbies teachers/students? (And oldies?)
Sara: Practice. Do your favorite poses, your least favorite, fuse your stretching routine into yoga. Do yoga while watching TV. Move and breath.
Where do you see yoga in the next five years?
Sara: The current pandemic has caused a big shift to the online platforms that I don't think could have happened if we weren't all forced to stay at home all the time. However, I have discovered that I really enjoy doing yoga at home and teaching from home, it's so accessible. And I have enjoyed taking classes with my favorite teachers in other countries. I save so much more time not commuting to a studio, to work, to school, and I practice more. Although there is something wonderful about leaving the house/apartment, doing yoga in the studio that is a room you don't have to clean, and then coming home enjoying the serenity that you have cultivated in class it is also enjoyable to practice yoga on your mat, in the room you cleaned, in your own home. In five years I still see physical yoga studios, yoga classes at the gym, yoga training in Bali, Mexico, etc. but also yoga classes available online both pre-recorded and live.
Well, there you have it folks. Sara teaches two class for the MLPC, Roll & Release and Beginners Yoga. For booking please click on the link below
Have a question for Sara, leave a comment below!
Until next time, may you all be safe, happy, healthy, and free.