We had the good fortune of connecting with Gwen Yeager (C-IAYT, E-RYT 500) and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Gwen, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I believe risk-taking is an essential component of personal growth. During our life’s journey, we hopefully learn to negotiate what is a healthy degree of risk. Some risks I took when I was younger were not the healthiest. I was working stuff out, and it was what I had to go through to grow. Now that I’m older, my relationship with risk is much more calculated. For example, in my career, I’m willing to try things without a guarantee of safety or success—like how I had to expand my yoga therapy business online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. One area where I am not terribly risky is with my personal safety. No one would call me a thrill-seeker! But I did go ocean diving with sharks, so it’s relative!
What should our readers know about your business?
I’m a Hatha yoga teacher and certified yoga therapist who incorporates strength, somatics and myofascial work into therapeutic classes. I also teach anatomy and other essential trainings to teachers and love mentoring newer teachers. My students are typically people in their thirties and beyond who want to move well and slow their minds. My teaching stays true to the heart and history of yoga, yet I teach yoga asana (the physical postures) with a mindset of functional movement—moving how the body was made to move. Breath and periods of inward focus round out my classes. I’m currently transitioning my live and on-demand digital classes to a new online community platform.
The community is tailored for people who want to lower stress and move well for a lifetime; people with injuries, pain and chronic conditions; “Weekend Warriors” who want to reduce risk of injury and enhance recovery; and people who want to practice yoga, functional fitness and other movement modalities in a safe, non-judgmental and fun environment with great instructors. In addition to yoga, we will offer Pilates, Strength and other classes for a well-rounded movement experience. It’s a challenge to commit to a yoga and movement practice—to carve space at home, to set boundaries with friends or family, and to show up on your yoga mat. But I have learned that it is essential for wellbeing, even just a couple of times a week, and my platform is designed to support people in this endeavor. One way we learn to take risks safely is by finding our physical edge in yoga—by slowing down and befriending our thoughts and feelings. The support of teachers and others in community can be essential for learning, and I’m excited about helping people with the platform I’m launching. My personal journey with yoga has helped me heal an eating disorder, recover from various musculoskeletal injuries, and be present for periods of joy during four years of pregnancy losses and infertility. My yoga and meditation help me manage life changes brought on by devitalizing migraines, as well as ongoing anxiety brought on by perimenopause and other life stressors. Every once in a while I have a fantasy of a quieter life on an ashram somewhere! But I’m a working mom with young kids, with a mortgage, etc., living in a quiet area of a giant metropolis. I like my life, as stressful as it can be at times. The movement, breath, and meditation of my yoga practice make me happy and are a guiding path and source of balance.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’ve lived in LA for over 25 years, starting in Venice Beach. Currently, I’m an Eastside girl living in Altadena, which is as far east as I am going! • Definitely a day in Venice or Santa Monica. We might set up on the sand, in one of my secret spots for relaxing and enjoying beachy snacks. Or we might take a walk on the Venice Boardwalk, get a late lunch outside, have a drink, and listen to a band playing music on the boardwalk. After lunch, continue our walk, possibly come across a drum circle, sit in the sand, take in the rhythms and chat while the sun goes down. OR, hit Main Street in Santa Monica and then have a more chichi dining experience at Shutters or Casa del Mar. • We’d get Oaxacan food in mid-LA. At Antequera De Oaxaca on Melrose or we’d get tlayudas from a street vendor on 8th Street. Some of the best Mexican food!!! • Korean BBQ in K-Town or in La Canada. Maybe we would even rally for some karaoke! • Griffith Park. • Nothing beats the architecture and history in LA! We’d take a drive through our Altadena/Pasadena neighborhoods and look at the beautiful historic homes and buildings. Walk around Old Town Pasadena and get something to eat at any place that felt right in the moment. • Not to let a beautiful LA day go to waste, we would take a hike in Altadena. • Go to DTLA and partake of the art/culture there, plus the dining scene. I’d have to ask one of my still-hip friends for a food recommendation! • Join the hipsters and have dinner at a cool restaurant in Eagle Rock, Highland Park, Los Feliz or Silverlake. • If there are kids/teenagers, maybe go to The Americana or The Grove. • A must stop is Joan’s on Third for a snack. I never tire of that place! • We would hit the Westside to go to the Getty, or the Brentwood Country Mart—I’ve never been there in all my time in LA, so a good excuse to go! • Drive PCH along the ocean, and go to Reel Inn where we would order fish from the market inside, and have it prepared for us to eat at picnic tables with their yummy traditional sides of coleslaw, potatoes, etc.… It is super casual and fun. The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I dedicate this section to one of my first mentors, Jasmine Lieb, who died last month. Jasmine Lieb was a wonderful, respected yoga therapist, who taught at YogaWorks, as well as in clinical settings. She was modern, yet old-school, having studied under Indra Devi and Richard Miller. Jaz was a spicy, funky, loving British woman with a slight accent that had softened after decades of living in Venice Beach and being a part of the Los Angeles yoga scene. I first took her class at YogaWorks Montana probably twenty-five years ago. Her class was…different. She broke down yoga poses slowly and intentionally. It required a different kind of focus, and I loved it! Jaz influenced my practice and planted a huge seed of inspiration in my teaching. She mentored me during my 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training, and after my 300-hour Professional Yoga Program. Her teaching lived at the intersection of the emotional body, the physical body, and the mind. She taught me that intersection IS yoga therapy. Jaz was passionate about providing attention to individuals in a group setting, and empowering individuals to know and help heal themselves, which I bring to my teaching. I always thought I would have another opportunity to see her in person and thank her for everything she gave me. The last lesson she imparted was not to wait to tell someone how much they mean to you. Thank you, Jasmine Lieb.
David Kelley, Juan Carlos Balda, BJ Arnone