Sharing the light series: Meet NINA STANGER!

Nina Stanger is a serious yogi who doesn’t take yoga seriously. (Have you seen her picture?)

Nina’s class was the first Vinyasa Flow class I had ever taken and truthfully it blew my mind. It was a beautiful experience – I was challenged and tired but it felt a lot like poetry in motion. The sequence of poses just made sense. It was where my body naturally wanted to go (aside from Savasana which is where my body ALWAYS wants to go). Her gentle way of teaching has an undercurrent of strength and support guiding you through the practice rather than leading you to it. There is a lightheartedness to her tone and style – you’ll still notice that your body is being taken to its edge – you just won’t mind. Nina is one of my favorite yoga teachers and I am really glad I can share a little bit of her with you.

You can find Nina’s classes at extendYoga on Tuesdays at 9:30 AM, Fridays at 5:30 PM and Sundays at 4:00 PM and at Allay Yoga on Tuesdays at Noon. If you’re lucky, you can catch her teaching at Lululemon in Bethesda Row. She is one of their ambassadors. Online you can get to know her on her blog on food addiction and recovery: Prana Rising. When you are ready to take the next step in yoga and you want to learn more about Nina’s teaching style, she is also a core faculty member at the Sky House Yoga – Yoga Teacher Training.

Okay, one last thing: She’s also hosting a yoga retreat in St. Croix in June. (Who could resist?)

Nina Stanger1.How did you find your way to yoga?

I think yoga found me, actually. I took my first class in high school as a way to get out of gym class. We had the option to do yoga for a semester, so I chose that since I hated gym. After that, I took random classes at different studios in the area. Then, in college, I again had the option to take it at school for a semester, and the teacher was absolutely wonderful. She was the first Vinyasa teacher I had, and her classes inspired me greatly. I continued to dabble with other classes on and off, but didn’t have a dedicated practice. Then, the summer before my last year of college, I decided I’d really like to be a yoga teacher, but I thought I wasn’t flexible enough, good enough, etc. One of my teacher friends heard me say this, and he said, “If you want to teach yoga, all you have to do is LOVE yoga.” That was all it took; I got over myself and became a diehard Vinyasa student, and a year later, a yoga teacher.

2. How would you describe your teaching style?

FLOW. I guide students through sequences linking breath and body, building flexibility and strength. In my classes the poses are important, but the breath comes first. I like to have fun and teach challenging asanas with gentle spirit.

3. What is your go-to stress fighting technique?

Closing my eyes, taking a deep breath, and remembering that I am alive. Laughing and getting outside helps, too.

4. Describe your perfect day.

SLEEP IN. Wake up when my body is ready to wake up, not because an alarm is buzzing! Eat a delicious breakfast (my favorite meal, especially when chocolate chip pancakes are involved), go to a yoga class, hang out with friends/my boyfriend, spend some time in the sun… I’m pretty content as long as yoga and the people I love are involved!

5. Your last meal would be?

Chocolate chip pancakes, complete with whipped cream. (It took me about half a second to come up with that answer.)

6. Best advice you can give someone would be?

In the form of a question: How can you love yourself right now, in this moment? Whatever we are struggling with, whatever is challenging or difficult or confusing, how can you trust your heart and follow your gut instinct? One of my favorite quotes says it best: “The heart needs no reason.”

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Sharing the light series: Meet INGRID MARTIN

Ingrid Martin and I met in a Gold’s Gym Body Flow class in 2008. Shortly after, she insisted that I get certified to teach Body Flow. She hasn’t stopped talking me into things since. Ingrid has been instrumental on my fitness journey – providing guidance, pushing when I needed to be pushed and providing plenty of opportunities for me to teach. I could not have asked for a better person to be on my team.

Ingrid is the Group Exercise Director for Bethesda Sport and Health. She is certified to teach yoga, weightlifting and spinning – just to name a few. When she is not terrorizing – I mean “motivating” people to be at their best and work a little harder, she is busy taking care of family and friends. I am only one of many people she has encouraged to get into group exercise. Take any one of her classes and you will see why her infectious energy and authenticity can help push you to the next level.

How did you find your way to yoga?

I found my way to yoga thru Body Flow. I began teaching Body Flow at Gold’s Gym and fell in love with it. I wanted to deepen my knowledge base and my own personal practice so I began down the road to complete my 200RYT. I am thrilled to have taken this path, and while I find myself done with the required trainings, I feel that I am just beginning the true journey.

How would you describe your teaching style?

My teaching style is evolving. When I first began teaching I put a lot of emphasis on the strength benefits of yoga. The longer I teach the more the meditation speaks to me so my classes are beginning to move into a more meditative style. I am looking forward to teaching a Restorative class in the near future.

What is your go-to stress fighting technique?

Breathing. I can completely change my mood by focusing on my breath and the rhythm of my breathing. It sounds so silly, but it truly works. The problem is you have to remember to do it when you are stressed.

Describe your perfect day.

Sleeping in late (I love sleep) and then eating a great breakfast. I would spend the rest of the day lounging by the pool reading magazines. I find the noise of the kids in the pool to be comforting and I just love the feeling of being around lots of people but still off to myself. A late afternoon yoga class followed by a wonderful dinner and a bottle of wine with someone that I love and that loves me would be my perfect day.

Your last meal would be?

What a sad thought. I guess I would say a delicious thick steak covered in crispy thin onion rings, with a fresh green salad, and strawberry shortcake with loads of cool-whip for dessert.

Best advice you can give someone else would be?

Listen to your gut.