Rebecca Rankin2Welcome to the first of four EXTENDED features from our Spring Issue, ONLY available here on the Burrow! 

 

Interviews by Mickey Gast

 

How did you come to practice yoga, Rebecca?

I have been teaching yoga for about 10 years and practicing for about 15. I found yoga by accident while living in San Francisco in my early 20s. I was a long distance runner and cyclist. I was an architect at the time, so even though I was really into fitness, I was very stressed. My colleagues told me that I should start doing yoga to help heal my body and de­stress. I was very reluctant because I thought yoga wasn’t for me. In San Francisco, yoga studios were like Starbucks, one on every corner. My friend and I were on a mission to find one that resonated most with us. My friend got me to try a studio which was heated. I tried it and it felt amazing. I noticed that the people who were in the studio with me, who were older, were making all sorts of moves with their body. They looked so calm. I thought I was in shape, but was struggling. So I kept coming back. It helped heal my body and calm my mind.

 

Did it help you with the stress?

Absolutely. So much so that several years later I decided to quit architecture and become a yoga teacher.

 

How did you decide to make the transition from practicing yoga to teaching yoga?

I was really getting into studying the different types of yoga, and I became friends with other teachers. They saw how interested I was in it, and suggested teacher training. I didn’t want to become a yoga teacher, but I did want to learn more about yoga. So I went to teacher training thinking that they only way I would ever become a teacher was if I could teach for one of the teachers that I admired immensely. So after the intense nine weeks of teacher training, I actually got a job offer from her.

 

You said that you went to a few yoga studios before you found one that clicked. If you were new to yoga again, what would you look for in a good yoga teacher?

As a new student, it can be quite intimidating to try yoga for the first time. You want to feel at ease and comfortable. Feel at home. I advise the teachers that work here to go for the Cheers effect ­ where everybody knows your name.  A good teacher is someone who can meet where they are, but also give them the guidance to go further. Yoga is for everyone, so a good teacher won’t make anyone feel singled out or like they don’t belong. As a student, you have to be able to resonate with your teacher. If you don’t jive with what they’re saying, then it might not be a right fit.

 

In a yoga class, everyone is focusing on themselves, not on anyone else. That’s the hardest thing when we first start ­ to get out of your head the thought that everyone is going to look at you. Only you are paying attention to yourself.

 

What should someone new to yoga expect from their first class?

Go in with zero expectations, and then you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Make it your only goal to be in the room, just to experience it. Take it easy, if you need to. Just watch the others, if you need to. This is not school ­ there’s no graduation, and you don’t get a report card.Rebecca Rankin1

 

What’s the most valuable thing that you teach to your students?

That you are in total control of your life. That you are bigger, stronger, more confident than you’ll ever give yourself credit for. Through a yoga practice, you’ll create a connection between your mind and your body. It will empower you. It’s like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz ­ you’ve had it in you all along. The strength, determination, concentration have been in you all along. Yoga just helps you tap into that.

 

What do you learn from your groups, your students, your classes?

You learn so much about compassion, empathy and the diversity of life’s journey. You learn to be open­minded to it all, knowing that everyone is on their own journey. This has been my full time career for the past 10 years, and I’ve taught thousands of classes. And all of the students that I’ve had were different, and they each taught me something. It’s what keeps us teachers going.

 

Who comes to your classes in Squirrel Hill?

It’s a community of like­minded people who like to take time out for themselves. Everything from stay­at­home parents to professors and people in the medical field. We get a lot of students too.  We have a wide range, from people in their 20s to people in their 70s. Squirrel Hill is a melting pot of cultures, from people who’ve lived here all their lives to people who just moved here from abroad. It’s really inspiring to see people of such different backgrounds having the same like-minded attitude of taking time for themselves.

 

What else do you like to do in the Squirrel Hill community?

I own I Am Yoga and teach here. I also put on the Pittsburgh Yoga Expo once a year. It’s an event that brings together all the different yoga communities and styles. It’s a great venue for people to try different styles of yoga in a less intimidating environment in 20 minute spurs. In the summer, we do Yoga in the Park, in Schenley. Sometimes we collaborate with the East End Brewing Company and do yoga at the brewery.

 

You opened the studio in Squirrel Hill almost five years ago. How has the community changed in the meantime?

In the beginning, we offered one style of yoga. We’ve since changed our name to I Am Yoga and offer four types of yoga now: Bikram, Hatha Yoga, Yin Yoga and Vinyasa Flow. We offer a lot of other workshops throughout the year. Once a month, we offer kids’ yoga now. Some parents who already practice with us are excited to bring their kids too.

Rebecca Rankin3

Is there one secret about yoga that you’d like people to know about?

With yoga, you realize how good you can feel on a daily basis. Most people don’t realize that. They don’t live to their optimal health and wellness. It feels good to feel good.

 

What else do you like to do?       

I love being outside, running, cycling. I live near Frick Park, so I am there a lot. I wouldn’t have the same stamina for it without yoga. People in general inspire me. There are a lot of amazing people out there. I love exploring new cultures through traveling. I’ve taught yoga retreats in Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Mexico. I’ve traveled down to Peru and all throughout Europe.

 

Where can people find you?

The studio is at the corner of Forbes and Murray. That’s the definitive Squirrel Hill location. We’d love to have new people in, and we’re a friendly group. We offer discounts for students, seniors, public school teachers, police officers, firefighters, and veterans. Online, you can find us at http://www.iamyogapgh.com/

 

How did you come to practice yoga, Rebecca?

I have been teaching yoga for about 10 years and practicing for about 15. I found yoga by accident while living in San Francisco in my early 20s. I was a long distance runner and cyclist. I was an architect at the time, so even though I was really into fitness, I was very stressed. My colleagues told me that I should start doing yoga to help heal my body and de­stress. I was very reluctant because I thought yoga wasn’t for me. In San Francisco, yoga studios were like Starbucks, one on every corner. My friend and I were on a mission to find one that resonated most with us. My friend got me to try a studio which was heated. I tried it and it felt amazing. I noticed that the people who were in the studio with me, who were older, were making all sorts of moves with their body. They looked so calm. I thought I was in shape, but was struggling. So I kept coming back. It helped heal my body and calm my mind.

 

Did it help you with the stress?

Absolutely. So much so that several years later I decided to quit architecture and become a yoga teacher.

 

How did you decide to make the transition from practicing yoga to teaching yoga?

I was really getting into studying the different types of yoga, and I became friends with other teachers. They saw how interested I was in it, and suggested teacher training. I didn’t want to become a yoga teacher, but I did want to learn more about yoga. So I went to teacher training thinking that they only way I would ever become a teacher was if I could teach for one of the teachers that I admired immensely. So after the intense nine weeks of teacher training, I actually got a job offer from her.

 

You said that you went to a few yoga studios before you found one that clicked. If you were new to yoga again, what would you look for in a good yoga teacher?

As a new student, it can be quite intimidating to try yoga for the first time. You want to feel at ease and comfortable. Feel at home. I advise the teachers that work here to go for the Cheers effect ­ where everybody knows your name.  A good teacher is someone who can meet where they are, but also give them the guidance to go further. Yoga is for everyone, so a good teacher won’t make anyone feel singled out or like they don’t belong. As a student, you have to be able to resonate with your teacher. If you don’t jive with what they’re saying, then it might not be a right fit.

 

In a yoga class, everyone is focusing on themselves, not on anyone else. That’s the hardest thing when we first start ­ to get out of your head the thought that everyone is going to look at you. Only you are paying attention to yourself.

 

What should someone new to yoga expect from their first class?

Go in with zero expectations, and then you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Make it your only goal to be in the room, just to experience it. Take it easy, if you need to. Just watch the others, if you need to. This is not school ­ there’s no graduation, and you don’t get a report card.

 

What’s the most valuable thing that you teach to your students?

That you are in total control of your life. That you are bigger, stronger, more confident than you’ll ever give yourself credit for. Through a yoga practice, you’ll create a connection between your mind and your body. It will empower you. It’s like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz ­ you’ve had it in you all along. The strength, determination, concentration have been in you all along. Yoga just helps you tap into that.

 

What do you learn from your groups, your students, your classes?

You learn so much about compassion, empathy and the diversity of life’s journey. You learn to be open­minded to it all, knowing that everyone is on their own journey. This has been my full time career for the past 10 years, and I’ve taught thousands of classes. And all of the students that I’ve had were different, and they each taught me something. It’s what keeps us teachers going.

 

Who comes to your classes in Squirrel Hill?

It’s a community of like­minded people who like to take time out for themselves. Everything from stay­at­home parents to professors and people in the medical field. We get a lot of students too.  We have a wide range, from people in their 20s to people in their 70s. Squirrel Hill is a melting pot of cultures, from people who’ve lived here all their lives to people who just moved here from abroad. It’s really inspiring to see people of such different backgrounds having the same like-minded attitude of taking time for themselves.

 

What else do you like to do in the Squirrel Hill community?

I own I Am Yoga and teach here. I also put on the Pittsburgh Yoga Expo once a year. It’s an event that brings together all the different yoga communities and styles. It’s a great venue for people to try different styles of yoga in a less intimidating environment in 20 minute spurs. In the summer, we do Yoga in the Park, in Schenley. Sometimes we collaborate with the East End Brewing Company and do yoga at the brewery.

 

You opened the studio in Squirrel Hill almost five years ago. How has the community changed in the meantime?

In the beginning, we offered one style of yoga. We’ve since changed our name to I Am Yoga and offer four types of yoga now: Bikram, Hatha Yoga, Yin Yoga and Vinyasa Flow. We offer a lot of other workshops throughout the year. Once a month, we offer kids’ yoga now. Some parents who already practice with us are excited to bring their kids too.

 

Is there one secret about yoga that you’d like people to know about?

With yoga, you realize how good you can feel on a daily basis. Most people don’t realize that. They don’t live to their optimal health and wellness. It feels good to feel good.

 

What else do you like to do?       

I love being outside, running, cycling. I live near Frick Park, so I am there a lot. I wouldn’t have the same stamina for it without yoga. People in general inspire me. There are a lot of amazing people out there. I love exploring new cultures through traveling. I’ve taught yoga retreats in Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Mexico. I’ve traveled down to Peru and all throughout Europe.

 

Where can people find you?

The studio is at the corner of Forbes and Murray. That’s the definitive Squirrel Hill location. We’d love to have new people in, and we’re a friendly group. We offer discounts for students, seniors, public school teachers, police officers, firefighters, and veterans. Online, you can find us at http://www.iamyogapgh.com/

 

How did you come to practice yoga, Rebecca?

I have been teaching yoga for about 10 years and practicing for about 15. I found yoga by accident while living in San Francisco in my early 20s. I was a long distance runner and cyclist. I was an architect at the time, so even though I was really into fitness, I was very stressed. My colleagues told me that I should start doing yoga to help heal my body and de­stress. I was very reluctant because I thought yoga wasn’t for me. In San Francisco, yoga studios were like Starbucks, one on every corner. My friend and I were on a mission to find one that resonated most with us. My friend got me to try a studio which was heated. I tried it and it felt amazing. I noticed that the people who were in the studio with me, who were older, were making all sorts of moves with their body. They looked so calm. I thought I was in shape, but was struggling. So I kept coming back. It helped heal my body and calm my mind.

 

Did it help you with the stress?

Absolutely. So much so that several years later I decided to quit architecture and become a yoga teacher.

 

How did you decide to make the transition from practicing yoga to teaching yoga?

I was really getting into studying the different types of yoga, and I became friends with other teachers. They saw how interested I was in it, and suggested teacher training. I didn’t want to become a yoga teacher, but I did want to learn more about yoga. So I went to teacher training thinking that they only way I would ever become a teacher was if I could teach for one of the teachers that I admired immensely. So after the intense nine weeks of teacher training, I actually got a job offer from her.

 

You said that you went to a few yoga studios before you found one that clicked. If you were new to yoga again, what would you look for in a good yoga teacher?

As a new student, it can be quite intimidating to try yoga for the first time. You want to feel at ease and comfortable. Feel at home. I advise the teachers that work here to go for the Cheers effect ­ where everybody knows your name.  A good teacher is someone who can meet where they are, but also give them the guidance to go further. Yoga is for everyone, so a good teacher won’t make anyone feel singled out or like they don’t belong. As a student, you have to be able to resonate with your teacher. If you don’t jive with what they’re saying, then it might not be a right fit.

 

In a yoga class, everyone is focusing on themselves, not on anyone else. That’s the hardest thing when we first start ­ to get out of your head the thought that everyone is going to look at you. Only you are paying attention to yourself.

 

What should someone new to yoga expect from their first class?

Go in with zero expectations, and then you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Make it your only goal to be in the room, just to experience it. Take it easy, if you need to. Just watch the others, if you need to. This is not school ­ there’s no graduation, and you don’t get a report card.

 

What’s the most valuable thing that you teach to your students?

That you are in total control of your life. That you are bigger, stronger, more confident than you’ll ever give yourself credit for. Through a yoga practice, you’ll create a connection between your mind and your body. It will empower you. It’s like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz ­ you’ve had it in you all along. The strength, determination, concentration have been in you all along. Yoga just helps you tap into that.

 

What do you learn from your groups, your students, your classes?

You learn so much about compassion, empathy and the diversity of life’s journey. You learn to be open­minded to it all, knowing that everyone is on their own journey. This has been my full time career for the past 10 years, and I’ve taught thousands of classes. And all of the students that I’ve had were different, and they each taught me something. It’s what keeps us teachers going.

 

Who comes to your classes in Squirrel Hill?

It’s a community of like minded people who like to take time out for themselves. Everything from stay-­at­-home parents to professors and people in the medical field. We get a lot of students too.  We have a wide range, from people in their 20’s to people in their 70’s. Squirrel Hill is a melting pot of cultures, from people who’ve lived here all their lives to people who just moved here from abroad. It’s really inspiring to see people of such different backgrounds having the same like-minded attitude of taking time for themselves.

 

What else do you like to do in the Squirrel Hill community?

I own I Am Yoga and teach here. I also put on the Pittsburgh Yoga Expo once a year. It’s an event that brings together all the different yoga communities and styles. It’s a great venue for people to try different styles of yoga in a less intimidating environment in 20 minute spurs. In the summer, we do Yoga in the Park, in Schenley. Sometimes we collaborate with the East End Brewing Company and do yoga at the brewery.

 

You opened the studio in Squirrel Hill almost five years ago. How has the community changed in the meantime?

In the beginning, we offered one style of yoga. We’ve since changed our name to I Am Yoga and offer four types of yoga now: Bikram, Hatha Yoga, Yin Yoga and Vinyasa Flow. We offer a lot of other workshops throughout the year. Once a month, we offer kids’ yoga now. Some parents who already practice with us are excited to bring their kids too.

 

Is there one secret about yoga that you’d like people to know about?

With yoga, you realize how good you can feel on a daily basis. Most people don’t realize that. They don’t live to their optimal health and wellness. It feels good to feel good.

 

What else do you like to do?       

I love being outside, running, cycling. I live near Frick Park, so I am there a lot. I wouldn’t have the same stamina for it without yoga. People in general inspire me. There are a lot of amazing people out there. I love exploring new cultures through traveling. I’ve taught yoga retreats in Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Mexico. I’ve traveled down to Peru and all throughout Europe.

 

Where can people find you?

The studio is at the corner of Forbes and Murray. That’s the definitive Squirrel Hill location. We’d love to have new people in, and we’re a friendly group. We offer discounts for students, seniors, public school teachers, police officers, firefighters, and veterans. Online, you can find us at http://www.iamyogapgh.com/

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