In September, YogaOutlet.com held its first-ever YogaOutlet.com Retreat called Malibu Gathering, bringing together yogis, media, products, teachers and experts for one and a half days of yoga (and great weather) in Southern California.
One of our teachers was celebrated yoga teacher and author, Andrea Marcum, who led us through an inspiring early morning outdoor yoga flow. She teaches in LA at YogaWorks, and internationally at festivals, workshops and retreats. We had the honor of learning a little bit more about her in this exclusive Q+A.
Tell us a bit about your background. What initially got you into the practice of yoga and where did you gain most of your training and expertise?
I stumbled into a yoga class at Crunch Gym about 20 years ago, convinced that it wasn't going to burn enough calories to be worthwhile. But the stillness and quiet of my first down dog was so loud and unnerving, it refused to be denied. No machines, no spin shoes or booming sound system. Just me.
Yoga nurtured a part of me I hadn't yet met. I went back the very next day... and the next. A year later, I signed up for a teacher training and I've been teaching ever since. I even founded U Studio Yoga in Los Angeles in 2006 and ran it for nine years (that's about 100 years anywhere else). Then when yoga stretched me out into the world to teach international workshops, retreats and festivals, I traded in brick and mortar for frequent flier miles, closed my studio and began teaching at YogaWorks. I've learned from so many amazing teachers over the years and I'm grateful for all of them. Not to mention, I've probably learned more from my students than they've learned from me.
What lights me up is making things accessible --yoga postures as well as yoga philosophy. I work with everyone from executives, athletes, movie directors, actors and actresses-- to teen parents, seniors and care-givers. All of us -- every single one of us-- needs the same thing. A place where it feels safe to smooth out our crumpled bodies and minds and connect to our spirit. To get a little bit better of an idea idea of who we really are and what we want to do while we're here. In order to do that we need to know how yoga applies to our life right now, not feel like it's a secret handshake meant for other people. We want to find our Self in our yoga - not feel like we're supposed to fit into someone else's jeans.
What do you love most about being a yoga teacher?
I love witnessing my students stretch, both on their mats and in their lives. Hearing their stories of how yoga has impacted and transformed them is the best thing ever!
Where's your favorite place to practice and where is the coolest place you've taught or practiced yoga?
I feel truly blessed to be able to teach all over the world. I've taught in Abu Dhabi, Copenhagen, Bulgaria, Italy, India, Bali, Costa Rica, Mexico, Canada, Hong Kong, to name a few. I was so excited to teach on an elephant refuge in Thailand and at Angkor Wat in Cambodia in November. But, really, the coolest place I've ever taught is wherever I am at that very moment no matter where that is.
Aside from yoga, what are three things you're passionate about?
I'm passionate about community. Nothing is more important to me than inclusive vs. exclusive. It is essential that everyone feel invited to the party. That goes for every class I teach, every retreat I lead and my book Close to OM: Stretching Yoga From Your Mat to Your Life releasing December 25th from St Martin's Press and available now for pre-sale.
We are all looking for a place to belong. A place where we can shine with the other lights on the tree - a tree with deep roots and wide branches. I am committed to growing that tree.
I'm also passionate about travel - getting out into the world and learning about what's outside of our usual range of motion.
Oh, and I'm pretty passionate about a really great espresso... just sayin'.
If you could send one message to the world, what would it be?
Let's learn how to listen - to ourselves and to each other. If we really listen, we will learn - and if we're learning, we won't feel so threatened by what we might not know.
What's your favorite yoga pose?
Tadasana - Mountain Pose. I say it all the time in my classroom. When we stand in tadasana, we are stepping into our mountain. A mountain stands no matter what swirls around it - weather, seasons, hikers and skiers scratching its surface. When we tap in to our inner mountain, we connect to our Self -- and when we get to Source and Self we know what we're really standing for.
What's your favorite style of yoga to practice?
At the end of the day, I'm a vinyasa flow loving sort of gal... but I enjoy many styles. I mean, there's nothing quite as juicy as a great restorative practice.
Our September retreat is about building community through yoga. How do you think yoga best builds community through the practice?
As I mentioned above, community is my jam! Yoga is connection - first to our self, then to one another and towards everything around us. Yoga is about turning inward, ultimately, so that we can reach out. I believe our mats are magic carpets that look into our lives and to see the world. Community is encouraging each other to stay Close to OM.