Today, Meddy and I are interviewing the graceful Sam Barber, a yoga teacher based in Los Angeles, CA.
We met Sam a few months ago while taking one of her great rooftop yoga classes at Hotel Normandie in downtown Los Angeles. You might have seen some acro yoga shots with Meddy up on the rooftop with the Hollywood sign in the back; that was Sam's class. Check Instagram to see them...
Sam believes that Yoga is a practice. There are no requirements to beginning outside of the willingness to learn, to grow, and to heal. Sam teaches at The Springs in downtown LA which is a cool studio that serves fresh, raw and organic juices.
Meddy tracked Sam down doing some pranayama, and we got to ask her a few questions about yoga and her early influences.
Meddy Teddy: Sam what made you want to become a yoga teacher?Sam: Finding and developing my yoga practice was a huge turning point in my life. I still feel such gratitude to have met such wonderful teachers along the way who helped empower me on my journey towards health and happiness. The work is truly good and valuable, so I gladly take on whatever my little part is in healing whatever and helping however I can.
Meddy Teddy: Who was a great mentor/teacher for you?Sam: My mother. She didn’t raise me to practice yoga but I believe she did raise me to develop the yogi attitude so when I did find yoga it fit so well. She consistently worked to teach me (even though I was pretty hardheaded) to learn how to listen to my intuition and my intention, that the actual path to happiness is one that’s unique to each and every person. Happiness was achievable if we can only just listen to ourselves instead of all the noise around us telling us what we “should” be. It’s been a wonderful lesson and one I hold on to and come back to each and every day.
Meddy Teddy: What kind of yoga styles do you practice and how do they help you with your teaching style?Sam: I began my training with Vinyasa, the continuous flow of the class helps me when I feel stagnant, depressed and slow. I also practice Yin and Restorative yoga which helps me when I feel anxious, stressed, and exhausted. Recently, I have been getting into a Kundalini practice which has helped me center, focus and energize from the inside out. My personal practice is so important because finding the time to reconnect with myself and the things that I am working on helps me to be present for the people who are doing their work in my class. Although I teach Vinyasa classes primarily, they are influenced by many other linages of yoga to create what I experience as a personal balanced and powerful practice.
Meddy Teddy: Where do you see the future of yoga heading?Sam: I love the fact that yoga is everywhere now! People here in the west and getting into it more and more. I see this trend continuing. I would love to see meditation practices continue to spread in the school systems, holistic approaches to health, and a more connected world. As yoga continues to pick up momentum in our country, I see endless benefits for us on personal levels and us as a country.
Meddy Teddy: How do you think yoga can help kids?Sam: We are all just grown up kids, aren’t we? I’ve found that yoga has helped me to release a lot of anxiety, anger, and sadness that I held on to from childhood, stuff I hadn’t even realized I was still holding onto. Yoga helped me honestly express myself while also forgiving myself for my hangups. If it can help adults, it can help kids. Kids are only now starting to understand themselves and the world around them; there is a lot of anxiety and stress that comes with coming into your own. A good meditation practice helps them deal with the stresses that accompany growing up which eventually lead to happier, healthier and calmer adults.
Meddy Teddy: How do you think yoga helps manage stress in this busy and modern world we live in?Sam: Oh man! Immensely! Stress and anxiety happen in the body when our body, mind, and breath is out of balance. In this modern world our stressors are more frequent and complicated than ever - work, bills, traffic, relationships. Yoga is a practice that constantly keeps bringing us back into balance, back into ourselves. Just being able to focus on breathing and moving is something that is so simple but also so powerful in bringing awareness towards our current state, our health, and our happiness. I’ve experienced it myself, and I see it every time I teach. When yogis can be present, they teach themselves how to bring themselves back to peace.
Meddy Teddy: What is the most rewarding part of being a yoga teacher?Sam: Every class is a reward. Seeing shifts in body, breath, energy from the beginning of class to the end is the sweetest part of teaching. Teaching is an extensive practice of being present and holding space for all of the amazing people who come. I still get butterflies before class because I want to teach something that moves and that helps. I’m so focused during the class that I never really get a moment to take it in until the end of class. While the class is in Savasana, the final surrender, that’s where I get to sit, breathe, and bask in the energy that those yogis have built. It’s an amazing feeling. Yoga teachers don’t always get thanks, I’ve gotten used to it and don’t look for it. All my gratitude comes from that moment where everybody is still, breathing with ease, and restful.
Meddy Teddy: Where do you see your self in 10 years with your teaching?Sam: Hopefully still teaching, whoever and wherever I'm called; that would be wonderful.