FEATURED TEACHER OF THE MONTH
Interview by Sara McElwain
Prashanti/Pamela Slovin has been teaching Yoga since 1999 and on staff at Integral Yoga Institute since 2000. Her teaching practice consists of corporate and private clients in addition to a mixed-level class at IYI. She has served for many years as the program manager at IYI, coordinating the workshop and course offerings that appear in the Program Guide, and for several years as an Integral Yoga teacher trainer as well. She has trained at Integral Yoga for beginner, intermediate, and advanced asana and pranayama practices, along with Prenatal and Postpartum Yoga, Meditation, and Children’s Yoga. Prashanti is currently studying with Leslie Kaminoff at the Breathing Project and is enrolled in his yearlong Anatomy of Breath-Centered Yoga course; she has also trained with Corina Benner in her Yin Yoga Teacher Training and with Mark Whitwell, completing his Heart of Yoga Teacher Training.
What is your definition of “Yoga”?
Yoga is union, which I see as bringing together body, mind, and breath. Yoga is attention to the present moment. Yoga, for me, is practicing with awareness, letting go of judgment, critique, expectation, mind chatter. In asana practice it’s the balance of effort and ease, of strength and softness, of cultivating awareness and letting go. Off the mat it’s practicing that same level of mindfulness while navigating the joys and challenges of daily life.
What do you love about Yoga?
I love that it can be practiced on the mat or off and that the mat is a safe place to practice becoming grounded in things that may seem challenging “out and about” in life. If I can successfully apply non-attachment in my experience of asana practice, I am laying a strong foundation for applying that when things in life don’t go as I may have hoped. I also love that Yoga, in some form or other, can be practiced by anyone, anywhere, anytime.
Why do you teach Yoga?
I teach Yoga for many reasons. It’s important to me that my work feel useful, that I am contributing to creating the kind of world I want to see. It is rewarding to share helpful, healing, and empowering techniques and information. My career path, prior to my teaching Yoga, was in the social services, and coming to Yoga felt like finding a path to service that suited me well. And it’s the cherry on top, at the end of class, to have a room full of smiling faces
What are the particular areas of Yoga in which you are now teaching or in which you have created your own, special offerings? What attracted you to those areas?
I am quite inspired by my current study of anatomy at the Breathing Project. It feels refreshing and juicy to be stimulating my mind, to be deepening the line of inquiry, to be even more aware of the language I use when I teach and the suggestions I offer. I’m truly appreciating increasing my understanding of the body, this vehicle we inhabit, and how it impacts our experience of asana and movement. I’m becoming even more aware of the differences in the body’s structure among individuals and how to help guide a diverse range of people into safe and useful alignment and exploration.
What do you hope students will receive from you as a teacher?
My hope is that students will find a balance between the guidance being offered and the intuitive wisdom they already have within. I hope to create a safe environment that is conducive to students’ exploring and honoring themselves. I hope to engage students in inquiry and encourage present-moment awareness, the moving meditation that is possible when preconceived notions are set aside, the mind-stuff is quieted, and space is created for tuning in to the teacher within. And I hope my classes meet the goals of Integral Yoga in creating easeful bodies, peaceful minds, and useful lives.
Do you have a favorite book or Yoga mat or product that you like, something you sincerely enjoy and wish to share?
I have recently been rereading the Dhammapada translation by Eknath Eswaran. I find the teachings included there to be clear, inspiring, and easily digestible and to have a profound simplicity that is very applicable to daily life. This translation includes many stories of the Buddha that help illustrate the teachings, such as one in which the Buddha is asked what he has gained from meditation. The Buddha replies, “Nothing at all,” and goes on to expound on all he has lost through meditation—sickness, anger, depression, insecurity, fear…. The text offers guidance toward choices that lessen suffering and increase joy—for example, rather than giving your attention to what others do or fail to do, giving it to what you do or fail to do. The Dhammapada has offered useful support on the path toward creating within me the kind of world I want around me.
Ongoing Class at IYI:
Monday one-hour multilevel class at noon