Devon Spencer-Smith is a fresh & vibrant instructor making her poses around the Los Angeles, Ca area. Green Apple Active team member Liz Korsedal has had the pleasure of taking her classes and attributes Devon's beginner-friendly teaching style as a major influence in Liz's ongoing Yoga practice:
As a newbie I was nervous, and not looking forward to making a fool of myself... I am not the most coordinated individual. Devon instantly put me at ease and made me feel relaxed. Her class flowed through positions and I felt completely calm the entire time. What was most surprising was how thoroughly stretched and toned I felt afterwards.In fact, Devon's classes were so inspirational, Liz later decided to interview Devon on what inspired her to make the leap into yoga & what she has learned from her journey. Here are the findings:
Liz: What first got you interested in Yoga?
Devon: I was super stressed out working in the fashion industry and a neighbor/friend of mine at the time recommended a yoga class she regularly attended. She said it was a great way to help decompress from her work day. So I checked it out and was hooked immediately! I fell in love with the sense of freedom and clarity of mind I experienced at the end of each class.
Liz: What Yoga style(s) do you teach?
Devon: Yin Yoga and Restorative Yoga
Liz: What drew you to this particular style?
Devon: I used to teach vinyasa yoga, (which links breath work to movement and is also great form of yoga), but I injured my back in a car accident and it became too strenuous for me to teach this style. As my back healed, I began taking yin and restorative classes because the sequencing of poses was slower and gentler for my recovery. I fell in love with the pacing of these classes, the longer held postures that were taught, and the meditative qualities they offered. Having an injury was an extremely humbling experience. It allowed me to gain a greater understanding and appreciation for these slower yoga styles as well as empathize with other students who had injuries too. I was so inspired as I learned more about Yin and Restorative yoga, that I switched to teaching these type of classes exclusively. We live in a very fast paced society, (especially in Los Angeles) and I feel that Yin and Restorative yoga offer students the opportunity to slooooww down and decompress both mentally and physically.
Liz: What do you love most about teaching yoga?
Devon: The students! I love being able to provide a safe space and environment where someone else can truly let go and surrender into a state of peace and calm. It is rewarding, humbling and uplifting. I leave every class with a smile on my face.
Liz: What advice do you have for people just starting yoga?
Devon: I would recommend taking a beginner class or an intro to yoga class. We are all built differently. Take your time in learning the poses so that you can do them safely within your body. Find a style of yoga that works for you. Shop around! There are a ton of different styles of yoga out there, so explore various classes to see which works best for you.
Liz: What can students expect from your class?
Devon: My classes introduce and deepen students' practice through alignment, breath control, strength building exercises and guided meditation. I offer posture modifications so that students of all levels can enjoy my classes.
Liz: What is your favorite pose? Why?
Devon: This is a tough question! There are so many! I think my favorite pose as of right now is malasana or "deep squat" pose. It is a fabulous way to decompress the lower back muscles while challenging yourself to find length and space in the torso, upper back and chest.
Liz: What is the most important lesson you have learned from Yoga?
Devon: Yoga has taught me so many things, it is hard to express in words without sounding overly hokey! I would say one of the biggest lessons yoga has taught me is the power of intention and breath. Through meditation and pranayama, or "breath control," I have become much more conscious, peaceful, happy with my life as well as what is to come in life.
Liz: What in your opinion are the greatest challenges in yoga?
Devon: I think that yoga is often misconceived as solely a form of exercise... when it is and can be so much more! For me, "asana" or the physical practice of yoga, is just one representation and avenue through which one can experience clarity of mind. However, yoga doesn't have to be "asana" or a posture at all. It can be breath work or meditation too. Yoga can even be going for a walk, gardening or being with your family. Yoga is when you let the workings of your mind surrender and you fall into a state of peace, acceptance and happiness.
Liz: Where/when can students find your classes?
Devon: I teach Yin Yoga from 7-8:15pm on Tuesday nights and Restorative Yoga from 7-8:15pm on Thursday nights at Body Wellness in Santa Monica, Ca : http://www.havebodywellness.com/index.htm