• An Interview with Lauren Chaitoff

    Energetic, Disarming, and Loyal

    Where are you from?

    I’m from Long Island and after living in Chicago, Los Angeles, and NYC, I am back in Long Island where it all started!

    How did yoga come into your life and what has that journey been like for you?

    I started practicing yoga in college. Like many other people, I started it with only the physical benefits in mind. About two years into practicing I began to notice the effects the practice would have on my mind. When I was deep into practice my mind had a one-pointed focus and I felt calm. I’ve always practiced Asana, however, for the past 5 years, my meditation practice has been just as paramount to me as the physical.

    How has yoga changed and what do you feel it creates in your daily life?

    My practice is my anchor. It is a daily ritual that grounds and centers me.

    What is yoga to you?

    To me, Yoga is a way of life. When I teach kids I focus on the body-heart-mind components of Yoga. I want them to understand it is so much more than just the Asana – that it is a way of living.

    How did you feel after your first yoga class and how do you feel this influences or impacts the space you create for your students?

    I took my first yoga class in college after having my heart broken. I went to class not knowing what to expect. I remember feeling the class was a place of non-judgment and there was no competition. The teacher kept reminding us that it was ok if we couldn’t do certain poses – it was very different from any other activity I had experienced in a gym setting.

    Who were you before you started practicing and how have you changed, evolved, and transformed?

    I still have anxiety and struggle with reacting too quickly, however, Yoga has made me more self-aware and self-reflective. (Svadhyaya) I notice how my practice on the mat mirrors what’s going on in my life off the mat. Without my practice, I would feel like I was free-falling. My practice definitely roots me!

    Why did you decide to start teaching yoga and what qualities do you feel are important to build and work on as a yoga teacher?

    I began teaching yoga in 2007. I started out as a pilates instructor and as my own personal Yoga practice continued to deepen I knew I wanted to share the practice with my clients. I think one of the most important qualities of a yoga instructor is to create an environment where everyone feels welcome, accepted, and included.

    What has been the most inspirational moment you’ve experienced as a yoga student?

    While living in NYC getting the opportunity to practice on a weekly basis with Sri Dharma Mittra was truly inspiring.

    What has been the most inspirational moment you’ve experienced as a yoga teacher?

    When kids tell me how they used their yoga practice off of their mat (eg: taking deep breathes when they are feeling angry or sad, or mastering a pose in their own time) always reassures me that I am on the right path.

    What is the single most defining issue facing the global yoga community today?

    The yoga/wellness community needs to do better in terms of inclusivity and diversity. I’m constantly listening and learning on ways I can take action and do my part to make that change.

    Do you have any recommended yoga reading?

    Not necessarily yoga, however, I love A Path with Heart by Jack Kornfield, Polishing the Mirror by Ram Dass, The Power on Intention by Wayne Dyer, and most recently purchased, Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art by James Nestor

    Through your own personal journey, what do you feel is your path and offering to the community- local and global?

    I definitely feel my path is to work with children and share the practice with them. I also feel incredibly inspired when I lead our Kids Yoga Teachers Trainings. I love sharing my knowledge and experience of teaching yoga to kids, and I am always left feeling inspired by the trainees and knowing all the good people that are out there in the world looking to make a difference

    What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out on their yoga journey?

    Practice with a variety of teachers, try different styles, and always continue learning and listening.

    Are there any current projects you’re working on that you can tell us about?

    Yogi Beans has original kids’ music that we will be releasing soon! (You can hear some of the tracks in our Om Stars + Yogi Beans classes) I am also working on compiling an On Demand library of Yogi Beans classes and short exercises that can be sprinkled into kids’ everyday life as well as some other surprise collaborations that are in the works!

    What’s your favorite meal at a restaurant?

    Stuffed Artichoke

    What’s your favorite meal to make at home?

    Vegetarian loaded nachos

    What do you like to do for fun that’s non-yoga related?

    Anything in Nature makes me most happy!

    Who is your greatest inspiration?

    Both my grandmothers are huge inspirations to me.

    If you were stranded on an island what 3 things would you bring with you?

    My family, music, and snacks!

    When you were a child what did you want to be when you grew up?

    Vet/Actress (My plan was to act during the week and be a Vet on the weekends!)

    What’s your favorite TV series?

    The Office

    What’s your favorite quote/affirmation/mantra?

    Be Here Now

    What is your life’s biggest question?

    There are so many….

    By Lauren Chaitoff

    Lauren Chaitoff founded Yogi Beans in 2007. Lauren found herself teaching yoga to hundreds of kids, attending numerous trainings, workshops and lectures and designing the Yogi Beans curriculum “sprouting” from her innate ability to connect with children and her knowledge of yoga. Yogi Beans has since become one of the top rated children’s programs in New York City. As Founder & CEO, Lauren oversees and trains the stellar Yogi Beans Instructor team, leads regular Yogi Beans’ public teacher trainings, and creates and teaches weekly classes to beans of all ages at a range of venues. Lauren holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theater from Northwestern University and is a registered E-RYT Yoga Instructor through the Yoga Alliance. Lauren continuously evolves Yogi Beans’ programming from her extensive experiences in the classroom, on her mat, and through her love of her own beans, Vivienne Bell and Juliette Rose.

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