What do you really know about your yoga teachers?
You’ve probably seen them float through challenging asanas with strength and grace; you’ve heard their deepest, most intentional dharma talks; you’ve noticed the planet-friendly water bottles they carry; and maybe you’ve popped into their favorite coffee shops to try a latte or two.
But come on! Yoga teachers are people too, right?
And beyond their absolute human-ness, they must have opinions and ideas that stray (even just a little bit) from what the ancient texts, gurus, and guides left behind.
So let’s dig in.
Let’s find out.
Welcome to the NJYC’s Interview Series!
Over the next few weeks and months, we will sit down with well-known and much-loved yoga teachers to learn more about who they are, how they feel, and what’s really going on.
First up, Christine Dates.
Christine’s teaching style is a mirror to her personality – sincere and straight-forward, but also light-hearted and fun. Her classes strike a balance between functional posture alignment and the delicate poetry of moving with mindfulness. She offers classes with a skilled combination of strength and ease. She believes that yoga as a practice, both on and off the mat, is attainable and beneficial for everyone.
Christine holds space that feels accessible and welcoming no matter the level of experience. She celebrates individuality in her students, and empowers them to find and listen to the teacher that resides within.
Christine completed her initial 200 hour Teacher Training in January 2015 with Amy Lafond and Janice Chiou Barnett at YogaWorks in Los Angeles. In February 2019, she accomplished advancing her training to the 500-hour level (RYT-500) with Dina Crosta, Ellen Mosko, and Jamie Hanley at Elevate Yoga in Hazlet, NJ. She has also trained in Restorative Yoga, Yin Yoga, and yoga with a trauma-sensitive approach.
Christine enjoys spending the colder months at home with cups of coffee and good books. She loves to cook and write. When the weather warms, you can’t keep her indoors. She lives a bike ride away from the beach in Belmar, NJ, and loves to hike, camp, and travel with her husband, Matt. Christine’s current teaching schedule and upcoming workshops can found on her website, linked right here for you.
It’s true that not every type of yoga is for everybody. And not every teacher is for everybody. But YOGA is for every BODY. If you really want to practice, take the time to find the style, the studio, the class, and the teacher for you. I promise they’re out there!-Christine Dates
How long have you been practicing yoga and why did you start practicing yoga?
I’ve been practicing yoga for about 10 years. I walked into a yoga class at a gym, remember being really confused most of the class, but loved Savasana so much, I kept going back.
I don’t excel at physical activities that require a sense of urgency. To me, running is the worst. I was a distance swimmer in high school for the sole reason that I didn’t like to sprint. I originally kept going to yoga because I felt like I was doing a good thing for my body without having to move too quickly. I loved that I had time to breathe and really move with intention.
What impact has yoga had on your life? Who were you before you started practicing and how have you changed, evolved and transformed?
I have a very solid sense of self, and I feel I owe so much of that to the self-study aspect of my yoga practice. Asana, pranayama, and meditation are amazing tools to work through the Prakriti – simply put, all those external, created layers that build up – that veil Purusha, or the true self. A consistent practice helps me stay in contact with that “real” me.
What makes a good yoga teacher?
Keen observation skills and the ability to make changes and offer alternatives when needed. A good teacher needs to be able to teach to the students who are in the room, which might mean deviating from the intended plan a bit!
Who is your greatest teacher?
I joke sometimes that my husband is the greatest yogi who doesn’t practice yoga. Matt is so smart, insightful, honest, and down to earth – he keeps me motivated and helps me to maintain focus on the big picture.
What has been your biggest struggle and your biggest milestone in the practice?
Seated forward folds and I are not the best of friends. But I wouldn’t exactly call them a struggle anymore, because I have been able to let go of caring about making my body fit any specific shape of what a pose is “supposed” to look like. Which, I suppose, could be the biggest milestone – I really listen to my body and strive to challenge myself without pushing beyond my limits. Some days, that means laying in a couple restorative poses and just focusing on my breath, and not judging myself because I “should be doing more.” Being unattached to result takes a lot of work, but it is SO worth it.
What is the single most defining issue facing the global yoga community today?
Inclusivity. It pains me when I hear people say, “I’m not _____ enough for yoga.” Fill in the blank with the word flexible, or young, or thin, or strong, etc. It’s true that not every type of yoga is for everybody. And not every teacher is for everybody. But YOGA is for every BODY. If you really want to practice, take the time to find the style, the studio, the class, and the teacher for you. I promise they’re out there!
What’s the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you as a teacher?
I’ve taught more than one class with my yoga pants on inside out!
Tell us something that your yoga students would never guess about you.
I actually know quite a bit about coffee! In 2011, I volunteered on a coffee farm in Hawaii for 6 weeks, and learned so much about coffee production hands-on. I worked at a coffee shop after that, thinking I’d open one of my own someday. I soon realized that dedicating myself to a business that required early mornings every single day was just not realistic for me. I love sleep too much!
So tell us, what is your favorite coffee shop locally?!
Can I say my apartment? I grind my beans and brew fresh coffee each morning – starting the morning sipping slowly is my favorite daily ritual. My go-to beans are from Fair Mountain Coffee Roasters – they roast at their location in Atlantic Highlands, and you can also find their coffee at Whole Foods throughout NJ.
And on that note, we will be over for coffee, soon. Good thing we know where she teaches…
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