Asana and Answers is a weekly feature highlighting the instructors who teach during the week at the gondola. This week, Annie Martinello tells us about her personal style of yoga and her ideal day.
What inspired you to become a yoga instructor?
At the time in my early 20's living in Whistler I was drawn to Yoga in search of creating more balance in my life physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. After a few years of practicing I was looking at becoming a personal trainer but felt it lack the depth of where I wanted to guide people. Then one day after a class an instructor approached me and said she felt I would be a good yoga teacher. Which ended up into a funny story getting suckered into a "3 day become a yoga teacher course" which I took with this instructor in Whistler. I started working for her and then a few months into things she left me and my close friend Christina Tottle with her studio and left town??? Christina and I made things work for a while but I felt the need to study more. I took two months off from work in Whistler moved back home to Victoria in 2003 and took my first proper 250hr teacher training at Moksana Yoga with Jess Gogol...and that changed my life and began my journey as a teacher/guide/ therapist.
How would you describe your style of yoga?
Funny I struggle with this question a lot when I am trying to describe a class that I want to teach because I personally feel that I do a little of everything and don't want to label my classes as anything in particular because I want students to be open to exploring without any expectations. Since 2011 when I started my journey with Therapeutic Yoga training I have based my practice and teaching on many of the principles of yoga therapy...So my style is Therapeutic with a "less is more concept" and I believe in the power of suggestion (offering lots of suggestions rather then telling people what to do or feel) which empowers people to make there own choices, to listen and be present exploring your true nature and I believe that is where the magic of yoga happens for people. My classes are gentle and mindful with physical movement that everyone is able to practice while making adjustments to there personal needs; they are deep and connected in being present with your breath, inner sensations and the flow of energy. I listen to my heart and to the needs of the group and each individual in each class and make sure that there is something that everyone can do. Encouraging people to let go into the moment and receive LOVE into their hearts.
What advice would you give to someone who is wanting to start practicing yoga?
Yoga is the Practice of Self Study and is a practice which is approachable to anyone who wants more ways to learn about themselves and take care of themselves. Everyone can do yoga even if you can't touch your toes. I usually tell people when they say this to me "bend your knees can you touch your toes now? And if not, who cares. Getting into crazy contorted positions is not what yoga is about but being present feeling and listening to your bodies inner wisdom is what its about. There are so many different ways to practice and styles out there the key is to try a few different teachers out and find someone you connect with because if you practice with someone you are comfortable and connected to you will get more out of the practice and you will come to really love doing yoga. Don't judge yourself or be hard on yourself when learning something new, ask questions when you feel the need to and enter each class with curiosity to what you may learn about yourself.
How do the surroundings influence your classes when you practice yoga at the gondola?
This is my 4th summer teaching yoga on the gondola and I really look forward to it each year. What I love most is being in the elements of nature and during practice always staying connected to those elements for example - feeling the wind & sun against your skin - breathing the fresh mountain air grateful for all the trees around us offering this amazing air we get to breath. Practicing in this surrounding and on the deck at the top of the gondola gives you that feeling like you are right in and amongst the mountains, trees, ocean & sky is really quite a special place to be. And even though there are spectators and a degree of distraction I love how that allows you to even force more in your practice.
Describe your perfect day in Squamish.
Morning yoga practice, whether that's up on the gondola, on the grass in my back yard or in my cabin. Hanging with my children and husband having a yummy breakfast and then doing some type of activity that we love to do (paddle board in the estuary or lake, mountain biking, climbing, hiking or going for a walk). Playing in my Garden, BBQ with friends, dancing in the living room being silly with the kids. Snuggles & chats with my family before bed, and a glass of wine with my husband after the kids have gone to sleep.