Laura Martini is May’s Yogi of the Month and I am so excited to have her share her story with you. Laura’s classes were one of my first yoga classes and still some of my favorite. She is such a sweet person and lovely teacher. Since I met Laura she has grown her teaching and developed a brand of her own. Martini Yoga stands for great yoga and awesome retreats! Meet Laura.
1 What does yoga mean to you?
Over time, yoga has come to mean “freedom” to me. In the beginning it was all about the freedom to feel good in my body; as my practice evolves it has become more about the freedom to love myself and translate that love out into the world. Yoga means freedom to explore, feel, and recognize the divine connection that we all share.
My first yoga class was about 9 years ago at what was then Gold’s Gym. I joined the gym during my second year of university and tried out a yoga class on a whim. I had been suffering from chronic low back pain and noticed that the pain went away after I completed the class. Hook. Line. And sinker.
3 Where and with whom did you study with?
After practicing yoga for 3 years I fell in love with Trinity Yoga Centre and signed up to do my yoga teacher training with owners Jeff and Sonya Thomlinson. I took the 300 hour course and my life has never been the same! I highly recommend their programs. Since then, I’ve trained with Don and Amba Stapleton at the Nosara Yoga Institute and Nicki Doane of Maya Yoga. I’ve also done workshops/retreats with Erich Schiffman, Amrit Desai, and Seane Corn.
4 What kept you coming back to the mat and has that changed over time?
At first it was the Power Yoga workout that brought me back to my mat; now it’s all about the savasana! Yoga is my chance to relax and find stillness of mind; it helps me refresh and recharge for the rest of my day.
5 What does yoga bring to your life?
BALANCE. I can’t imagine a life without yoga. How do people survive lol??
I struggle with answering this question because my ego wants to be able to tell you I went from hardly being able to do the simplest pose to rocking handstands left, right, and centre. This is not actually the case! To be honest, the real shift in my practice came when I went from student to teacher. My practice is rarely actually mine anymore; it is now about exploring new and exciting ways to teach a transformational yoga class.
7 How might you and/or your life be different if you hadn’t found Yoga?
Well I went to university after high school with the intention of working as an Intelligence Officer for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. Maybe I wouldn’t have fallen in love with yoga and chosen that career path…maybe I would have applied to CSIS to be a spy…I could have been in the Middle East foiling terrorist plots right now!
8 What is your “can’t do without” favorite pose?
I just blogged about this lol! I’ve become recently addicted to headstands because an old Balinese lady told me headstands were medicine. Check out my blog to get the full story!
9 Tell us about an asana you struggle with!!
I have a flexible low back and a relatively weak core (which I am working on!) so I struggle with keeping my pelvis neutral in many yoga postures. It feels natural to me to have my bum sticking out because the curve in my low back is so intense. This makes inversions more difficult than I would like them to be but really, this struggle in itself is my yoga practice. There are much bigger problems in the world to worry about!
10 You inspire so many, who inspires you?
Without sounding cheesy, my students inspire me. I think they are what keeps me wanting to be a better teacher every day. Their stories, their struggles, their triumphs all bring me to tears and fill me up with gratitude! I also find tremendous amounts of inspiration from the books I read. My favorites are:
a) Meditations from the Mat by Rolf Gates
b) The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer
c) The Art of Power by Thich Naht Hanh
11 What tips can you offer beginning students for a safe practice?
Make sure you start with a gentler yoga class (like Easy Yoga) and that you practice with a teacher (NOT a DVD!). Also be sure to let your teacher know if you are working with any injuries so that your teacher knows how to take care with you. And most importantly, abandon expectations, find compassion, and don’t be hard on yourself; it’s all part of your journey!
12 How about guidance for beginning teachers?
Answer questions honestly to the best of your knowledge and pretend you are confident in your teaching until you actually are.
I’ve recently started running yoga retreats in different locales across the globe and I’ve found that the students at the retreats have really been able to transform their practice while at the retreats. I think the reason for this is that there is much less to worry about when you are retreating; your food is being prepared for you, there are no chores to do, no meetings to attend, and the yoga becomes the main focus for your day. Also, as an instructor leading these retreats, I am able to give my students a lot more attention and really help them progress throughout the week-long retreat. On a retreat, a student receives up to 3 hours of yoga instruction a day in a much more intimate setting than in the classes we receive back home.
14 Where are you teaching now and how can we find out more about you?
www.martiniyoga.ca, regular classes at oranj fitness, Martini Yoga fan page on fb, martiniyoga on twitter, martiniyoga on instagram, and Laura Martini on Pinterest.
Laura Martini has been teaching yoga for 6 years and practicing for 9. She has completed over 500 hours of Yoga Alliance approved Yoga Teacher Training including 200 hours of Kripalu Yoga Teacher Training, 100 hours of Holistic Health and Lifestyle Training, 100 hours of Maya Yoga Teacher Training, and a 100 hour advanced program entitled the “Inner Quest of the Yoga Educator” at the Nosara Yoga Institute. Laura has studied with Amrit Desai, Erich Schiffman, Seane Corn, Nicki Doane and Eddie Modestini, Don and Amba Stapleton, Mark Laham, Jeff and Sonya Thomlinson, and Eoin Finn. Laura is an experienced instructor with over 2000 teaching hours under her belt. She has led everything from therapeutic private classes for people suffering from serious injuries to public fundraising classes with 300 people.
Laura specializes in working with athletes and has had the opportunity to work with numerous professionals and amateurs including the Canadian Freestyle Ski Team. She was the honourary yoga instructor in Whistler during the 2010 Olympics and has also worked with dozens of NHL athletes. In her spare time, Laura raises money for orphaned elephants in Thailand; Martini Yoga is the proud sponsor of 10 baby elephants. Laura also devotes a significant amount of her time to mentoring new instructors in her community. She spent last year supporting 11 new yoga instructors as they completed their 300 hour yoga certification. Laura is currently a lululemon athletica Ambassador.
Laura’s “Martini Yoga” classes are an enthusiastic and integral fusion of styles and postures that are specifically designed for our modern culture. Martini Yoga classes are structured without being predictable, they are accessible for everyone, and they are never without a healthy combination of fun, compassion, and relaxation. Laura’s relatability is undeniable, she has created a love for yoga within people of all different ages and levels of fitness. Her raw and unabashed ability to push people beyond their self-constricting ego is unique and is perhaps the reason why she has hundreds of students. She likes to help her students find their “edge” and get to know their bodies and minds a little bit better. Laura’s daily class schedule can be found at oranj Fitenss.