Featured Yogi: Tash

Name: Natasha Domonkos
Studio: Beginner Yogi
Years teaching: 2
Years practicing: 5+ (I dabbled for a long time!)
Favourite yoga style: All of it, it depends on my mood, my body, my intention…

What do you remember about your very first yoga class?
Well, my first official class was actually a DVD in the spare room of our flat at the time. It was called “Hollywood Yoga” and there were about eight blond babes instructing a really intense Power Vinyasa class. I turned it off after 10 minutes, completely mortified and put-off!

It took me at least a year after that to finally talk myself into going to an actual class (Jenifer Parker of Healium, Wellington), I was that traumatised, but I did and it was amazing. I remember thinking; this is what yoga was meant to feel like.

What inspired you to teach?
In 2011 I became sick and was soon diagnosed with Autoimmune Disease. While trying to reclaim my health back I came across a slide show on a blog site that went through 52 yoga poses and decided to give it a go. I diligently went through every pose, every day for a week and began to notice that I was not only feeling better during and after the practice, but long after as the effect was lasting.

It took a long time to really get my health back to ‘normal’ (normal for me, anyway!) and my yoga practice is the one constant that I’ve kept up because I can’t ignore that it helped so much in the early days of dealing with Autoimmune.

My style of teaching now reflects this experience; I’m all about doing yoga that leaves you feeling good, not wrecked. It’s safe, sustainable and often has students finishing their class with a big sigh of relief!

Best thing about teaching?
Helping to create space for people to feel better. That moment at the beginning of class when everyone closes their eyes and goes inward. That moment at the end of class when everyone opens their eyes and looks softer, calmer and more relaxed.

Best thing about being trained to teach?
All the things you learn about yourself! All the stuff you have to let go of in order to get out of your own way! My personal practice also became a lot more powerful after my teacher training, I felt like I was able to intuitively move how my body needed to, to practice poses that were going to be of the best benefit to me at that time.

What’s been the biggest lesson you’ve learnt in opening a studio?
I guess this goes for anyone who owns their own business, but the biggest lesson I’ve learnt since opening 15 months ago is to create space in my day/week for time out. It is so easy to work 24/7 when it’s your baby and it doesn’t feel like work but sooner or later you get burnt out and feel like you are giving too much and suddenly it becomes a job. This happened to me about one year in and since then I make sure I have one FULL day off – I actually have three at the moment (lucky!) but the other two I do admin for part of the day so it’s not really a day off!

What do you look for in teachers?
I tend to attract the teachers who are more about yoga feeling good and less about who can do the fanciest move! Not that there is anything wrong with handstands etc., but honestly, my opinion is that most people these days need more child’s pose and a whole lot of tension worked out of their neck and shoulders before even going there!

Because Beginner Yogi is our baby, we want teachers who will look after our students and have a genuine interest in the people they are teaching. We are a small studio (max 12 per class) so our teachers must be comfortable with smaller, intimate groups, which funnily enough intimidates some people.

Favourite quote or mantra?
Inhale. Exhale.
I often repeat those words silently as I breathe in and out when I need to slow down and clear my mind.

Favourite after class snack?
My famous home-made bliss balls and coconut water.

Share something your students and teachers might be surprised to know about you.
I don’t know if this is a surprise or not but I mediate every single day and often laugh at how magic life becomes because of my practice. I would call myself intuitive and often pick up on people’s energy and have a knack for knowing people are pregnant before they do!

What do you love about your part of town?
That we are out of the city! Karori is a large suburb about 10 minutes out of the CBD, so we have lots of hard working mums and dads that come to class for stress relief and to feel better. It is an incredibly supportive suburb and the locals are the reason we have been so successful. Word of mouth is powerful and our members are so amazing and kind with their words and recommendations to others.

Thank you so much, Tash!

Would you like to be a Featured Yogi? We’d love to know more about you! Or is there someone you’d like to nominate … another teacher, a stupendous student? Getting to know our fellow yogis creates connection. We like that. Get in touch here.

© The Yoga Connection 2016

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