We are so excited to feature Monica Pirani (RYT 800) in our first Yogaflipchip blog! Formerly studio manager at Yoga Vida (Best Yoga, NY Mag 2012), Monica is a Brooklyn-based yoga teacher with a strong background in anatomy and yoga injury awareness and prevention. As she explains below, her passion is to uplift and empower her students, which begins with self-awareness. She offers a safe space for us to work through our emotions and experiences, to heal from daily traumas and to face the world with renewed strength and confidence.
"Great teachers in any field will tell you that teaching is the art of empowering others to learn, overcome challenges, and gain independence. While being a yoga teacher comes with its own unique challenges compared to other professions, I am continually humbled and inspired to be in a room with amazing individuals who share their practice with me.
"I try to teach my students that the key to achieving inner peace isn’t touching your toes, but rather building self-awareness. Self-awareness is the conscious knowledge of one's own character, feelings, motives, and desires. It is a skill that is acquired by reflecting on our experiences (e.g. how a pose feels in the body, identifying pain or discomfort, and learning to be mindful in our movements) and our emotions (e.g. anger, anxiousness, frustration, excitement, and hope). Through this reflection, we get to know ourselves on a more intimate level. We start to recognize that our bodies are beautiful and miraculous organisms and that our emotions are often normal and healthy responses to the world we live in. From these realizations we gain confidence and improved judgment, which empowers us to communicate our needs and wants, helping us make better and healthier decisions that lead us to live happier lives.
"Yoga, along with its message of self-awareness, can be an effective therapeutic practice to individuals who experience trauma, depression, and anxiety. In our society, the bodies, actions, and emotions of women, minorities, and LGBTQ persons are under constant scrutiny. People belonging to these groups are often not allowed to express their emotions and feelings without being questioned, and can spend a great deal of their lives feeling attacked, unsafe, diminished, frustrated, and angry. Daily microaggressions, gaslighting, cat calling, police harassment, and other hostile interactions that are experienced as a result of larger systems of oppression like sexism, rape culture, racism, homophobia, and gender biases start to take a toll on our psyche and body.
"Yoga can become a healing practice in the face of these issues. When we are empowered through the knowledge of how our body and mind function and given supportive, constructive feedback towards a tangible goal, this helps us develop a desire and ability to love, understand, and care for our minds and bodies. Additionally, when students are offered the option to receive physical adjustments, they are empowered to make decisions about their own body in the face of a world that often strips them of that right. A yoga practice, along with therapy, meditation, and other forms of exercise, can offer us a space to work through and better understand our emotions and experiences and to heal from the traumas that affect us daily.
"Over time, a physical yoga practice coupled with meditation can be an empowering experience that builds confidence and better judgment and helps us heal from stress and its negative effect on our daily lives. I am driven to empower my students by offering them a space where they can get to truly know themselves. I can’t bottle up confidence and self-love and hand it to my students (though I wish I could), but I can try to create a safe space for people to explore themselves. And hopefully, they will feel a little more confident and a little more relaxed each time they step off the mat and into the world."