Happy Self-Care Sunday! Today we are featuring Rachel Deutsch, who is a Los Angeles based actor and certified yoga instructor. Read below to hear Rachel discuss the benefits of practicing yoga, some of her favorite poses, and what it means for her to be powerful and confident.

What are some health benefits derived from practicing yoga?

For me the biggest health benefits are all about discovering awareness. The joy of getting out of your own way mentally is what I consider to be a HUGE part of Yoga. Before I get to my mat (to practice or teach) I am most likely have anxiety about anything and everything. Connecting breath to body forces you to live in the NOW. Also, stretching keeps the body moving and strong. Taking a deep, longer exaggerated inhale and exhale, literally speeds up and slows down the nervous system. So, you get to practice losing and gaining control in your yoga, which is ultimately inevitable in your life. Working and taking care of yourself in your yoga, gives you space to take care of those around you.

What is a simple and easy morning flow routine to help energize the body and stretch? 

Sun Salutations baby! Downward Dog, Forward Fold, Mountain Pose Repeat. But the truth is do YOU. Sometimes child’s pose is what your body needs that day. Or sometimes it’s spending five minutes in chair pose. Can you check in and ask yourself: Is this pose really what I need? Where is my breath? How can I go deeper and where do I need to be a little softer with myself today?

What are some of the best yoga poses for toning the legs and core?  

Noticing how you’re standing. I mean, really standing in mountain pose, can bring so much awareness and strength to the legs and core. I realize, “Oh this is how my big toe is connected to my hamstring.” (Something you don’t always find yourself thinking about that until mountain pose.) Or drawing your belly button to your spine in mountain pose is never for “looks” – of making the belly “appear smaller” –  it’s always to help protect your spine. Beyond just noticing how you stand via mountain pose, holding grounding warrior shapes (Warrior 1, Warrior 2, Reverse Warrior) and plank pose can do wonders for the body.  It’s also an opportunity to challenge your strength and relationship to parts of your life that are uncomfortable.

How do you feel your knowledge of yoga has been strengthened from becoming licensed as a yoga instructor?

Oh wow, I didn’t know anything about yoga before I became a teacher. I mean I had practiced yoga for years prior and had teachers I admired, and poses I “liked” and “disliked”; but becoming a teacher erased all that language from my vocabulary. I realized it’s much more about the experience I am having in a shape, than the shape itself. This is something I try to pass on in my teaching. I have also learned the history of where these poses come from, how to best get into the postures, and how to use my voice to be a leader for my students; which is why I would always suggest teacher training. Even if you don’t want to teach, there are so many other interesting parts of the experience of yoga to study.

“Working and taking care of yourself in your yoga, gives you space to take care of those around you.”

Can you describe your experience as an instructor at Y7 Studio?

I love working at Y7. I love the kindness of everyone at the space and the dedication the students bring in the room. I also love flowing in the dark, sweaty, beat bumping room. I would love to share how much not only Y7 but all of the studios I have worked with – Yoga To The People (where I did my teacher training and started my yoga teaching in NYC), Y7, Shorty Yoga, DRVN, and Eos Fitness – have all been absolute joys to be apart of. I am in awe of the wonderful Community of yoga they bring together.

What advice would you have to offer for someone who is hesitant to begin practicing yoga?

If you think it’s about being able to touch your toes, bend your knees and you are touching your toes. Taking a deep breath is practicing yoga. It’s a beautiful practice of getting to know yourself. There really isn’t any “right” or “wrong.”

What makes you feel powerful and confident? 

Dancing. Being outside in the sun. Talking to my Mom. Hoop Earrings. Lizzo. Warrior 2. Sharing special moments with my friends. Connecting with my students. Feeling understood.