Getting to know our instructor Alice Mioc

Many of you have experienced the creative elegance and energy of Alice’s classes. She has recently joined Yoga Sol’s permanent staff with her Monday 6pm Vinyasa Flow Intermediate class – a truly fantastic class!

Alice is a young, beautiful and highly skilled teacher! I wanted to share her insights on yoga – particularly insightful. She has a tremendous depth from her own practice and education – beginning in Bikram hot yoga and currently studying advanced Yoga Therapy at Loyola Marymount University. Alice’s students benefit from her rich background and love of the practice. I share our conversation…

Alice MiocRozanne: I just love the joy and creativity that you bring to your teaching. You present a dance-like joyful flow practice that blends skillful fundamentals with solid challenge. Can you share a little of your passion for this flow presentation.

Alice: Thank you. I enjoy teaching it too. As I evolved and grew as a teacher, I found that that most students resist ‘going with the flow’. Once yogis feel comfortable with the basics of yoga, some begin anticipating a particular kind of routine. This goes against certain fundamental principles of yoga that invite the practitioner to just add movement into a meditative state. I was inspired by my fellow teacher, Sean Johnstone, who first introduced me to the notion of moving with all four corners of the mat. I noticed that when I practiced in that manner, I was able to quiet my mind and separate myself from expectations more so than usual. I built and developed this style, making it my own by moving it at a slower pace, interchanging long holds or fast paced sequences with long periods of restful meditation allowing the body to reap the benefits of the physical postures and regain its natural balance.

Rozanne: We love that your intermediate classes are so elegant. What do you like most about teaching intermediate classes?

Alice: In my opinion, the term intermediate is a subjective one. Each one of us comes to the mat with a different perception of where we are or where we should be in our practice. And for the record, there’s no end point in yoga. That’s what makes it so great. You could be practicing yoga your entire life and still have significant “Ah-ha moments” when you’re 90-years-old. With so many bodies, so many backgrounds and so many distinctive conditions to keep in mind, an intermediate level class could look very differently based on the practitioners. For the most part, intermediate students are those who are ready to take it to the next level and not afraid of taking on a challenge. They have an understanding of basic alignment principles, know their bodies and for the most part, know when to push themselves or take a step back to honor their bodies. There is a lot of room to grow and play in intermediate classes, and that’s why I enjoy guiding them.

Rozanne: Can you tell us what traditions and teachers have had the most significant influence on your practice and your teaching? With your world perspective, growing up in Romania, do you have any international teachers who have influenced your teaching?

Alice: I first started practicing yoga in the Bikram (Bishnu Gosh) tradition. My early exposure to yoga was a very regimented and rigid practice. I’m still trying to figure out why I took to a style where teachers are known to loudly invite you to “fall back” in your backward bends. My low back hurts just thinking of it. What I took from it, however, was a basic understanding of alignment and breath and love for the practice. I dreaded the Vinyasa flow style at first, because my upper body strength was very limited. For many years, I had focused on balancing and building low body strength, yet upon being introduced to Vinyasa, I realized that I could not hold a proper plank. As soon as I saw flow’s potential for creativity and fun, I fell in love and never looked back.

I’ve also enjoyed taking the Iyengar classes in my own practice, just because of the focus on proper alignment. It all begins with safely setting up a pose from the ground up and Iyengar was the master. Although the former Bikram student in me enjoys the sporadic “beat up” of an Ashtanga class, I’ve more recently migrated towards restorative and therapeutic sessions in my own personal practice.

As far as international influences, I haven’t had any yet. But at the risk of sounding egotistic, I’ll say that since yoga is in its infancy back home, maybe I can be an inspiration to some of my co-nationals. I have to say that ever since getting into yoga, my friends and family in Romania have become increasingly supportive and inquisitive about the practice.

Rozanne: What are a few of the most important lessons you hope to teach your students, and what are a few examples of lessons you have learned from your students?

Alice: One lesson I learned from my students is again to just be myself. With so many yoga teachers completing their certifications daily, teaching yoga has become a popularity contest. It’s easy for to get trapped into chasing numbers. I’ve seen it all, the DJ’s, the flutes, the harps, the drums, and all kinds of other gimmicks aimed at increasing class size and teacher popularity. And while all these things are nice treats with an already good teacher, they will not turn you into a good teacher. I’ve learned that as long as you keep your students safe and are true to yourself and true to what yoga is fundamentally, the students that are supposed find you, will find you. Connection is an intangible that cannot be faked in any relationship including the teacher-student one. Those who connect with you will stay, those who don’t will move on.

I have so many more lessons to learn myself. I’m barely tapping the surface. The one thing I hope students get out of my class is that yoga is one of the few, if not the only practice, that allows you to be YOU. There’s no competition with your fellow yogi, no competition with yourself as you were yesterday or will be tomorrow. Yoga is a journey into self-discovery and ultimately self-acceptance.

Rozanne: We’ve heard that you are enrolled in the Yoga Therapy Program at Loyola Marymount University. Why Yoga Therapy?

Alice: Safety. As soon as I heard about the Yoga Therapy program, I knew that it was right path for me. My main goal is to keep my students safe. The more I learn about the body, its potential as well as limitations caused by injuries, disabilities and aging, the more people I can succeed in helping. Also, I was inspired by Noelle Sumaya’s own journey into Yoga Therapy and upon observing her growth as a teacher after completing the first year of the program, I sought it for myself and in turn for my students.

Rozanne Englehart