Training with Annie Carpenter at Exhale…Exceptional!
I just completed another week of training with Annie Carpenter (100 Hours) and Christine just completed the final weeks of Annie’s 200 Hour Program. Christine, Carrie & I also spent a Sunday in training with Annie earlier this year. Truly exceptional – powerful – invigorating – more challenging than you are used to – even more rewarding than you expected!
So much to say about Annie’s talent, compassion and intelligence…where to begin? I thought I’d pose a few questions for both myself and Christine to share our separate experiences and to give you a little insight to this passionate teacher.
1) Annie Carpenter describes her teachings as SmartFlow®? What does that mean to you?
Rozanne: To me, Annie’s SmartFlow® is an intensely physical and challenging practice, but “do-able” because it is rooted in such a highly intelligent sequencing. With Annie’s background as a Broadway dancer/instructor for Martha Graham, you can see the influence of that rigorous discipline and athleticism, but you also see the captivating elegance and soulfulness of the dancer. Classes are focused with a keen awareness of primary movement principles of the body for clarity of alignment. (Here’s the influence of Annie’s studies with BKS Iyengar.) This strategic progression allows students to advance their practice in a very powerful way. And alas, we move to a sophistication beyond just the physical benefits of the practice!
Christine: SmartFlow® means to practice with attention, patience, and being curious about the practice and how it affects my physical body. SmartFlow® inspires me to keep showing up and do the practice, and cultivating the wisdom to be open to what arises; to radically accept what is in front me today. Poses are methodically selected with a common theme to educate a specific action in our bodies.
2) The description “passionate teacher” just seems so appropriate. Can you comment on Annie’s teaching presence?
Rozanne: Annie has passion in everything she presents and it is contagious. At no more than 100 lbs., Annie commands the room like few teachers I have ever seen. Day 1, she commented that sometimes her job “is to just be an alarm clock”. She walked around saying “ringggggg” to get students to “Wake Up” – focus – work more intently. First glimpse of her playful sense of humor – fun! I witnessed a couple weekend public classes where 120 people came to Exhale – mat-to-mat, just because she was Annie. Remarkably, she makes sure she sees everything and makes sure everyone feels as though she made a connection and cares about them.
Christine: Annie is committed to her daily practice, from her own practice and inquiry, she finds innovative and interesting ways to teach and enhance a pose. Like drinking a fresh juice from the juice press, taking Annie’s class in person is like drinking in her wisdom of what she discovered in her practice that morning.
I have never taken a class as crowded as Annie’s class. Despite the overwhelming chaos in the room, with a loud “Namaste, Yogis!”, she commanded chaotic hustle and bustle into stillness. The sound of the room went from Super Bowl happy hour to whispering waves of ujjayi breath.
It is no secret her classes are physically challenging, but with the energetic instructions comes the soft, calming voice that invite the mood of returning inward. It is an amazing talent I aspire to learn.
3) Tell us about the Venice – Exhale experience?
Rozanne: Being at Exhale in Venice for over a week is powerful and intense! This is the studio where Annie Carpenter, Shiva Rea, Eric Schiffmann, Maty Ezraty have a home presence and where most of the students have been doing yoga 10-20 years. A wonderfully stimulating environment! My training itself had an amazing mix of dynamic people – fantastic fellow teachers from L.A. and an impressive representation of teachers from all over the world. Annie even spoke French to one student on occasion.
This interesting international group got together for some great meals and in Venice you have a wealth of choices! My personal favorite is Gratitude Café and I just learned that singer Jason Mraz is involved in the restaurant – fun!
Christine: Training at Exhale Studio is interesting- the setting is definitely more urban and in trainings many of your peers are esteemed yoga teachers. It’s not uncommon to see faces you’ve seen in the ads of Yoga Journal.
Being in a busy place like Venice, this experience has trained me to be a yogi in the world as we know it. My first training was away from everyone at a beachside training center, so training in the midst of busy life and commute is definitely more challenging, but we practice how to adapt and how to soften in the midst of this hustle and bustle.
On a side note, there are some interesting and funky food choices in Venice: I treated myself well and tried Indonesian fusion tacos, Vegan flaxeed pancakes, a “Gunpowder” tea, and one too-many paninis at an Italian chain cafe.
4) How do these teachings inform your classes here at Yoga Sol?
Rozanne: I have always loved structuring my classes with a theme to focus progression and Annie’s SmartFlow® takes it to a higher level. Annie’s “well choreographed” influence makes for a more challenging, yet achievable class. My Wednesday 9am Flow class is more and more influenced by SmartFlow® and our students are clearly stronger as Yoga Sol moves into Year 3! My Yoga With Ropes Classes are heavily Iyengar alignment focused, and I incorporate Annie’s movement principles to advance the classes. Of course, Annie’s dynamic presence and command of the full practice are wonderful attributes to take inspiration from!
Christine: I pick a common theme based on the way we move, and choose a family of poses to teach that action.
Alignment is what keeps me grounded in the practice- it provides guidance and a place to hold our attention, and I love to share it and watch students empowered by it.
With the effort and physicality, we need to balance with returning to a place of softness, relaxation, and ultimately acceptance. My work is to hone the skills to bring the students to a place of stillness and relaxation.
Just some of our amazing experiences with Annie Carpenter! Come see us in person and we’ll tell you more!