Today on the blog, we are honored to feature Dr. Zohreh Sadeghi, Ayurvedic Doctor and Founder of Roha SF. She shares her inspiring journey overcoming severe physical and emotional ailments through a transformative shift in her life. By using Ayurvedic and yogic practices, she was able to find balance within to fully heal, and she now shares that healing power with others.
Where are you from? What was your childhood like?
I am from Tehran, Iran. I had a great childhood: I spent most of my time on my bike in the streets, building things with my hands, or getting in trouble with my cousins. I remember being constantly surrounded by love and playing non-stop.
How and why did you start practicing yoga?
I decided to practice yoga when I hit a rough patch in my life. I was stressed out at work, and was experiencing some physical ailments at the time. I was open to trying anything that would help, and one day my acupuncturist recommended I go to his studio to try out yoga. So I did, and I was immediately intrigued. I had never moved my body the way I was while doing yoga. That drew me in and so I made it a regular practice.
What inspired you to become a yoga teacher?
Once I started doing yoga and seeing its benefits, I wanted to learn more, I wanted to dive deeper and really learn about the philosophy, history, and origins of yoga. I knew it was helping me, but it wasn’t just physical. Yoga was able to go deeper, and it challenged me mentally and spiritually. So I thought why not learn more and help share this ancient holistic medicine with everyone around me.
What was your greatest fear or doubting belief in making your initial decision to take a yoga training?
I wasn’t sure if I would be a good teacher. I never wanted to teach anything in my life; I was never drawn to teaching. And I wanted to take the training just to learn more about yoga, but the teaching component was a big part of the whole curriculum.
What inspires your yoga practice and teaching?
Gratitude. I am so grateful to be alive, to be healthy, to be happy, to be able to share my knowledge with my clients, and that gratitude is the driving force behind my own daily practice and teaching.
Who is your most influential teacher/mentor?
I have two influential gurus in my life: one is my yoga guru Chad Herst, and the other one is my Ayurvedic guru, Dr. Sundara Raman. Chad is the very first yoga teacher I had, when I started practicing Ashtanga yoga in San Francisco in 2008. He was also my holistic coach and mentor for years and one of the main reasons I moved to India to deepen my knowledge of yoga and Ayurveda.
I met Dr. Sundara when I went to India back in 2012 to do a full Ayurvedic Panchakarma (detox therapy), and nobody quite got me and my health problems the way he did. It’s as if he could see right through my soul; he not only helped heal my body and mind, but he has remained my personal Ayurvedic mentor and a dear friend ever since. I’ve gone back to India many times ever since to study with him. I owe so much to these two beautiful souls, and many other teachers who have helped guide me in my journey into yoga and Ayurveda.
What challenges have yoga helped you overcome?
Yoga has helped me get physically and mentally strong. It’s not the typical kind of strength I’m talking about here. Sure, yoga develops muscle strength and increases stamina, but I am talking about a strength that only comes from the deepest place inside your gut. It goes beyond your core muscles, and way past all the organs–it’s a strength driven by light.
Yoga has helped me activate this light in my body, and in my mind. And this activated and recharged light motivates me and uplifts my soul every single day. For that I am forever grateful to yoga, for helping me go within in this way.
What shifts once you first unroll and step on your mat?
My whole energy shifts. The moment I unroll my mat and step onto it, I become a fearless warrior. I am ready to take on the world. It’s this magical strength and motivation that takes over my entire body and fills me with light and joy. And as I go deeper into my practice, focus more on my breathing, refine my alignment, I tap deeper into my soul, into my essence. Yoga helps transform me every time, every day. No matter the state of mind I’m in, once I’m done with my practice, I feel light. I am often all smiles after I finish a class.
Why is yoga so beneficial in this day and age?
Aside from the personal spiritual benefits I mentioned earlier, yoga is so vital because it’s a systematic group of postures that are designed to elevate your spirit. Each posture combined with breath has a unique way of unlocking a different energetic quality in the body. If done regularly, yoga helps release tension and stress in the body and the mind. Over time, as the body begins to feel more relaxed and open, the heart and the mind start to feel more relaxed.
We live in a modern day of technology, fast-paced everything, social media, you know the deal. It’s hard to overstate the extent to which there is constant stimulation around us all day and all night. This makes it difficult for the mind to quiet down, to truly and deeply relax; that’s why one of the main symptoms that stems from stress is insomnia. Yoga helps bring down the stress, calm down the Vata dosha (the wind/air energy in the body), therefore, allowing the mind to quiet and be still, giving space for deep relaxation and sound sleep.
What is your favorite quote?
I have so many, mainly from ancient Persian poets like Rumi, Hafiz, and Sa’adi. But one of my all time favorite ones is by Rumi: “I want to sing like the birds sing, not worrying about who hears or what they think.”
What are your top three health benefits that yoga provides?
- Calming and grounding the mind
- Strengthening the body
- Increasing mind-body awareness
In one sentence, how would you convince someone to try yoga for the first time?
Yoga helped me live again, have hope again, laugh again; it pulled me out of the most difficult point of my life, when I was struggling with severe depression and bodily ailments.
In three words, describe the vibe of your favorite yoga class to teach.
What drew you to Yoga Garden SF? How did YGSF’s training help prepare you for teaching?
I remember searching for a teacher training in SF, and one day I randomly walked by Yoga Garden. I was drawn to the space; it seemed so serene and charming. So I hopped online and found they offered trainings.
The teacher training at YGSF helped me deepen my understanding of yoga, not only yoga asanas and sequencing a yoga class, but also the philosophy and history of yoga. It also definitely helped me gain confidence in my abilities to teach.
What was it like to practice and study yoga in San Francisco?
It was wonderful. San Francisco is one of the early sites of yoga on the west coast, filled with so many amazing teachers. And aside from that, I love this city. It’s always had my heart. Until I arrived in San Francisco, I couldn’t find a place to call home ever since I left Tehran in 1999. It was love at first sight for me, and I’ve been happily in love with this city ever since.
How did your previous career path lead, and/or support you to become a yoga professional?
I studied graphic design as an undergrad. Graphic design is all about movement of shapes and letters on a two- or three-dimensional space. I was always fascinated by design and loved creating movement and compositions with my hands. So my transition into yoga and Ayurveda felt so natural to me, even though it sounded odd to so many people.
It was yoga that helped me create dynamic movements and compositions with my body. My body started moving in ways I had never imagined possible as I started flowing from one posture to the next seamlessly, just like the shapes I would have on the paper while I was designing.
What still excites you and keeps you engaged with teaching yoga?
My clients. Right now, I mainly teach one-on-one yoga to my clients who come to me with physical and psychological ailments. We do Ayurvedic consultations together, and wherever I see fit, I design a yoga protocol to practice with them. Seeing them improve each day and get a little stronger is what keeps me going. There’s no better fulfillment for me than seeing the healing process of my clients.
What are you doing now?
I am an Ayurvedic doctor and owner of Roha, a healing center in the Castro where I practice Ayurvedic medicine and yoga therapy.
Can you tell us more about your work and founding your own business? How has your yoga training influenced your company?
I love what I do, but it wasn’t always easy. Starting my own business seemed like a dream at first. I knew I wanted to make it happen, but it took a long time to get me to my destination. I was fortunate to meet some amazing people who have helped me throughout this journey, and with their support, I was able to open my own center in the heart of SF.
I’ve done extensive yoga therapy training in India as well as my Yoga Garden SF teacher training, and they both gave me the confidence and courage I needed to make this happen. Once I finished my Ayurvedic doctorate training, I knew I had all the tools I needed to get started. I use my yoga training at work every day with my clients.
The knowledge that I gained through my training, combined with my knowledge of Yoga’s sister science, Ayurveda, has helped me develop a unique business model that focuses on holistic healing from inside and out. I often talk in depth with my clients about their body and mind, and walk them through not only an Ayurvedic herbal regimen that could help them, but dietary/nutritional guidelines, lifestyle guidelines, therapeutic yoga postures, and pranayama (breathing) practices.
What are you excited about learning next?
I am excited about learning more and diving deeper into Ayurvedic Nadi Pariksha (pulse diagnosis), and Ayurvedic gynecology. These are the two areas that have always fascinated me, and while I have training in both, I am doing lots of research, reading a lot, and looking forward to finding courses that could help deepen my knowledge.
Anything else you’d like to share? (especially where we can connect with you!)
Ayurveda is for everyone. Yoga is for everyone. Even if you’re not sure how they could help you, just know that they will! You can find out more about me on my website. I am also on Instagram @rohasf , where I post daily about my healing center and my practice.