Garden alumnus, Will Pringle took some time to answer our questions about his practice and journey from yoga student to professional teacher through Yoga Garden SF’s Pro-Elite membership!
Where are you from? I’m originally from Menlo Park and grew up in the Bay Area, but have been in and out of San Francisco for the past eight years.
How and why did you start practicing yoga? At first I would just drop into classes at gyms to try and stretch out a bit. It wasn’t until I was living in Santa Barbara that I found a regular teacher that really made my realize how much more the practice could do for my mind as well since I was under a lot of stress at the time.
What inspired you to become a yoga teacher? At the time I was doing yoga pretty much daily and simply wanted to deepen my own practice, both my understanding of the philosophy behind it and to improve my physical practice. I never anticipated actually teaching and still find it a little funny that I do, but I found it a fun and new challenge and have love the opportunities I’ve had to teach around the city.
What was your greatest fear or doubting belief in making your initial decision to take a yoga training? My greatest doubt was probably if it was worth the financial and time commitment as any teacher training is a pretty big investment and I initially had no intentions of teaching. I’m glad I took the plunge though and went for it as the Pro-Elite program made it very affordable to go very deep into trainings and to my surprise I taught so much during the year that I made all the money I spent back. Going forward I now actually make some money from yoga rather than my memberships being a significant expense. The best part though has been the community that I have become a part of and the people I have met that otherwise I would never have interacted with.
What inspires your yoga practice and teaching? Attending classes with lots of great teachers. Many people stick with one teacher but I love attending a wider variety of classes both in SF and while traveling. I find it fascinating to see how other people connect with the practice, what they choose to emphasize and how they embody that physically. As I’m still new on my journey as a teacher I also find it a great way not to get stuck in the mentality of thinking that one teacher or school has all the right answers.
Who is your most influential teacher/mentor? My most influential teachers have changed as I’ve gone deeper in my practice. Chyla Walsh who was based in Santa Barbara was the first teacher to get me to regularly come, Julia Lehrman here in San Francisco got me to feel comfortable as a regular around the city and many of the amazing teachers at Yoga Garden such as Jean Mazzei, Cora Wen, Jen Hecht, Laurie Sleep and Christie Rafanan have both radically deepened my practice and given me the confidence and skills to feel comfortable teaching others.
What challenges has yoga helped you overcome? Ever since I was a child I always struggled to sleep at night. On days where I can end with a great yoga practice I usually sleep soundly and quickly and feel so much better the next day, even when other stresses are in my life.
What shifts once you first unroll and step on your mat? Both mentally and physically I start to slow down, even when preparing for a physically challenging class I notice as soon as I enter the room my breath starts to deepen, its a practice I often find helpful when walking into potentially stressful situations outside the studio as well.
Why is yoga so beneficial in this day and age? I think the greatest benefit is to slow down, connect with the body and disconnect from technology. While lots of group exercise classes can be fun, they often rely on loud music, lots of equipment or tricks to get you through the hour, yoga forces to actually notice and rely on your internal body rather than external forces.
What is your favorite quote? Yoga Related – “Atha Yoga anushasanam” -Loosely “And now the yoga begins” I find it useful everytime I hit either an obstacle or a new achievement to remind myself of this, that it is an evolving and lifelong study and practice and not an end goal.
What are your top three health benefits that yoga provides?
- Stress Relief
- Peace of Mind
In one sentence, how would you convince someone to try yoga for the first time? It may not be the most physically challenging thing you’ll do but it may leave you feeling better than any other physical challenge you would give yourself.
How can you tell that you taught a successful class? I can’t, I just try to be myself and hopefully I’ll make a more genuine connection with my students.
In three words, describe the vibe of your favorite yoga class to teach. Challenging, Informal and Feel-Good.
What drew you to Yoga Garden SF? How did YGSF’s training help prepare you for teaching? I was initially drawn by the nice studios and great variety of teachers, the Pro-Elite program drew me to the school for trainings as it allowed me to go all the way from a 0-500 HR certified teacher and also to experience many different teachers along the way rather than being tied to one teacher as many other trainings are.
What was it like to practice and study yoga in San Francisco? I think it’s one of the best places to be because there are so many great studios, teachers and styles than you can be exposed to so much more than in many other cities.
How did your previous career path lead, and/or support you to become a yoga professional? As a tech worker I don’t think it really did, other than that I was looking for something that was the exact opposite, something that connected me to my body, and others around me, rather than to a screen and digital relationships.
What still excited you and keeps you ended with teaching yoga? I get nervous before every class I teach, I’m naturally shy and don’t talk too much so for me to stand up in front of 20 people and talk for 60-90 mins is a lot for me. But I also think that you should always do something that makes you nervous so you can continue growing. While I’m more comfortable than I was when I was first teaching I keep the excitement going by learning new poses and sequences that I can later teach in classes as I become comfortable with them.
What’s your finest advice for a newer teacher? Teach before you think you are ready. I see many early teachers think they need more time or need to write down every sequence and memorize it precisely. I think my greatest skill in teaching has not been expecting perfection but expecting to have a great time.
What are you excited about learning next? I’m constantly learning from other modalities as well where there is some crossover with yoga asana and pranayama that I would love to incorporate into classes at some points. I additionally love learning about the reasoning behind certain sequences and other less common practices. Shadow yoga is high on my list to explore next as I love the subtle movements between poses as well.
What are you doing now? Currently I am moving away from SF to attend an MBA program at UCLA. I hope to use what I learn there to form a career in the health and wellness space and continue to practice and teach yoga throughout my studies and future career.
Where can we connect with you? (Social Media, Website, location, etc)