Garden alumni and co-founder of Live A Lot Superfood Chocolate, Regina Felice Garcia, took some time to answer our questions about her practice and journey from yoga student to professional teacher through Yoga Garden SF’s 200-Hour Teacher Training!
Where are you from?
I grew up in Mexico and Arizona. I called San Francisco home for the past 6 years, and now I have a strong sense that home is everywhere because “wherever you go, there you are” – so I’m back in Arizona for a few months before I decide where my next adventure will be.
How and why did you start practicing yoga?
I started practicing yoga when I graduated from college in 2011. I spent that summer after college and before grad school living at my mom’s house in Tucson, Arizona for 3 months. There’s not much to do in Tucson, and it was the first time in a long while that I felt like I had space to focus on myself, so I decided to give yoga a try. After the first savasana, I was in it for good. Throughout college I struggled with alcohol dependency and lack of self worth, which led me to an abusive relationship with a partner…and ultimately, I realized I was also in an abusive relationship with myself. Yoga and running combined, helped me crawl out of this dark place and recognize my value again.
What inspired you to become a yoga teacher?
I was inspired to become a yoga facilitator because I’m so fascinated by how good it feels to move our bodies – when I first started yoga, I’d never expressed myself through movement that way. Every single time I practice I acknowledge how powerful this medicine is, and I want to share that with others. I mainly teach teenagers because I feel that was a very significant time in my life where I didn’t have much support to manage my emotions.
What was your greatest fear or doubting belief in making your initial decision to take a yoga training?
My greatest doubting belief was that I didn’t know enough. Most of my teachers are older than I am and I felt it was in a sense disrespectful to try and do what they do. I now know that we all have a unique way of teaching and everyone has something special to share.
What inspires your yoga practice and teaching?
The teenagers I lead through RISE Yoga For Youth are a big inspiration for me to continue teaching. It’s amazing to see them go from feeling “stressed, tired, irritated” to “grounded, relaxed, calm” after only 50 minutes of movement and meditation. My personal practice is inspired by simply knowing this is a medicine for me and I know how I am with it/without it.
Who is your most influential teacher/mentor?
One of my most influential teachers is Jody Hahn. She’s the first person I practiced with when I moved to San Francisco and I resonate with her down-to-earth energy. She continues to inspire me and we often collaborate on yoga and chocolate events – it’s an honor!
What challenges has yoga helped you overcome?
Yoga has helped me overcome a lack of self-worth, insecurity, abusive relationships, and alcohol dependency. It has helped me recognize myself as a safe space and the truest home I will ever have. Yoga also helps me overcome daily mental blocks and anxiety.
What shifts once you first unroll and step on your mat?
I fully land in the moment and my attention shifts from outward to inward.
Why is yoga so beneficial in this day and age?
We’re living in a time where information is constantly coming at us from every direction – yoga is a reminder that some of the most important information comes from within our beings and is communicated through our body, our breath, and stillness.
What is your favorite quote?
“There is you and you. This is a relationship. This is the most important relationship.” – Nayyirah Waheed
What are your top three health benefits that yoga provides?
- Improved posture
- Calm mind
- Muscle strength
In one sentence, how would you convince someone to try yoga for the first time?
Yoga saved my life, quite literally – I can’t tell you what it might do for you but you never know, try it.
How can you tell that you taught a successful class?
It’s difficult to define a “successful” class as I feel we always learn something in yoga simply by showing up, whether it’s the lesson we planned to receive or something totally different. I can tell I taught a class that people enjoyed by the look in their eyes as they leave the room – there’s an extra sparkle. In the case of RISE Yoga for Youth classes, we do a group check-out where everyone states how they’re feeling – this is an easier way to gauge how they benefited from practice that day.
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 heard about Yoga Garden SF’s Teacher Training from my good friend, Sasha, who is also an alumni of the 200-Hr program. The training was very helpful in preparing me to teach postures, sequence a class, and provide adjustments.
What was it like to practice and study yoga in San Francisco?
It was fun! I loved riding my bike to YGSF every morning and spending time with the other people in my training – we became a tight family. I also love the contrast between the vibrancy of the city and the tranquility of the yoga space.
How did your previous career path lead, and/or support you to become a yoga professional?
My previous career path was in Advertising, where I was working very long hours and not nourishing my body in ways I would have liked. Knowing that I didn’t want to live my life this way was a catalyst for exploring other options, which led me to yoga teaching and starting Live A Lot chocolate.
What still excites you and keeps you engaged with teaching yoga?
The fact that I never get tired of stretching and being fascinated about how good it feels, is excitement enough to continue sharing this practice with my communities.
What’s your finest advice for a newer teacher?
“You’re there to offer this practice to others, it’s not about you, get out of your head and show up as yourself.”
What are you excited about learning next?
I’m excited to continue learning about teaching yoga in teen settings – these young people are the future and I imagine a world where everyone has these tools to deal with life.
What are you doing now?
I’m sharing my gifts in some of my favorite ways – chocolate, photography, and yoga. I cofounded a superfood company, Live A Lot, with my sister. We sell delicious chocolate products to provide a treat that’s nourishing and doesn’t contain refined ingredients. We donate part of the proceeds to RISE Yoga for Youth!
I also teach yoga to teenagers through RISE Yoga for Youth, and yoga to adults at special events and in corporate settings. The photography element of my career is expressed through badasswomenphotos.com – where I photograph women in their fullest expression and provide an avenue for them to celebrate themselves.
Where can we connect with you?
Meet Regina in person and get a taste of Live A Lot Chocolate at Yoga Garden SF’s Year-End Party on Friday, December 8th @ 8:00-11:00pm! Free Entry – Friends & Family Welcome!