Yoga One Teachers: Missy DiDonato

Yogini with hands in namaskar raised overhead and crossed legs sitting in a park
photo by: Shadow Van Houten

1. How does yoga show up in your life right now?

Yoga shows up as a savior. I completely appreciate the break it gives me from my daily stresses. Right now, I’m teaching more than practicing for myself, but teaching yoga is such a wonderful way to decompress and to focus on other people’s comfort for an hour. That gives me life. Yoga has always given me life, this is just the new way it’s showing up right now. 

2. Where are you experiencing growth as a yoga teacher and/or practitioner?

I’m experiencing growth recognizing that teaching is not what it was 4 months ago. I can’t see all of my students, or their whole bodies, and it’s challenging to not give as many personal cues. I’m lucky to have known most of my students for awhile. With new students, I’m working to offer all that I could in person and making those personal connections. Of course it’s a bit harder online. I’m growing and adapting and striving to offer comfort through my teaching and conversation.


3. What’s your favorite kind of burrito and why?

Right now, it’s the one my husband makes. When we first started dating, he worked at a deli. He knows how to wrap sandwiches and burritos so well, I’m always impressed. Also, he makes them with love and intention, you can tell the difference. 😉

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Create Space and Time for Self-Care

A conversation about practicing yoga at home with Missy DiDonato and Laura McCorry of Yoga One. 

Four crystals and palo santo in a shell, all arranged on a teal yoga mat.

Yoga One is offering daily live yoga classes online to support your health and wellbeing, no matter where you’re located. You can find our full schedule of class offerings here.

Laura: I realized lately that the longer I stay at home and attend yoga classes from home, as convenient as that is, there’s something about the experience of physically moving my body from one location to another that I’m missing. I feel like the journey of getting to yoga is part of the experience.

Missy: Totally. That’s why the Yoga One studio is such a special place to me, the physical space it occupies holds the experience of yoga apart from the rest of my life. So the journey of going to yoga, when you practice at home, can be reinterpreted or approximated to make the whole experience more meaningful.

Laura: I love that idea of yoga being set aside from everyday life, a sort of oasis from which we draw rejuvenation, which then carries over into the rest of our lives. When you’re practicing at home, it’s so easy to be distracted and so tempting to check your phone. How do you make sure that your time for practice is set aside and distraction-free?

Missy: I think the process of preparing my space before practice is really important – getting it clean and organized, laying out my mat, grabbing my props. If I’m having a hard day or I’m just feeling lots of emotions, I’ll get out my palo santo or sage and literally clear the air.

Laura: These might seem like small acts, but I bet they’re really important for creating space in your mind. These physical acts of preparing which helps you prepare mentally as well. Just like the physical practice of yoga has an impact on your mental/emotional state.

Missy: Yes! And it comes back to ritual, whatever that looks like for you. Moving furniture, clearing the space, putting on music, using sage, taking a walk around the block, turning off your phone. Ritual helps you drop in to the right headspace and lends weight to your habits.

Laura: Ritual is what signals to your body that what comes next is important. I especially love the suggestion to walk around the block, almost re-creating the experience of going somewhere before dropping in to your practice.

Missy: Yes. I think the practices of ritual, of preparation, and of yoga itself are going to be so important for all of us as we evaluate what happens next as a society. What are your safe rituals going to be as the world opens up? How do you keep your yoga practice a priority, whether that practice is at home or in the studio?

Laura: I know everyone is going to feel differently on the subject of opening up after isolation, and there’s certainly not going to be a one-size-fits-all approach. Throughout our isolation during the Covid-19 pandemic, yoga has been the most consistent way I check in with my body and emotions, experience grounding and calm, and practice letting go of expectations.

Increasingly, I’ve realized that I need to schedule my practice time in order to “make it” to class. Do you schedule your own yoga practice time?

Missy: Definitely. I have to look at my week and figure out where I have childcare, what other commitments I have, and then I put the classes I want to take on my calendar. Yoga One uses the MindBody software, which has a feature where you can sign-in for classes ahead of time and you’ll be sent a reminder email the day before. I know that feature is helpful for a lot of people! We’ve all got so much going on, any organization and reminders are appreciated, at least for me.

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Happy 18th Birthday, Yoga One!

 

Thank you for 18 OMazing years!

We are so grateful to all of you outstanding teachers, students and friends. We hope to continue to share the joys and benefits of yoga together for many more years to come! Thank you, thank you! We feel so grateful.
Namaste, Michael & Amy

Thank you to all of our students, now and throughout the years, for your presence and help in building this vibrant and diverse community called the Yoga One family. Thank you, thank you to everyone who contributed to this video and the following testimonials.

I wish the Yoga One family an amazing 18th birthday – so thankful for the great instructors, the empathy they show and the calm they bring to our harried lives, especially these days! – Sandeep A.

Congratulations on 18 years! Yoga One teachers and community have pretty much saved me. I was going through an extremely difficult time in my personal life and their classes kept me sane. I appreciate them working so hard to make the online classes work. I am looking forward to the Mission Hills studio opening and seeing everyone in person again. – Emily W.

Happy Birthday to Yoga One! While I’m fairly new to the studio, it’s no surprise that Amy and Michael have been so successful. Their love of the practice and genuine interest in fostering student and instructor well-being shines throughout every aspect of the experience (even in Zoom). I have practiced yoga off and on throughout studios across the country and this is the first time I’ve felt like I found “the one”. Special shout out to Missy and all of the instructors that make Yoga One so fantastic 🙂 Thanks for all that you do and looking forward to Mission Hills opening soon! – Kelly B.

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Yoga One’s Transition to Online Yoga

Yoga One’s month in review, in response to Covid-19.

by Laura McCorry

students practice yoga over zoom video chatJust last month (although it feels like eons ago!) the Yoga One team was full-steam ahead getting ready to open our new Mission Hills location  We were busy teaching a full schedule of classes at our Downtown location, half way through our Winter/Spring, 8 weekend 200 Hour Teacher Training Course,and leading classes at multiple off-site corporate locations

Our teachers were sharing the joys and benefits of yoga with students who walked into our studio off the street, with students who had never practiced yoga before, with students who popped into an empty conference room for a lunch-time practice, with students who have been building their yoga practice for years – all of whom trust Yoga One to guide them with depth of knowledge, skill, heart, integrity, and compassion.

Enter Covid-19. California and many other states rushed to issue stay-at-home orders and the world as we knew it was turned upside down. So many more people were working from home. Schools were closed indefinitely. Businesses scrambled to put protective measures in place, some closed their doors, and still others decided to offer their services online.

Our Downtown studio, a place that since 2002 has been an oasis that admits the city, a h-OM-e way from home for so many, was (for the moment) no longer a place we could congregate. We have long believed that sharing the practice of yoga was not just good for the individual, but good for the community.

How could we continue to offer yoga to help people live healthy and happy lives and to foster connection between individuals, building community, right now when people need it the most?

In just two days, we pulled together with staff and students to transition all of our classes online. Questions regarding Zoom ID#s were now as common as namaste. Because our online classes are live and interactive, they have the same feel as practicing in the studio. Teachers and students greet each other in real time. Teachers can watch their students’ alignment and provide feedback and encouragement. Soon we had our groove on and it was inspiring to see everyone really utilizing their yoga practice, way beyond the physical asana –

cat practicing yoga on zoom cat watching laptop video of yoga teacher leading class online

Holly Wright and David Lloyd got their cat Zimbo to attend classes online!

Allison Page roped her sister Caroline into rolling out her mat regularly next to her.

And the graduates of the Yoga One Teacher Training Winter/Spring 200 Hour course stayed after class for a Catch-Up Party.

It’s been amazing to see the outpouring of love and support from within our community during these challenging times. Small businesses everywhere are hurting right now. When you shop or support a small business like Yoga One, you’re taking one step forward towards the kind of world we all hope to emerge from isolation to find. ( that)

In recent days, we’ve been reviewing our class recordings, trying to determine how and when we might be able to offer them for a streaming service – so students could access quality yoga instruction whenever is most convenient for them. 

What we’ve found is not just hour-long yoga classes: We’ve seen our whole community encouraging each other, sharing updates about their families, offering each other blessings and messages of hope, checking in on teachers and students and neighbors alike. Despite the upset of Covid-19, we have found each other and forged a real, human connection through the portal of the internet.

Our community has adapted and our connection is intact and strong. Yoga means union, or to yoke together. Thank you (yes, you!) for showing us through your presence and your support that we really are all in this together.

Laura McCorry

Laura McCorry
Contributing Writer

Yoga and Laura had an on-again-off-again relationship from 2004 until 2009 when they decided to move in together and there’s been no looking back since. Passionate about both yoga and writing, Laura loves to introduce others to the joys and benefits of yoga and healthy living.

Contact: laura(AT)yogaonesandiego(DOT)com

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RAG Meditation from Amy Caldwell

by Amy Caldwell

Crumpled blue microfiber cloth isolated on white background

“A piece of old cloth, especially one torn from a larger fabric, used typically for cleaning things.”

Although likening meditation to a rag is not a common metaphor, we are living in uncommon times.

Each one of us is a piece of the whole. And while we aren’t necessarily “old,” we have some amount of human experience under our belts. In our regular daily lives, we can sometimes feel separate or “torn” from the whole.

Right now, we have an opportunity to deeply see and connect to the reality that we are part of a much larger fabric.

Especially under the current circumstances, the importance of cleaning takes on a powerful relevance  – why not use this time to investigate our perceptions, what filters and lenses we employ to see the world? Can we allow ourselves to be more open, curious, and loving?

R.A.G. This simple acronym can serve as a daily meditation in as little as three minutes (one minute each):

R      Relax
A      Awaken
G      Gather

Relax. Enjoy a few deep breaths. Move in any way that helps facilitate relaxation: Exhale with an open mouth, roll the shoulders, tense, and relax the face.

Awaken. Bring awareness to anything in the present moment: sound, smell, thoughts, emotions, body sensations. Meet whatever you find with curiosity and love – as you would a cherished friend.

Gather. Locate an area in your body where you feel the breath: i.e, the torso or nostrils, etc. Choose one location and gather your full attention there. Each time the mind wanders away, return to watching and feeling the breath. Remain here, in the present, and enjoy the experience.

Amy CaldwellAmy Caldwell
Contributing Writer

Amy (E-RYT 500) has dedicated herself to the practice, study and teaching of yoga since discovering its joys and benefits in 1997 while backpacking throughout Asia, Australia, and parts of Europe. Amy is a Co-Founder of Yoga One and lead teacher for their yoga teacher training program.

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I Took My First Yoga Class on Zoom. Here’s How it Felt:

by Laura McCorry

It was Saturday afternoon. I was going to a 4pm yoga class with an instructor in San Diego. I walked upstairs to get changed into yoga clothes at 3:50pm. I set up my computer and clicked on a link to join a Zoom meeting.

The instructor greeted everyone warmly as they popped up in our virtual class. She explained that to preserve audio quality, everyone joined the group muted but that we should feel free to unmute ourselves at any time to speak.

I sat on my mat rolled out at the foot of my bed, noticing how sharp my image appeared because I’d stationed my computer along the wall with windows. Others had their cameras showing bright windows in the background and they were more difficult to see.

I checked the borders of my own screen, reassured that the pile of dirty sheets I’d stripped from the bed but not yet washed was off-camera. As more students came into the virtual classroom, some of them turned off their video feed and appeared as black icons with a name.

Suddenly, I was very aware of what and who could be seen and not seen. In a typical yoga class, you would expect your body to be seen and your voice to be heard. At first, taking a yoga class on Zoom felt more vulnerable because I was seen clearly by all, though not heard.

When we began to move and breathe on our mats, I was reassured that it felt so similar to taking class in person. It helped that my instructor was a master teacher, capable of providing precise physical alignment cues and verbal descriptions of the intentionality of each pose.

The instructor set up her camera so that all of her body could be seen – and checked that her sound quality was good when she was standing both far and near. I was pleasantly surprised by this level of professionalism; teaching online is entirely new to most yoga teachers.

My camera placement was not ideal. While I practiced, part of my body was frequently off-screen – but this didn’t bother me and didn’t seem to be necessary information for the instructor. Because she wasn’t always viewing each student’s alignment, there were fewer corrections than there might have been in an in-person class – which actually allowed the experience to be more like a solo practice. I was able to focus on my own mat and find my own alignment simply by listening.

Before the start of practice, our instructor acknowledged the circumstances that had pushed this class online – the silent spread of coronavirus across the country and the need for everyone to collectively practice social distancing in order to protect the most vulnerable among us. She invited everyone to take a minute to introduce themselves, their location, and to share how their heart was feeling that very moment.

One by one, the people in tiny boxes before me each shared something real about themselves: their fears, their anxieties, their concern for themselves and for the world, but also their joys, their hopes, their belief that truth and acts of loving-kindness towards all of humanity would prevail.

The experience of yoga online, which at first had felt vulnerable and separate, each person practicing in their own space, was transformed into something shared and intimate. The Yoga beyond asana (the physical postures) flowed through us, transcending boundaries and uniting hearts and individuals through collective intention.

We closed with this invocation:

May all beings be happy
May all beings be healthy
May all beings be safe
May all beings be free

Laura McCorry

Laura McCorry
Contributing Writer

Yoga and Laura had an on-again-off-again relationship from 2004 until 2009 when they decided to move in together and there’s been no looking back since. Passionate about both yoga and writing, Laura loves to introduce others to the joys and benefits of yoga and healthy living.

Contact: laura(AT)yogaonesandiego(DOT)com

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3 Ways to Practice Yoga and Foster Connection at Home

Our mission at Yoga One is to help you live a healthier and happier life. Through mindfulness and movement, yoga supports your overall wellbeing while also releasing fear, decreasing anxiety, and cultivating a sense of peace. Yoga is a powerful force for connection.

3 Ways to Practice Yoga and Foster Connection at Home

1. Stream Yoga One Classes Online

Yoga One is happy to be able to continue sharing the joys and benefits of yoga and community with you online via Zoom live interactive classes. See our full class schedule here.

Here’s how to practice with us online: When you pre-register for a class online, you’ll be emailed a unique viewing link to practice alongside your favorite instructor live. Download Zoom on your device (tablet, phone, computer) and have your charging cable nearby if needed. Then simply roll out your mat, test your audio, and enjoy your practice!

All memberships, class packages, and drop-in rates will apply – click here for more information.

2. Private Instruction over Videochat

Did you know you can set up a one-time or recurring private lesson online? It’s a unique experience from an in-person lesson and there are some serious benefits: tailored instruction for your body and how you’re feeling that very day, practice in the comfort of your home, enjoy deepening your knowledge of yoga from one of our highly trained teachers. Email info@yogaonesandiego.com to find out more.

3. Home Practice

If you’ve ever wanted to practice yoga at home, now is the time! Practicing yoga by yourself deepens your relationship to yoga, to your body and to mindfulness. How long to hold a pose? It’s up to you! Move and breathe in the moment exactly the way that serves you best. Yeah! Here are 6 Ways to Build a Home Yoga Practice. 

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One Breath at a Time: A Cancer Survivor Finds Yoga

fiction by Laura McCorry

"Just Breathe" written over landscape of ocean and sky with clouds at almost sunset.

It was almost time. Christine Tran took a deep breath and let it out slowly, watching her face in the mirror. Her straight, black hair was starting to grow back, just as thick as before chemo, which surprised her. It felt weird that she was no longer visibly marked by cancer; even weirder to realize that people she met now wouldn’t know about that chapter of her life unless she told them.

A month ago, she’d decided to try a yoga class with a friend. It was a community class, led by a new instructor, and maybe that partly explained their experience, but from the moment Christine walked in the door, she had felt nervous about reconnecting with her body.

In the middle of class, when the instructor tried to physically assist her into a deeper twist, Christine wanted to run out of the room. Instead, she told the instructor quietly but firmly that she physically couldn’t twist any deeper. What Christine didn’t explain was that she was thirty five years old and in the past year, she had undergone major abdominal surgery and lost several organs, as well as a football-sized tumor.

After class, her friend had been incensed on her behalf. “Did the instructor ask you about injuries before the start of class?” No, Christine shook her head. Her friend wanted to complain at the front desk but Christine stopped her. She didn’t like confrontations and she really didn’t want to explain her medical history in front of everyone.

The clock read almost 4pm on a Friday. The sun was shining out the window, which Christine knew meant it was warm enough she would only need a sweater, even in January, because she now lived in San Diego. Back in Virginia, it could be bright and sunny and still forty degrees outside. Christine shivered involuntarily. It had been more than six months since her last chemo treatment and she still experienced near-daily side effects. It was very nice to live in a warmer climate.

“Are you ready?” Christine asked her reflection. Her dark eyes stared back at her with determination. She knew not all yoga teachers were the same and she knew, or had an inkling, that yoga was a practice that might really help at this stage of her life.

It was a short drive to Yoga One downtown and she easily found a parking spot, most of the offices were emptying that time of day. The instructor greeted her at the door with a friendly smile, “Hi, I’m Missy!” Christine filled out the new student form and briefly wrote out her relevant limitations, not wanting to write down the actual saga. She wondered if Missy would read the form or if Christine would need to bring it up herself.

Upstairs, Missy approached Christine’s mat and talked clearly but discreetly just to her, “I saw you noted down abdominal surgery, do you have any concerns you’d like to share or questions about our class?”

Christine felt a warm glow of appreciation inside her chest. “I still have a lot of scar tissue, so I won’t go very deep into twists,” she told Missy.

“That’s totally okay,” Missy reassured her. “Don’t do anything that doesn’t feel good in your body. Feel free to modify any poses and if you need a suggestion for something else to do, you can just wave at me and I’ll be happy to come help.”

Already, Christine’s experience at Yoga One surpassed that of every other yoga class she had attended. She felt seen and heard – and she had been welcomed just as she was, with all of her injuries and insecurities. It was exactly what Christine needed in order to relax and truly receive the benefits from the restorative practice.

Before she walked outside to her car, Missy waved at her. Christine could have waved back and kept walking, but something made her pause and walk up to Missy.

“Thank you,” said Christine. “That was exactly what I needed.”

“You’re welcome,” Missy replied warmly. “Isn’t it amazing how yoga can change your whole day? Just connecting with your own breath and body.”

Just hearing the word prompted Christine to take another deep breath. One breath at a time, it was a phrase she had repeated to herself during some of the worst days of her treatment. Funny to think she had been practicing a form of yoga all along.

“Life-changing.” Christine heard herself affirm in reply. “I’ll be back soon,” she promised to Missy, though she knew the words were also a promise to herself.

Laura McCorry

Laura McCorry
Contributing Writer

Yoga and Laura had an on-again-off-again relationship from 2004 until 2009 when they decided to move in together and there’s been no looking back since. Passionate about both yoga and writing, Laura loves to introduce others to the joys and benefits of yoga and healthy living.

Contact: laura(AT)yogaonesandiego(DOT)com

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Meditation: Any Amount is Helpful

guest post by Heather Fenwick

How does your meditation practice look and feel? We’re highlighting stories of meditation in everyday life to help de-mystify this life-changing practice and share simple meditation techniques with those just getting started. Share your experience in the comments or by email, info@yogaonesandiego.com

Photograph of meditation altar with salt lamps, statue, candle, and a note that reads, "you are enough."My meditation practice lately is not as regular as you might think – some days on, some days off. I meditate for up to 20 minutes, or as little as 3 minutes. Even just three minutes, (as Amy Caldwell reminds me, “any amount”) is helpful.

I have a meditation altar, which I love. It’s a place that always invites mindfulness when I see it. Kuan Yin, the goddess of compassion, sits atop the triple India guide book throne. The Dalai Lama, Chinese medicine accoutrements, and Himalayan salt lamps (to neutralize the ions put out by electronics) complete the scene.

Sometimes I just observe the monkey mind in disbelief (when your thoughts are restless and swirling) and I try to cultivate amusement or acceptance, or some combination of both.

Other times, I drop into a breathing practice that I learned from Sarah Clark:

Breathe in and feel the height of the inhale in the upper palate, lifting to the crown.
Exhale, engage a light root lock, feel the seat heavy on the ground.

Breathing is so simple and so profound.
~ Heather

Even just enjoying a conscious  breath can be meditation. Give it a try?

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Happy 8th Anniversary, Yoga One Blog!

UnknownThank you to each and every reader and student of Yoga One, both online and in person, and we especially love it when those two worlds overlap!

We choose our posts, our writers, and our content with care because we believe that our online presence should reflect the same values we share through our San Diego yoga studio – we value integrity, we are committed to sharing knowledge, and we believe helping the individual live a happier and healthier life leads to happier and healthier communities.

Thank YOU (yes, you!) for being a part of the Yoga One Family!

To celebrate, here’s a round-up of our all-time top 8 posts. Enjoy!

8. Confessions of a Yoga Teacher-Military Spouse
7. 5 Yoga Poses for Your 8-to-5
6. The Potency of Backbends and Breath
5. Top Ten Yoga Myths: Part Two
4. The Power of Intention
3. Yoga Playlist from Amy Freeman
2. Top Ten Yoga Myths: Part One

and appropriately, the number 1 post on our site:
1. The Benefits of Yoga

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