This is interview fifteen of my traveling yoga teacher interview series.
Each month, I will post a new interview of a traveling yoga teacher I meet along my travels.
If you know someone who you think would be a great fit to this series, send me an Email!
I would LOVE to hear from you!
This Month Features:
How long have you been teaching?
Full-time for the past five years.
What type of yoga do you teach?
I always say it’s buffet-style.
I teach classes that are challenging, and not just because of the poses. I’m a really curious person, and an evidence-based practitioner and teacher, so everything I teach has had to earn its keep. I don’t teach anything that I don’t understand on an experiential level. I don’t teach anything “because my teacher told me to.”
What I mean by that is this: there’s the old paradigm of forcing your body into an end result, a specific shape. And there is the new paradigm wherein we use the shapes as medicine to invite a nourishing, balancing, and playful physical experience. Let’s hope I am offering the latter.
What made you want to start your at home studio?
Home Yoga Saigon
I never intended to run my own place. When I arrived in Vietnam, I was really sick, burnt out, and depressed, but I’d had a really beautiful yoga community in Seoul (where I moved from), and as I started exploring different studios in Saigon, I couldn’t find anything like what we were doing in Korea. I figured that if no one else was going to do it, why not me? So I called my landlady and asked her to take all the furniture out of my house, put a little post on Facebook that was like: “YOGA. SUNDAY. NOON.”
And that’s it, really. Fast forward, and now it’s my full-time job.
For those interested in opening an at home studio, what is your advice for them?
My advice is not to give up your day job, and to let the yoga grow at its own pace.
Remember that your practice doesn’t owe you anything, especially money. You owe it to yourself and the practice to show up.
Tell me about Handstand Club. Where did you find a need for it in your students?
I had a client base that was almost exclusively other yoga teachers and advanced practitioners. Anyway, I began working with a really talented hula hoop artist who wanted to incorporate press handstands into her routines. She’s pretty young, so private sessions were a little out of her budget in the long-term. But I was so inspired by her work ethic and drive that I reached out to a few other friends and clients at a similar level of practice and asked if they’d be interested in a weekly workshop that focused on handstands and arm balances so we could make it more affordable. They were in, and handstand club was born. ☺ Eventually we opened it to the public, and that’s how I met you!
You recently taught a 200-hour teacher training in Hoi An. What did you learning from this experience? Which limb of yoga did you teach?
I just finished teaching anatomy on a YTT. There are a lot of positive things to say about the YTT experience overall, and anyone who’s done one is aware of the cathartic experience they can be. With that in mind, the thing I grapple with is how surface level 200-hour trainings are, by nature. I actually had a lot of internal conflict when I applied because the YTT system has so many problems.
I’m grateful that I did it, though and it was a really cool group of women. I learned a lot, and I hope they did too.
How did you prep to teach a 200-hour training?
Like I do everything else. I read fifty million books and made a million worksheets and practiced for hours a day and asked every single person whose opinion I respected and listened to podcasts and then just went in, crossed my fingers, and hoped for the best.
What should a yoga instructor who’s just starting out in the biz know about the professional yoga life?
I think, if I’m really honest (and I tend to be) that too many new yoga teachers are focused so much on the business aspect that it becomes a way to sort of hide from the practice.
I see a lot of things about amassing followers, building a brand, etc., and yes it’s absolutely imperative that you get yourself out there! People can’t come to your class if they don’t know you’re teaching it! But if the extent of your practice is what you post or read on Instagram, it’s really time to stop and ask: Why am I actually teaching? And is what I’m teaching truly worth being taught?
Also if this isn’t obvious, you have to have a home practice. At least some of the time. No videos. No studios. Just you and the breath. That’s your gold mine.
What meditation or mantra are you currently living by?
I am frequently reading or watching Matt Kahn. I’ve also been listening to the recent Trevor Hall album non-stop. So effing medicinal.
What does your dream yoga position or career look like?
It’s a funny question. Truthfully, the life I’m walking away from in Saigon is a dream. I work from home making an abundant living with people I love and a practice I feel so grateful to share in what is arguably one of the best cities on Earth. I keep asking myself if I’m totally insane for leaving, but you know, I’m not the person who had that dream anymore. So I guess I’m in the process of figuring out who I am now and what her dreams are. ☺
Connect with Rae Dohar
Rae formerly known as Home Yoga Saigon is originally from Ohio and most recently moved to Mexico. To dive deeper into your yoga practice with Rae then check out her newest offering: Hustle & Flow, the yoga teacher mentorship. To continue following her journey check out her new website raedohar.com or her Instagram @OmNoYouDidnt.