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Meet our newest instructor Yogi Zain Syed


What’s your story?

I am a 32 year old Gemini living in Oakland. I was born in Pakistan and immigrated with my family to New York City in 1992. I grew up in Kansas City, moved to Bakersfield after high school, and then lived in Los Angeles for almost six years. After a couple of years of dabbling with freelance work as a web designer I decided to go back to school and registered at Santa Monica College. I moved to the Bay Area in 2008 to finish my undergraduate degree at UC Berkeley.  I graduated with an interdisciplinary studies major creating my own area of interest from classes I took in psychology, cognitive science, and Buddhism.

zandlWhat brought you to yoga?

After reading parts of the Bhagavad Gita in an Asian philosophy class during my first year at Santa Monica College, I took interest in the topic and the following semester enrolled in a yoga class. I took a couple of semesters of Iyengar Yoga with Sophie Boller, a wonderful French woman who got me into my first headstand and shoulder stand. It was one particular summer semester when we had class four days a week that I started to feel the effects of the practice. At the time I was going through some self-doubting existential dilemma and been on anti-depressants for almost six years. The regular yoga practice helped me kick the meds cold turkey and I became curious about the mind/body connection.

zainWhat has yoga brought to you?

Yoga has been my anti-depressant and mood-stabilizer ever since taking my first downward dog pose. I strongly believe in its power to transform people’s lives and attitudes if they work hard and consistently with the practice. Yoga brings me a peace of mind and it guides me to move towards healthy lifestyle choices. Though I was quite keen on learning Buddhist psychology, I didn’t make efforts in keeping a regular seated meditation practice. I have now found my meditation in action through a steady yoga practice. Yoga, and in particular Iyengar Yoga, has brought a renewed sense of vitality in my life and continues to inspire me as I observe my own evolution of mind, body, and spirit.

How did you find AYS?

My partner at the time, Lauren, who was also a teacher at AYS, and I were exploring a lot of yoga studios and styles of practice around the Bay Area. We were both craving more knowledge after our first teacher training, which was in a vinyasa style.  Lauren started taking some classes and workshops with local Iyengar Yoga teachers Athena Pappas and Anne Saliou at the (now defunct) Yoga Loft in San Francisco. I went with her to a couple of Anne’s workshops. It was then, after many years that I recalled my first year of yoga with an Iyengar Yoga teacher and how I missed that kind of depth in yoga practice.  We came to Adeline Yoga and took our first class there with Heather Haxo Phillips. A month later Heather took over as the new owner of the studio and we started doing work-study with her. Since then she has been our guide into the vast world of the Iyengar Yoga system.

How would you describe your teaching style or one of your classes?

I enjoy working with beginners as they can be quite receptive students. I also enjoy helping seasoned students find a beginner’s mind and challenge them in new ways.  I strive to provide precise instructions about alignment and do my best to deliver effective demonstrations for learning asanas. My classes tend to focus on stability while holding poses and help students gain strength and mobility as they move safely in and out of poses.

What do you want students to get out of class?

Hopefully they can walk away feeling more fresh and alive than when they walked into the class. I hope for students to finish their practice with a sense of quieting the mental chatter and gain an appreciation for the wisdom of the body.

Anything else?

It has been an amazing and exponentially fast growing journey teaching yoga for the last two years, much more growth than I can keep track of. I am grateful for my family’s support  to help me stay on this path, and for the guidance from all of my teachers – in particular Erika Trice at YogaWorks, where I did my training, and Anneke Faas, Jessie Holland, and Heather Haxo at Adeline Yoga Studio with whom I have taken classes with most regularly. All of them have helped me tremendously to deepen my practice and become a better teacher.

Follow and connect with Zain online: Zain is our AMAZING studio photographer for FB/Instagram, he is a must follow!