Hello Mindfully Balanced readers! This week I’m kicking off a 4 part Women’s Health & Wellness series. Each week I’ll share an interview with you where I speak with women I respect talking about health, wellness and self-care. My goal is to provide my readers with a little encouragement to live the healthiest version of themselves.

My first interview is with one of my new favorite people. Her name is Kavita Patel, and she is one gifted lady. I met Kavita when I wondered

Yoga Teacher

into her yoga class back in March of this year. Kavita turned the practice of Yoga from just another form of exercise, to a tool that helps me manage my anxiety and panic attacks. She teaches with a great deal of compassion, warmth and laughter. Everyone…meet Kavita.

1. Kavita, when did you begin your yoga practice? As a Freshman in college, I was introduced to yoga as apart of my BA of Fine Arts in Acting. They used the practice of yoga to teach students how to free their voice when acting. What brought me back to yoga, was how I felt after each class. I actually felt more comfortable in my body. Before I tried Yoga, I had always felt awkward in my body. My first few Iyengar yoga classes were very difficult. My body wasn’t used to moving that way & the teacher was very strict. Eventually I found Downtown Yoga in Pleasanton, and it changed everything. I began taking beginning level classes with Yoga Director/Studio Owner Kate Coughlin. I was drawn to Kate’s style being nurturing and firm. I’ve been practicing with her for 13 years, 7 of those were before I began my Instructor training.
2. What are the most important aspects of your personal yoga practice? When I practice yoga, I feel connected to my center physically and energetically. As a wife, mother, and teacher, I have the tendency to give everything away to others. My yoga practice helps bring me back to center. When the stresses of life came my way, I noticed my breathing became shallow. It was also more difficult to connect with others. When I practice yoga consistently, my breathing becomes deeper, and I connect easily with others.
3. What made you transition from a practitioner of yoga, to becoming a yoga teacher? When I first moved to the Bay Area, I was acting and doing some traveling. Then I had kids and things changed. I found that taking yoga freed me. Initially I took part in the teacher training at Downtown Yoga to deepen my personal practice and to connect with and observe other people in motion. Several people found out I was participating in the Instructor Training program, and asked me to teach them. This gradually led to teaching more classes throughout the week.
4. What are the 3 most important things you want your students to take away from your classes? I want my students to live in the present moment, to learn to listen to their own breath, and to re-center and draw their attention inward to help live their lives more fully. I want them to learn to have compassion towards themselves and become more compassionate to others. I want them to learn resilience. Yoga teaches us that we can be uncomfortable, go through hard times, and come out the other side.
5. How important is self care, and how do you practice it in your every day life? It’s really important. I practice self-care by maintaining my yoga practice with Kate. I take baths at the end of the day to feel restored. I’ve found that connecting with friends (other women), and spending time with people I care about also restores my soul.  I also focus on eating wholesome, homemade food. I love to cook and eat well. Fueling our bodies with nourishing food is really important.
6. Where can people connect with you online? You can connect with me via the Monkey Bear Yoga website or on Facebook & Instagram @monkeybearyoga. Students can contact me at yoginikavi@gmail.com to book private yoga class

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