Posts Tagged ‘Teacher Feature’

Teacher Feature • Interview With Todd

Friday, May 21st, 2010

Interview With Todd
from 3/09


How did you get into yoga?

Back in the 80s I did a little bit of yoga when I was in the Bay Area. It was a small class and our teacher taught Iyengar, and it was really fun. But after a few months she moved to Nashville to become a singer, and that was it for yoga for me.

Fast forward to the beginning of the 90s. I was in Hawaii, living on Lanai, and I had an old friend from San Francisco call and say he was going to do a weeklong Ashtanga workshop on Maui right next door. He wanted some company and asked me to come over, and I said what the heck. I went over there and before the workshop he showed me a couple things – a head stand, downward dog – and I said, how hard can this be, right? This is going to be fun!

So the first class – whoa. I think there were 40 people in the workshop, 38 of them were women, none of them under the age of 40. There I was, Mr. Tri-Athlete, and I was sweating like you can’t believe – there was a pool of sweat around me. And I looked around the room and not one of these women was sweating, just glowing. It looked so easy for them! And I was like, how is this possible? I’m in shape and I can hardly get through a class.

But I walked out of that class and I had an epiphany. I went to this little town right down the street in upcountry Maui. I guess we started at 6:30 in the morning so it was still early when I’d get into town. I’d see the early risers of the jet set people – the people who don’t have to have a job, a lot of them live in Maui – drinking their cappuccinos and lattes. I looked around and I felt so alive. And I didn’t get that same feeling from these people. So I thought, what do I want to do with my life?

I was just coming out of the wine business looking for something else to do. I had gotten out of the wine business because I had this dilemma where I loved everything about wine except the more excited I got about it and selling it, the more people would drink and get inebriated and it moved them out of their bodies. And I wanted to help them get in their bodies. So I got out of the wine business and thought – yoga – that would be really fun. I hadn’t even thought of teaching, I just thought: yoga.

So I finished that whole week and I felt really great, and then I moved to Encinitas where this teacher – Tim Miller – lived. And I started studying with him and I did that for almost a year, and then I moved to L.A. to study with the next teacher.

todd and group

How did you start teaching?

Ana Forrest got me into teaching. I had been taking yoga with her for a number of years and she said, it’s time for you to teach. And I was like, I can’t do any of the things you do, how can I teach, what can I teach? All my teachers were like Cirque du Soleil people. And she said, no, you have to teach, it’s time for you to teach. So I started subbing for her when she wasn’t there, which, thinking back on it, was really kind of her.

That was the start and it was a long road because I could teach her yoga, but it was a long time before I got to find out what my yoga was.

I found out my work was actually different from her work, but because I also work a lot with energy, I found an affinity with her there. I think Ana is amazing in how she works with energy and weaves that in with physical yoga. She was the first person who really taught me how important it was to set up a safe space to work in. That was an invaluable lesson that I got.

So how did you find your own style?

Basically, from having an injury. I had a number of injuries doing yoga primarily because I was doing someone else’s yoga and not my yoga. That little realization took a long time to click. I had hurt my back and the way that Ana was recommending that I work with it wasn’t helping. So I stopped going to her classes and I stopped going to all classes with any teacher and I just started doing my own yoga for a long time. I was still teaching, and then I was doing my own yoga.

And then I had guidance to drop into one of Erich Schiffmann’s classes one day, just kind of out of the blue. I went into his class and it was remarkable because I would say the day I went in, well over 50 percent – even 70 or 80 percent of the things we did in class – were things that I had been doing on my own, which no one had ever shown me how to do. It just blew my mind. It was like another epiphany – this stuff is legal, I can teach this stuff? Because I was doing my yoga at home, but then thinking I have to teach “real yoga.”

That was a huge opening for me and I went to every class I could with Erich. After going a few months and getting to know each other I started hanging out a little at his house and doing yoga with him. He really helped me find my yoga and my voice – which I didn’t really get completely until I moved away from LA. I still do a lot of things like he does, but it’s shifted, and that’s a consequence of moving away. Then it became more about learning from my guidance and from my students.

How would you describe your own approach to teaching yoga?

I would say what’s different is not so much teaching to the pose. There are other yogas that do this. Erich didn’t teach to the pose, but you would find yourself deeper in the pose that you’ve ever been – so that’s where I got my introduction to this approach. And with yin yoga, even though they have particular poses, it’s not about the pose. The focus is different, it’s not about how you look in the pose but how you feel in the pose.

So with BLIS yoga, the kind of yoga I do, the focus is not so much about getting into a pose or trying to fix something that’s happening in your body, but it’s really about reorienting your awareness, learning to be curious about something else, a different focus. And when you start to shift your perspective, your experience changes and literally your body changes.

So we might have a class where people might come in with different complaints – a hip problem, shoulder, whatever. Without teaching specifically to whatever the complaint is, by everyone shifting their focus, everyone leaves class feeling different – feeling, wow my shoulder feels better, my hip feels better. It’s really about what you’re choosing to focus on.

From a teacher’s point of view it can be a scary thing to jump into because on some level, if you’re not teaching a pose and how to get into it, then what are you teaching? But it’s really shifting so you’re helping people discover and uncover what their yoga is, and it’s going to be different from week to week, from year to year, depending on a lot of different factors that affect where you are and how you’re holding tension in your body.

As you learn to communicate with your body, to be with it and not work against it, you have a different relationship with yourself and invariably a different relationship then with everyone around you. It’s a very subtle thing at first but it has very dramatic consequences – in a good way. It’s not a quick fix because we’re not focused on fixing anything, but it works.

todd  and jay

What do you hope your students get from your classes? Is it about that shift in perspective, discovering their own yoga, or coming back to their bodies?

Everybody comes in looking for something different, so I don’t really want the same thing for everybody. But at the end of the day, if somebody can feel better in their body and start to give themselves permission to follow the path of least resistance or to have the capacity to begin to communicate with their guidance and their intuition – that would be the ultimate thing for me. Because then everything else is taken care of, because then things feel good, and you do more of it.

It doesn’t have to look like doing yoga everyday, coming in on your yoga mat, but yoga can become when you’re writing, when you’re cooking, when you’re driving your car. Are you doing things that support you and nurture you and feed you? So if people start to work with that vocabulary or that awareness, then I think I’ve done a good job.

It seems like what you said about the safe space is a big part of what you’re doing – coming into your class I feel like it’s safe to totally relax and drop in.

That’s a fundamental requirement for this kind of work. There are other modalities and a lot of ways to access it, but fundamentally that’s the most important thing. Because if you don’t feel safe, you can talk about all these things, but it’s not happening, people can’t access it because it’s too scary.

As Erich Schiffmann says, “Be brave, relax.” It takes courage to relax. Because you’re asking people to let go. The very things they’re holding onto are their belief systems – the things they believe keep them safe and protected and supported. And you’re asking them to relinquish those things – there’s nothing scarier.

So for me, every time I see somebody willingly let their guard down, let their defenses down, when they begin to relinquish that even for a moment, I get to witness a miracle. That to me is a miracle because that’s what’s keeping them stuck. They have to feel safe enough to do that. If you feel safe enough, everything else follows.

And how do you create a safe space? You have to be really clear as a teacher what your intention is and you have to hold that intention. As my guides talk about it sometimes, it’s like, if I dare to wear my light and be bright, then anything coming into that light has to also be light, and anything other than that light can’t be in the space. So if I’m really clear energetically about how I set up the space, just with my intention, then that’s the energy that comes into the space and anything else gets left outside.

There really is no formula. It’s more about where someone’s heart is, where their interest is, what they are ready to do. So for me, I have to be willing to open my heart and be vulnerable. I have to be willing to be in that safe space I’m asking everyone else to be in. That’s really scary at first but that’s where I want to hang out all the time.

The fact that I can set up the space – and make a living being in that space – for me is the biggest gift ever. So I’m really grateful for my students because they give me a reason to be in that space.

That’s one of the big differences on not having the emphasis on the pose and doing it right – when I’m in a class like that I freeze up.

That’s one of the reasons a lot of the time we do our whole practice with our eyes closed. If you do have permission to try it a little bit differently, if you close your eyes and don’t look at your neighbor, you can start to feel like it’s just about you. You don’t have to replicate what you did last week or 20 years ago when you used to be flexible. It took me years to get to this point because it’s so strong in our culture. To get a reprieve from the committee in your mind and spend a little bit of time just being with your body right where you are – that’s the healing, and then things shift. Things appear to disappear, the complaints just vanish. It seems like it’s magic, but it’s just the way it works. It’s a new way of being with something.

So I think that people learn by being in the space – that’s how I learn – by being in the energy. What does it feel like? So you might read or hear about this, but it’s an experiential thing. If you just jump into the energy or come on in and be in the energy a while, you start to understand it by experiencing it. And then you can start to live it. And in living it you’re extending that gift to others, which is how we all help each other.

todd cross-legged

To shift into Om Base – what was your vision or intention in opening the studio?

Vittoria and I had a studio a number of years ago in Sellwood and we ended up selling it to our business partner. It was a tough thing to move away from – we put a lot of emotional energy and time into it – but that allowed us to buy a house over here and then we had a little yoga studio in our house and we were very happy with that.

The idea of opening another commercial space wasn’t something either of us wanted to do. I had no interest in it at all. But one day one of our old neighbors came to one of Vittoria’s classes and said she was driving home and saw this space for rent and thought we should take a look at it. And I thought, what’s the point? I don’t want to do it.

But then a funny thing happened. I work with my guides a lot, and my guides said, well, before you throw out the whole idea, how about putting this energy on and wearing this energy for a little bit and see how this feels. So I put the energy on and the energy was basically a glimpse into what we would call the future – it was the energy of what this space is about and what it feels like. So I was able to feel what it would feel like to be in a space like this, with this design with this intent, and it blew my mind.

For the longest time my guides have been suggesting that I teach what I teach differently, and I had no idea how to get there. It was like I was on one side of the Grand Canyon and they were saying, get on the other side, and I had no clue how to do that. And suddenly, when I put this energy on, I was on the other side. It was amazing! And of course I want that – I want more of that – to feel supported in every way I could imagine in doing exactly what I want to do, and more of it. I couldn’t even articulate the differences but it just felt divine.

So that was it. We looked at the first space and it just didn’t work out. But while we were looking at that first space, which is very close to here, I was talking to a friend of mine who had heard there was something coming up for rent, so we called them and heard about this space, and that was it.

It wasn’t something that I was planning to do. I was given a vision and the people appeared to help create and support that.

News from OmBase – May 1st Edition

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

Purple Flower

new bloomings

This newsletter is brimming with newness!

We’re teaching the first Intro to Yoga we’ve had in months;
Movie Night continues, a new bike rack has been installed,
JRo‘s coming back in town, Emily‘s teaching with Todd,
Yin Yoga moves to another night….plus lots more!

We are still interested in finding out how yoga
or OmBase has changed your life,
so please send in your comments!

Yin Yoga
with Todd

Mon/Wed/Fri 5/3-5/21
7-8:15 am

Cost: $90-$108 sliding scale / pre-registration

Yin Yoga

Todd & Emily are co-teaching the Yin Yoga classes in the morning!

Join them for a fabulous time, and and a great stretch! More on Yin Yoga here. (scroll to end of page).

To register call/email us at OmBase, or stop by to make payment by check or credit card (you can also pay online, just be aware that it the most expensive option for us, as we get charged 3% w/any online transactions).

Intro to Yoga
with Todd, Adriana, Stasia and Vittoria

5/4-5/25 every TUE 7:30-8:45 pm

Cost: $48/ pre-registration

Alana - Upward Facing Dog

This class series is an introduction to Yoga for all beginners out there! 4 different teachers to give you the basics of yoga. Todd, Adriana, Stasia and Vittoria will alternate teaching on Tuesdays all month.

Basics of yoga, breathing, introduction to props, as well as individualized attention to what each student needs.
Pre-registration required. Min 5, max 10 students.

Please email/call Om Base if you want to sign up. You can mail a check, sign up at the studio or sign up online.

BodyTalk & Astrology
offered at OmBase!

Emily Trinkaus

Emily Trinkaus

Many of you already know Emily, as she’s been with us from the beginning (and before that!).
Emily is now at OmBase on Fridays, seeing clients. If you are interested or curious about what she offers, check out her site.

Her new blog is chock full, and you can read on making the most of Mercury retrograde!

You can contact her directly for an appointment:


Emily also starts teaching at OmBase this month!

Family Yoga!
with Rachel & Lauren

SUN May 23 at 2:30 pm

Cost: $10/adult, $5/kid
Please pre-register for this class!

Rachel Plies & Lauren Clark

Many of you have asked about this class, so here it is being offered as a one time event.

Rachel and Lauren have fun with kids and families, and this promises to be a great class for all ages. Kids, parents and grandparents welcome!

Read more about Rachel and Lauren at BoundlessMotion.

JRo is coming back!
June 2-6



JRo will be here in June, and he’ll have Clairvoyant reading and healing sessions available.

JRo came last year for a visit and before you know it he was all booked up. He’s getting booked this time too, so hurry up and call if you want a session with him. He will be seeing clients at the studio (with the exception of one day possibly at our home).

From JRo:Your body is energy and our lives reality based events.
Learn how you occur right here right now as life. And learn how to
change it, guide it and ultimately let go

JRo, ( pronounced J-row) lives in Haiku, Maui, and has been doing Clairvoyant reading/healing and energy work for over 30 years. Currently JRo travels and brings what he does to different locations throughout the mainland U.S.

Readings are $100 for at about 1.5-2 hrs (please bring cash)

to book a reading:

send us an email:
or call her Vittoria’s cell 971.506.6789

Download a Flyer

Classes changing….

Todd Williamson

Todd Williamson

Yin Yoga on Tuesday pm moves to Wednesday

The evening yin yoga class moves to Wednesday night this month (and might remain that way) as we are introducing a new class for beginners on Tuesdays. Please look for the Yin Yoga by donation class on Wednesday night at 7:15-8:30 pm.

Sun 10 am class moves to 9 am starting in June!
We did this last year too, to give you more time to get on with the summer activities but still come to yoga!
See you at 9 am on June 6th!

If you want the Tuesday & Thursday 6:30 am classes to continue, please come and take them more often. There’s talk of discontinuing those classes by June if not enough students show up each week.

Bike rack is in!

Maria hugging the new bike rack

Maria hugging the new bike rack

Yes, that’s Maria hugging the rack . . . Riding your bike to OmBase is a whole lot easier now!

The first time you ride your bike to class, and park your bike at the new corral, let us know when you sign in, and you can take that class for just $5, or use your class card and bring a friend for free.

Remember that if you have a class card and ride your bike to class (walk or take public transit) you can stamp your card.. and after collecting 10 stamps we’ll say thank-you to you with a free class on us!

One of our students, Maria, an avid biker, was the first to use the new racks (parking there about two hours after they had been installed!) and happened to be there when Dave Johnson (from the Hillsdale Biking Coalition) was taking a picture, and here’s what we learned about Maria,

My name is Maria Cahill and I ride from my home  (which is also my office for a sustainable land development consulting business) in Multnomah Village. Biking is one of my personal and professional commitments to a healthier environment and a healthier me. I rode over 1000 miles last year just for business related meetings and site visits in addition to my private errands and events. I’m excited to see the new bike racks!“.

There is also a little blurb on about the bike rack!

Thank you for coming to class!
Can you post a review?


Loiuse in headstand

Many of you were inspired by our call in the last newsletter to come back, and you did make it back to Om Base. Thank you! We are grateful for your support. We’d like to ask you to post a review as reviews really help other students decide whether or not come to visit us!

You can go to our contact us page, and click on the pop-up window that comes up over the map (click OmBase or Reviews). It’ll take you to a Google page link where you can post a review!

You can also go to Insider Pages here to post a review.
In addition, you can post on Yelp too here.

Thank you!

Our lending library is online!

Lending Library

Thanks to Emily, Virgo organizer extraordinaire, she posted every book we have online, here.

You can check out books and videos the same way, by writing your name in the check-out binder at the studio, but now you also have the option of browsing our library online, read an excerpt of the book (via an Amazon link), post a comment, and more.

We’ll be adding reviews of the books in the next few weeks.

The other change is that we’ll be charging $1 x week for DVDs, as we need to replace them occasionally, and that will help.

Books will be due 3 weeks from check out date, DVDs only one week at a time.

You will get email reminders when your item is due.

Movie Night!



The second Saturday of each month we’ll be having a movie night! A movie projected on the large wall of the yoga studio!

(Because of the warm weather and the need for air conditioning = noise, we’ll probably stop for the summer though)

When: Sat 5/8 @ 7pm
A movie about Ammachi

We aren’t sure which one yet, but considering she’s coming to Seattle at the end of May, it’s appropriate.

Read more about Amma and her incredible life and devotion.

We’ll accept a small donation to help defray heat/light costs, as well as the price of the DVDs.

Sorry, no kids and no snacks…. 🙁

We love to hear from you!

Send us your stories & love letters (long and short) about how yoga & OmBase or a specific teacher has helped you improve your life, healed your body, quieted your mind, and whatever else!

We’ll post the long stories on our blog, to inspire others.

“Hello Todd,

I wanted to thank you for your generous support yesterday. I am always amazed by your incredibly giving spirit! Many times I arrive at your classes feeling bereft, hurting in some physical or emotional way and come away feeling light, supported and centered. You have a gift, my friend, and I feel blessed that I found you! Thank you.

Blessings”. ~ NB


MORE Teachers Interviews!

Emily was kind enough to devote a lot of time to interview the teachers at OmBase, and we have some of those interviews online now. Soon we’ll have to interview Emily, as she’s going to be teaching too!

You can go to  Our Family and then click on “Teachers.”

Teacher Feature

Adriana’s interview has been added this month. Adriana also wrote a blog post this month about Prenatal Dance & Yoga.

Listen to Todd’s Meditation

If you’ve missed Todd’s meditation, you can now listen to it whenever you need it…

Coming in June!

A gift taken and shared: four weeks, four classes for change. Read the blog post.

Virtual shots of Om Base

We’ve posted some fabulous 360º shots of the studio on our website. You can scroll (slowly!) to see in every direction!

Thanks to Jeff Freeman for the photography!

Namasté to you . . .



I wanted  to share some photos
of flowers that I just captured,
so here is a link for you to enjoy!

(click on ‘slideshow’ at bottom left for best viewing!).

Happy Spring!