A Passion for the Practice

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Laguna’s Dana Sara shares her love of yoga.

By Somer Tejwani

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Local yogi Dana Sara was at the forefront of yoga’s spread across the United States. “I have practiced every day of my life and been training as often as possible,” she says. “My title is first generation master.” In the decades since she originally began her practice, Dana has assisted in the establishment of yoga schools and wellness programs around the world, including Laguna’s Lotus Yoga, produced in partnership with Jacob Cho of Cho’s Academy. Now a veteran of the practice who’s thoroughly versed in its mental and physical benefits, Dana’s past clients include Dick Cheney and his family, and she has even worked with the Dalai Lama. “I love all my students and genuinely care for their highest happiness, health and success,” she adds. “I believe it takes one person to change the world, and you are that person.”

Laguna Beach Magazine: Tell us about the style of yoga you teach.

Dana Sara: I am trained in ashtanga, Iyengar, Tibetan and kundalini yoga. I draw [from] other disciplines as well, such as my years as a professional dancer and snowboarder, and my ongoing training in the martial arts.

LBM: What are the benefits of practicing yoga on a regular basis?

DS: UC Davis studies over the past 40 years show an 85 percent decrease in cancer, chronic pain, drug dependency, anxiety and depression, [as well as] increased energy, healing and peaceful mind from those with a genuine practice under the guidance of an experienced master.

LBM: Do you have any advice for people who are new to yoga?

DS: Be prepared to feel incredible. Be courageous, and don’t give up. Be honest with yourself. Be clean, be present. Start at a manageable level and advance carefully to avoid injury or burnout. Share your injuries with your teacher. Understand you don’t have to change who you are, just experience who you are. Recognize the exercise aspect is a tiny fraction of what the practice offers, and enjoy the ride of your life.

LBM: What advice do you have for those looking to take their practice to the next level?

DS: Cultivate a home practice, preferably early in the morning. Learn kundalini yoga from someone experienced. Take the yamas and niyamas (10 ethical precepts in yoga) seriously. Don’t take yourself seriously. Never compare and compete.

LBM: What’s on your iPod during class?

DS: My passion is music, mantra, sound healing and rock ’n’ roll. I paired Chattr Chakkr Vartee with Tibetan four directions vinyasas when the Tibetan monks came to my studio. I paired Rakhe Rakhan Har and the Panj Shabad with Stevie Wonder’s “Happy Birthday” song for the rebirth kriya. A few of my local favorites are The Budrows, Sotantar Suraj, Carl St. Clair with the Pacific Symphony and the Laguna Enchanters.

LBM: Which gear do you recommend?

DS: You need only one thing to practice yoga: your breath. Choose your own environment. It’s nice to have your own mat. Use fair trade, organic, biodegradable materials. Mat towels are nice for hot yoga. For kundalini yoga, wear a head covering and white or pale clothing.

LBM: Anything else?

DS: Yoga is the process of creating a meaningful and purposeful life. Yoga helps you realize your fullest potential. My mission has always been to inspire individuals through the healing and creative arts.

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