Yoga Teacher Dana Kraft
Yoga teacher Dana Kraft brings the experience of joy to everything she does—especially every class she teaches. Whether she’s teaching pro athletes, first-time yogis, or aspiring teachers, she combines her life-long commitment to being an educator with her love of yoga.
Tell us about the first yoga class you took?
The first yoga class I took was in Costa Rica with my teacher Marco Rojas from New York City. I had never practiced before, but my friend convinced me to go on a yoga retreat with him to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I scrounged up all the money I had made the month before and went on the retreat. After this experience, I ended up changing my career from teaching high school to teaching yoga!
What inspired you to become a yoga teacher?
My passion for the practice and what it can do for me and my students as well as my love of teaching.
I have a Masters Degree in Education from NYU in English Education and Educational Theatre, so teaching comes very naturally to me. Before studying education, I earned a B.F.A. in Musical Theatre from the University of Michigan! (Go Blue!)
It made sense to me to take my love of yoga to the next level. I haven’t looked back since I became a yoga teacher.
What keeps you on the mat?
I remind myself that when I step on the mat, I will feel grateful after I practice. This keeps me going even on the days when I may not feel motivated to practice.
Yoga helps me to achieve inner peace, perspective, gratitude, and mindfulness. These are things I want in my life, and my time on my mat will always help me to cultivate them.
Where do you go to class?
I don’t practice at just one studio since I like to hop around for the teacher. I would say that I make it a point to most often go to Vinnie Marino, Rebecca Benenati, and Maud Nadler (YogaWorks), Schuyler Grant, Matt Phippen, and Cat Acquaviva (Wanderlust Hollywood). Noelle Beaugureau, at Liberation Yoga is excellent as well! My teacher training partner Jennifer Smith teaches an amazing restorative class that I go to every Friday evening. There are too many inspiring teachers out here in LA to name all of them.
Do you have a go-to daily practice?
I make it a point to meditate everyday, even for five minutes using a mantra and my mala beads. Most of the time I favor Vinyasa and Ashtanga, but as I’ve gotten older I make it a point to add more Iyengar, Yin, and Restorative at least once a week.
What’s your power breakfast?
Beaming’s Superfood Low-Glycemic Vanilla with Spinach Smoothie.
You work with professional athletes. What is something that you have learned from teaching athletes?
I learned to apply all my anatomy education into my physical teaching. Working with athletes can be intense and demanding. When I started working with professional sports teams I thought we were going to be in a quiet yoga room. That was not the case at all. I was teaching yoga on the basketball court during practice. It was loud and there were many distractions.
A lot of players I have worked with have had injuries when they came to me. When working in the sports industry as a yoga teacher, the stakes are very high. Although the players are all great people, they are also extremely expensive assets to the team they play for, so your anatomy, alignment, and sequencing has to be appropriate and tailored for their needs. If you are teaching athletes, make sure you have a really strong grasp of yogic anatomy and how to sequence for each player and any injuries they may have.
What’s on your current playlist that lifts you up and lights you up?
“I Should Live in Salt” – (The National Cover) by Asgeir
“Into the Ether” by Leif Vollebekk
“Ultralight Beam” by Local Natives
Are there any books on your nightstand that inspire or motivate you?
The Yamas & Niyamas: Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice by Deborah Adele
Pocket Pema Chodron
Where do you go when you want to rejuvenate and restore?
My new backyard; my husband and I renovated a home together and we have a beautiful oasis with a pool, Jacuzzi, and our own yoga studio! Also, Joshua Tree! I’m leading a retreat there in late February.
Do you have favorite hidden treasures in LA?
Frankie’s on Melrose. Best old school Italian food!
Where and when do you teach?
I teach all over Los Angeles:
Yogaworks West Hollywood and Yogaworks Studio City
Namaste Studios LA in Highland Park (My training company is run out of Namaste Studios! Check out Yoga 108: 200 Hour of Mind, Body, & Spirit)
Yoga Vibe West Hollywood
Learn more about Yoga Teacher Dana Kraft at: www.danakraftyoga.com
She is wearing Kali sports bra—print ($49) and Jennifer legging—print ($69) by Will Lane (will-lane.com). Photo at Astronomers Monument at Griffith Observatory at Griffith Park by David Young-Wolff (davidyoung-wolff.com).
Felicia Tomasko has spent more of her life practicing Yoga and Ayurveda than not. She first became introduced to the teachings through the writings of the Transcendentalists, through meditation, and using asana to cross-train for her practice of cross-country running. Between beginning her commitment to Yoga and Ayurveda and today, she earned degrees in environmental biology and anthropology and nursing, and certifications in the practice and teaching of yoga, yoga therapy, and Ayurveda while working in fields including cognitive neuroscience and plant biochemistry. Her commitment to writing is at least as long as her commitment to yoga. Working on everything related to the written word from newspapers to magazines to websites to books, Felicia has been writing and editing professionally since college. In order to feel like a teenager again, Felicia has pulled out her running shoes for regular interval sessions throughout Southern California. Since the very first issue of LA YOGA, Felicia has been part of the team and the growth and development of the Bliss Network.