We had the chance to connect with Yoga Teacher and Hypnotherapist Thea Pueschel about her practice. After shooting some photos at the Shakespeare Bridge in Los Feliz, we learned something about what keeps her inspired and on the mat.
What inspired you to take your first yoga class?
Confession: The first time I took a class, I did so out of curiosity and hated it (LOL). However, a few years later my health took a nose dive, and I needed something. Yoga was that something and it aided me on my healing journey. I was at a point where I could barely get out of bed just to get to work, and making it through my day was a struggle. During yoga class, the relief seemed almost immediate, and it gave me with great tools to cope. The first class that I took after I became ill is what lit my inner fire and inspired me to take yoga teacher training.
What motivated you to start teaching yoga?
When I took teacher training, I did it on the down-low. People kept telling me that if someone like me taught, they would go to those classes because they would feel like yoga is accessible and possible for even an average American body. The funny thing was that those people didn’t know I was actually taking teacher training at the time. I started teaching because there was a need for more diversity in body types and shapes as well as safe spaces to practice. People want to see people who are like them practicing.
What keeps you inspired to teach now?
My passion for learning keeps me inspired. The fact that there is always something new to learn about functional anatomy and how different bodies move inspires me.
Seeing the passion in other people’s eyes light up—for yoga or for life—also keeps the fire of my own inspiration lit.
Where do you go in Southern California when you need to recharge?
First and foremost: My backyard; it’s sacred and it is my own private Zen garden. The second place I reboot my prana is the Hsai Li Temple (in Hacienda Heights). Just sitting in the temple quiets my soul.
Is there a soundtrack you turn to for your own practice?
I prefer to flow to the sound of my breath, but if I am going to flow to music, my current go-to is music by Radiohead.
Do you have a go-to daily practice?
I teach a lot, so my personal asana practice varies according to what I am teaching. If I am teaching a lot of Vinyasa, then I am personally practicing more Yin. If I am teaching more Yin and Restorative, then I practice more Vinyasa. I find a balance keeps me on point and more engaged and inspired as a teacher.
What are some of the things that keep you practicing?
Practice helps diminish the discomfort and pain from chronic conditions that I have. It also makes me a better person in general. I am more pleasant to interact with and be around; it chills me out. I’m hyper, so I need that balance. Also, the more in my body and connected that I am, the more I can help my students understand their own bodies.
How do you build community as a teacher?
My classes are like old friends getting together. We are a community, even if it’s just for one hour, even if it is just once in this lifetime. I know my students because they know me: we are living breathing beings connected through our flawed human existence and our yoga practice. I also address all my students by name. I say their name at least once—if not more—before class starts, or during class or as they leave. This spirit of familiarity creates a greater sense of community and a sense that everyone belongs and we all know each other.
What three books are on your nightstand now and why?
None, I don’t read in my bedroom because I sleep in there. However, that wasn’t the question! I do read books elsewhere in my house, and I am currently partaking of two: Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice and Roots of Yoga because the nerdiness is strong with this one.
What are a few movies that have been meaningful for you?
Cinema Paradiso because the light turning on in the little boy’s eyes when the theater opens is pure magic. I welcome that type of magic into my life. The mystery, the wonder, the gratitude.
Recently: Wonder Woman. It was uplifting to see a woman in an action role without being objectified by the male gaze. Gal Gadot is a beautiful woman, and the character is supposed to have unearthly beauty, but the story isn’t about that. It isn’t sexy; it’s a classic hero’s journey. It is about a woman with a purpose.
For more information about Thea Pueschel, visit her website at: www.theapueschel.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.