Shoulder Opening with Sam

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By Samantha Feinerman.

I love yoga. I love yoga a lot. In fact, I love yoga so much that I started teaching it seven years ago and decided to teach it, forever.

Yoga just kind of fell into my lap when I was in high school—and by “fell,” I mean my aunt dragged me into a class to help my mom keep me busy on Saturdays…and maybe see if it would help with the herniated disc I had just been diagnosed with in my lower back.

I went into that first class as an ex-swimmer and volleyball player, with a new injury that seemed only treatable with surgery and no idea what I was getting myself into. I was under the impression that yoga was just some sort of stretchy practice involving other weird, nonphysical aspects. I walked out of that first yoga class fascinated. I couldn’t tell you what style of yoga I had taken or what we did, but I remember the feeling I had when I walked out. It was that feeling that left me intrigued, interested, and wanting more. I wanted to know why I felt so good, both inside and out. Whatever this “yoga” thing was, it was obviously way too beneficial for me not to go back.

I hopped in and out of classes from high school to college, just trying to keep myself going to yoga. I went to classes at 24-Hour Fitness and followed along with DVDs. I bought random books at CVS that were mostly pictures with weird, nondescript yoga sequences. I found a local yoga studio that became “my” studio, which had both teachers and a style that felt I connected to. The style of yoga was called Anusara, which I initially didn’t pay much attention to—I just knew I was really loving it.  

Interestingly enough, what really ended up being a game-changer was learning to ride a bike! Once I learned how to ride a bicycle in 2010 (at 24 years old…I know), I wanted to find a place to take spin classes so I could keep up the new addiction when I couldn’t take my bike outside. Shortly after finding a studio that offered both spin and yoga, I happened to lose my job at a nonprofit organization where I was using my social work and psychology degrees. I asked the studio if they had any positions available. By the next week I was an employee and found out that after six months of employment I could do their teacher training for free. The rest is kind of history!

I knew after I began teaching yoga there that I wanted to do more, learn more, and find more. Since that first certification, I’ve gotten over 500 hours of Yoga Alliance-certified training in the Anusara style, which I have now been teaching for the last two years. 

Anusara is awesome. It is Tantric in philosophy, which just means that it is non-dual; there’s no separation between us and Spirit/Consciousness. (I know. It’s a lot.) The philosophy gets thematically woven into the classes so that everyone can connect to it, feel it, and understand it through their own bodies. Anusara is an alignment-based practice, so it revolves around what are called the Five Universal Principles of Alignment. The theory is that, based on those principles as well as the blueprint of the body, the practice is accessible to everyone and can help us all feel our best.

I’ve also been climbing for about as long as I’ve been teaching. Yoga and climbing are made for each other. While being very different physical activities, they complement each other physically, mentally, and spiritually. Their natural partnership made it very clear to me that I wanted to teach yoga to climbers—which I finally got to do when Touchstone came to LA, and it has literally been the best thing ever.

I believe in the power of yoga, the style and offerings of what I teach, and the strong connection between yoga and climbing. Yoga can help to undo the persistent stresses of climbing—I remember walking by the weight room mirror at LA Boulders one day and realizing for the first time that my shoulders were rolled forward off my body! Yoga, and specifically the shoulder-opening techniques found in yoga, can provide much-needed therapy to a climber’s body and help them become stronger, more balanced climbers. I want to teach yoga to as many climbers as possible, which is why I’m excited to be bringing this series of shoulder opening workshops to other Touchstone gyms. 

This two-hour workshop is designed to teach participants a little anatomy, a little yoga, and one super therapeutic physical adjustment that can be taken away and used anywhere and everywhere to provide some shoulder relief and assist in keeping the shoulder girdle aligned and happy. My favorite result is finding out that students actually take what they learned in the workshop into their climbing and training sessions, both indoors and out. 

Newcomers to this workshop can definitely expect to learn a lot and to walk out feeling good. Since I began teaching this workshop when LA Boulders first opened, it has received nothing but positive feedback and requests for more. I am so stoked to be bringing the power of yoga to our whole community!

Don’t miss Sam’s Shoulder Opening Workshops!

MetalMark ClimbingMonday 7/24, 7:30-9p

The StudioTuesday 7/25, 6-8p (Space is limited to 12 people)

Diablo Rock GymWednesday 7/26, 6:45-8:45p (Online booking available)

Mission CliffsFriday 7/28, 1:30-3:30p (Online booking available, REGISTRATION REQUIRED)

Dogpatch BouldersFriday 7/28,6:45-8:45p (Online booking available)

Great Western Power CompanySaturday 7/29, 11:45-1:45p (Online booking available)

Berkeley IronworksSaturday 7/29, 2:45-4:45p (Online booking available)