In a sleepless city bursting at the seams with both people (hello, sidewalk traffic jams!) and non-stop action, it’s no wonder that so many of us seek refuge in finding a sense of inner calm and quiet. If you’re lucky enough, you may get some help along the way from someone like Yuval Samburski, a devout yogi and yoga instructor based in NYC. Teaching classes at all levels as well as privately, Yuval specializes in Vinyasa, Pranayama and Restorative/healing. We caught up with him to hear about his path as a yoga teacher, his inspirations, and how to better connect with our breath and body.

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How long has yoga been a part of your life?

I’ve been practicing yoga for over 20 years. I started in high school so it’s been a good amount of time since then! And I’ve been teaching yoga since 2012.

What is your specialty as a yoga instructor?

My specialty as a yoga instructor is in Vinyasa, so like a strong flow, and I also do a lot of Restorative and healing. I’m a teacher-trainer, so I really care a great deal about alignment, and making sure that you’re doing whatever you’re doing correctly, so that you can continue to practice for a long time and stay healthy. I love to work hard, and to get my students strong, but also to calm the nervous system, to help people to connect to their breath. I really feel like we can never get enough of that, especially when the world is so crazy and hectic. We all need a lot of healing, and I’m committed to that, and to helping others heal.

What made you want to pursue teaching yoga full-time?

Actually, I had practiced yoga for a long time and really wanted to study it more and know more, so I signed up for a yoga teacher training, with no real intention of becoming a teacher. It was such a great place to be and I learned so much that I wanted to stay in that learning environment, so I went from one training to another and another, then started teaching right away. I guess it’s more like teaching chose me than I chose it.

What do you love about what you do?

What I love about what I do is that I get to order people around all the time, and they have to listen to me, and then they thank me for it after class, for having tortured them. (Ha!)

I love that I’m really inspiring people (I hope!) – I’m really helping to change people’s perspectives about themselves. I try to give my students the tools necessary so they could continue to do the work without me, and I think that in that space people could go through a lot of  transformations, so it’s amazing to be able to help them with that in any way.

What inspires you as a yoga teacher?

Really seeing people grow, seeing my students evolve – seeing how they look different as they come in each week, and how their body is suddenly capable of new things. When I witness progress I get truly inspired. What inspires me in general is creation, and I feel like when I watch people around me go into this space where they can get creative and explore themselves, I feel inspired because I’m making a change by helping people connect to those elements.

When do you feel most at peace?

That’s a tough one! I think I feel most at peace when I connect to my breath. Our breath is really always there for us: it calms us, it connects us to a deeper place, and it’s something we can practice anywhere, even on the train. It’s really in these moments, like nanoseconds, that I get a sense of peace from feeling connected.

What is one tip you’d give someone who’s trying to pursue a career in the yoga industry?

If someone asked me about pursuing a career in the yoga industry, I’d advise them to pause in order to really ask yourself and clarify for yourself, why you want to teach yoga, and what kind of teacher you hope to become, because you are not going to be a rich, and you shouldn’t do this for ego alone, either. It’s not as glamorous as it seems, with all the running around you have to do, but if you know what you’re trying to convey, what you want to express, then the payback could be really huge.

What is your favorite position ;)?

I love arm balances, and I love inversions – so basically anything that gets me off my feet and gets me upside down in some way makes me feel really good.

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