Taking a short break from their leaps and tumbles, the Newport Harbor High School pep squad’s 61 girls laid out mats in a campus gym for some yoga Wednesday afternoon.
Skyler Dearen, 16, was ready to lead the girls through their down dogs and tree poses. But that’s not all — she also had some words of wisdom, motivation and self-love.
Doing yoga, she said, allows one to “consciously let go of the things that no longer serve you.”
Skyler became a certified instructor through the credentialing organization Yoga Alliance at age 13 and taught her first class at 14.
Having received a teaching certification before a driver’s license, she has taught about 20,000 students so far. She currently teaches about 10 classes a week at her mother Darlene’s business, Radiant Hot Yoga in Newport Beach and Irvine.
Skyler attended Corona del Mar High School before switching to online school the past two years to accommodate her yoga teaching schedule.
As her session at Newport Harbor began Wednesday, Skyler had the cheerleaders, song girls and baton team members ease into a pose in which they lay flat on their backs while she set up music and had the lights dimmed.
Her 15-year-old sister, Savanna, who also is certified, helped demonstrate various poses for the students.
“There’s a lot of moving pieces,” said Julie Woodall, an instructor for Radiant Hot Yoga. A session’s tone, music selection, ventilation and lighting are all in the instructor’s hands.
Earlier this week, Newport Harbor pep squad advisor and coach Kris Higman, a longtime friend of Woodall’s, asked if Skyler could lead a class during her students’ summer training camp.
“It’s a chance for them to stretch their bodies, work on core muscles, strength in their arms and legs and balance, but also for them to be positive about their bodies,” Higman said. “Skyler is their same age; she’s going through the same things socially as they are. If she can give them this message of loving yourself, that’s huge.”
Skyler and Savanna received that message when they needed it most.
When Skyler was 6 and Savanna was 5, their mother encouraged them to “heal themselves” through yoga.
The girls’ parents had separated, and later divorced. Skyler and Savanna moved with their mother from Arizona to California about five years ago, Skyler said.
“[Yoga] taught me to accept the moment, that you have a choice of how you want to live your life, whether it’s being unhappy or loving life,” she said. “I can take down those walls. … It’s my choice.”
As the Newport Harbor girls moved through workouts such as push-ups and bridge poses, their young instructor kept her voice upbeat. During relaxed stretches, she spoke softly and slowly.
Toward the end of the class, the squad moved into a sleeping half pigeon pose, in which they lay face down with one leg bent and another stretched out behind them.
“It takes strength to let go,” Skyler said as they sunk deeper into the pose. “It takes bravery and courage.”
For squad member Cassidy Peterson, the session with Skyler was her first yoga class.
“It shows us how to let all the pain and anxiety go,” Cassidy said. “We can take away what’s good and positive and let go of what’s negative.”
As the class neared its end, the girls lay flat on their backs as they did at the beginning. They closed their eyes, and Skyler sealed the practice with some final words.
“We experience struggles, but we experience amazing things as well,” she told them. “That’s part of the journey.”
Spring is a time to ReNEW, Refresh, Rejuvenate! Unlike the east coast or other parts of the world, California sort of always seems like its springtime all year round with the sun shining everyday. Living so close to the beach with nice breezes and cool nights, we almost forget what it’s like everywhere else and how very important this season is.
In Ayurveda, spring is considered to have a heavy, foggy nature that could remind us of the state of our bodies after winter holidays. Luckily, we aren’t on the east coast where the freezing temperatures and snowstorms keep us cooped up indoors. But even though the sun is shining most of the time, we do tend to “hibernate” a bit during December through February as if we are taking a rest from the hectic holiday season.
Well, it’s time to spring into action, shed those winter blues and get in sync with nature! It’s a time of renewal and rededication to one’s self in all ways.
Spiritual de-clutter and de-stress can be as simple as being yourself. Stop listening to other people tell you how to live your life, how to talk or think or even how to dress. Only you know what’s best for you. Trust yourself that you will make the right choices.
When you are trying to be someone you’re not, you become distracted from what is truly important and may miss out on making amazing connections with people and having great experiences that matter.
Regular yoga practice is an excellent way to get rid of the physical and mental junk from our busy and often not-so-healthy day-to-day lives. Creating balance and stamina with Radiant Hot Fusion will sharpen your focus and build strength physically and mentally for a beautiful beginning to the rest of your powerful year.
Prepare your surroundings, your personal space, to give you that sense of something new. That spring is in the air! Put away all those extra “winter” blankets, do a little redecorating by changing up the color of your curtains or throw pillows by using warm reds, oranges and yellows and even blues and lavenders or even white! Nothing says light, airy or open space like crisp, white cotton linens in your bedroom.
Recharge with a simple jaunt outside. Go outdoors, take a walk and appreciate the beauty of the natural world, blooming flowers, and the birds and the bees. Move around, dance to music in your living room, and put a little spring in your step!
Are you new to yoga? Try the Radiant Hot yoga class that is for all levels of students regardless of your flexibility or level of fitness. Or challenge yourself with Radiant Hot Power’s vinyasa flows, long holds, core work and spinal twisting. Get ready to de-stress, detoxify and feel amazing!
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Increase your use of healing herbs like turmeric, ginger, triphala and talisadi to ward off springtime colds and help your body detoxify. Drink lots of water with lemons and limes to help cleanse the kidneys and liver.
Plus it’s refreshing! Increasing your circulation with Radiant Yin Yoga will also keep your immune system working optimally and improve your flexibility. This slow-paced style of yoga is perfect for joint rehabilitation.
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Nourish your body with foods that will take away that sluggish winter feeling. You want light, hydrating, alkaline-forming foods that are easy to digest. Green smoothies with nutrient rich fruits and vegetables like kale, spinach, red grapes and pomegranate juice. Add in a bit of ginger root and cinnamon to put more spring in your step! Fresh green salads with beets, carrots and radishes are excellent. And beautifully roasted asparagus with a steaming bowl of quinoa topped off with either roasted red or sweet potatoes is just right to satisfy a hungry tummy!
Give yourself the biggest hug! Read a good book or re-read your favorite book! Meditate, go to a museum and appreciate fine art, do an activity that you love or even one that you haven’t done before. Do something that makes you smile!
And of course, heat, movement and lightness are the best ways to rebalance you for spring so get yourself over to Radiant Hot Yoga to increase your strength, stamina, focus and balance, which will leave you feeling strong, composed and stable.
Now take a nice, long deeeeep breath and breathe in the freshness of spring!
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Located in the new Whole Foods shopping center