Yoga Talk with Yoga Lila’s Dominique Garstin

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Besides cats and Kim Kardashian, yoga is one of the only trends that has effortlessly remained popular over the last half decade. And unlike it’s trendy counterparts, yoga remains relevant for primarily good reasons — it’s healthy, enjoyable and easy to get involved in. I could stop typing right now, YouTube a beginner’s yoga tutorial and be downward-dogging within three minutes. It’s that easy. Of course, YouTube can be a helpful instructor but it won’t correct your position or inform you that your breathing pattern is off. For that, you can head over to Montauk’s locally-owned and operated yoga studio, Yoga Lila.

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Photo courtesy of Yoga Lila.

To give you a glimpse of what’s going on over at Yoga Lila, we caught up with yoga teacher Dominique Garstin. She cleared the air about some of the misconceptions that yoga faces, as well as what’s up with her weekly SUP Yoga class at Navy Beach. Get the scoop, below.

You seem like someone that has a great definition for spirituality. What’s your personal dictionary have to say about it?

Spirituality, as I see it, is our unique and individual soul’s perception of the Universe and our connection with its unseen forces. For me, it’s the union of the physical body, the emotional body and the soul body. Our spirituality balances the three elements and settles us into a state of harmony and peace, while understanding our purpose. For me, that purpose is to be happy, loving, compassionate and do my best to make some positive impact on those I’m connected to in this life.

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Photos courtesy of Yoga Lila.

Yoga on SUPs at Navy Beach — sounds beautiful and relaxing and kinda sorta challenging. Can beginners get into this?

YES!! Beginners can totally get into this! Part of what I love about SUP Yoga is its accessibility. For beginner students, we keep the center of gravity low and work with what is coming naturally. Sometimes the things we think will be the hardest are surprisingly effortless. I find that SUP Yoga builds a lot of confidence because it appears difficult to observers, but practitioners shatter their perceived boundaries all the time. You think you can’t, and then, WHAT?? You just DID!

What’s the most common misconception about the yoga world?

Ugh! There are SO MANY yoga misconceptions! I suppose the most common misconception is that yoga is a primarily physical practice. I always find it funny when I read through a new student’s questionnaire and the answer to “What do you want to achieve through yoga?” is something like “nice arms” or “a tighter butt.” My thoughts are always, “We can do that! And SO MUCH MORE!” Yoga is a way of life with many different facets. Through yoga you can strengthen your sense of ethics, discipline, devotion, relaxation, meditation and more. You can awaken your soul and see your entire life through new eyes! And after that, you won’t be thinking about your butt so much…

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Photos courtesy of Yoga Lila.

What’s your favorite part about practicing yoga in Montauk?

My favorite part about practicing yoga in Montauk comes in two parts: community and nature. We are blessed to be surrounded by some stunningly beautiful vistas here in Montauk. Taking my yoga practice outdoors, or on my paddleboard, brings me into a state of deep connection and appreciation of good old Mother Nature. Smelling the fresh salty sea air and feeling the warm sun on my skin as I practice… it just has totally renewed my devotion to my practice. It makes yoga about so much more than that day’s physical practice. I can feel the Earth’s daily changing mood, and her vibration and spanda. Spanda is a Sanskrit term — it means “to move a little, the subtle creative pulse of the universe as it manifests into living form.”

The community here in Montauk is inspiring. There are so many awesome people here, maybe drawn together by Montauk’s magnetic vibration. People who live here are loyal and kind, and passionate about this beautiful place. Being a part of the community here is an honor, and it inspires me deeply.

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Photos courtesy of Yoga Lila.

Alright, so say I’m a reader that’s scrolling this interview. My neck probably hurts from being at the computer and I’m thinking I want to get involved with Yoga Lila and fix that — what’s the next step?

The next step is COME TO CLASS! We have a lot of in-studio offerings and a number of really rad classes on the SUPs too. The website lists all of the above. We are super approachable and the vibes at our studio and in our classes are pure good stuff. We want you to have an awesome experience and to leave feeling grounded and expanded at the same time. Our lineup of teachers this year is the best yet. Each teacher has an unique style and offering, and I’m so stoked to be a part of it.