Gwen Yeager-Stofko (E-RYT 500, C-IAYT) is a Hatha Yoga Instructor and Teacher Trainer, Certified Yoga Therapist and Integrated Yoga Tune Up® Teacher based in Los Angeles. Her classes blend ancient yoga philosophy, the teachings of 20th century "modern" yoga, and the latest research and science about yoga, functional movement, and the brain. Known for her understanding of anatomy and biomechanics, intelligent sequencing, clear instruction, warmth and humor, Gwen specializes in students newer to yoga, students managing injuries and chronic conditions, and athletes and advanced practitioners who want to deepen their practice by further refining their proprioception, posture, and the functional movements of their bodies.
Gwen is a 2007 graduate of YogaWorks' 200-hour teacher training and a 2008 graduate of YogaWorks' 300-hour professional program, where she mentored with Iyengar teacher Carmen Fitzgibbon. In 2012 she completed the Yoga Tune Up® teacher training and all associated Immersions with yoga and fitness expert Jill Miller, whom she frequently assists at workshops and trainings. Gwen has developed and teaches a Functional Anatomy for Yoga Teachers module for 200-hour yoga teacher trainings.
In Gwen’s classes, students get stronger, ease pain, safely explore personal edges and perceived boundaries, slow their minds, and move closer to their intuitive, creative selves.
Gwen's classes include:
- Smart sequencing of yoga asana (the physical yoga poses) and pranayama (techniques that regulate breath).
- Mindfulness and self-study.
- Attention to detail in physical movements and accessible anatomical instruction.
- Spinal mobility and stability work and deep core conditioning.
- Focus on functional movement--support for the way we actually move our bodies in our daily lives. You won't practice putting your leg behind your head, for instance, because that's not a range of motion accessible for most people, nor it is a range of motion that is particularly useful in daily life.
- Education about your body.
- Restorative yoga and Ayurveda*.
- Incorporation of information from recent studies of fascia, movement and the brain.
- A therapeutic mindset and an environment of self-acceptance.
- Lightheartedness and fun.
Gwen leads public classes at YogaWorks Pasadena, Equinox Glendale and Equinox Pasadena and teaches groups in therapeutic settings, such as in-patient treatment centers. Gwen has a private yoga practice with students who enjoy the benefits of individual instruction tailored specifically to their needs, and those who desire therapeutic one-to-one attention to injuries and special conditions. She also teaches athletes who seek to decrease their recovery time and take their game to the next level by increasing strength, mobility and breath mechanics, using yoga and therapeutic exercises to help heal the effects of injuries (new or old) and improve functional movement to aid in preventing them. Gwen leads specialized therapeutic yoga and Yoga Tune Up® workshops and trainings througout Southern California. She also mentors newer teachers.
I walked into my first yoga class at a gym in West Hollywood in 1996. At that time, I was in the throes of a long-time eating disorder, and I was more interested in burning calories than slowing down. It felt amazing to be more present in my body after the slow and rhythmic class, and I had a calm in my mind that was incredibly centering and restoring. Intrigued, I practiced yoga on-and-off for a number of years at which time yoga became a bigger part of my life.
I became a regular at a popular power yoga studio in West Hollywood, and a year or so later, around the turn of the millennium, I walked into Paul Cabanis' Iyengar yoga class at Center for Yoga on Larchmont (now YogaWorks) and had my first seismic shift in my perceptions about yoga. Paul gave me a small adjustment in a posture, and a lightbulb turned on. Quality of movement was important. Paul also wove yoga philosophy into his classes in a way that helped me slow down and connect more deeply to myself. It was in this class that I started to find my direction in yoga. And around this time, I embraced the self-acceptance spoken about so often in yoga classes. Yoga soothed my anxiety and stress, and my thought patterns and relationship to food and myself shifted, leaving my eating disorder a thing of the past.
In early 2007 I decided to take YogaWorks' 200-hour Teacher Training to deepen my practice. The training, based upon the teachings of T Krishnamacharya ("the father of modern yoga") was transformative. The Heart of Yoga, written by TKV Desikachar, his son and student, moved me deeply. What struck me most ended up being the cornerstone of my teaching: yoga is a practice that should be adapted for the individual.
After graduating, I soon began leading group classes at a gym in LA and working therapeutically with small groups and private clients. I discovered I loved teaching. My classes at the gym were popular, and I kept getting referred to new private students, so in the beginning of 2008 I deepened my studies with YogaWorks' 300-hour Professional Program. I have been mentored by and assisted Jasmine Lieb (Therapeutics) and Carmen Fitzgibbon (Iyengar), and over the years I've had the privilege and honor to study with and assist many other wonderful and influential yoga teachers.
In early 2012, after teaching full-time for five years, I went to the snowy Berkshires in Massachusetts and spent a wonderful and intense week taking the Yoga Tune Up® teacher training with Jill Miller. Yoga Tune Up® is a yoga-based therapeutic practice that intelligently and creatively uses yoga and other healing modalities to break down asana (the physical yoga poses) and human movement to its component parts. Healthy breathing dynamics and physiological down-regulation also are integral parts of the practice. This innovative training led to my second seismic shift in thinking about yoga and movement. The incorporation of self-massage with therapy balls, intense study of anatomy and biomechanics, corrective exercise, and deep breath work gave me an expanded, creative set of analytical and therapeutic tools for my yoga teaching toolbox. My own personal yoga practice deepened, including finally having concrete information about my movement that helped me heal a long-time shoulder injury. Since then I have taken all Yoga Tune Up® modules, and I regularly assist Jill at workshops and trainings while leading my own workshops as well. Yoga Tune Up® teachers are smart and passionate "body nerds" who love to incorporate the latest research about yoga and movement into their teaching and practices.
In addition to being a yoga teacher, I am a daughter, sister, aunt, wife and mother of young twins. Mothering twins perhaps has led to my third seismic shift in my thinking about yoga—how does one stay grounded and connected to oneself, and maintain the physical practice and mindset of yoga, when one has significantly more stress and less time? My assessment: it's challenging and "imperfect," and you regularly encounter your human limitations, but your practice shifts and adapts, and it's possible. See Yoga for Moms for more.
"Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy--the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light." ~ Brene Brown
Feel free to contact Gwen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Banner photos on Home, About Gwen, Private Yoga & Movement Education, Yoga Benefits, Yoga Therapy, Yoga Tune Up® and Blog by Ian Campbell (IanCampbellDP.com)
Other photos: personal photos or class photos taken by Freda Sanani.
* Ayurveda is not my specialty, but I integrate general Ayurvedic principles into my classes, including an understanding of the doshas (general constitutions) and the basic tenet of "opposites bring balance/heal." For anyone desiring an Ayurvedic consultation or deeper utilization of Ayurveda in their yoga practice, I have wonderful Ayurvedic practitioners/yoga teachers to recommend.