I Have Gained Pockets of Yogi Wisdom: An Interview with Diana Trotsenko
18 Aug 2015
Diana is highly intelligent and has a beautiful, inquisitive mind. I was always astounded by her insight and clarity in her teacher training presentations and writing assignments. She is very supportive and quick to compliment and uplift her fellow students.
When and how did you first come to yoga?
After many years of sitting in a library in graduate school and neglecting my physical health, I vowed to commit to exercise once I entered the ‘Real World’. My first job was near mang’Oh and I thought yoga would be a good segue to get my body reacquainted with physical movement and flexibility. Of course, like so many others, I quickly felt the mental and spiritual benefits of the practice as well. The mind-body benefits and stress relief – that’s what got me hooked!
When and why did you decide to do the mang’Oh Teacher Training?
I have since moved jobs and office locations, but several years into a regular practice and trying different studios I wanted to go deeper into my practice by completing an intensive 200 hour training in an effort to learn the things that can’t be taught in fleeting one-hour classes. I recalled fondly my first yoga membership at mang’Oh and after researching their program online, it was a no-brainer for me. In many ways it was a ‘coming home’ experience…back to my introductory yoga roots. To this day, coming back to the mang’Oh always feels very nostalgic to me.
Describe your Teacher Training experience at mang’Oh:
It was very intense and rewarding. Balancing a yoga teacher training (especially one that’s packed into a couple of months) with a demanding full-time work schedule is not for the faint of heart. I felt all kinds of paradoxes – like an enlightened basket case. I was frantic trying to learn all of the information presented to us, nervous about exposing so much of myself to a group of ‘strangers’, and yet I have never been so Zen since that time. The constant yoga practice equipped me really well for handling all the conflict in the outside world at the time. It was a very special experience. And the retreat … it should be mandatory for every YTT program!
Tell us about your journey post-mang’Oh TT…
Although I still maintain my day job, I am immensely grateful for the experience of having completed the mang’Oh Teacher Training. The experience has helped me deepen my practice on the mat, although I still struggle with inversions. It has also helped me off the mat too. For example, instructing yoga classes has helped me feel more at ease with my public speaking, which I have to do at work occasionally. I also tend to run to yoga class every time I experience conflict in my life. I tend to find answers to my problems on the mat more than anywhere else.
I am eager for mang’Oh to offer a 500 hour YTT to help take me to the next level.
Who has influenced you, both in and out of the yoga world?
I have gained pockets of yogi wisdom from all the great teachers we learned about in teacher training (especially Patanjali), but I have also discovered a new inspiration: Indra Devi. She was the first female yogi who studied with Krishnamacharya (accepted only after the Maharaja of Mysore spoke on her behalf!) and brought yoga to the West in a big way. A personal connection I have to her is that she was born in the same city I was: Riga, Latvia in the former Soviet Union. A recently published biography about her called ‘The Goddess Pose: The Audacious Life of Indra Devi, the Woman Who Helped Bring Yoga to the West’ by Michelle Goldberg’ is at the top of my reading list this summer.
Outside of the yoga world, my fiancé is a huge inspiration in keeping me motivated. He works out about five times per week, and although he doesn’t practice yoga (yet!) his dedication inspires me to stay committed to my practice.
When you are not at work or at yoga, where can we find you and what are you doing?
My fiancé and I love to grill anything we can get our hands on in our backyard. It’s such a treat to have trees, bushes and a patio in New York City. Connecting with nature is essential for me to find balance, considering I spend the majority of my time during the week in an office in a Manhattan skyscraper. I also try to travel as much as I can. Next stop, Philippines!
Describe your perfect day in NYC:
My perfect day is always something different. The great thing about NYC is that there is always something fun and new happening. But if possible, I would love for my perfect day to include three essential elements: loved ones, yoga, and wine.
I also love to find great cheap eats and healthy treats around NYC. My favorites include Sweetgreen and Juice Press for a really healthy meal on the go. I am also a big ramen lover, and recently enjoyed Ramen Lab in SoHo, Puff Cha in Midtown and Tamashii Ramen in Astoria. I’m also really excited for Smorgasburg to be coming to Coney Island this summer.
What is something that has surprised you in the last year?
That teaching class is only scary before I enter the room. I used to psyche myself out and have ‘stage fright’ when I was in training, but a year out I can’t believe how fearful I was of teaching. Now, on the occasions that I do teach, I get into a flow and the words and adjustments come naturally. No doubt that is thanks to the training instilled in me by mang’Oh.
What advice would you give to someone looking to do what they love?
I feel like blogs and Instagram tend to sell people a pipe dream in that regard. I know because I want to drop everything and quit my job to go teach yoga on a beach every time I see these jaw-dropping poses against sunsets and mountains on social media.
Start by exploring it part-time. I have not made the leap into full-time yoga because I realize that entering the yoga teaching profession is a hustle like any other. I would not dive in head-first unless I was absolutely comfortable with the likely outcomes and knew what to expect. But then again, I am a ruthless pragmatist. I know of others who dive right in and take a chance and it has worked out wonderfully for them. But the expectations always have to be realistic. I’ve also learned that doing what you love for a job can sometimes make you love it a whole lot less.
What are you most grateful for today?
My health, first and foremost. That allows me to enjoy everything else that matters, mainly my family, friends, and darling pets! I am also grateful for my education, which allowed me to build a stable career.