10 Things You Didn’t Know About: Lisa Levine

Why did you begin practicing yoga?
As a sedentary person by nature, I spent decades telling myself that to stay healthy as I age I would have to get active…in the future. When I was 41 I realized that “the future” had arrived and I started to lift weights and, except for chatting about the love life of my trainer, I dreaded it. About a year later a yoga studio opened locally. I loved my first class and quit weight lifting that day!

What did you do professionally before becoming a yoga teacher?
A lot since I was 56 years old two years ago when I attended Mang’Oh’s teacher training! I am a nurse who worked in hospitals in general medicine and in psychiatry before becoming a school nurse 24 years ago. I now work at a private school on the Upper East Side.

In what ways do you challenge yourself?
I try new things. About a decade ago I spent a few years writing a young adult novel from beginning to end…ok, so the second to last chapter is rushed but the story arc is complete. I spent a summer taking tango lessons and had fun but can’t dance tango. I realized that salsa is more my speed and took my first class a couple of weeks ago. I took a flying trapeze lesson recently and used muscles that I never knew that I had. Despite being a yoga student for fifteen years, becoming a yoga teacher was a new challenge. In fact, preparing to teach each class still feels challenging to me.

What impact has your yoga practice had on your family?
By the time I started to do yoga my daughters were preteens. Anyone who has children knows that getting kids that age to join you in anything is a challenge. I brought them to Kripalu and they giggled through the yoga class. As they got older though they came around. My younger daughter went to Mexico for a month-long yoga teacher training when she was in college, a year before I became a teacher.

Have you always lived in New York City?
I am a New Yorker through and through. Except for college in Philadelphia, I’ve lived on Long Island or in Manhattan. In the 1980s I lived on 11th Street between 5th and University. The building is now a law school dormitory! The city was dirtier, less safe and not as much fun back then so I moved to Great Neck to raise my two daughters. Three years ago I moved to Tudor City and I love how user friendly NY has become.

Have you traveled to interesting places?
I took a bicycle trip in China in 1982. At that time, except for the important government officials, transportation for the average person was a black one-speed bicycle. We were often surrounded by fascinated Chinese people who wanted to ride our colorful bikes.
In 1983 I traveled with my family to Kenya where my sister was an apprentice to a medicine man. He pulled my parents aside and offered them several head of cattle for her hand in marriage to become his fourth wife. They turned him down.
In 1985 I backpacked in Europe and Israel for three months and almost didn’t make it out of East Berlin (four years before the Berlin Wall came down.)
This summer I am traveling to Machu Picchu and the Galapagos and I’m grateful to Sara Blumenkranz for subbing my Friday morning class for three weeks.

What are your pet peeves?
People who block the sidewalk rather than moving to the side. The most yogic I get about it is to mutter, people are annoying!

What were you like as a child?
Surprisingly, I was so shy that I was afraid to ask my teachers if I could go to the bathroom. Finding my voice was a learning process and I am still discovering all the ways in which I can express myself.

What books have you read recently that you recommend?
By telling his own story and intermixing sociological facts in Hillbilly Elegy, J.D. Vance gives an interesting window into a culture that I was completely unfamiliar with. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides is a beautifully written, funny, whimsical and poignant novel about a child raised as a girl but who also had male reproductive organs that were not detectable at birth.

What is your secret talent?
I don’t have one, what you see is what you get…or is it?