Certified Childbirth Educator AAHCC
Liza Janda is a Certified Childbirth Educator AAHCC, Certified Lactation Education Counselor, Experienced Registered/Certified Prenatal Yoga Teacher, E-PRYT200, and Experienced Registered Certified Yoga Teacher E-RYT200. With a combined 40+ years of teaching, Liza has a passion for Healthy Pregnancy, Labor, Birth, Babies and Moms, Breastfeeding, and Yoga.
Where are you from?
I am originally from Baltimore, MD. I moved to Southern California in the late 1980’s after working in Tahiti for Club Med. My husband and I live in Vista, CA. We have two adult kids.
How long have you been practicing yoga and why did you start practicing yoga?
I have been practicing and teaching yoga for almost 18 years. I had already been a fitness instructor for 24 years, and at 3 of the world’s leading spas (Golden Door, Cal-a-Vie, Rancho La Puerta).
I saw an article in the San Diego paper about a yoga teacher who had just turned 80 years old. There was a photo of her standing on her head and something just struck me. She had been teaching since she was 40, and I was 41 at the time.
I had been thinking, I wouldn’t be able to bounce around on an aerobics floor for very much longer (I was getting tired) and yoga seemed like a great transition from group fitness. Mind you, I knew NOTHING about yoga. I just saw myself being able to continue teaching another form of group “fitness” class, until I was 80. I wanted to emulate this woman.
What is yoga to you?
Yoga is a path to peace of mind and body. It is a way to make me feel good and a gift I can give others. It is a blessing and a gift from God. But I’ve had to find a way to create a balance with it in my life.
At first, yoga was another form of exercise. I was so shocked that I have never missed teaching aerobics, etc. (which I had taught 24 years and loved) once I started practicing yoga. One of the things I’ve loved about yoga is that you never stop learning. You learn about yourself, your limits, your challenges, your triumphs, how to teach, how to create a flow to benefit you and/or your students in so many ways, on and off the mat.
For years I took classes from lots of different teachers at different studios. Movement just makes me happy and I crave movement for my peace of mind. I’ve had issues with depression my whole adult life and the one huge thing that helps me daily is movement/exercise.
For a few years I practiced with my good friend and fellow teacher every Wednesday morning. She would push me and we both were able to accomplish some pretty challenging poses. Mostly, we laughed and laughed at and with each other, at ourselves, and we just had such fun practicing yoga together. But then I started getting injured. Forearms, shoulders, low back. It may have been from over use or from my age which is now 61. So, I began to slow down and practice at home and stopped going to studios and practicing with my friend (who eventually moved to another state).
I mostly use Yogadownload.com (on which I have prenatal and postnatal yoga classes) or create my own flow, depending on how I’m feeling. I took trainings in Mindfulness, and in different styles of yoga. I do have to say that every yoga teacher training after my initial 200hour training was sub-par. The Mindfulness training was excellent. But I was appalled at the amount of money teachers charge (and get) for a mediocre or less than mediocre training.
I always come back to practicing on my own. I began to realize that it’s MY practice and going to a studio etc. was a distraction from being able to tune in to myself or to enjoy the time I had to do my own practice. If I want to do 30 minutes or 90 minutes, I can decide. I never thought I’d have the discipline or desire to practice on my own at home. But I prefer it. I think it also makes me a better teacher for my students if I can find that comfort zone, what works and what doesn’t work. Then I can translate that to my students and give them what they need. I just want to feel good and that’s what I want for my students. One of the biggest blessings I’ve had is the feedback I get from my students. Most of my students are pregnant and going through a HUGE transition in their lives.
I recently got an email from the mother of a 9 year old. We have never met but she downloaded my online prenatal yoga class while she was pregnant. It’s a real blessing to be able to give the gift of yoga to someone I’ve never even met. Here is what she said, and here’s the link to my testimonials page: https://yogajanda.com/testimonial/
How did you feel after your first yoga class and how do you want students to feel after they practice with you?
My first yoga class was actually an Ashtanga yoga class with a lot of experienced yogis. When I told the teacher I’d never done yoga before, he looked a bit worried. But I said I was a fitness instructor and would not do anything I didn’t think was safe. I think he kept his eye on me at first and then saw I was fine. I thought it was interesting and fun and right up my alley. I felt pretty good and confident after the class but still had no clue what I was getting myself into. It’s kind of funny to look back and see how inexperienced I was.
Do you currently practice and teach? If so, where?
I practice at home, like I said above. And I usually download a class from yogadownload.com. I used to teach at studios but haven’t for a few years. I’ve taught 2 prenatal yoga classes every week for 17 years, one corporate account I’ve had for 12 years, and I recently began teaching at a gym so that I can have a free membership.
In addition to the 4 yoga classes/week I teach, I also teach childbirth classes, breastfeeding, help at breastfeeding support groups, and give Birth Pavilion Tours at the hospital. I find that the variety just makes life more interesting. But my real passion is helping women be more comfortable during pregnancy, and preparing them for labor and birth through yoga and education.
What impact has yoga had on your life? Who were you before you started practicing and how have you changed, evolved and transformed?
Yoga has probably had a bigger impact on my life than I realize. People assume I, as a yoga practitioner, must be centered and mindful and enlightened but the problem is that I’m human. And oh boy! Am I flawed. Yikes!
Like I said above, it’s been a gift for myself and a gift to bless others. At the same time in my l life that I found yoga, I also became a Christian. I have been able to combine my study of the Bible and prayer life with my yoga practice. It is often a way for me to connect to and communicate with God. It allows me to quiet my mind and to greet myself gently with my deep stilling breath.
Honestly, some people may say it’s a way of life for them. For me it’s just a part of the recipe to create a more balanced physical and spiritual life. And mostly it’s a blessing the Lord gave me so I can give to others who are ready to receive it. (Although I don’t really share my Christianity in my classes) I am a much better teacher than I was years ago, but that has come with age and experience. I may be a better yogini because I am more aware of my limits and what I need for my mind and body.
I truly believe God gave me the passion for childbirth and for yoga so that I can bless others with the gifts he gave me. 1Peter:10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’ grace in its various forms.
Why did you decide to start teaching yoga and what makes a good yoga teacher?
See my answer from question 3. What makes me a good yoga teacher is my desire to learn, my openness to suggestions or criticism, my passion for educating and empowering others, and because most of the time, I’m enjoying myself. If I’m enjoying myself, my students will too.
What style of yoga do you practice and what makes that style most effective? Do you have a teacher in your style of yoga?
I practice a combination of Hatha and vinyasa. I think the constant movement and breath work is what helps me feel good. I have had so many teachers over the years. But I can’t say any one teacher has had a greater influence than another.
What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out on their yoga journey?
Advice for someone starting out on their yoga journey – Listen to your body, listen to your instincts. Do what’s comfortable and know when it’s okay to push and not okay to push yourself. Listen to the subtle messages from within. Don’t ignore them. That’s God talking. Pay attention. It’s both okay to go for it and it’s okay to back off and find what works for you. It’s not a competition with yourself or with others. It’s not a sprint. It’s a marathon and a journey.
What has been your biggest struggle and your biggest milestone in the practice?
My biggest struggle is accepting that my injuries are standing in my way for a reason. A few years ago, I would have said my biggest milestone was achieving a certain advanced pose. Now it’s learning to accept my limits and just enjoy whatever practice I can do. Ugh! I sound so old! Or maybe it’s wise!! LOL
What is the single most defining issue facing the global yoga community today?
Single most defining issue facing global yoga community. There are so many teachers out there. The most important thing we can do is have a positive impact on our community. I saw a woman at my current vinyasa class who took my prenatal yoga class when she was pregnant. She told me she had hyperemesis (severe nausea, vomiting, and weight loss during pregnancy) during both pregnancies. She said the only time she felt good during both her pregnancies was when she was in prenatal yoga. Well, that’s a huge, positive impact and what a gift that she had the opportunity to practice yoga. There are a million ways to have a positive impact. It just takes creative people with a passion and a mission.
What is your dharma, your life mission?
My dharma is to continue doing what I know is God’s intention for me. This is how I figured out his purpose for me. I guarantee you I never ever planned on teaching childbirth or yoga. It just happened to be God’s unavoidable plan for me.
When I was pregnant with our first child, I was terrified about pregnancy, birth, and parenting. But I was in denial until 3 different people told me I should take the Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth. I had never heard of it. I went to a bookstore and found Bradley Method books and out dropped the business card of the woman who eventually was my teacher. The course transformed my whole pregnancy experience. I ended up having an amazingly positive and empowering birth experience and then another great birth 4 years later. This just lit a fire under me. My passion was helping families have better birth experiences.
Later when I took my yoga teacher training, our final exam was teaching a specialty class. Well, what else could I teach but Prenatal Yoga? After I taught that very first prenatal yoga class, the lightbulb turned on brightly over my head and a prenatal yoga teacher was born. Things just fell into place and have continued to fall into place. I’ve been blessed to be able to teach thousands of women and couples over 24 years. It really is an amazing gift to have a passion for something. I’m not a yogini who can twist herself up into pretzel poses, or jump up to a handstand and down in to chaturanga, but I can breathe, move, listen to my inner voice, and bless others with my gifts.
Where can our readers find you? (Instagram, Website, etc).
Readers can find me at:
- Instagram yogajanda
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PrenatalYogaWithYogaJanda/?ref=bookmarks
- My Pregnancy and Yoga Blog is included in Feedspot’s Top 100 Pregnancy Blogs and Top 100 Yoga Blogs: https://yogajanda.com/blog/
- Find my Online Prenatal and Postnatal Yoga classes at https://www.yogadownload.com/Utilities/InstructorProfiles/tabid/111/profileid/8