Importance of Staying Hydrated with Nancy Gerstein, Yoga Teacher

Importance of Staying Hydrated with Nancy Gerstein, Yoga Teacher
Nancy Gerstein
Himalayan Institute Certified, Yoga Teacher
Reiki Master, Practitioner
Motivational Yoga, Founder
Guiding Yoga’s Light and Motivational Yoga: 100 Lessons for Strength, Energy, and Transformation, Author 
Chicago, IL


Introduction: Tell us about yourself, your story, where you are from, practice, etc.:

I’m a yoga student, teacher, author, and the creator of Motivational Yoga, a yoga style that empowers one’s life decisions, goals, and results.   For 20+ years, I’ve been teaching yoga classes that weave the discipline of yoga philosophy into each lesson plan.  My classes incorporate spiritually strengthening practices that bolster personal growth and self-motivation, teaching students how to their direct thoughts, energy, and physical focus to help them live the best life they can.

How long have you been practicing yoga?

I took my first yoga class 30 years ago in college to fulfill a PE requirement.  This semester long class was held twice a week for two hours, and taught by an introspective Kundalini yogi. There were no sun salutations, inversions, or downward dogs. We did one pose at a time, then rested.   I felt as if I was getting easy credit for this “playtime” class.  By the end of the semester, I realized that I was also exploring and changing my consciousness.  To this day, my college yoga teacher is one of the few teachers who taught me to keep the poses simple, not to think too much, and that complexity is the enemy of execution.

What type of yoga do you teach? (Please Explain) 

I teach three types of classes: vinyasa, chair yoga, and meditation.

Teaching vinyasa demonstrates that asana isn’t the goal of yoga, it’s merely a means to get there, like a form of transportation to find the stillness of the busy mind. Yoga’s effects on our physiology provide motivation to practice every day which creates a more disciplined mind, reflecting on everything we do. 

My chair yoga classes are for senior students who have been fortified with the wisdom that comes through a lifetime of experience.  They learn that yoga helps to ease suffering, calm anxiety, and let go of unresolved issues.  They’ve taught me that no matter what age we are, we must keep moving forward no matter what.

My meditation classes ask the practitioner to be still patient and listen without movement.  Yoga philosophy says that the answers we seek are already inside us.  Mindfulness achieved through meditation helps others gain a greater sense of control over their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in the present moment

What do you prefer/enjoy about vinyasa flow?

When we experience vinyasa flow as a mindful movement, we acknowledge the connection of mind and body, and the salutation becomes a method for demonstrating our appreciation for our own existence.  It’s a prayer that’s spoken to every cell in the body.

Do you feel anyone can enjoy and gain from yoga?

There’s infinite potential to yoga practice, both on and off the mat, that anyone at any age can benefit from. This mindfulness brings clarity to the mind and the body, influencing the way we make decisions, how we interpret our world, and if we want to take action to change it.  With a dedicated, consistent, and disciplined practice, we can incorporate the teachings of yoga into our personal consciousness. The practices can permeate how you live, and affect how you choose to handle life’s inevitable ups and downs.

What has yoga done for you as person?

Yoga practice has shown me that with right intention, everything I do on the mat inspires me to live better off the mat.  Yoga teaches me to be kind and loving to myself, to accept my flaws, as well as appreciate the miracles of my body and mind.   Since the beginning of my journey into yoga, I’ve cherished the ancient yoga teachings as well as the ideas that apply to modern living. I’ve learned that practicing the yoga of life is invaluable at work, at leisure, as a parent, partner, neighbor, and friend, and especially during the challenges of our ongoing celebrations and traumas.

Do you feel yoga is more mental or physical?

While asana is an excellent tool for holistic health and wellness, yoga’s mental and spiritual benefits far outweigh the physical exercises that have become synonymous with the practice.

Do you believe it is an alternative form of healing and medicine? 

I believe yoga is a physical and mental complement to all healing forms.

Is yoga a way of life or a way to exercise or meditate?

Yoga is a 5,000-year-old philosophy that inspires practitioners to dig deeper and become aware of their physical, mental, and spiritual selves. Yoga lessons are everywhere and with the right intention, yoga’s systematic and accessible strategies can help anyone make lasting lifestyle changes.

What is your dharma, your life mission?

My dharma is to help yogis find what makes them feel alive. No matter how you feel today or any other day, yoga practice demonstrates that as long as you can get up, you can show up. I call this empowerment “yoga fuel for life”.

The Motivational yogi is inquisitive and passionate, always asking Is what I’m doing today making a difference for the world tomorrow? The Motivational yogi doesn’t settle for mediocre; we aim to lead, love, and learn while dedicating our lives to fulfilling a meaningful journey.

How important is living a healthy lifestyle (clean eating/eating healthy for example) important to the yogi lifestyle?

A healthy lifestyle is part and parcel to self-respect and self-love, and encompasses so much more than what we eat.  The focus of a yogi’s healthy lifestyle is to cleanse the spirit in order to bring more light and energy to the journey.

I use the niyama saucha as a model for physical health, but it’s also a way to cleanse the mind of negative emotions and thoughts. Body and mind always work in partnership. As the mind moves toward calmness and transparency, it becomes sensitive to toxins and dis-ease in the body. That’s why fasting and cleansing techniques alone don’t produce self-purification. The mind, full of impurities and mental garbage, must also come clean. A messy home, office, or car can also reflect your state of mind. When your home is cluttered, we feel smothered by a lack of space. A clean environment provides room to move, breathe, and clear our thoughts. Living a healthy lifestyle includes also includes keeping negative and toxic people at bay, and if possible, releasing them from your life.  

How important is hydrating/drinking water to the yoga lifestyle/your practice? 

Staying hydrated is as important during your asana practice as it is during the rest of your day. It helps our muscles recover more quickly and flushes out the toxins brought up during yoga class through movement, sweating, and deep breathing. Hydrating before a yoga class eliminates dehydration and keep us energized during class. 

When and where do you currently teach?

I teach weekly vinyasa classes, a chair yoga class in a retirement community, and meditation in Chicago’s suburbs.

Where can our readers find you? (Instagram, Website, etc)

Instagram - @nancygerstein 

Twitter - @MotivationYogi

Facebook - Guiding Yoga’s Light  -

Website: -


Anything else you want to share? 

My third book, Motivational Yoga: 100 Lessons for Strength, Energy, and Transformation has just been published, and I’m delighted to share it with the yoga community.  It’s available on Amazon and at Human Kinetics.

Motivational Yoga is for the curious and introspective yoga teacher, the passionate yoga student, or the fitness instructor who wants to step out of the bounds of teaching only yoga’s physical postures.   It includes 100 inspiring yoga practices to help teachers and students move forward, be inquisitive, and discover their unlimited potential by going after the life they desire. Each lesson includes an intention, a teaching lesson, asanas for deepening, motivation off the mat, teacher tips, and wise words.