Meet Lori Snyder
November brings the third in a series of teacher interviews compiled by Zan Dubin Scott. This month Zan talks to Lori Snyder, who recently moved back to the L.A. area and is teaching at SMY every Tuesday and Thursday at 12:30 pm.
Q: Describe the kind of yoga you teach:
A: I teach a movement- and breath-based vinyasa flow class that I call Groove Yoga because of the music I play. I’m a big believer in the power of music, and I love sound-tracking the yoga practice. I spend a lot of time finding music that will take you deeper into your practice, sequencing the playlists so that they follow the arc of the class. I play everything from hip-hop to world beat to show tunes (don’t worry; used sparingly!), but all of it is carefully chosen for lyrics, rhythm and feel so it will hopefully lead you on a journey somewhere extraordinary.
For me, yoga is about stepping into our most real self, and then letting that self shine through in a way that brings all our gifts into the world. The combination of movement, breath, and music is what best brings me there, so that’s what I like to teach.
Q: Who are your most influential teachers and why?
A: The amazing Max Strom has been my teacher since about 1996. If you’ve ever been lucky enough to practice or study with Max, you know he has this incredible presence: huge spirit, immense compassion, great sense of humor, and a life lived truly, following what he believes. What I wanted was a teacher who not only taught a vigorous flow practice, but who very clearly walked the talk when it came to ethics and how he/she lives in the world. Max helped me clarify who I am and what I believe is the right way to live.
I’m also quite influenced by Steve Ross, my very first yoga teacher, who showed me that yoga didn’t have to be quite so serious and that it was OK to crank up the music!
Q: How did you get into yoga?
A: With great resistance! Seriously, it was in the mid-90s in Venice, and everyone—literally—was doing yoga and extolling its virtues. I was pretty involved in the West African and Brazilian dance communities here, and also an avid rollerblader, and it seemed like everyone I knew couldn’t stop talking about how I should try yoga. And can I just say that I really, really didn’t want to? It felt to me like learning to be still was exactly contrary to living an extraordinary life, which was where my interest lies.
But somehow, for some reason, I started searching. I think I instinctively knew that I needed to balance my movement with stillness, and that there was something deeper that I was missing. I took several classes I really didn’t like before I found Steve. I took classes with him for a year and learned how to lie still in savasana. (Honestly, I was so fabulously wrung-out at the end of his classes, I didn’t have a choice!) From there, it became pretty clear that this was something I wanted to know more about, and then I found Max. And that was that.
Q: How long have you been practicing?
A: Since about 1995.
Q: Why do you teach yoga?
A: I began when I moved to Northern California in 2002, because no one was teaching the kind of yoga I love: flowing, physical vinyasa to music. So I started. I hadn’t ever intended to teach, but apparently it was time! And from there I discovered that sharing this practice I love could be one of the ways I make my little corner of the world a better place. I hope to remind everyone that who you are—exactly who you are right now, in this moment, without changing anything—is exactly the person our world needs.
This led to my opening the first full yoga studio in the area, which I owned and ran until last May, when I sold it to move home to Venice. I always feel like I have the luckiest work in the world. I get to be there when people transform, and it’s the most beautiful thing I can imagine.
Q: What do you hope to impart to students?
A: That we don’t need anything we don’t already have. That magic and joy are already here, and we are already the people we need to be. That poses are fun and fabulous, but the real practice comes in how clearly we let ourselves shine in the world.
Q: What’s your favorite asana?
A: Handstand. I seem to find myself doing handstand several times a day when I need to get a little energy or shake myself up. I spend a lot of time at my computer—I’m a writer and an editor as well as a yoga teacher—and sometimes a handstand is just necessary. That said, my favorite asana changes with great frequency!
Q: What’s your favorite asana to teach?
A: Giddy happiness.
Q: Why do you teach at Santa Monica Yoga?
A: I know Kyra Haglund and Allison McCready from Max’s trainings, and was lucky enough to move back into town just when they needed some subs. They asked me, and I got to meet the wonderful crew and staff that make up Santa Monica Yoga. I teach here because Bruce asked me to (which rocks!), and because I really loved the community-feel and down-to-earth-ness of the people who come here. It feels like home.
Q: What’s your favorite quote?
A: Steve Jobs’ last words: “Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow.” I only hope I die with those words on my lips.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
A: Cheesy top 40 music, in moderation. But don’t worry; I don’t play it in class. Usually. (KCRW, please don’t revoke my membership!)