Episode 18: Exploring the Transformative Power of Yoga: An Interview with Mindy Frenkel.

Join us for an inspiring conversation with yoga instructor Mindy Frenkel as she shares her journey, teaching philosophy, and the transformative power of yoga. Discover tips for beginners and insights on how yoga connects us to our true selves.

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Hello, world and Welcome to Choices, Books and Gifts. Where You Always Have Choices. Today's guest is one of my instructors. Her name is Mindy Frenkel and she is a wonderful yoga instructor. Good morning Mindy. Hello there. How are you? Good, good, So what I'm going to do, folks, is I'm going to read a little bit, about Mindy.

So we know. So you guys know who I will be speaking with today. So Mindy is a celebrated yoga teacher known for her inspirational teaching that incorporates challenging vinyasa flow with an emphasis on proper alignment. Mindy's passion for yoga philosophy is the hallmark of her teaching style. Students come from the yoga reflections, chanting mantra, and meditation as much as for the physicality of her practice.

For over 30 years, Mindy was a fitness instructor and personal trainer. She motivated many to change their bodies and changed their lives as her own life became more challenging. Her interest in the mystical and the divine deepened. She began the study of yoga in 1995 and started teaching even before getting certified. Mindy's life has been profoundly influenced by her encounter with her guru and spiritual guide, and continues her studies to deepen her life experience.

That's nice. Good stuff

All right. So what we're going to do is, get to know Mindy a little bit better by asking her certain questions, and she'll tell us about her life as a yoga instructor. So how did you first get into yoga? Can you share with us your journey? How did it all happen?

yes. So I, was going through a really difficult time in my life, and, I reached, like, rock bottom in terms of what I was going to do.

I was grasping for straws, basically, and I, I decided I was going to start meditating. I didn't know what that was or what that look like, but I the time was teaching Groove Fitness, and I had a little studio in my basement, so I went down with my boom box. You know, the boom boxes. You have to be old to know Boom Box.

I put a little candle on top of the boom box. I made it look like one that what I now would call an altar. But at that time I had no idea what that was. And I lie down on the ground every day for, I don't know, an hour or so waiting for something to happen, which nothing really happens. But about a year into it, I heard yoga.

So I called it my best friend and I said, let's go try a yoga class. So we ran around down the studio, not too far from where I live, and I live in Long Island, and that's why I took my first yoga class. And the first time I took the class, I, actually didn't like it. It was too slow for me. I was a very fast person teaching crazy classes. The kind of, fitness classes you'd be afraid to go to. And, I left, and I felt so good. I didn't know why I felt so good. Like, inside, I felt good. I felt like everything was right in my life. Which, by the way, it was far from it in the real life.

And then I ran back again and again and again, like 3 or 4 times. It happened each time. And I said to myself, something's happening in this room that's not like how I feel after teaching or taking any exercise class. Something's happening. I had no idea what I tapped my but into. No idea. No, I did the depth of it, but I knew it changed me.

It made me feel, safe inside. Happy inside by the fact that everything else in my life was really, really difficult. So I went to the gym where I worked, and I said to the guy, could I teach yoga? The owner? And he said, if people come to your class, you could teach whatever you want, Nothing to worry you know, I didn't know about sort of not being certified or not.

So I started teaching yoga. I had a quite a following. I was very good at remembering the sequencing that that teacher taught. And one day, like maybe, maybe four months into my teaching, five months into it, one of the students who was an avid yoga person in those days, it wasn't really 30 years ago. Yoga wasn't as popular. And she said, Mindy, you're a great teacher, but you'd be even a better teacher if you got certified.

And I thought, what is where do you get certified? Which is a funny question. Now, anyone who's listening to this will be like, what do you mean? And you can get certified everywhere, including, which is ridiculous. On a computer, you can get certified online.

But, in those days it wasn't that popular. So I went to the city and I started to investigate what schools were available. There were three. And, the one that I wanted to yoga, which is, why I'm, currently a yoga teacher wasn't, offering that year. So I went back to the woman who asked me, and I said, do you have any idea where I can get certified. And she recommended another really wonderful school, which is now called Ishta Yoga by Alan Finger

So I went there first and I got my first, 500 hours. And then about ten years later I went to got my degree, yoga teaching training because it was, that was really what spoke to me. And, and Allen's is a great, also great lineage based yoga school, which I highly recommend to anyone who wants to become a yoga teacher, to be, like, authentically yoga teacher, that you get taught by people who have a lineage that you can trace back to an original teacher who created the actual form of yoga. That's just my opinion. You kow, off course .

Okay, Can you tell us a little bit about your style? What is it that speaks to you and why do you teach your particular style?

So as I said, I was taking of them do yoga. I was going to their studio, Even during my first training and even after my training, I was continuing taking classes, and the classes there incorporated what I feel are all the components of a yoga two yoga class.

First of all, they were 90 minutes long. None have now. No one has the bandwidth for a long class like that. But truly, it's a 90 minute class. So it's chanting and meditation, a dharma talk, like an inspirational talk. And, then a very strong physical practice. At the time I was I am still athletic, but I was like really into, being into a strong physical practice and, they also give great hands on adjustments

So, yeah all those components together. So that's where I, so I would say my style is Guru Monk to yoga

and, but stay true to the monthly focus that they still have and to the teachings that I was taught.

Great, great. Can you tell us what some of the physical and spiritual benefits of yoga are?

Well, I'll try to debrief this. physical benefits. Well, you feel physically better when you're moving your body and stretching your body and remembering to breathe, which I would say is the hallmark of a yoga class, is that if you're an if you're a good you have a good teacher with a solid background, they will continually remind you, inhale and exhale.

That was another thing to Mukti did there's if you notice, the classes you take with me, I always say inhale, exhale through the entire so we remind you to breathe. And I think that's part of the reason why you feel so good after a class. Because think about it all day long. We're not remembering to breathe the body.

Breathe through you all day long. Do you ever think about it during the day? No.

No, no.

And then you can't breathe. And then you're thinking about, how can I breathe again? But, you know, we don't really take in true deep diaphragmatic breathing, which is what gives the body a feeling of, health, good health. you know, where you can actually get the breath into the lungs, not just into the chest or into the belly, but actually a full breath expands the whole diaphragm. And that is, you just do one and you feel amazing.

So think about it. You're doing it for an hour minimum. Yeah. So I think that's so that's one of the physical benefits. and of course stretching your muscles and getting strength because yoga is not just about stretching. It's also about it's a balance actually between strength and stretching. And then, well, mental benefits it for me.

Are you asking me about for me? You're asking me for other people? Well, for you, you are the one we're interviewing. So for you, what is the spiritual side of yoga for you and for the people?

What does it give? You asked me first. You asked me what benefits, right? So spiritual benefits. It connects you to your essential self. What does that mean to someone who doesn't practice yoga? the part of you that's inside the part of you that animates you. The part of you that breathes you, that part of you that's looking out of your eyes, that's hearing with your ears, that's speaking out of your mouth.

Your soul, for lack of a better word. you could say higher consciousness. And it doesn't happen in a minute and you don't even. It's a process. And people are really serious about yoga. Eventually, when they practice over and over again, we'll start to ask the important questions like who am I? Why am I here? What's my life purpose?

So it gives it brings a sense of awareness, which is something you can, whether you're still not or being awake and aware is just a way to live a better, more, authentic life. Right .That’s just really basic, but it connects you to who you really are. So that's good. Is yoga and meditation separate? And do you have a meditation that you do as well as yoga?

So the yoga is a practice and the practices are many. So some of the yoga practices are just asana or just physical exercise. there's a practice called pranayama, which is breathing practices. That's its own practice. There's a practice of just chanting bhakti yoga, and they're not doing any physical. They're just chanting.

so they're all valid practices.

So yoga is a practice and it's also the end result. So yoga as an end result is experiencing your true nature, not thinking about it, not understanding it from a book, not reading about how do I know myself? I mean, yes, reading the books, it's great. And attending lectures is great, but yoga is an experience of knowing who you are.

Yes. I love the way you're explaining it, because even for myself, who takes your classes to understand the depth of it is really, really terrific. So say someone. what would you advise someone who's just getting started? What would what would they have to overcome? Some of their obstacles?

Oh, what they need to do socially, they've never, ever done it before. And what style would you recommend even for someone who's just starting is vinyasa to difficult or is it fine or, you know.

That's a great question. It depends who's asking the question. There's not one. So, if somebody who is very, let's say, like me, I was coming from the gym, I had, very good awareness of my body Right. So that wasn't an issue for me.

so I would recommend I would probably ask them, what are you looking for? Do you want something to relax you? Do you want something that regret you? What are you looking for in terms of yoga? And I would give them options. So yes, you could go to a Vinyasa class. I would definitely put them in a yoga studio.

We're very lucky that Equinox has yoga studios within the gym, so it doesn't feel like you're at a gym at all. When you're in the yoga studio. There's really. But, you know, other gyms. I might not be so keen on that. even though any yoga is better than no yoga, I would say. and then if there's someone who's very deconditioned or older, not that older is the condition.

I don't mean to say it that way, but depending on their  ability to move, I might recommend a gentle class or a restorative yoga class, which I actually went to this morning and love, which is. Have you ever been to a restorative yoga class? I have, yes at our gym too. Yeah. It's amazing. And that anyone can do that.

Chair yoga. Depending if someone has something like they're really dealing with or an injury chair yoga is a great thing to, you know, to, to try. And they're all great. Each of them, whether it's a vinyasa practice or a chair practice or a gentle, as long as it's what that person needs, and as they get better, they may or may not move on to some other form of yoga.

Gotcha. Oh, there. Like, I know there are challenges because, I mean, I take yoga, but I have a lot of people that say I can't do the moves or it's too painful or this or that is that some of the obstacles, what are some of the obstacles? And I know for me, just sticking with it because, you know, even in your class there are some positions I'm not completely comfortable doing. And I'll do something else. You'll give me something else to do instead of that particular exercise, which is what one of the reasons why I love your class so much.

Okay, so again, the obstacles. I would love that person, that one person who has an issue to talk to me because lots of times I think the problem is that they don't. No one tells their teacher, I have this issue like before class, you go over the teacher. You know, this is hard for me. I may not be able to do x, y, and z so the teacher can help you before class starts to, but, someone that's having difficulty there Obstacles? Yes. Physically not being able to do something.

We're thinking they're not able to do something or they're too old to do something. I would tell them to get up yoga private with a teacher. And this way you can actually get the yoga you need for yourself. You can get better at it. And then you can move into a more formal class, like a vinyasa class or whatever.

Some people are just uncomfort about in front of other people, and that's that. The biggest obstacle is that I don't want to look like an idiot right in the class that they're doing it, and there's no one should ever feel that way. But people do feel that way. I come to class. Showing up is the first step. If you need some help, address the teacher at the beginning of class.

If it's not a crowded class, the teacher might be able to help that student a lot. If it's a very crowded class, maybe that person likes the teacher. Request a private once or twice, or you might even do it for for a year. So you have like really? You develop confidence. You're physically able to do things like, for example, somebody who I don't know, I don't know who's listening and how familiar they are with class.

But Down Dog is pretty much a space where you start moving forward and back from. A lot of people have trouble moving their feet toward their foot to the hand to stand up. And so I there's something very simple to do that would help someone who can't do it. And then eventually they'll be able to do it.

So I just say, ask your teacher for help, or go for get a private yoga session with someone. Yeah, I knew you always do that. Even before the class, you'll ask, is there any anyone with an injury or some other difficulty? So I like the way you go over that as well. Do you do any private or yoga of your own?

Like is there you do. So if somebody wanted to, you know, each other classes from you.

Oh yes of course. Yeah I do yoga privates. I do small classes like a few in one do like a small group class. I've been doing that since pretty much I since I started.

Okay. Is there any way you want to reach out to you?

If so, oh, a website, I think if you I can give you my website or they can reach out to, they can sign up for my newsletter. That's a great way to connect with me. Mindy frankel.com. And they can sign up there. That's me from there. Or I can also give you my email.

Beautiful how about I know so much of life today deals with so much Strain, stress and anxiety. I mean, the whole world is stressed and filled with anxiety. Can yoga help with that?

Most definitely. The great thing about a yoga class, any class is the student will get tools. They may not realize they're being given tools, but they are. So breathing is one tool for paying attention. This is another tool. Meditation is another tool. and so these tools you can use and that's what really helps you in life. the tools that you get go into a class, can be very, for me, in the beginning, as I told you, I was going just to a vinyasa yoga class,

I had no idea what I tap my foot into. And I felt good just from going. I didn't know what I was receiving. All I knew was that after we got up from Savasana I was a different person than the one I. When I walked into the room, I would literally drive a thousand miles an hour just to be in the room. That was I   became my temple, if you want to call it sanctuary. Yeah, but I felt a sense of, safety. I don't know how I even put a safety in myself. And that is what's better than that.

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. If you feel okay, it's with anxiety in the world. And, that's what I always tell people take I do tell people to meditate. Meditation is key. And it is up to every day, sometimes more than once a day.

That's great. That's great. I know in your class, one of the reasons why I love it so much, which I've done a lot of yoga over the years, but in your particular class, you disperse so much wisdom during the class and you talk about, you know, just regular life stuff, but it comes out so wonderfully.

Where does that all come from? And, and, and and how important is that while you're instructing us? Because I find that to be one of the most, you know, important things to me while taking your class, I love to hear what wisdom you impose on us.

So that makes me laugh. I'll tell you why. When I first started to take, you know, I was doing the first teacher training, there was a teacher I took and at the time we were taught with no music in the background, not even mukti, this other style that I did yoga.

And the teacher, literally, she wove in something like from the beginning to the end, like a story. And it was imparted some something very important to understand. And I remember thinking, I want to be able to do that. But just I ask you that you ask me that question. I ask myself that question, how can I ever do that?

And I realized that what for me, yoga and, everything. That's how so far I have. and I mean, in terms of challenges that I've learned from that I've been able to meet, I like to share some of it, because how else can you help people if you don't share from your own stories? And I didn't I had plenty of stories, but I am not saying I'm done learning.

I'm far from done learning. But as we continue to make mistakes and as we keep, we make our mistakes into triumphs and we're able to overcome things. We can walk people through things. And so yoga and all of the, all of the precepts in yoga and the different philosophies from different teachers that I've both have in my life, and also that I have from reading and studying with them in other ways, has made such an impact on my life that I like to share it.

So we have a focus of the month every month, and a lot of times I I'll tap into that focus and how it's relating to what's happening in my life. So that's where it comes from. It comes from suffering, life. But who doesn't? I say that in jest and seriously to like what? But the great thing about yoga is we learn that you don't really have to suffer.

Having, experiencing pain and overcoming it. Suffering is a mind set, so we learn that we have Choices. And I love that your stories got choices. I just think it's the best name ever, because people don't understand that you always have a choice how you want to see something always. And it's you can be right or you could be happy.

You can choose to see something in a favorable way or in an unfavorable way. And our job is to figure out, what do I want to be happy? Because if I want to be happy, I have to find it different way of looking at that. And we always have a choice right?

Yeah, You do it.

You teach it so well. I have something like the principles of yoga in daily life. Like how do we inject those principles into our lives every day and how do they help us live each day? So, I think if you tackled all the principles. Well, there are those eight, eight limbs of yoga, and this would be a whole other class.

So I'm not going to go into all of them. But basically you start to study, you know, you can study with a teacher. I think that's very if you're serious about understanding this, then you could start to read the Yoga Sutra. Patanjali, which is the main, one of the main books on yoga. But sometimes it's hard to understand without having somebody help you.

So I often mentor, yoga teachers also, who want to study more deeply about the principles and how to use them in their life, and that that's really how I help people in that respect. I don't I don't usually it's a yoga teacher that reaches out to me about that than just someone who's practicing, hey, I want to deepen my practice.

What do I do? if they practicing for a long time, I'll recommend the Yoga Sutra, because that's, like. That's the first step. And then what? What I would I recommend I would tell them, read one, one sutra, one verse, read the explanation, and then sit and meditate for five minutes and close your eyes and, and, you know, just for, let's say, five minutes a day in silence after you read it, sit quietly.

And what happens is it lends, you know, certain things, especially yoga. Yoga cannot be understood by reading a book. Yoga has to land and where it meets the student, where the student is. So if you're a beginner student, it'll meet you in a place that you can understand it. As you advance, it will continue meeting you as you advance.

That's what's so great about it. There's no it's so deep. It keeps going and going. You never get to the end. Did a yoga teacher have a yoga teacher. Do you have a Teacher? Yes. Many teachers, many, many. Not to be truthful, at this point, everyone's my teacher. But I do have a teacher. Yes. And, specific teacher.

And off course, my teachers actually moved to Oakland to continue to be my teachers as well, even though they're no longer teacher. But, you know, they're still my teachers, meaning I still study the things that they've taught me. I never I'm always perpetually student because you never there. Even the teachers of teachers always.

And you are the person you are today. I would say because of the yoga you encountered throughout your life.

I don't know what the person is today, but this person is still growing. I'm not yet, but I know me too. I try to keep going and keep growing. And, I still make tons of mistakes and big ones and small ones, and.

But they're not mistakes so lessons. Right I like the lessons.

That definitely lessons we have. We'll wake up and we learn each and every day. Is there anything that you'd, like to, to, to say before we end the program?

I'll tell you one thing. You said. You said, give me words of wisdom. These are not the words of the words.

These are my teacher's words. my teacher's name is Manuma. she said everybody spends time with people, makes time to date friends husbands, boyfriends. We spend a lot of time dating other people, but we spend no time dating ourselves. And she doesn't mean going to get a manicure. Going to the movies of taking you on vacation with our own minds, us with our own minds.

And she says, you know, everybody that's in your life that you spend time with will come and go, but you are the only one going all the way with you, so you better know yourself. And that's always stuck with me. How important it is to be able to be with yourself, higher self and yes, your annoying personality self that part too.

You can't avoid that. You have to go through that, through your pain, through your suffering, through all of the things to get to who you are. And I know you've done work on your self as well. So I know you understand what I'm saying. All

right. Believe me  I do, and it's  a constant.

As I say, I wake up each day and I practice different principles in my life because there are so many things I'd love to still change about myself. So it's I don't want to say it's a struggle. It's like you said, a practice. And the wisdom you give us is just wonderful. And I thank you so much for being with us.

And, I'll see you in class this Thursday. Better I want to, see you again on our podcast. You were wonderful. And thank you so much. Thank you for having me. Yoga is my favorite subject, so I love talking about it. Thank you for having me. All righty. Bye Bye. Bye. Namaste.