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Meet Daniela Kent

Today we’d like to introduce you to Daniela Kent.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
When I first came to yoga, I was a runner. I was tight and impatient with the idea of a workout that used words in a language I didn’t understand to describe shapes and movements I was pretty sure my body couldn’t do. I will even admit that after my very first yoga class, the thought running through my mind was, ‘well, I’m glad that’s over! I tried it, and now I never have to do it again.’ Everything about my first yoga class was awkward, uncomfortable, challenging, and just downright unpleasant.

I mean, I was an athletic 18-year-old who was used to looking good and being capable at pretty much anything physical. But in that yoga cave (yes, my first yoga experience, was in a “yoga cave”), I looked uncoordinated, weak, and like a total newb (which to be fair, I was). I looked around me and saw women in their 60s moving through gracefully and effortlessly through postures that made me feel like I was going to die. It was not fun, and I did not feel “blissed out” or that I had “cleansed my energy”- I couldn’t even touch my toes! I did, however, feel like I had gathered enough evidence to decide that yoga just wasn’t for me. So I didn’t go back.

Well, I didn’t go back for about six months. And I didn’t go back willingly. At the time, I was running about four-six miles a day and not really doing any form of tension release. I got hurt, tendinitis in my right hip and excruciating shin splints to be exact. I was told by a medical professional that I should do yoga.

My reaction to said advice was simply nope, I tried that, it was horrible, and you can’t make me. But the pain was even more horrible. Only because the pain was so bad, and I felt like I had tried everything, I put on my Target leggings that were definitely see-through and went to an Iyengar yoga class. And it still sucked. It still felt like the most unpleasant hour of the day, but my shin splints were all but gone and only after going to class three times a week for about a month. That may not seem like a quick fix, but it was the quickest fix I had experienced thus far.

After three months, I could touch my toes. I still dreaded going to class and struggling my way through each and every posture, but I couldn’t deny it was helping with my pain. And it kept helping with my pain. It took me about a year and a half of consistent practice to actually enjoy going to yoga class.

There are still some days (and they aren’t all that rare) when I don’t enjoy my yoga practice. I have days when my body feels heavy, tight, and lethargic- but I am happy to report that I also do have days where my body feels capable, powerful, energized, and even blissed out. It took some time, but it was- and still is- worth it. The fact that I am a full-time yoga teacher aside, yoga has become not only an amazing practice for my body but has become my main source of mental clarity and emotional stability.

Has it been a smooth road?
There is no such thing as a yoga practice without challenges. Yoga is all about willingly stepping into discomfort, sitting with it, and being present with the broken parts of yourself. Actually, that’s the point. Yoga is a practice of facing the dark parts of ourselves and accepting that we can sometimes be not so great people. Once we accept that, we can forgive ourselves and move on, intending (and hopefully following through) with knowing a little better and therefore being able to do a little better.

Personally, the main area of struggle I have cycled through in my practice is that of body image. I say that I cycle through this struggle because I have found that it arises in a certain way, I then make peace with that specific manifestation of the struggle and feel really content for a while, and then it resurfaces yet again in a different manner, and I have to do some more work. I’ll explain it.

When I first started doing yoga, I was so insecure about how inflexible I was. I wanted to have the type of body that can effortlessly move into every yoga posture. I didn’t have that body at 18 when I started practicing yoga, and I definitely don’t have that body now 13 years later. Even though I have built a lot of strength, toned my physique, and have a very healthy range of flexibility and mobility, there are still postures I struggle with.

I will always struggle with them, but finally, at the age of 31, I have to stop criticizing my body for what it can’t do, and celebrating everything that it can do. And it can do some really amazing things! I also know that it won’t always be able to do everything it can do now- I know this because I used to be able to go out dancing three nights in a row and not feel it in my knees for the next few days. That is just simply no longer the case, unfortunately.

I have also struggled with enjoying and appreciating the beauty of my body. I used to compare the way my body looked with other yoginis and other women in general. Many times, this would leave me feeling insecure- I don’t have a thigh gap, and I am an A-cup through and through. I am naturally thin, though, and a mindful diet, as well as a dedicated yoga practice, has resulted in my lean, toned musculature.

I also have thick, long hair, blue eyes, and a pretty face- in other words, I have been blessed with physical attributes often deemed as objectively beautiful. I am lucky in this way, and fully aware of this. Yet, I spent most of my 20s ping-ponging back in forth between feeling like my body wasn’t beautiful enough to represent a “legit” yoga teacher, and that my body was too thin, white, and attractive to be a legit yoga teacher.

I was simultaneously insecure of the small ways in which my body wasn’t “perfect” (whatever that even means) and guilty that some people would gravitate towards my class because I looked good in yoga pants and a sports bra. Then, about a year ago at that magic age of 30, I realized my body is beautiful because I work hard to cultivate beauty within it.

I move it in ways that it wants to be moved, whether it’s riding a beach cruiser, hitting a dance floor, or flowing on the mat. I eat food that is mainly vegan, fresh, and healthy. I don’t smoke. I do enjoy red wine and tequila, and coffee- but I listen to when my body tells me enough is enough. And I appreciate everything my body does for me.

It allows me to watch amazing San Diego sunsets, embrace those I love, walk up stairs, play with animals- these are all beautiful blessings that I used to take for granted. Not anymore. And yes, I enjoy the way I look in a bikini, and though some of it is genetic, most of it is a deep respect and love for my body because it is mine, and without it, I would not be able to make the most of this beautiful, wild, and precious life.

We’d love to hear more about what you do.
I received my RYT 200 certification in 2010 from UCSD under Arturo Galvez, and furthered my education in Restorative Yoga with Roger Cole and Thai Massage in 2011, Cloud 9 Yoga’s 300 Hour Advanced YTT in 2014 with Alison Scola, and Yoga of Recovery in 2017, and Injury Prevention & Management with Jason Crandell in 2018.

I view the yoga practice as an amazing tool for refining the body, breath, and mind. I am committed to serving my students in a way that inspires them to seek a practice and life of authenticity and beauty. I am an explorer, I am a student, I am a teacher, I have been dedicated to exploring, studying and teaching the science and art of Yoga for a decade.

I believe that Yoga is the most effective method for mastering the mind, healing and maintaining the body and empowering the heart. When we balance and integrate the body, mind, and heart, we can experience a level of authenticity, understanding, power, joy, and freedom that not only brings beauty and happiness to our personal lives but ripples out to the world around us. But don’t take my word for it, explore it for yourself.

I have found that Yoga is not a “one size fits all” practice. It is just as multi-dimensional and diverse as the human experience. That’s why it’s so powerful- it can help you see just how much you are capable of. I don’t subscribe to the idea that one style of yoga is better than another, or that certain people are better yogis than others.

I think we are all on our own individual paths, and we all have something to teach each other, and something to learn from one another. As a teacher, I feel it is not my job to tell you what to do. I think it is my job to hold space for you to get to know the wisdom within yourself. I offer my testimony and experience as a form of solidarity and camaraderie, not to suggest that I have reached some level of enlightenment.

Ultimately, my teaching ethos is about integrating a higher level of mindfulness, kindness, and authenticity into everything we do. And you don’t need a yoga mat or Lululemon pants to do that- trust me, I own neither.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
San Diego is a hot spot for yoga. In many ways, this is great for new teachers: there is a high level of interest in yoga and new people seeking out instructors every day.

There are a lot of great teachers and educational opportunities for professional development, and there are many studios that are looking for teachers. However, it can be somewhat competitive because there are so many yoga teachers in San Diego. I don’t really think there is anything the city itself can do to improve the yoga scene.

My advice for new teachers is to simply be patient and continue to dedicate yourself to your craft. Teaching yoga may not be enough to pay the bills, so don’t feel that you can’t be a “real” yoga teacher unless you teach full-time.

Teaching full-time is not for everyone and will not be fun unless you are somewhat of a minimalist. Find a way of teaching yoga that allows you to continue to be excited about the practice, and know that any amount of teaching yoga is powerful and making the world a better place. Burning out doesn’t serve anybody.

Pricing:

  • $120 Private Session
  • $500 Private Session Package (5 session)
  • $200 Small Group Private Session (5-20 people)
  • $150 Semi Private Session (2-4 people)
  • $650 Semi Private Session Package (2-4 people, 5 sessions)
  • $250* Private Event Session (20+ people, *rate applies up to 40 people, per head fee for >40 people)

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Michelle Bowen, Charie Juaneza

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