Category Archives: Ashtanga Yoga

Up Close with Tiffany Belzer from being a Mom, School Teacher, to Kids Yoga Instructor

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Just in time for National Children’s Day, we catch-up with Tiffany Belzer on her personal journey from being a mom, school teacher, to Kids Yoga instructor at Nandi. Her dedication inspires us in so many ways!

Nandi Staff: What are the three words would you use to describe your Kids Yoga journey/practice, and why?   

Tiffany Belzer: It’s more than three words but I go back to Pattabhi Jois and his quote which really sums it up for me, “Yoga is 99% practice and 1% theory.”  Everyday I teach, every class I teach, and I learn.  It’s the practice of teaching that continues to fuel my growth as teacher and as a person.  In Kids Yoga there is this ongoing dynamic interaction between the teacher and the students and the group as a whole.  No two classes are the same.  

NS: What do you want everyone to know about Kids Yoga, and any benefits it provide for children today?  

TB: I believe yoga is for all.  The benefits adults enjoy from yoga are there for younger students as well.  What is really powerful for children doing yoga is that they are learning to breathe with awareness and move their bodies building flexibility, strength and balance as their brains and bodies are still developing.  Kids in my classes learn that by stopping and focusing on their breath they calm down their minds and make better decisions.  I wish I’d learned that as a child, don’t you?

NS: Who was your inspiration in starting your Kids yoga journey? Please explain and share any previous stories from your personal experiences.

TB: Prior to being a yoga instructor I was an elementary school teacher.  I left teaching when I became a mom in 2000 and it was in those years at home raising my children that I discovered yoga. For me the benefits of yoga were life changing. Being a stay at home mom with two young children is challenging.  The days I practiced yoga I noticed that I was more patient, calm and had more energy.  I credit my children with bringing yoga into my life.   I completed my Ashtanga Yoga Teacher Training in 2006 and signed up shortly after for a kids training.  I had spent most of my adult life working with children so it was a natural next step.  

NS: What kept you to continue in teaching Kids Yoga, and building a community at Nandi?

TB: From the beginning Wendy (Nandi’s Owner) wanted the studio to be a place that would welcome kids and families.  In addition to the several options of yoga for adults she envisioned multiple classes for kids from toddlers to teens, including family yoga, prenatal and mom & baby classes.  Being an experienced Kids Yoga teacher I was thrilled to have the opportunity to build the program in this supportive environment.  Most yoga studios don’t have options for kids and if they do there might be one or two classes but they aren’t the heart of the studio.  

NS: What’s next on your horizon that we should know about?

TB: I’ll be leading a Yoga for Kids Teacher Training at Nandi this August 6-7, 2016. More details to follow on the website as the date gets near. This training is designed for yoga teachers and classroom teachers who want to teach yoga to kids. The world needs more Kids Yoga teachers!  I currently work as a Health and Wellness Instructor in a public elementary school in East Palo Alto, California.  What’s exciting is that we’re bringing yoga practices in to the schools and teaching students who otherwise might not have the opportunity.


About Tiffany Belzer

Prior to Tiffany’s yoga journey, she spent over 10 years teaching in preschools and as an elementary school teacher.  After becoming a mom in 2000, she left the classroom to be with her children. During this time, she discovered yoga. 

She was Yoga Alliance certified in E-RYT 200 and RCYT. She had received her teacher training at Its Yoga, San Francisco in Ashtanga Vinyasa with Larry Schultz in 2006.  In order to expand her skills to teach yoga to children, she went on to be trained at Its Yoga, Kids. In the past 8+ years, she has taught yoga to children, adults and families throughout the San Francisco Bay area.

In addition, Tiffany’s yoga philosophy directly transcends into her teaching style: live, love, and shine your light. Her own experiences as a mother led to yoga for the physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits of the practice.  She believes it is through the familial relationships that we receive continual opportunities for growth.   She strives to provide a space where children and families are able to playfully connect in a stress-free environment, and enjoying the beautiful practice of yoga.

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Taking the First Steps


Yoga is like learning to play piano. It takes practice, practice, practice and everyone starts with their first lesson.  Yoga helps to build flexibility, strength, and balance, but you don’t need to have any of these in order to begin. We each bring to the mat our entire life’s experiences and history. We may be flexible or we may feel pretty stiff. Some students come with old injuries. Others come with years of weight lifting or ballet. In other words, each student is unique but the poses can be modified to suit the individual.  




The biggest concern I hear from students is the perceived lack of flexibility – they warn me that they cannot touch their toes.  It doesn’t matter – if you can move and breathe, you can do yoga.  Everyone can benefit from using props to find ease – blocks bring the foundation higher, straps make the arms longer, and blankets provide ease on the floor.  The goal of each class is for students to leave feeling better than when they entered the studio—and to have fun.

– Bonnie Smetts, Ashtanga Yoga Instructor

Ashtanga Was My Yin

My first yoga class was a modified primary series in the Ashtanga method – to be perfectly honest, I chose it because the time of the class worked well with my schedule.  I wanted to try yoga because I felt that my body needed balance with my work as a personal trainer. I was so focused in getting stronger with weights and cross-training.

Compared to what I was doing in the gym, the Ashtanga class felt like my “yin.”  It was a way for me to slow down, open up and be challenged in a much more nuanced way.  I know, this sounded crazy because Ashtanga was considered to be one of the fastest and hardest styles of yoga. However in the beginning, it was a way for me to relax and open up.




Yoga has helped me find my balance – I still go for intense workouts in the gym but I’m always conscience of balancing my strength now with flexibility.  As I further explore Ashtanga, I have found more of the yang with this traditional approach on arm balancing, inversion poses, and floating into and out of poses. 

– Tony Irwin, Ashtanga Yoga Instructor

Asana of the Week: Bhujangasana (The Cobra)


Tony Irwin, Ashtanga Yoga Instructor demonstrates Bhujangasana (The Cobra) at Nandi Yoga.

Benefits of Bhujangasana (The Cobra):

  • Arching of the spine increases flexibility, rejuvenates spinal nerves and brings a rich blood supply.
  • Relieving hunch back, back pain, lumbago and myalagia of the neck.
  • Massaging and toning the back muscles, particularly the lumbar region.
  • Stretching the thoracic region of the spine, and expanding the rib cage to increase lung capacity. In some cases, regular practice of The Cobra helps to relieve Asthma.
  • Strengthening both the deep and superficial muscles of the back and abdominal region. The abdominal pressure alleviates constipation.
  • Promoting a smoother flow of prana (life energy) and heat within the body.