Dave Larot Yoga YogaWorks Interview
Blog, The Interview Series

Interview With Dave Larot

You know all those things you want to know about your yoga instructor but don’t dare to ask? I had the privilege to ask those questions to Dave Larot, one of my favorite instructors at YogaWorks.

Dave’s teaching style could be described as smooth, calm, profound and very meditative.

His presence sets the tone for the practice – he’s, grounded, positive, and creates a safe place for the practice to evolve.

I usually have a hard time relating to male yoga instructors- their ego can become so inflated. I never once felt that with Dave.

Overall a super cool dude,  and a skater boy at heart, Dave is also a very hard worker. A former ATT employee, Dave pulled a 180 and changed his life around to being a successful yoga instructor who commutes all over the Bay Area.

Check out his schedule here

Also don’t miss Dave’s yoga retreat in Yemaya, a dreamy resort in Little Corn Island in the Nicaraguan Caribbean. More  here.


Dave Larot Yoga YogaWorks Interview



Dave Larot


San Francisco


Yoga Teacher

Favorite Book:

“Oneness” by Rasha

Favorite Movie:

 “Good Will Hunting”


Dave Larot Yoga YogaWorks Interview

If you were an animal, what would you be and why?

An Orca, I love the ocean. Talk about exploring a whole other world, the ocean is so massive it would be awesome to be in. Or a Dolphin, any reason to surf all day.

​What’s your favorite yoga pose​ and why​?​​

Trikonasana, because you’re opening in all directions.


If your house were on fire and you could only take one thing, what would it be?

    My ipod, gotta have my music!


Dave Larot Yoga YogaWorks Interview


Along with yoga, what would you say are your two other passions in life?

     Art and shredding( skateboarding, surfing & snowboarding)


What is your biggest relationship regret?

     Being selfish with my time.


What in life has given you the most strength to get through difficult times?

I used to write a lot in my journal, it gave me a sense of freedom and release. All you really need is a pen and paper and you can say anything you want, vent out any frustrations that you may have been feeling or experiencing.

Sometimes I would write just to write, nothing in particular but just jotting down my thoughts. I would go back and read all of this and just trip out, it was also a way to look at myself in a deeper sense.

This was all way before I started practicing yoga. One night while high on cocaine, I stayed up all night just writing, a few days later I went back and read it and was blown away from all the crazy shit I wrote, couldn’t tell you what it was, mostly intense gibberish.  

Dave Larot Yoga YogaWorks Interview

What has yoga taught you about life?

   Aww man where do I start? My practice has taught me so much, how to be in my body, take the backseat during those intense moments and just observe, being kinder to to myself not just in a physical sense but also spiritually.

It taught me how to be my own best friend, where as before I could be so hard on myself physically and mentally. Sometimes I think I’ve chilled out way too much though.


What is the most challenging experience you’ve had in your yoga journey?

    In the fall of 2009 I enrolled in the 300hr Teacher Training with Yogaworks, at the time I was working for AT&T as a field technician. It was a very physically demanding job, especially during the winter where we were forced to work 12hr shifts throughout the week. Doing the training and working a full time job was probably the most challenging and intense times in my life.


Tell me about your personal practice. How often do you practice, for how long, where?​

 I have a morning and evening meditation practice where I’ll sit quietly anywhere from 10-30min, and sometimes during the day between classes. My physical practice I love taking my time and moving slow, holding shapes to go deeper.

Lately my schedule has been scattered throughout the week, so my asana practice will run anywhere from 15min to an hour at home in the living room. I wish I had hardwood floors, the carpet sucks.

Dave Larot Yoga YogaWorks Interview

Thanks Dave for sharing! See you around!



Blog, The Interview Series

Interview With Shanti Tilling: Sweat Play Live Founder

Have you ever met someone who completely inspires you to want to be like them? I first met Shanti seven years ago at the Bay Club. From the instant I took her kickboxing class I was blown away by her confidence, her skills and her overall badassery.

She’s insanely fit, gorgeous, and a super talented instructor. She now lives the dream life splitting her time between Mexico and the U.S. and leading successful action packed  retreats that include mountain biking, beach bootcamps, surfing, yoga and end with an exotic margarita at the end of the day.

Check her out!

Shanti Tilling Sweating, Playing and Living it up in Nayarit Mexico from Darrin Polischuk on Vimeo.


Shanti Tilling


Punta de Mita (9 months), Park City Utah (3 months)


Fitness Trainer, Fitness Retreat Leader

Favorite Book

Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

Favorite Movie

Love Actually

If you were an animal, what would you be and why?

Who doesn’t want to fly! Any migrating bird. I would love to be able to cover great distances.. maybe it is the traveler in me. 🙂


Do you have a guilty pleasure you can share?

I have a major sweet tooth – Pie (my favorite), cake, brownies, caramel apples, and gelato… My husband, Mack,  is a gelatiere, so gelato is a food group in our house.

Vegan Banana Pineapple Coconut muffins
Vegan Banana Pineapple Coconut muffins that Shanti made

You are an avid world traveler. What’s your favorite place you’ve travelled to and why?

This is a tuffy… Thailand for the people, culture, and food (and $3 thai massages), but the Daintree Rain Forest in Australia was fascinating for the plants and different wildlife. Diving up there on the Great Barrier Reef was incredible too.

We went to Ladahk, India this summer for the Kalachakra – it is the highest initiation ceremony for buddhist monks (we are not Buddhist monks). It was 7 days of meditation and chanting led by the Dalai Lama. 200,000 beautiful people all gathered to embody compassion and love, surrounded by the majestic Himalayas. WOW.


What sparked your transition from Bay Area,California to part-time Mexico and now Utah?

Honestly, moving to Mexico was a surprise Christmas present from Mack. We were in Bali for the holidays (which I thought was my actual xmas present) and he gives me a card. At the bottom was a Mexican address.

I thought it was another trip – woohoo! He said he had rented us a place in Punta de Mita the following month and was hoping I would want to try living down here! I had a 10 second “oh shit” moment and then got SUPER EXCITED!

We had always talked about living in another country and he knew I loved Punta de Mita because I had already been leading fitness retreats here for 3 years at that time. People thought we were crazy. I gave up all of my personal training clients (some of which I had for over 13 years) and all of my classes, I figured we could always move back to Marin if it didn’t work out.

But we are still here 3 years later! We go to Park City, Utah for the summers to escape the heat and humidity, and also to get our mountain biking fix.

Shanti and her husband Mack

This is a bit more of a practical question, but I always wonder- how have you adjusted to your various transitions in dealing with new communities, new housing, all your belongings?

We meet people through our interests – fitness, surfing, and road and mountain biking. Both communities are very outdoorsy, which in my opinion attracts cool, easy going, down to earth people.

We pack and move a lot. That is not the fun part, but I think it is so worth it. We have downsized quite a bit. I have Mexico clothes and a few bags of Park City clothes …more jeans, jackets, boots, etc. We do not buy nearly as much “stuff” as we used to.

Here in Mexico, especially, you see how little people live with. I keep a give-away bag in the corner of my bedroom, and am constantly adding to it. And, I have a new policy that if I buy an article of clothing, I have to give up two.

What has been your favorite aspect of creating and managing your company Sweat Play Live?

I literally created SPL after looking for a retreat to do all of my favorite things, but could not find one. So every day of my retreat is my favorite day! I LOVE getting people outside and sharing new experiences with them.

When people do things they never thought they were strong enough to – like stand up on a surf board, or climb to a high peak – and you see this new confidence and light in their eyes… that is just the best feeling in the world for me.

Shanti leading a beach group class in Sayulita, Mexico
Shanti leading a beach group class in Sayulita, Mexico

You juggle a lot- fitness, yoga and mountain biking retreats, daily classes, private clients..how do you find balance between all those things in your life? Do you have any tips on how to stay productive while still maintaining time for your personal life and relax?

Finding balance is a day to day process. I used to be the trainer who taught 3 classes a day, trained 3 clients and then went for a 2-hour mtn bike ride followed by yoga. I am definitely more balanced since moving down to Mexico.

My husband and I both work from home, so we see each other quite a bit. Since we both enjoy cycling and surfing, we are able to do those together.

I generally like to get my own workouts in early, then have the luxury of planning my computer work and clients around our outdoor adventures. I also started a regular meditation practice this year. Only 10-15minutes most days a week.

After dealing with some pretty serious health issues 10 years ago, I decided to put myself first. I make my marriage, health, and personal time a priority. I keep a written weekly schedule, and scheduling work, meetings, workouts, dates, relax time, etc. keeps my life more balanced. I can open up my organizer and see my whole (balanced) week laid out in front of me.


What is your most vivid memory of any race you’ve competed in?

Fun question! Mountain bike racing, especially stage racing, is incredibly physically demanding and brings up crazy emotions. When we raced TransPortugal I was sick before we even started and got heat stroke the first day – I pulled out after 6 hours of riding. They let me continue “racing” the week and on the last day (day 8), after literally riding across the country, I was 5 miles from the finish when the ocean came into view. I was so physically and emotionally drained that I started sobbing.

I had spent hours and hours everyday with only my thoughts – I learned during that race that I used mountain bike racing as my way to feel that I was “good enough. I couldn’t be a “good, strong” human being without that title of mountain bike racer. I still love mountain biking and have raced since then, but now because I want to, not because I “need” to.

Shanti MTBiking with her husband
Shanti MTBiking with her husband

What is the most challenging experience you’ve had in​ your​
​athletic career? ​

I would say it would be how I started my fitness career teaching Taebo, back in 1997. I was actually painfully shy – like, not-look-you-in-the-eye shy. I moved up to Marin to help my boyfriend open up a Tae Kwon Do studio.. his Grand Master was great friends with Billy Blanks (Taebo creator) and I was going to be teaching the first classes in SF Bay Area.

I had never taught anything and had only taken my first Taebo class months before. I trained for hours and hours everyday learning proper technique and putting together that first class. The day I had to teach, I threw up twice and when I got in front of the class to demonstrate the punches and kicks, my arms and legs were literally shaking out of control.

I wanted to cry. BUT, instead of crying, I raised my voice (to cover up it cracking) and just totally faked it. Spiritual people would call that “Acting as if.” I called it, faking it – and faking it worked. I threw up before every class (2 classes a day) for 6 months. That’s what it took for me to become comfortable teaching, and now over 10,000 fitness classes later, I still can get nervous. That was such a huge learning experience for me. I still try to do things that scare me everyday, because that is how I have grown and will continue to grow throughout my life.


Tell me about your personal​ exercise ​practice. How often do you practice, for how long, where?​

I currently teach beach bootcamps, boxing, and my own athletic flow class, Move Your Asana, that I co-created with my friend Heather McKenzie. Here in Mexico, I ride outside only once a week and get on my spin bike 2 times a week. I have picked up the surfing bug, so we are chasing waves 2-5 times a week depending on the swell.

In Park City, it is all about mountain biking. Almost everyday. I also go to the gym and box on the heavy bags, take kickboxing, and go to yoga twice a week. I love mixing it up – that is how I keep my body feeling balanced.


Check out Shanti’s retreats and more info about her HERE

Find Sweat Play Live on Facebook

and Instagram

Blog, The Interview Series

Interview with Erin Cookston

The first time I took Erin’s class I thought I was going to die.

No music and long held planks combined with simple, almost spartan sequencing  made me miss the virtually alignment-free, fast flowing power yoga classes in  Miami Beach.

I said to myself:”Every second of this class is so excruciating, I will never come back!” But deep inside myself I knew that it was exactly what I needed. Because, unfortunate but true,  sometimes the least pleasant things in life are the more rewarding ones in the end.  So I went back for more.

And I give her credit for revolutionizing my practice and inspiring a much more still, focused me. I now prefer to practice without music, just listening to my breath. I flow a lot less and hold a lot more. And I question the purpose and structure of each posture instead of half-heartedly breezing my way through them.

Erin reminds me a lot of my friend Sally. Very energetic, independent, with a big infectious laugh, in love with life, and unpredictable in a fun, refreshing way.  You always sort of wonder what she’s thinking only to realize she’s transparent and straight-forward. Erin strikes me as someone very disciplined and driven when it comes to yoga. And possibly as someone who unknowingly deceives a really big heart in a bit of a tough exterior. Her knowledge of yoga spans far beyond anatomy and alignment; she is so wise in all  aspects of the  practice, ranging from the process of learning and applying principles to all the mental and physical challenges along the way. Her classes are great if you are wiling to take your practice very seriously at times (like in downward facing dog), and not too seriously at others (when you are approaching your 4th chair pose hold in a row).

Erin gives it a 100% in everything she does, and she did the same in this interview. Enjoy!

Erin Cookston Washington DC

Name: Erin Cookston

Hometown: Vacaville, CA

Profession: Yoga Teacher

Favorite Book: I’m a huge book worm, so the list is long. But two of my favorites are “Light on Life” by B.K.S Iyengar, and “American Wife” by Curtis Sittenfeld

Favorite Movie: The Godfather

If you were an animal, what would you be and why?

If I were to be anything other then myself I would want to be my dog Ellie, she’s my super sweet Chihuahua Minpin rescue pup. Like most rescues she spent the first year of her life abused and mistreated; but even with all her previous misfortune she is completely trusting and generous with her love. She is the most vulnerable, nurturing, and courageous soul I’ve ever met. And she’s a energy firecracker and a ton of fun. I’d love to have all those qualities.

Erin Cookston and her dog Ellie
Erin with her dog Ellie

​What’s your favorite yoga pose​ and why​?​​ 

I think we all go through phases with postures, finding ones we enjoy more than others at different times in our lives. Since beginning my practice, Downward Facing Dog has been my ultimate ‘go to’ posture. If I can only do one posture, Down Dog is the one. It requires so much focus and attention to subtlety that it instantly brings me into the present moment, and it balances out and refreshes my whole body.

If you could gain any one quality, what would it be?

I’m a pretty patient person with others, but I’d like to develop more patience with myself. When I’m working on something that inspires and intrigues me I sometimes fall into the “I want it to happen now” or ” I’m ready now” mindset, and that can easily turn into an self-degrading struggle.

Also, I’m not sure if it qualifies as a quality, but I’d love to be more musically inclined. I’d love to learn to play the piano.

What is your favorite ​spot in ​Marin County?

To be honest, I really love bumming around San Rafael. But my favorite spot in Marin is definitely Tennessee Valley, it has become my reset button. Running and hiking there a few times a week is my salvation.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

I’ve been given A LOT of really stellar advice throughout my life. The piece that’s coming to be now is something a friend said to me a few weeks ago, ” If you always do the same thing, you’ll always get the same thing.” -Basically, it’s encouragement to try new things and to be open to your own spontaneity; have the courage to be different, instead of always keeping things ‘predictable’ and comfy. It’s easy to stay in your comfort zone, but if you want to change something about yourself or your life you have to be willing to step outside of that zone and try doing things a different way.

Tell me about ​one of ​your greatest accomplishment​s​

This is a difficult one. Well, one of my greatest accomplishments at this juncture in my life is living alone, and being on my own. Up until a year ago I never had lived on my own; I’d always lived with family, friends, or partners. And not only had a never lived alone before, but my own fear persuaded me into believing I couldn’t live alone. I was convinced I would be scared, lonely, and poor. Needless to say, I really intimidated myself about it. That said, I’ve currently been living on my own for about a year and it’s been really empowering. Overcoming that fear of being alone has helped me develop so much more clarity and confidence in my life.

What has yoga taught you about life? 

That my greatest gift is my Attention. My practice continues to show me that when I direct my attention with care and specificity everything is possible. Yoga has taught me that I can create the life I want to live.

What is the most challenging experience you’ve had in your yoga journey?

Becoming a teacher. It’s not always easy being the new kid on the block. Teaching is a HUGE part of my practice.

Tell me about your personal practice. How often do you practice, for how long, where?​

I’m up at 5:30am to teach most mornings, so my preferred practice time is in the evening once my work day is over and the sun has gone down. I’ve been a home practitioner pretty exclusively for quite a while, so the duration and intensity depends on how I’m feeling that day; sometimes I practice for 2 hours, sometimes I practice for 20 minutes. As far as postures go, Inversions are a huge part of my daily asana practice, as well as more passive Yin Yoga postures. I’m a huge prop enthusiast; I love exploring new ways to use props and I regularly use blocks, blankets, bolsters, a chair, straps and acupressure balls.

I pretty much spend all my nonworking daylight time outside either hiking, running, or hanging out at ocean. So naturally, I love taking my asana practice into nature. Nothing beats a mid hike yoga practice at the top of a mountain.

Your teaching style could be considered very alignment based. Has it always been that way? How has your teaching style evolved over time? 

I’ve been a student of Yoga for around 10 years and teaching for about 3.5 years, and both my practice and my teaching has changed considerably over the years. I’ve always been pretty alignment based, but my specificity and clarity with respect to alignment has definitely increased over the years. When I first started teaching I was very ‘by the books’ for lack of a better word, as a brand new teacher I was way to nervous to teach intricate postures/transitions or to be creative in sequencing. Now a days, more of my creativity comes out while I’m teaching, and I definitely have lower inhibitions. I love exploring new, and sometimes abstract, ways to articulate mental and physical alignment cues.

Find more of Erin:

Her website


YogaWorks Profile

Erin Cookston Headstand Valentina Rose
Erin and I doing a headstand pike. She looks so tiny compared to me!
Dani Kosmalski Yoga Santa Cruz
Blog, The Interview Series

Interview with Dani Kosmalski

When I moved to Santa Cruz,  I started taking yoga because I wanted to stretch after running. But then I started doing more and more yoga because…I fell in love with my beautiful, angelic, Polish-looking-but-Portuguese-speaking Brazilian instructor Daniela Kosmalski.  Her voice is so soothing and I  just couldn’t get enough of her classes. At the time I was going through a heartbreak and everything she said resonated with me so much, it really helped me heal.

She is the first instructor I ever took yoga seriously with, and she is the person who inspired me the most in my yoga journey. The thing about Daniela is that she is so incredibly humble. There is no ego with her, only transparency. No pretense or arrogance, only deep awareness and a sense of kindness that transpires from her body language, her words and her entire being. She is genuine, so knowledgeable, but still blushes when she teaches a class which is the most endearing thing ever.

It actually wasn’t easy to approach her in the beginning, I think because she is a little bit shy. So for a long time I never did. One time, I was really tired and I went to Dani’s class at 7:30pm. During shavasana I fell asleep hard. I woke up one hour after the class ended, in complete darkness. I couldn’t believe it. I had slept through everyone “oming” at end the class, getting up and putting their mats away and leaving! I was so embarrassed. You’re not supposed to sleep in Shavasana!!!!!! I was wondering what she would think of me. But then I realized Dani genuinely is not a judgmental person. Nothing seems to bother her in class. People coming late, phones ringing…she is unfazed, because she has found a place that is so far beyond those minuscule aspects of existence. She is more concerned about something that is far greater than those little details. That, right there, is true yoga.

Dani Kosmalski Yoga Santa Cruz
Dani practicing with her husband


Daniela Kosmalski


Sao Paulo, Brazil


 Yoga Instructor 

Favorite Book

hum…so many, but 2 came to my mind now: I am reading “If the Buddha had kids” and “The Heart of Yoga” by Desikachar

Favorite Movie

anything comedy/romantic or with a positive lesson

If you were an animal, what would you be and why?

hahaha!!….maybe a Dolphin…whether it’s jumping with the waves or swimming freely through in the ocean, they live every day to the fullest!

What is your favorite spot in ​Santa Cruz?

The ocean, and I am very lucky to live couple blocks away.

Being from Brazil but having now lived in the U.S. since 2006, do you feel you belong to one culture more than the other?

Not at all….I love this diversity and I feel that I am a human being FOR the world doesn’t matter where I am living.

What are the challenges you find about living far from your home country?

Family: it’s always a challenge for me: I miss them EVERY second.I am grateful to go back to it every year or always have a member of my beautiful family here in the US.

 Tell me about a fond childhood memory

Beach morning weekends with my mom, dad, sister and brother.

Beach dinner weekends with cousins, ants, uncles.

Sand castles, ice cream, smiles, good food and lots of love….

 What or who inspires you the most in your yoga journey?

The path of Yoga inspires me, My Guru motivates me.

And to know how much I have to learn….and knowledge is infinite and enriching.

What has yoga taught you about life?

To live in the present moment, to be more focused and patient. I have also learned to watch myself (conditionings and patterns)… I’ve always been very critical and demanding with myself, and this beautiful practice showed me to deal with equilibrium all my imperfections and imbalances of life.

 What is the most challenging experience you’ve had in your yoga journey?

To teach in English…I studied by myself a lot: reading, watching videos, using many dictionary, asking few American friends to help me with vocalization….It s still not perfect but I am grateful that things happen naturally and gradually, like life should be huh? spontaneously and without charge…

Tell me about your personal practice. How often do you practice, for how long, where?​

I have a daily Yoga practice with my children and husband. Asanas and Pranayama 2-4 times a week and I practice Ashtanga Method when by myself where is available(beach, studio after my classes, in the living room, drop in a class)  – at this moment in my life it s not easy to wake up 5am to practice, so if I have a gap of schedules in between pick-ups at school, other mom duties, privates lessons, etc., I do it for sure. Meditation everyday!

 Here’s a piece of a quote I read from Daniela’s Facebook that I would like to share:

“The magic 40 minutes of total focus, concentration , trust and surrender to this practice that I teach, was a reminder that Yoga is not an experience, is not a journey, is not a thing that you do on your mat and forget when enter in your car, is not fad, it’s not  just asana. it is an attitude.”

Find more of Dani Kosmalski here

Or look at her teaching schedule to practice with her in Santa Cruz.

Dani Kosmalski Yoga Santa Cruz
Daniela meditating in Brazil
Ewa+Valentina after teaching yoga in Costa Rica
Blog, The Interview Series

Interview with Ewa Josefsson

I  first met Ewa in 2013 at Green Monkey yoga studio in Miami Beach where we both taught. Although it took a while to warm up to each other, I eventually fell in love with her classes and then one day, in the spur of the moment we decided to teach a yoga retreat together in Costa Rica. It was a true act of faith; we barely knew each other but instinctually connected and ended up leading a very successful retreat of sixteen people at Blue Osa. We called it the Blue Dream Yoga Retreat.

Ewa and I are hosting two retreats in 2015. The one coming up from June 20-27 is the Blue Wave Yoga Retreat which will offer yoga and an opportunity to surf. For New Year’s eve we will host the second edition of the  Blue Dream Yoga Retreat at Blue Osa (December 27 to January 3, 2016.)

Here is a brief interview with Ewa so you can get to know her better too.

Ewa+Valentina after teaching yoga in Costa Rica
Ewa and I after teaching a two hour class at Blue Osa


 Ewa Josefsson


Miami Beach


 Yoga Instructor 

Favorite Book

 Anna Karenina

Favorite Movie

Wild Strawberries

Where did your yoga journey begin?

I took my first yoga class in New York in 2006. I had just moved there from Sweden and rented a loft in a factory building in Dumbo, Brooklyn. My new-found friend wanted to start teaching yoga and asked if she could come and teach me and my friends in my loft. I said yes having no idea it would change my life. Although it took me about three years to go ‘all in’. I was practicing once a week for a long time until one day I had a sort of awakening. Something clicked in my head and I decided to make yoga my life.

What is the most challenging experience you’ve had in your yoga journey?

In October last year I was bitten by a chikungunya infected mosquito on Jamaica, and infected with a virus that makes all your joints ache like crazy. It took me back to the time when yoga was so incredibly difficult, even the basic poses became impossible, and although it was a challenge and really upsetting at times I now feel grateful for that humbling experience.

What has yoga taught you about life?

To not believe everything I think.

What is the most exciting place you’ve ever traveled to? Why? 

The rainforest in Costa Rica’s Osa peninsula is my current favorite. When I leave the forest keeps calling me back every night, for days or even weeks, in my dreams.

What is the biggest takeaway of teaching your first yoga retreat in Costa Rica last year?

It is so rewarding to get to spend that much time with your students. Normally I have one or maximum two hours and then I don’t see them again for days or weeks. During that retreat, and the following retreat I hosted on Jamaica in the fall, I really had the opportunity to watch the participants grow. 

What was the most challenging part of it?

To leave the group and go home.

Describe one of your favorite moments on a yoga retreat.

The rain pouring while we are practicing on the yoga deck, the feeling of absolute freedom.

 What advice would you give to someone who is considering going on their first yoga retreat?

Go for it.

Find more of Ewa:


Her teaching schedule:

Blue Dream Yoga Retreat Facebook page 

Photo credit: Jonathan Hokklo  

Ewa handtsand Playa Tamales beach costa rica yoga retreat
Ewa getting a little time upside down in Playa Tamales