An In Depth Interview with the Founders of Yoga One San Diego
“May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may my thoughts, words, and actions contribute to that happiness and freedom for all.” -Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavaintu
As many of you already know, we love yoga here at The San Diego Lifestyle! Whenever we have a chance, we ask yoga instructors questions, and dive deeper into the yoga practice here in San Diego. We caught up with Yoga One founders Michael and Amy, and they shared some exciting things with us about their philosophy and the studio downtown. Here’s a bit of what Amy and I discussed:
San Diego Lifestyle: How did Yoga One originate, and eventually become what it is today?
Amy: Michael and I both worked in the music industry in Los Angeles prior to discovering yoga. Seeking a lifestyle change, we left the country to enjoy time backpacking abroad. Our travels took us to Australia where we picked apples to earn money, and first began our practice of yoga from the book “Fit for Life.” Over the next three and a half years, we visited 14 more countries, ultimately arriving in India where we completely immersed ourselves into the philosophy and practice of yoga while studying with some of the top yoga masters. When we returned to the States, I continued my studies here in San Diego and began offering classes by donation in Balboa Park, Downtown, etc. As attendance grew, things organically evolved into what turned into the Yoga One studio located on 7th avenue, Downtown.
SDL: Wow, fascinating! How often do you practice these days?
Amy: I practice almost every day, in classes at Yoga One or home alone. My home practice is a source of wisdom for my personal growth and understanding from which my teaching also grows. I also take a class once a week with a senior teacher Jo Zukovich as my schedule allows. Throughout my many years of practice, the style and frequency has varied greatly. But I always come back to my mat as a place where I can take care of myself in a deep and nourishing way.
SDL: What advice would you give to beginners just starting their yoga journey?
Amy: I think its important for beginners to know that yoga practice doesn’t always have to be an hour plus, every day. Just 5-10 minutes can make a difference. Seeking out classes with knowledgeable instructors like we have at Yoga One is also important to receive guidance and inspiration. We call it “yoga practice”, not “yoga perfect” because it’s a process, a journey, not a destination.
SDL: Have you had moments of breakthrough, where you accomplished something you didn’t think you would be able to?
Amy: For me, the practice has become less about physical accomplishments and more about learning how to live in the world with present moment awareness and an open heart and mind. Having said that, yoga has provided amazing strength and deep breathing for giving birth naturally twice. And it continues to serve me, being a mother now to an 8 and 11 year old.
SDL: Your Yoga One studio is downtown, does that make it tough for people to come to class consistently?
Amy: We love being downtown – our students are diverse, educated and often working professionals. Not to mention really nice people! Our regulars attend on their lunch hour, after work, early mornings or weekends. Being downtown we are lucky to get a lot of out of town guests – and we offer plenty of options for brand new beginners, including but not limited to Classic Yoga, Gentle and Restorative. We have a good number of students who value our services so much that they drive all the way from north and east county.
SDL: There are a TON of yoga studios in San Diego, where are you located exactly?
Amy: We are located at 1150 7th Avenue, between B & C Streets, near the business district at the base of Cortez Hill, across the street from the Symphony and around the corner from the House of Blues. As I mentioned, we offer classes at the studio, but also at many businesses around San Diego. So in a very real sense, Yoga One instructors often go to the students. But, students also come from all over the city, and the world in fact. We’ve had great people come from as far as Japan, Ireland and Spain to attend our 200 Hour Yoga One Teacher Training Course, which we have been offering since 2006. We get students from the East Coast attending the training as well.
SDL: Wow your teacher training must be a truly wonderful experience! Is it your most popular course?
Amy: Yes it’s quite popular! Right now, I’m really enjoying leading and co-leading the Yoga One Teacher Training Courses. I love teaching all of my classes though, both public and private. Our students are open and eager to learn, and are always teaching me too in the process of learning, so we are growing together. My Monday noon class also usually pretty popular, with many long-time regulars coming whom I adore and love seeing every week. Schedule permitting, I’m happy to kick things up a bit with my First Friday of the Month, level 2 and 3 classes too, which oftentimes draws more students in.
SDL: Your classes seem fun and inspiring. What are your favorite three yoga poses and how long did it take you to perfect them?
Amy: I really enjoy practicing backbends, handstands and of course savasana. All three are constantly changing as I develop deepening levels of nuanced understanding. I’d advise new yogis to stay away from the idea of perfection – and really see if they can practice enjoying doing the best they can in the moment. Having said that, with consistent well-aligned practice, many seemingly challenging postures are totally achievable!
SDL: Savasana is definitely my very favorite! Some people look at those practicing yoga and think, “There’s no way I could ever do even one pose!” (I know I did before I started!) What advice would you give to those people?
Amy: Yoga as we offer it at Yoga One is non-competitive. One of the beautiful things about yoga practiced in this way is that it always meets you where you are and supports you at your level. Although in our modern Western culture yoga has become so much about appearances, the depth of the practice lies within. In the Yoga Sutras, Kriya yoga breaks down into three key elements: Tapas (to heat, burning enthusiasm or conscious effort), Svadyaya (self-study or reflection) and Ishvara Pranidhana (allowing or letting go, connecting to the Big energy within and around us). If we remove the elements of self-reflection and letting go, in my opinion it really isn’t yoga. Yoga is not only what we do, but how we do it.
SDL: You’ve done quite a bit of traveling, and I see on your website that you’ve also been featured on the cover of Yoga Journal. What has been the most memorable experience you’ve had since discovering yoga?
Amy: Twenty years ago when we were traveling, we completed a 30-day round-trip trek to Mt. Everest base camp. With the highest point on the planet as a witness, Michael proposed. That was pretty awesome! More recently, we enjoyed an opportunity to travel with the kids and teach yoga on Semester at Sea, during which we visited 6 countries over a three week period. A few years ago I helped create, with 3D4 Medical, the award-winning and top selling app, iYoga Premium. I modeled over 150 yoga poses in a body suite attached to electrodes. I went into a recording studio to do the voice over instruction and with my friend and fellow yoga expert Rachel Krentzman, we identified which muscles where contracting and stretching in each pose, phew! Also, I created all of the sequences in the app. Every year I go to Coachella with three of my girlfriends. That’s always a blast.
SDL: How cool, you are very ambitious! Have you led any awesome events here in San Diego? Are you planning anything for the near future?
Amy: I did lead the first ever yoga class on the historic USS Midway in conjunction with the Downtown San Diego Partnership and Scripps Health. We will be offering a free class again this year aboard the ship on July 16th at 8am and we expect 600-1000 students in attendance! In 2014, I co-taught a class for City of Hope on the outfield of Padres’ Petco Park which raised over $80,000 to fight cancer and fund research. Michael will be leading a workshop at SDSU and we both teach every year at the Joshua Tree Music Festival. We are always open to teaching a wide variety of classes and events. (:
SDL: Where can people find you on social media if they’d like to reach out with more questions?
Amy: Always feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m pretty good about responding within 24 hours. Yoga One is on social media at:
We’d love for you or anyone you know to come and take a class with us at Yoga One, or let us know if we can come to you! We are honored and blessed to have the practice of yoga in our lives and look forward to sharing its joys and benefits with you and as many people as possible. We consider Yoga One a family and we’re always here to embrace new members.
SDL: Next time we are downtown, we would love to come in for a class! Thanks so much for taking time to talk to us Amy!
Amy: Thank you San Diego Lifestyle team for this opportunity. – Namaste –