Yoga Tribe Blog


Teacher of the Month March 2020: Marisa Commerford

Hometown: Walnut Creek, California

Childhood aspiration: Marine Biologist. Growing up, I was obsessed with dolphins. I spent an inordinate amount of my childhood staring at grainy pictures and sketches of marine life courtesy of my parents’ 1970s-era collection of biology textbooks. I also wanted to work at Target. I was under the impression that the cashier clerk got to keep all the customer's money. What a sad day that was when I learned that was not how life works...

When and where was your first yoga class: 2003, my freshman year of college at UC Santa Barbara. I distinctly remember my arms shaking like crazy in Down Dog and my pants were sliding down the entire class. I paid for a 10 class package and went once.

Who is your most influential teacher and why: The late Joseph Campbell. I love listening to his vast collection of lectures online – he has a mind-blowingly brilliant, poetic way of connecting ancient myth, religion, philosophy, science and yoga to the modern human experience of reality. I often find myself listening to the same lectures over and over, each time extracting something more beautiful and provocative.

When was the defining moment when you realized you wanted to teach yoga: In 2019, I took a sabbatical from my career as a civil rights lawyer and turned to yoga in an effort to pacify the inner chaos plaguing my soul.  It became evident during Yoga Tribe’s teacher training that yoga could be used as a magical vehicle to communicate stories of hope, struggle, and love with others. Yoga was a gift meant to be shared! What better way to share than to teach?

What is your teaching philosophy: I view my role as a teacher akin to that of a tour guide. You, the student, are on the trip. It’s your adventure; you decide where you want to go, where you want to stay a little longer, where you want to get lost. I simply introduce you to the landmarks and attractions along the way.

Favorite Pose and Why: Supported bridge. Minimal effort and it just feels So. Freaking. Good.

Most Challenging Part of Your Yoga Practice: Meditation. Like many of us, my mind’s default mode has been conditioned more on the side of inner mayhem than inner peace. It’s been a long, frustrating journey to the path of stillness. Practice, practice, practice.

Book you are currently reading: The Inner Reaches of Outer Space by Joseph Campbell. For the fourth time. J

Secret Comfort Foods: Penchant for pickles and unquenchable thirst for hot sauce. Hot sauce on everything; all day, every day. Oh, and pancakes.

Movie that has changed the way you think: A Beautiful Mind. My grandmother suffered from schizophrenia, and I never found a meaningful way to communicate with her before she passed. This was the first film I ever saw that depicted mental illness from a first-hand point of view; it helped with the heartbreak.

Cause you feel most passionate about: Abolishing the stigma of mental illness. No one should ever have to suffer in silence. 

Your local retreat: Anywhere I can admire plants - succulents in particular - in peaceful solitude. Luckily here in SoCal we have the luxury and ideal climate for growing pretty much anything and everything. I’m a frequent patron of Huntington Gardens, South Coast Gardens, Sherman Library & Gardens... and the hundreds of potted plants [no, I’m not kidding] I’ve been growing at my house over the past decade. #crazyplantlady

An Unfinished Dream:
I’m looking for a balanced intersection of my passions – law, yoga, and plants. A friend of mine recently suggested I open my own law firm in a tree house catering to yogis...a girl can dream, right?

What is your favorite expression: Actiones secundum fidei – Latin for ‘action follows belief.’ We act according to what we believe ourselves to be.

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