She continued, “I don’t like to make things too flowery. I use very
simple, clear and direct language, in much the same way that a
Sutra is short and memorable.”
Annie has practiced yoga for almost 40 years. She started as a
troubled teen; her Southern parents sent her to yoga to set her
straight. When she was a Graham dancer and teacher in New
York in her 20s, she studied Integral Yoga with Swami Satchidan-anda. Later working as a professor of modern dance at a small
Midwestern university, Annie practiced Iyengar Yoga and also
earned a Gestalt therapy degree. In her late 30s, she became disinterested in “grading people for art;” and yoga, rather than dance,
became her dharma.
Leaving her job and marriage behind in 1995, she came to Santa
Monica to study Ashtanga “at a time in her life when change was
the right thing for her,” said former Yoga Works owner, Maty Ezraty, who was one of Annie’s first teachers in town. In 1997,
she completed teacher training with Ezraty and Lisa Walford. “It
was,” remembers Walford, “a stellar group of characters,” including Natasha Rizopolous, Russ Pfeiffer, and Karen Voight.
“Annie was a great student; one of my best,” Ezraty said in an
interview from her home in Hawaii. “Yoga was in her skin. I knew
she was going to teach.”
Asana and meditation are daily practices for Annie. For six years,
Insight LA founder Trudy Goodman has been Annie’s meditation
teacher. Annie brings, “the same level of dedication, integrity and
open-heartedness” to meditation that she does with yoga—with
“a beginner's mind,” said Goodman.
“Because I practice and because my practice is always changing, I
continue being creative and innovative in terms of how I arrive at
the aims of classical yoga,” Annie explained.
This approach is the basis for Annie’s SmartFLOW system. “
People come to my training because they want to work hard. They
want to understand the practice and themselves,” she says. Insisting she’s presenting “methodology instead of formula,” according to Annie, “method implies possibility, exploration, inquiry,”
allowing “every student at any level at any time of their life to
consider the same questions, pursue the same goals.” Her method
also gives teachers, “creativity while still staying true” to yoga.
SmartFLOW grew “organically” from Annie’s understanding that
“bendy people, young people, old people, stiff people, or people
in chairs,” need a practice that will last a lifetime. “I don’t care if
they ever get their feet behind their head. My hope for my students
is that they can pay attention and be present to whatever comes,
with great acceptance and love.” Presence and attention are major
themes in Annie’s work.
Best known for focusing on anatomical alignment, Annie’s teaching ensures safety. But alignment also helps practitioners build capacity for “presence.” “Why do we care about alignment? It’s a
way to learn about dharana, taking a single point of focus, then
expanding your awareness to multiple points, leading to samadhi:
All things present at one time.”
ANNIE PUSHES EVERYONE TO THEIR EDGE, WHICH IS
WHERE WE DO OUR BEST WORK
TEACHER PROFILE [annie carpenter]