When and how did you start practicing Yoga?
As a professional photographer, I was traveling the world. While I was in Koh Phangan Thailand in 2012, I decided to volunteer at a Yoga Meditation Retreat center. I fell in love with yoga there and my journey began! After practicing for years, my teacher training started in Charlotte in 2015 at Enlighten Yoga where I completed my RYT-200 and immediately began additional training working towards a RYT-300. I trained with Marilyn Brown, Shari Goldstein, and Amani Murray. I have also had the privilege of training with Cora Wen, Doug Kellar, Kino McGreggor, Dr. Nevin Markel, Dr. Bradley West, and Hilary Kossack. Filled with a passion to go where Yoga began, this fire sent me half way around the world to Rishikesh India for over two months. I became a certified RYT-500 while living at an ashram and studying at the Association for Yoga and Meditation founded by Chetan Mahesh. At Be Yoga I continue to study under Kaitlin Lacey and Wendy Swanson and plan to attend many trainings to come! My areas of study include but aren’t limited to Ashtanga Yoga, Yoga Therapy, Deep Stretch, Vinyasa Flow, Yoga for Athletes, Bikram Yoga, Restorative Yoga, Yin Yoga, Ayurveda, and Reiki. Both in India and also in Charlotte I have completed my Reiki level 1 and 2 and am excited to use that knowledge to tie into my yoga practice and teaching.

How has it helped you grow as a person?
Yoga is my safe place. It continuously helps me to stay grounded and provides me with tools to help maintain a healthy lifestyle. Trying to live a balanced life takes a village of support and yoga is a member of that community. The energy created through practice helps fuel my passion and creativity within my businesses as an entrepreneur and other areas of my life. No matter how much money I may or may not have, no matter where I can or can not go, no person or place can keep me away from the knowledge and freedom I’ve gained through yoga. Practicing yoga reaches far beyond studios and postures. It is a privileged to have the opportunity to empower another with their own sense of freedom before they step off of their mat and into the world.

What should students expect from your class?
First and foremost, to breathe, smile, and relax! Often we take ourselves way too seriously and yoga helps us to lighten up! I encourage students to be themselves and make yoga their own, offering them a safe place to try new things.  I go by the motto “if you can breathe, you can practice yoga!” My hope is to make yoga feel accessible to anyone who walks in the room! And to walk out of the room feeling just a little bit better (or even a lot better!) than they did before entering.

Be Yoga has a number of class styles.  Which is your favorite and why?
I enjoy practicing and teaching different systems of yoga and embrace the diversity yoga has to offer on a physical, mental and spiritual level.  Deep Stretch, Slow Flow, Yin and Powerful Flow are what I teach and practice at Be Yoga most often.  I would say that my favorite is always changing, depending on the mood I am in, the energy I have to give, or the energy that I need!

What element of yoga philosophy fascinates you most?
What a hard question, as I am fascinated by so much.  I enjoy studying the yamas and niyamas and trying my best to apply them to my life.  These principles keep me on my toes!  Before leaving for India I practiced the last of the five yamas aparigraha, or non-attachment, in a big way…I buzzed my head and donated 27 inches of hair!  It was one of the most liberating things I have ever done!  Also, my devotion to learn about and use Ayurveda every day (the sister science of yoga) has changed my life in so many ways.

What do you like to do when you’re not doing Yoga?
Better question is what am I not doing?  Ha!  I am a creative entrepreneur at heart and have lots of passions.   I own my own company Bethany Otten Photography and am currently working hard on a company called Smiling Monsters.  I have a blast playing the piano, drums and sing.  Creating yoga albums is in the works!  I also took Harmonium and singing lessons while I was in India.  My love for adventure has taken me to over 20 countries and I plan to add to that list!  Volunteering is important to me and I find ways to give back through my journey in recovery and also have a special place in my heart volunteering with special needs adults.