The [Epic] Team
Julie weinstock, operations manager
Being born and raised in New York, it may come as no surprise to you that for most of my life, the concept of "me time" was entirely foreign. I was always on to the next thing, next place, next goal. If you asked me about stillness, I would have told you I don't speak the language. In the city that never sleeps, our minds don't either.
*Enter yoga, stage left*
I won't tell you I suddenly developed a deep affection for sitting in one place for hours on end. I'd be lying if I told you my list of goals shrunk down. But what did happen? I found that in an hour of breathing and dynamic movement I could become a million times closer to all those things I was so desperately (but somewhat subconsciously) chasing after. I gained an hour of "this is who I am." Even more than that, I learned to embrace it.
While other workouts offered me strength, a sense of accomplishment, and of course those magical post-class endorphins, yoga was the first workout (and time in general) that allowed me to leave a space with a quiet mind. (Who knew this sense of peace existed in NYC?)
From this spark, I went for the fire. I got certified to teach yoga in August 2016 at Yoga to the People. After a year of teaching there, I went on to teach Beer Yoga. Not long after, I made my way to my first Drunk Yoga class. It was love at first sip. Now, here we are :)
Favorite yoga pose: It's hard for me to commit to one favorite yoga pose (it’s the whole flow that makes you feel amazing!) but I do enjoy crow. Who doesn't want to fly?
What brings me joy: I have a special affection for the little waddle Corgis do when they walk, (I relate) that first cup of coffee in the morning, shakshuka with the feta on top, and doing ridiculous things to make others smile. (Okay, but mostly dogs. All dogs…)
What I wish people knew about yoga: I wish more people knew yoga isn't being flexible or how long you can hold a handstand. My favorite definition to date is “Yoga is learning to deal with the consequences of who you are.”
Alicia DiGiovanni, digital marketing manager
Favorite yoga pose: My fave pose would have to be cobra pose and not only because I love snakes, but because it’s really helpful with stretching the chest area which relieves tightness and soothes physical manifestations of anxiety.
What brings me joy: Discovering new music, concerts with friends (or solo!) and traveling.
What I wish people knew about yoga: Fun fact, I had never seriously practiced yoga before joining this wonderful team<3 I wish people knew exactly what I didn’t know and what we aim to inspire at DY, that you do not have to be a limber bendy-straw of a person to enjoy yoga. It’s for EVERYONE and the benefits will show up in so many areas of your life!
After being forced to take a power vinyasa yoga class, as a friend's final wish before going away for college, I found myself laying in a pool of my own sweat feeling relieved. Of what? I still don't know, but that feeling kept me returning to class several times a week for 5 years before embarking on a 200hr Vinyasa training in the summer of 2016. Since my certification I've found pleasure in dissolving western media's perspective on yoga for friends and strangers so that they can embark on their own yogic journeys.
I am passionate about teaching drunk yoga because adding a glass of wine to a vinyasa practice lifts the burden of trying to conceptualize a focus for the class. Without getting too philosophical I can provide a point of connection for a student to step onto their mat where the only foci are their breath and not spilling the wine. And if they spill their glass, that's okay, too;)
Favorite yoga pose: Chair pose because it feels like my whole body is full of energy and my legs are the strongest part of my body so I can sit for a while
What brings me joy: K-pop (bringing joy into my life for nearly a decade)
What I wish people knew about yoga: That you don’t have to be a size 0, raw vegan, pretzel person to do it and if you are a size zero, raw vegan, pretzel person, you’re welcome, too.
While I am now a self-proclaimed yoga addict, I wasn't always that way—in fact, I took my first few classes sporadically, and under protest. Maybe if there was wine involved, I would have been more inclined to understand what the "flow" this was all about. After letting my relationship with the practice age, I signed up for my 200 hour certification. A dancer my whole life, I love how yoga has preserved my body, strengthened my joints, and kept me chill in audition holding rooms, or before showtime.
If you find yourself in my class, you'll be high-fived, hugged, wined, and maybe even a little worked out. Be prepared to sing along with my playlist—I have an uncanny knack for memorizing obscure song lyrics and movie quotes.
Favorite yoga pose: Seated Chair Twist, and Happy Lover
What brings me joy: My nephew. Finding money that I forgot was in my pockets. Getting a man-spreader on the subway to un-spread, so I, or someone else, can sit. Snow White is my FAVORITE Disney princess. She’s the OG!
What I wish people knew about yoga: You don’t need to show up in Lululemon with your makeup done or carry an obnoxiously heavy insulated water bottle to do yoga right. If that’s your jam, cool! I sometimes like to do that. But it starts with being you. Put on those soft yoga pants that may or may not actually be pj bottoms. Wrap yourself up in your old college T-shirt. Roll up with dirty hair, roll out your mat, take a seat, and give yourself a best friend hug, because you SHOWED UP.
Cassie Ray BArbay
I spent most of my early life in the dance studio and on stage. In front of people and mirrors; moving, learning, adapting to a culture of dance that often puts the performance above the well-being of the individual self. I love performing, of course, and the dance studio is a sacred space for me, but at 17 I found myself with a torn groin and a 90 minute Power Yoga VHS (yes, VHS) in my hand. That’s where my love affair with yoga began! Yoga spoke to me and I truly connected to and began healing my body in a new way through movement and breath.
I've been in NYC now for 9 years, taking many performance gigs, random jobs and bartending to pay my way. I eventually took the leap and got my yoga certification, but never really felt like I fit anywhere as a traditional teacher. I found myself teaching people reverse namaste in bars in Brooklyn until all of us were laughing and trying tipsy down dog! My friends have dubbed me their yoga lady and I'm always working with people at social gatherings. I've made a lot of friends this way, so when my beloved teacher Nevine told me to contact Eli over at Drunk Yoga, saying she thought it would be a perfect fit, I knew she was right!
So I did, and I tried Drunk Yoga for the first time. I quickly became a fan of this brilliant, responsible practice that brings people together, releases the need to take things too seriously, and introduces yoga to people who might otherwise never walk into the studio. It just seemed like there perfect avenue for a bartender, yogi, and performer like myself :)
Favorite yoga pose: Halasana - Plow, for end of day restorative work
What brings me joy: people I love and creating beautiful space
What I wish people knew about yoga: It’s just play! Children are the most profound yogi’s, watching them gives us wonderful insight on the playfulness of our own body, but as an adult we get to refine our practice so it serves us in a well informed and technical way (just don’t forget the fun) ;)
Gina Marie Russell
I have been practicing yoga for over 10 years, and teaching for nearly 4. I started my yoga journey at a gym, and legitimately could not even touch my toes at the beginning, but I was hooked. While life would sometimes get in the way of a yoga class (sometimes for 6-ish months or so), I always found myelf coming to the mat. Also a passionate wine drinker, drunk yoga feels like the perfect marriage of bending and sipping, and of course, having a blast!
Favorite yoga pose: Any juicy twist (especially if most of my body gets to lie of the floor)
What brings me joy: Theater! I see as many shows as my time (and wallet) allow!
What I wish people knew about yoga: That flexibility is not a prerequisite. Come as you are and use all the props!
I came to yoga as a way to cross train for running and quickly realized that while running gave me clarity of thought and a euphoric sense of calm, most of those great feelings were in the hours after my long runs were completed. With yoga, I felt alive, energetic, and connected to my body during, after and way after each session of practice. Soon the days of yoga practice started to greatly outnumber the days of running. After over a decade of practice, I was so happy to finally become a registered yoga teacher in March of 2018 to share the joy I experience when practicing. While I will still keep running as long as my joints will allow, I plan to continue to practice and teach yoga benefiting from the mental and physical benefits long after my running legs give out.
Favorite yoga pose: Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon). I love the openness across my entire body and how strong and capable I feel while in the pose and also transitioning in and out of it.
What brings me joy: My family, my husband, my two children. Summertime, ripe fresh summer fruits and veggies (yummmmmmmmmmmm). Long runs and lazy mornings. And yoga of course.
What I wish people knew about yoga: Anyone can do it. Anyone. Any expression of a pose is still a pose. Moving one inch in the direction of a yoga pose, is still that yoga pose. You can do yoga in a chair or lying down or on a mountaintop.
I was born in India and have lived in Singapore, Minnesota and Philadelphia before settling into NYC. While I started yoga first at a toddler age, I put it aside for many years until my stressful job in private equity. I found that yoga calmed me mentally and challenged me physically, and was hooked. I did my teacher training in Mexico and have taught for ClassPass as well as dozens of private classes.
Favorite yoga pose: camel pose (backbends literally open your heart!)
What brings me joy: seeing someone smile the first time they do something they thought was impossible, good coffee, bad puns, and my family!
What I wish people knew about yoga: it’s not about how you look, it’s about how you feel.
I hated yoga. Yup, you read that correctly—hated it! I was a runner, kick boxer, high-impact kind of gal until I did something to my lower back (in one of these high intensity classes I was so fond of) and my doctor said that I had to steer clear of my normal rigorous activities and should try something more focused on strength and low impact to the spine, like yoga. This was NOT what I wanted to hear. But, I gave it a go and for the first time I really went all in. I really went as deep as I could in every pose, I challenged myself trying new variations of yoga, I pushed myself in each class, and that is where I saw my transformation.
I became so entranced with yoga and its positive impact on my body (and soul). It was such a comforting release for me, but at the same time, transformed my body and its capabilities. Less than a year after really dedicating myself to a regular yoga practice, I registered for a yoga certification course.
Currently, I am an executive sales coach by day and a yogi by night (and early in the morning) but I think where I find I make the most impact in my community and in myself is when I combine those two worlds. I have very little divide in my life right now—whether you are a friend, colleague, or yoga student, I am often speaking about the importance of balance, having a growth mindset, selfcare, and diving deep to find the best version of yourself.
Favorite yoga pose: Half Moon Pose because I feel super strong and powerful (plus it has moon in the name, I mean, how “warrior” is that?)
What brings me joy: discovering a new band/artist/playlist on Spotify and playing it on repeat for days.
What I wish people knew about yoga: Yoga can serve you in exactly the way you want it to. It can help you tone up, get fit, work your muscles, but it can also help you focus, help you find clarity, remind you what is important. Yoga can push you out of your comfort zone or wrap you up in a warm blanket. We all need yoga in our lives for different reasons and that’s what makes it amazing.
I fully embrace the saying “living the dream”. Native New Yorker, rock n roll rebel child, tequila specialist by day and Drunk Yoga teacher by happy hour. What could be better? After extensive training in dance, I did the most un-New York thing and, quite literally, tripped into yoga. After a life altering injury, yoga reminded me what it meant to communicate with my body. You can often find me leading the rebellion, practicing yoga or drinking Chardonnay. This certified yoga instructor brings positive vibes and a vast knowledge of spirits to create the most fun you will ever have while exercising.
Favorite yoga pose: Half pigeon because it reminds me that I am only human and to humble myself
What brings me joy: A cup of tea before bedtime, live underground rock concerts and the New Orleans Saints.
What I wish people knew about yoga: Yoga isn’t poses you see on Instagram, those are posed and often fake life. What you feel while in class is real life. Breathing is yoga. Being flexible is yoga. Not being flexible is yoga. You don’t have to touch your toes to do yoga.