Trina Altman has always been interested in how things work. She enjoys thinking about how objects are put together and taking them apart to understand them better. In her previous work in fashion design, she was drawn to designers like Martin Margiela, who uses deconstructed elements such as exposed seams, tags, and stitching in his clothing lines. Now, as a yoga teacher, Trina takes a similar approach to poses. Her process involves considering which movements are required to execute an asana well and creating sequences and variations based on her discoveries.
Teaching movement is Trina’s third career. Her first job out of college was at Goldman Sachs, where she was an investment banker, but she realized the profession wasn’t for her and left it to work in the fashion industry. But fashion wasn’t her calling either. She says, “By my late 20s, I found myself isolated in an East Village apartment, completely ignoring my body, depressed, and in pain. A friend dragged me to a hot yoga class, where I sweat, stretched, and remembered how much fun movement could be. I began to feel better immediately.
“I started to explore different styles of yoga and eventually, Pilates. Movement became a source of peace in my life and an escape from my desk job. Finally, I knew what made me happy, so I decided to transition from the office to the mat.”
During this transition, Trina embarked on her movement studies, beginning with yoga teacher training and after that Pilates teacher training. Since then, she has also studied exercise science, somatics, and strength and conditioning, and integrates these elements into her yoga classes in order to give students a varied, full-spectrum experience and to help them prepare for all types of poses. In educating hundreds of teachers, she has discovered there is no “best” or “right” way to move. Teaching the individual in front of you is what will benefit them the most.
In keeping with this belief and drawing from her own experience [being hypermobile taught her what she needed more of (strength) and what she needed less of (stretching)], Trina created Yoga Deconstructed ® and Pilates Deconstructed ®, two programs that are designed to help teachers take an interdisciplinary approach to foster an embodied understanding of yoga and Pilates in relation to modern movement science.
She also created and taught a Pilates continuing education course for physical therapists, was part of the faculty for the Brain Longevity conference at UCLA, and is the co-creator of Equinox’s signature program, Best Stretch Ever, which utilizes the mobility stick to improve functional range of motion, body awareness, and total body strength. Trina’s work has been published in several movement publications, including Yoga International, and her book, Yoga Deconstructed: Transitioning from Rehabilitation Back Into the Yoga Studio, is slated to be published by Handspring Publishing in 2020.
We interviewed Trina, asking her the questions we ask all of our featured teachers, so that you can get to know her and learn more about what to expect from her classes on YI.
What yoga style, tradition, and/or lineage are you a part of (if any)?
I completed my 500-hour yoga teacher training with Kim Valeri at yogaspirit in Connecticut, and then I enrolled in a STOTT Pilates teacher training—STOTT Pilates is one of the larger Pilates education companies. They emphasize post-rehabilitative movement as well as the more traditional Pilates exercises. It was through studying Pilates that I realized how beneficial it was to study movement modalities and scientific concepts outside of yoga as they allow teachers to understand yoga not just as a form of movement, but how exercise science and skill-based movements relate to yoga.
What can I expect from your classes on YI?
My yoga classes include a blend of concepts and ideas from somatics, modern movement science, and preparatory exercises. I use these ideas and practices to inspire creative sequences that help prepare the body for yoga and build up to a peak pose. You can expect my classes to be playful, fun, and energizing.
What’s on your mind these days yoga-wise?
Right now, I am really enjoying finding creative ways to add external load exercises to my yoga classes using resistance bands and dumbbells. I find this promotes tissue resilience and helps prepare the body for movement on the mat and in daily life.
Can you define “external load” for those who may not be familiar with the term?
External load refers to the forces exerted on the body that are not an individual’s own body weight. In the movement space, external load is often used for resistance training. Some examples of external load include dumbbells, Pilates springs, resistance bands, and cork yoga blocks.
What do you like to do outside of yoga?
I enjoy trampoline and Pilates classes. I also have one private personal training a week where I focus on strengthening my tissues using external load. I also enjoy traveling with my husband, Farzad. We most recently visited Australia and Indonesia when I was teaching in both countries.
Find out more about Trina and try one of her yoga and mobility classes on YI, where she blends yoga, Pilates, and other movement modalities into a fun, challenging, and mindful experience.
Photography: Kyle Rebar