Seattle Yoga News is on a mission to find and highlight all of the hidden, and maybe not so hidden, gems in our yoga community and beyond. We want you to learn about their experiences and perspectives, but also a bit more about their personalities, so we have a few fun questions for them. This week’s spotlight is turned towards Frani Assaf.

HOW DID YOU GET STARTED WITH YOGA?

Frani-Assaf

Frani Assaf:

As a dancer and competitive runner, I had been stretching much of my life, but didn’t realize it was yoga until I started seriously studying the practice when I was in college in 1997. I checked out a book from the library, I believe it was the American Association of Yoga Manual. I started creating sequences for myself in my living room. I had a home practice for 3 years before taking my first public class in 2000.

WHAT KIND OF TRAININGS HAVE YOU PURSUED?

Frani-Assaf

Frani Assaf:

I have been certified in Traditional Hot Yoga (formerly Bikram Yoga) for 16 years. I have also trained in the Ghosh lineage with Tony Sanchez. I recently completed a Yin Yoga training in the Bernie Clark methodology.

WHAT IS ONE PIECE OF ADVICE YOU ALWAYS GIVE YOUR STUDENTS?

Frani-Assaf

Frani Assaf:

The one piece of advice I give to my students is to not get distracted by what the posture looks like, but how it feels in your body. Everybody is different and we can change on a daily basis, so you have to take care to let go of ego and listen to what your body needs.

HOW HAS YOGA INFLUENCED YOUR LIFE & WHO YOU ARE AS A PERSON?

Frani-Assaf

Frani Assaf:

Yoga has changed my life drastically. I was working in the corporate world after college and was constantly on deadline and under stress. I found that the only time I could relax and feel like myself in my body was on my yoga mat. Just taking the time to listen to my breath and forget about the world for 90 minutes gave me so much clarity and that mental release was even greater than the physical benefits I was getting from my practice. When faced with challenges in my daily life, I can remain calm by listening to my breath. This has helped me be a more present partner, mother and friend and taught me compassion for those living/struggling with stress and anxiety.

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE THAT YOU HAVE FACED AS A YOGA TEACHER, AND AS A STUDIO MANAGER?

Frani-Assaf

Frani Assaf:

My biggest challenge as a yoga teacher and studio manager is keeping students engaged in their yoga practice during the summer in Seattle. As a transplant, it kind of blew my mind how much the city shuts down when the sun comes out. People kind of lose their minds:) Everyone is trying to do so much outside (as they should, the PNW is a gorgeous play land) that they don’t want to go inside for yoga. Then, come the end of September, students come back to class with injuries from all the running, sports and high impact activities.

OTHER THAN PRACTICING YOGA, CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT SOME OF YOUR WELLNESS & SELF-CARE HABITS?

Frani-Assaf

Frani Assaf:

I believe in doing something physical every day, whether it’s yoga or walking the dog. I am an avid cyclist and bike commute to work most days. I also love Studio 45’s Lagree method, which is an evolution of pilates that is a full-body workout. This time of year, I am hiking in the Cascades about once a week and getting out on my paddleboard. Self-care for me is at least 5-10 minutes of meditating while going through my skin care regime. I am obsessive about SPF and loving on my skin. I try to get a massage once a month and add in some acupuncture every couple months.

WHAT YOGA RELATED BOOKS HAVE MOST INFLUENCED YOU?

Frani-Assaf

Frani Assaf:

Autobiography of a Yogi has had the greatest impact on me. Yogananda is the brother and teacher of Bishnu Ghosh and his lineage changed my life for the better. I consider Iyengar’s Light on Yoga to be the encyclopedia of yoga…it really helped me realize how extensive the asana practice could be. I recently re-read The Yamas and Niyamas , which is such a great reminder that the physical practice is just barely scratching the surface of what yoga is.

WHAT IS ONE THING MOST PEOPLE DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU?

Frani-Assaf

Frani Assaf:

I would say the one thing people don’t know about me is that I grew up on a farm in Iowa. As I have been living in Seattle for almost 20 years, people just assume I am local. I’m not a native, but since I have been teaching on Capitol Hill for 16 years, I guess I am a local.

WHO IS THE YOGI WE SHOULD FEATURE NEXT & WHY?

Frani-Assaf

Frani Assaf:

Wow, tough question…there are so many great yogis in Seattle. I would say Josephine Edmondson, as she is reaching people who are not necessarily yoga practitioners with her breathwork workshops and helping people live fuller lives with her trauma-informed practice.

Frani Assaf’s Bio: I grew up in Iowa and moved to Seattle in 2000 for the lush landscape and the music scene. Kurt Cobain and Nirvana made me see that I was not alone and being weird or different is so much better than following the masses. I have been a devout yogi for over 20 years and been teaching for over 16 years. When I am not at The SweatBox, you can find me at Studio 45, riding my bike or seeing live bands in the vibrant music city.

Follow me on Instagram @franiroseassaf
Contact me at frani@sweatboxyoga.com