Annie Carpenter - BhaktiFest West
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Annie started her life in Virginia, where in her teens she found both of her passions, dance and yoga. She followed her heart to New York, initially studying, and eventually performing, and teaching for the Martha Graham Studio. Annie loved the rigorous discipline and athleticism of Martha’s technique. However it was Martha’s vision of the moving body as an expression of the soul within that echoed many of the beliefs Annie had developed in her study of yoga. She traveled extensively at this time, mainly to Europe and Asia, performing and teaching.

Annie loved the energy and intensity that enveloped the New York Dance Scene, but also sought the quiet and introspection that her yoga provided. For this reason, Annie found herself at Integral Yoga’s ashram as often as possible and found her first true Yoga teacher, Swami Satchadananda.. The emphasis on community, stillness and uncovering inner peace was the perfect antidote for the competitive world of dance. In her thirties, Annie taught modern dance at Butler University, while studying Movement and Gestalt Therapies, earning an M.S. in Marriage and Family Therapy. She created movement rituals for small groups, especially for those healing from disease, specifically HIV and different types of trauma. Annie found this type of work particularly rewarding bringing together yogic principles of self-study and compassion with her love of movement. She continued to choreograph, exploring multi-site pieces and working with a mix of professionals and pedestrian dancers. During these years, Annie studied Iyengar yoga and began to shift her daily practice and teaching away from dance and towards yoga-asana.

In 1995, Annie took a sabbatical to study at Yoga Works with Maty Ezraty and Chuck Miller, the founders of YogaWorks. She continued her studies and attended the teacher training with Lisa Walford and Maty. Maty invited her to teach at Yoga Works soon thereafter and she never looked back! Annie has been fortunate to study with Dona Holleman, Gabriella Guibilano, among others and with Sri K. Pattabhi Jois several times in the United States and 2 amazing months in India in 1997. She continues to study, especially with some of today’s best Meditation teachers, including InsightLA’s Trudy Goodman.  Annie’s teaching has evolved into an intelligent, yet organic SmartFLOW reflecting her love of movement and rigorous discipline. Having studied anatomy, kinesiology, and developmental movement as a dancer, her classes are informed by the body’s structure and evolution. With a great passion for creativity and metaphor, Annie loves to play with sequencing in order to take her students into a deeper understanding of a pose and, ultimately, of themselves. She believes that focusing on alignment is not just safe, but provides “points of dharana” —  gateways to inner stillness and meditation. Over the years her teaching evolved into an inspired method, SmartFLOW Yoga.

After almost 15 years of teaching at YogaWorks, and 7 years leading the Teacher Trainings there, Annie moved to Exhale Center for Sacred Movement in Venice, CA in 2010 to work in a more creative milieu and evolve the SmartFLOW method. She continues to lead her SmartFLOW classes, workshops and her 200 and 500 hour Teacher Trainings at Exhale, and now in the Bay area as well, teaching at the Yoga Tree in San Francisco.  Annie continues to travel to festivals, confererences and studios throughout the world sharing her passion and knowledge of yoga. Annie is the author of RelaxDEEPLY, a CD and Yoga for Back Care, a DVD produced by Yoga Journal. She is a contributing editor at Yoga Journal. Respected widely in the yoga community,  Annie has a distinctive way of being direct and intense, as well as compassionate, playful and loving.