My Yoga Journey
Dani Sackman Carroll, Co-owner & Managing Director
I stepped into my first yoga studio experience with a friend from work in August 2009. I had never done yoga or anything remotely like it. I went because she asked me to, and being the people-pleaser that I was I accepted her invitation simply to make a friend happy. I was 180 pounds, a smoker, and Taco Bell was a food group. I was athletic all my life, mainly water sports, but had always struggled with positive self-image and living a healthy lifestyle. In the two years prior I had gone through complete life turmoil. I had my first experiences with death and had no idea how to handle the pain at such a young age. I turned to drugs, alcohol, and bad people to fill the void that was inside me, which it didn’t. Luckily I had wonderful parents who were able to make difficult decisions and got me the help I so desperately needed, although through it all I never really learned who I was or how I fit into the chaos of the world around me. I had somewhat balanced my life by the time I was in the yoga studio, but I was still lost.
My friend had failed to tell me that the class was over an hour, that it was heated to over 100 degrees and that I shouldn’t have worn what I was wearing. I walked into the blistering hot room sporting my baggy sweat pants, sweat shirt, and tight fitting undershirt unknowing of exactly what was about to happen. I positioned myself on my rented yoga mat at the back of the room in front of the door where it was cooler, per the instructor’s suggestion, and prepared myself for the unknown. I remember looking at this glowing yoga teacher who floated across the room and thinking, “I could never be her, but she is amazing”. I don’t remember much else from that class but I do vividly recall how I felt afterwards; it was transformative. From there it was history: I fell in love with yoga.
Over the course of two months of steady practice I had quit smoking, changed my eating habits, and began loosing weight! I found new friends who inspired and challenged me, and a community that I could be a part of without needed to people-please. In the next two years I earned my first 3 yoga certifications, began my teaching career, lost 60 pounds, and met life-long friends. I quit my corporate jobs, and decided to dedicate my life to what was making me truly happy for the first time. My family probably thought I was crazy, and to be honest I had that thought myself once or twice. I think sometimes when you are transforming yourself, shedding old layers of who you are, you have to go a little crazy to let it go and discover who you are now.
In 2015 I completed my 500 hour Yoga Therapy certification in Rishikesh, India under the guidance of the 1984 Yoga Champion of the World, Yogi Chetan Mahesh ji. After 3 months of living in an Ashram, surrounded by the beautiful chaos of India, I found my place in the world. Standing in the Ganges River I re-affirmed my belief that through yoga, each practitioner has the ability to heal, love, and grow in every sense of the words. It is through the practice of yoga that you discover your most raw and authentic self.
My ongoing passion is to help others discover their most authentic selves through this power and in a supported space. As more people spread their light, the world shines a little brighter each day and we become AS ONE.
Now, here I am, an Expert Registered Yoga Teacher (500H) with over 3,000 hours of teaching experience, 7 years of personal practice, and am floating across the yoga studio, my happy place. Yoga has helped my body, mind, spirit, and guided me to my most authentic self. My goal each time I teach is to remove the dogma of yoga in order to reveal that everyone has the opportunity to learn through accessible sequencing, thought-provoking themes, and mindful music. I am thrilled to join the Ekam Family as co-owner with Joe Pham, and to bring the light to Newport Beach, California.