Tamara Lafferty-Totman on Her Resume as a Yoga Teacher

tamaraAbout 5 years ago, Tamara and I were teaching yoga at many of the same places. She left to join the “normal” workforce, the people who can’t wear pajamas or sweatpants to work. But soon she came back. Here’s how it went down.

What is one thing on your resume that you would change if you could?

Well, when you work at a yoga studio, no one asks for your resume. They want your bio. But if I could get rid of one thing… I left yoga. I left being a teacher twice in the 17 years I’ve been teaching. And there is a gap in my teaching resume. Twice I left and each time I was gone for a little over a year.

But during your stints away from yoga you were a therapist and a counselor. That’s still in the realm of helping people.

Yeah, my whole idea was to eventually incorporate mental therapy with yoga. I wanted to lead retreats with group yoga and group therapy. Maybe couples, or moms and daughters, or moms and sons, or sons and fathers. But I got so burnt out. When people leave a yoga class, they leave happy and content and feeling good. And maybe people can leave that way after therapy but the situations I was in were so negative. The crisis line was people wanting to kill themselves. The prison was people that are in freakin’ prison! So it was this depressive thing and I didn’t know how to let it go even though I have outlets: I paint, do yoga. I’d walk out and feel completely drained emotionally. I don’t ever feel drained emotionally from teaching yoga. I feel lifted. But you can’t really put that in a resume.

So the last time I came back to tVinyasaArtsClasseaching I said, “I’m never doing that again. I’ve learned my lesson and I’m gonna figure out a way to do yoga where I’m not completely drained from teaching physically and I can make money.” We always knew we were gonna open up a studio. It just took a long time.

How did you decide to leave the corporate jobs? Was it a well-planned exit or did everything just come to a head one day?

I always said, “I’m gonna make it a year. If I’m not any better after a year, then I’m done.” So after like 11 months into the year I started calling all the yoga studios where I used to teach and I’d ask, “Can you take me back?” It’s pretty cool that I’d get accepted back every time I would leave. I’d get myself at least 10 classes a week to get me going and then I’d quit my job.

Do you remember when getting hired as a teacher was a piece of cake? There were jobs everywhere for teaching. It’s hard now. At least once a week somebody is asking me if there are any teaching spots available. And we have so many teachers in our classes as students! For Encinitas, I always make a comparison with LA. In LA, your waiter, your waitress, your nail person- everyone’s an actor. In Encinitas, everybody is a yoga teacher.TamaraTrain

And there’s a studio on every corner. But there are 60,000 people that live within a 15-20 mile radius of the studio and every studio has their own niche and personality. So it feels like we’re doing good.


Tamara and her husband now own a studio in Encinitas, CA called Vinyasa Arts.

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