Get to Know a Yogi With Tim Senesi (Surfers Listen Up)
I took one of my first yoga classes in California with Tim Senesi, and could tell right away that he was a well-respected teacher not just at YogaWorks, but in the entire community of Orange County and beyond. Yogis flock to Tim for his educational, soulful, inspiring, and open-minded classes. He is soft in his speech, lighthearted in his tone, and connective in his approach. You learn things with Tim. Every pose and every flow is a lesson. You leave understanding your body better.
In addition to teaching at various studios throughout Southern California, Tim also holds workshops and retreats. And no matter where you are in the world, you can connect with him through his YouTube channel, Yoga With Tim, where he posts a new video every Thursday.
In this edition of Get to Know a Yogi, Tim talks about his yoga background, and gets into yoga specifically for surfers. An avid surfer himself, he has several videos dedicated to providing the surfing community with ways to warm up, stretch, and get more in tune with the parts of the body most worked while out on the water.
(YA) Take us back to the moment you were introduced to yoga. Where were you, what were you doing, and how did the practice begin to make its way into your life?
(Tim) I was introduced to yoga my freshmen year of college as a requirement for my Psychology class. I attended a lecture given by a true health enthusiast. You might not remember this ad campaign, but he was the guy from the Chiquita banana commercials that’s jumping hurdles. He stressed the importance of stretching and going upside down on a daily basis, something that wasn’t a part of my routine. The man was 80 years old and radiated health … he could still jump hurdles and run a 6-minute mile. He had students from the class come punch him in the abs while he was flexing to demonstrate how strong he was. Needless to say, it was entertaining yet also inspiring.
I found a yoga class at my school gym and figured if I went, they would make me stretch and go upside down. At the same time, I was living a toxic lifestyle and rationalized yoga as a means to a healthier life. I was trying to find a balance between two completely different lifestyles. I was attracted to activities that made me feel healthier because I felt like I was really destroying my body on a weekly basis.
(YA) What took you from yoga practitioner to yoga teacher?
(Tim) I kinda fell into it. I had been studying yoga for a few years while in college. I was in my third year at San Diego State University, living in Ocean Beach. Some friends encouraged me to start teaching yoga classes to pay my rent for the summer instead of going home like I was planning. I taught my few guinea pig friends, and posted flyers all over town that a friend made that looked super legit.
A studio owner saw my flyers and asked me to come in for an audition. Soon, I was subbing classes and teaching a Saturday morning yoga class, which I really had no business doing. I didn’t really understand how to teach yoga poses, and I was living a pretty toxic/un-yogic lifestyle. I remember one Saturday morning someone asked me how to do Half Moon Pose, and all I could say was, “just watch me.” I knew deep down that I had to change the way I was living and pursue studying with a master yoga teacher.
(YA) Where’s your favorite place to practice?
(Tim) I like practicing at home. My favorite teachers to study with are Paul Cabanis, Vinnie Marino, Megan Bello, and Manouso Manos.
(YA) Describe the style of yoga you teach and why.
(Tim) When I started yoga, I was 18. I really wanted to get a workout when I practiced, as well as refine my postures. Now I don’t really care about turning my yoga practice into a workout, but I understand that many people have that mentality about yoga. So I try to make my classes challenging to lure people in and soothe the quality of the mind that makes them drawn to that type of activity, and then give them something to think about in the practice.
I’m more drawn to the depth in a yoga practice. I learn from some of the amazing Iyengar teachers I’ve had a chance to study with, but I found when I took Vinnie Marino’s class that he did a really nice job of blending a strong class with precision and alignment. That has had a huge impact on me and the way I teach.
(YA) Tell us about the yoga retreats you host. Why do you think retreats are important for yogis to embark on? Where is your favorite destination?
(Tim) Yoga retreats for me changed the way I practiced yoga, and got me set on practicing it daily. To be away from day-to-day life and focus solely on my yoga practice is really important so I can come back to daily life refreshed. It’s also a great way to build community. You get to hang out with other people who practice outside of the yoga studio.
I really wanted to teach more yoga retreats to give people these opportunities. I love teaching in Bali. The place is magical and heavy. The people are unreal. I’m teaching a retreat again in Bali March 26 – April 1, 2016.
(YA) You have a YouTube channel called Yoga With Tim where you offer a variety of classes that vary in style, length and focus, from yoga for relaxation to yoga for strength, Hatha yoga to Vinyasa yoga and yoga for cyclists to yoga for surfers. Can you talk a little bit about your videos?
(Tim) The YouTube channel for me was important because it gave me a way to share yoga with people for free, and give a variety of practices for all types of people.
(YA) What are your most recommended yoga poses for surfers?
(Tim) I would recommend that surfers learn better core control, in order to keep their lower backs and necks healthy. Shoulder opening/scapular stability is also important while working on posture. Lots of surfers have bad knees because we tend to not do anything with our legs except try to crank them around while turning – especially back knees – while hunched over in the wave. To counter this, surfers need to work on squats and lunges with good posture to strengthen and lengthen the body parts they tend to crank on.
Surfers need a 5 –10 minute warm-up before surfing, along with a regular yoga practice a few times a week to stay injury free. This advice is meant for people who are really into surfing; going once a month is a bit different. Check out my Yoga for Surfers video on YouTube to get some more ideas:
We hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know Tim and his journey into the yoga world as much as we did. And if you’re a surfer, make sure to view more of Tim’s educational videos on his YouTube channel and see how the difference effects you on the water.
Want to find out more about Tim, his schedule and upcoming workshops and retreats? Head to his website, timsenesi.com, find him on Instagram, @timsenesiyoga and try out one of his videos on his YouTube channel, Yoga With Tim.