Makers & Shakers: Meet Christina Lei
Makers and Shakers | April 5th, 2016
In a health industry saturated with trainers ranging from the hyper athletic to the overtly eccentric, Los Angeles based yoga instructor Christina Lei DuBois is finding her balance somewhere in the center.
After more than a decade spent practicing yoga, Christina can still remember her first yoga class as a teenager. Coming from a background of competitive dance and cheerleading, she found the slow, focused pace of the poses therapeutic and healing.
“It was really different (from dance). I enjoyed the poses and how they made me feel after.”
Since that initial class, she has continued to explore all that yoga has to offer. From the fast paced, athletic sequences of Vinyasa to the hot, flexibility building poses of Bikram, Christina has used yoga as a tool to strengthen her body and her mind.
“I am someone who really likes the athletic strengthening and stretching side of yoga, but I also incorporate the calming breath into the practice. I’m a blend.”
It was Christina’s personal connection with the meditative benefits of the practice, which prompted her to pursue yoga instruction professionally.
“Once I started getting more into the meditation side of yoga, it got easier. When I was focusing on my breathing and exploring that, I really started seeing the benefits in practicing. And that was when I decided to get my teaching certification.”
A year after deciding to become a registered yoga teacher, Christina found herself at the Kona Lani Yoga Ashram on the island of Hawaii. There, Christina dove into the ashram’s 21-day intensive program for yoga instructors. From 5:30 in the morning until 7:00 at night, participants studied anatomy, practiced mediation and pranayama (breath control), and worked every muscle in their bodies.
“We were exhausted, but it was a great experience because it just forced you in it. I was meditating an hour a day and I got to see how that made me feel. It was kind of like a different world…24/7 living, breathing yoga.”
Though the intensive program was a huge commitment of time, finances, and physical strain, Christina found the immersive experience rewarding on both a personal and professional level. Yet it came with its own set of challenges once the course was completed and she returned to ‘the real world.’
“No one will hire you if you don’t have experience (teaching a class). When you do yoga teacher training through a studio you have opportunities to teach. That’s why it’s hard when you do intensives. You have to take the next steps to put yourself out there.”
Once home in what was then Las Vegas, Christina threw herself into building a name for herself as an instructor.
“I started doing free yoga in the park on Saturday mornings for anyone in Las Vegas. I created a fun morning yoga experience so that I could get training, but also so I could share with my friends and family the things I had learned…I just put myself out there.”
In addition to providing training and exposure, offering free yoga in the park helped build Christina’s confidence as an instructor and gave her the experience she needed to be hired at a gym.
Now two years after gaining her yoga teacher certification, Christina is expanding on her mission of health and wellness in Los Angeles, where she is working toward a master’s degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine at Yo San University.
“I’m passionate about wellness and alternative ways to be well and be happy… With a Masters in Traditional Chinese Medicine I can do acupressure, acupuncture, herbs and a Reiki type healing called Qigong.”
After spending seven months establishing a clientele in Las Vegas, Christina was forced to start from over when she moved to Los Angeles for school. In the highly competitive fitness market of LA, initial rejections felt very personal.
“This has been kind of a humbling experience…You have to show someone your class to get hired. But before showcasing your class skills comes the one-on-one interview. When you don’t get hired from that, you know it’s because they just don’t want you.”
After a few months of perseverance and a refusal to quit, Christina now teaches yoga classes at a gym, offers private yoga sessions throughout the LA area and balances a full-time course load at school. Though not as straightforward as she anticipated, Christina’s path to becoming a health and wellness guru is well laid out ahead of her.
“You’re never going to be happy with a job if you’re not passionate about it. I go to yoga and Pilates classes every week. That’s why it’s easy for it to be a profession. It’s a part of my life.”
For those with their own practice, passion or hobby, Christina has some advice for taking it to the next level:
- Be yourself: Don’t fall into a category just because it already exists. Take it your own way. By staying true to yourself, your personality and passion will help you stand out from others who may simply be followers.
- Combine your passions: Academics and hobbies can complement and strengthen one another. Don’t fall into the belief that they have to be mutually exclusive.
- Practice what you teach: The more time you put into your craft for personal gain, the more you stand to gain professionally.
Christina Lei DuBois is a yoga instructor located in Los Angeles, California. She teaches one-on-one and group sessions. Find Christina on Instagram @ChristinaLeiYoga and online at her blog OneGreenFigTree.com.