With his bright eyes and ever-present friendly smile, Naime begins class with a short teaching of yoga philosophy so grounded in every day life that it almost always starts with, “My son Luca and I…” before referencing classical texts and finally connecting to the physical asana practice. Intermittently throughout the class, Naime needs only a few words to remind and reconnect the students to this lesson while we breathe and stretch in an asana.
Following the teaching, the class joins together chanting three times, OM and a short opening invocation. Printouts of the invocation are provided in Sanskrit and English and it doesn’t take long to learn to sing the melody.
The asana sequence begins with a short warm up. You can count on holding upward and downward dog and side angle and twisting side angle poses, jump switching your feet to change sides. Classes will not typically flow through many sun salutations or long varying posture sequences. After the warm up, each class will tend to focus on a handful of standing poses that engage, warm and open the shoulders, heart and hips and prepare students for more challenging poses like handstand, headstand and backward bends. It is common to work with a partner, particularly for support with inversions. Occasionally, you may also use props like blocks, straps or blankets to assist with alignment and deeper exploration.
One of Naime’s strengths comes alive when he stops the class and gathers everyone into a circle around a selected student or two. Using verbal instructions and occasional physical adjustments, he guides the demonstrating student in the Anusara principals of biomechanical alignment deeper and deeper into the pose, inspiring everyone. Rounds of applause fill the room after each demonstration and students return to their mats to practice the pose again. Then, Naime circles the room offering specific instructions and encouragement to individuals. This will happen several times per class.
Students are strongly advised to participate in a class appropriate for their body and experience. Naime teaches a full schedule of separate classes for beginners, more challenging open (intermediate) classes and “the practice,” a twice-weekly 3-hour advanced class that he co-leads with his wife, Sue Elkind. Among the experienced regulars, there is a powerful sense of community, known as kula.
Open and “the practice” classes are very friendly with lots of inter-student banter, many of whom have completed their teacher training program. Along with City Yoga co-owners Anthony Benenati and Sue Elkind, Naime conducts very popular and thorough teacher training programs that has unleashed a wave of Anusara Yoga Teachers on Los Angeles. When someone has a question in these classes, Naime will often offer students the opportunity to answer before clarifying and presenting his.
Naime earned a BS in Exercise Physiology from USC with plans to become a physical therapist. He made his living as a personal trainer and particularly enjoyed helping individuals overcome injuries. His main sport was distance running, and the miles he put on his body every day led him to begin to practice yoga. Naime began to dedicate himself to the study of Yoga in 1993, practicing with many local yoga teachers and participating in workshops and teacher trainings with every visiting senior teacher he could.
In January of 1998, knowing that Naime was very into therapeutics, Maty recommended an Anusara workshop with teacher John Friend. After his first class with John, Naime had so much fun he said, “this is how I want to teach.”
Naime is now based at Digyoga in Lamberville, NJ