I will admit to you, dear reader, there are times when I don’t want to practice yoga. I know, hold your gasps and assumptions. On those certain days I would prefer to be snuggled in bed, comfortably sleeping in my perfect dream world, maybe watching a movie, gluttonously shoveling popcorn and peanut M&Ms into my mouth. Then I remind myself of the steps I have taken to get where I find myself now. I remember that I attend for me””not anyone else. It takes months, even years to get to a point of comfort in yoga practice, reaching that moment when your body finally finds its positioning, or scoping out the right studio whose scheduling coincides with your own, and discovering an instructor that helps you grow, nourishing your appetite for knowledge, truly affecting your life.
Yoga is not purely physical. It is mental and emotional and brings you to a spiritual level you may not have been searching for. Somehow you stumble upon a teacher that aids in the completeness of the practice and you are connected. Peter Chandonnet, known affectionately to his students as “The Pete,” is one such instructor. Susan D’Amour, a Pete regular, says, “There is something about him””his energy, the music, the choreography of the asanas””it is indescribable. I fly out of the room every time.”
Pete teaches at Yoga Studio in San Francisco. He was educated through trainings there, as well as trainings at Yoga Tree, after being turned on to yoga by his Zen meditation teacher during graduate school in Michigan. After graduation, he moved to Santa Monica. Although he loved it there, a good friend convinced him that Northern California was really the place to live. He spent a week on holiday, taking in the beauty, practicing yoga and hiking around Marin County. He fell in love instantly and has been a local for five years. Pete teaches flow that interweaves various types of yoga from numerous mentors. Currently he works with Maritza, steeped in Anusara yoga and Vipassana meditation; Shiva Rea, vinyasa flow; and Rusty Wells, Bhakti flow. His influences also include Denise Kauffman (Yin), Indie Marie (Anusara), Katchie Ananda (Anusara), Stephanie Snyder (Flow), Dina Amsterdam (Yin) and James Higgins (Vipassana meditation). He studies his craft well.
There is a natural warmth in Pete’s voice. He is a sweet man whose eyes smile. He freely shares how happy he is to see you, and how lovely and lucky we are to be in the practice space together. His classes are similar, but never an exact replica of the previous sessions. “You get lost in the flow and it becomes a dance, your own dance,” Susan confides. He teaches outside the box and it strikes as an overwhelmingly genuine experience. His energy is nurturing and kind. “He is very positive. Light and playful but deep and soulful all at once,” Susan says. At the opening of each class, Pete reminds the group that it is a time for you””to get back to yourself, to your day. “Yoga is about filling yourself up,” he says. “Taking the time to replenish and restore yourself so you are able to discover””and feel””wholeness.” He applies everything he has learned on the most human level, and makes one feel completely capable. Then he cranks his music and you’re off!
Pete is able to bring deep compassion to his teaching because he is also a life coach. He works for Falling Awake, started and crafted by Dave Ellis. To Pete, coaching is “hugely rad.” He is cognizant when intermingling the two philosophies of yoga and coaching, creating space for you to let go and tap into who you are. “I want to inspire people”¦to be a good human”¦and help people find that in themselves.”
A strong believer in service, Pete leads retreats to raise money and awareness for The Pachamama Alliance, a nonprofit organization that ensures 7 million acres of rainforest in Ecuador and Peru remain untouched. Lululemon Athletica has also appointed him Yoga Ambassador for their store on Union Street this year.
Pete is a firm believer in being supported by numerous people. He suggests you choose individuals who help you feel your best. “You need a team,” he laughs. Pete’s lineup includes his partner Tim, his parents, his brother and sister-in-law, his hfriends, instructors, students, both Yoga Studio and Falling Awake staff and his life coach JoAnne Bangs, whom he attributes as “one of the most significant beings in my life.” He was once told that he is successful at his craft because he has never asked of someone anything more than what he has endured.
I will share my insightful snippet with you””you can take it or leave it, no hurt feelings, I promise. Your yoga practice, technically, may be on point, but until you find a teacher whose inspiration touches the core of your person, someone that causes you to look at your place in the world, your practice is incomplete.
Find your Pete and perfect not only your practice, but your life.