Even if you’re tired of seeing celebrity “yogis” all over Instagram, you can’t help but be inspired by Nina Dobrev, the Vampire Diaries starlet whose pose pics are so pretty they belong on the cover of Yoga Journal. Check out this recent post for evidence:
Inspired by Dobrev’s gorgeous Wheel Pose (@ninadobrev) and her accompanying caption—”Absolutely the best way to get the day started #yoga” (we couldn’t agree more)—we tracked down her teacher Jason Anderson, a former professional basketball player who became a yoga teacher after studying with Bethany Vaughn at Atlanta Hot Yoga in 2008. Anderson (@calmtivity2), who now teaches Vinyasa flow at Atlanta Hot Yoga and has also worked with Dobrev’s Vampire Diaries co-star Ian Somerhalder as well as Julianne Hough, trains 25-year-old Dobrev using his “Calmtivity” method, or what he calls a “cool flow” with the goal of training your body to keep its composure no matter what.
“Nina’s movements and transitions have become as graceful as a jaguar,” Anderson says. “When she marinates in poses, she keeps the most relaxed face even in the face of great challenge.” Anderson has worked with Dobrev two to three times a week for the past four years, a regular practice that helps keep her “calm” inside and outside of the studio. “Whatever is happening in her life off the mat, she never brings it to the mat,” he adds.
Below, Anderson demonstrates some of Dobrev’s favorite poses, and gives the calm, cool “Calmtivity” take on each.
Warm-Up: Honoring the Sun
Start standing at the top of your mat in Mountain Pose (Tadasana). Inhale, sweep your arms to the sky and exhale, fold into Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana). Inhale, step your right foot back only. Bring your right knee down, let your hips sink toward your left heel and send your arms up to the sky in a Low Lunge (Anjaneyasana)—all in one inhale. Then exhale to Four-Limbed Staff Pose (Chaturanga) or a modification and inhale to high Cobra (Bhujangasana) or Upward-Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana). Exhale to Downward-Facing Dog. Next, inhale and lift the right leg up toward the sky and exhale as you step it through your hands, place your left knee down and let your hips sink toward your right heel. Inhale your arms toward the sky into Low Lunge. Exhale into Standing Forward Bend. Inhale, roll all the way up to Mountain Pose. Exhale and repeat, stepping your left foot back first. Complete 5 rounds.
THE CALMTIVITY TAKE: “This is a great way to calm the mind, quicken the blood and warm the body for the heart of the practice,” Anderson says.
Standing Pose Vinyasas with Knee Coils
Flow through: High Lunge, Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II), Triangle Pose (Trikonasana), Side Angle Pose (Utthita Parsvakonasana), Wide-Legged Forward Bend (Prasarita Padottanasana) and Warrior III (Virabhadrasana III). Hold each pose for 3 breaths with intention, follow with a vinyasa, and repeat on the opposite side. Each time you step up to take the next standing pose, do “knee coils”: From Downward-Facing Dog, lift one leg, draw the knee toward your forehead, coiling your spine and tucking your chin toward your knee. Re-extend your leg repeating 3 times before stepping forward for the next standing pose.
THE CALMTIVITY TAKE: ”Plant strong for security and stability while moving with no hesitation and freedom of expression.”
Eagle Pose (Garudasana)
Take 2 to 5 breaths in Downward-Facing Dog, then walk your hands toward your feet until you are at the back of your mat. Relax in Standing Forward Bend for a moment or two, then gracefully inhale and roll all the way up, reaching for the sun to get ready for Eagle Pose. Once your arms are up toward the sky, exhale your arms out to shoulder height. Inhale your right arm under your left arm and exhale to intertwine the forearms. Inhale and lift your elbows. Exhale, sit down and inhale your right knee high. Exhale to cross over your thigh and maybe wrap your foot around. Draw your left hip back to square your hips and press your forearms and inner thighs together for stability. Take 3 breaths with intention and inhale to release the pose reaching your arms up and exhaling to the left side.
THE CALMTIVITY TAKE: ”Eagle Pose opens up all of the major joints, plus the balance aspect teaches us if you lose balance, it’s cool. Whatever happens just happens.”
Dolphin Plank + Plank Pose
After you complete your last Eagle Pose, exhale and fold forward. Inhale, walk your hands forward to Plank and exhale to Downward-Facing Dog. Take 2 breaths in Down Dog. Inhale to Plank Pose. As you exhale, lower your left forearm, then your right forearm down to Dolphin Plank Pose. As you inhale, press your right hand up to Plank then your left hand up to Plank. Do 5 rounds, then press back to Downward-Facing Dog or Child’s Pose to rest. After you rest, do 5 more rounds starting with the right forearm.
THE CALMTIVITY TAKE: ”These really tone and empower the core, changing from highs to lows gracefully with strength and composure.”
Lower all the way down and lay on your belly. After you rest, do 2 rounds of Cobra (Bhujangasana). Next, Locust Pose (Salabhasana). Rest, lying down flat between each pose, rocking your hips from side to side. From there, inhale to Cobra or Upward-Facing Dog.
THE CALMTIVITY TAKE: ”Allow the heart to expand and open to allow what no longer serves us to pass through and exit for liberation.”
Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)
From Downward-Facing Dog, place your right knee on the mat behind your right wrist in line with your right hip and your right heel in line with your left hip. Your left leg extends back behind you with your knee and the top of your foot facing down. From there, lower your torso toward the mat. Hold for 10 breaths then repeat on the other side.
THE CALMTIVITY TAKE: ”Pigeon teaches us to surrender our fight with gravity, letting go of negative energies such as fear and guilt.”
Reclining Supine Twist
After Pigeon, come back into down Downward-Facing Dog, then place your knees on the mat and come onto all fours. From there, walk your knees to the back of your wrists. Sweep the legs out to the side and come into a seated position to lie on your back. From there, hug your knees into your chest to lengthen your lower back. Then place your feet down on the mat. Press through your feet just to shift your hips to the left, but let your knees fall to the right in an easy twist. Keep both shoulders down and either keep your face toward the sky or turn your head to face the opposite direction of your knees, whichever is most comfortable. On each exhalation, surrender to gravity. Take 5 breaths and switch to repeat on the other side.
THE CALMTIVITY TAKE: ”This is another surrender pose to help us identify anxiety with an inhale and release it with an exhale.”
Corpse Pose (Savasana)
Lie down on your back, stretching your arms our away from your thighs with your palms up. Take easy breaths and stay here for 10 to 15 minutes.
THE CALMTIVITY TAKE: ”It’s time to rest and cure ourselves of fatigue before our next journey.”
—Dana Meltzer Zepeda