Meet Sam! A phenomenal instructor at our studio and our recently anointed Studio Manager. On Saturday, July 18th at 10:15am, Sam Mattei will lead yoga for The River at Fitness on the Rocks. Through yoga, she will do what so many of the legends that came before her have done, share her passion with a piece of the world. And we couldn’t be prouder to have her represent our community.
When asked, Sam admits that she couldn’t have ever planned for this dream come true. “A lot of times my dreams don’t happen until their happening.” Intimidated by future planning, she claims that she works hard and finds the great things in her life simply get mixed into the work she’s doing or the direction she’s moving and almost serendipitously she realizes them and thinks, “Oh yes, this will be sweet!”
She tells us that she is most excited to have her friends and family there to witness the growth of her yoga journey, and to do it on a stage where so many influential people have stood before her and shared their art. “It’s really humbling to share a stage with people like The Beatles and Bob Marley. People who have changed the world.”
To prepare for the event, Sam plans to meditate at sunrise before the event to ensure that her message is something really impactful, yet organic and well thought out. We can’t wait!
Despite the peace Sam finds on her mat these days, yoga wasn’t always a place of calm for her. As it does for so many, yoga found Sam in a moment of weakness and healing. In high school, she struggled with a severe eating disorder and wasn’t allowed to participate in strenuous exercise. In an effort to take a softer approach to exercise, Sam walked into a yoga studio. At first she admits to hating the practice. She struggled sitting in her own skin and witnessing being in her body on a deeper level. Committed to the work, slowly she began to feel a steady transformation and her mat evolved from being the most challenging place she could be, to the most safe place she could sit.
She continued her practice through college and found a deeper calling post-graduation. After traveling the world for awhile, Sam returned to Colorado without a clear path forward but continuously found herself on her mat at ease. She decided to dig into her practice and take the 250hr Axis Ashtanga interdisciplinary training. Unsure exactly what she would get out of the training, she remembers feeling herself light up as she began practice teaching and then eventually leading full classes. “I’ve never felt that I was as good or as confident in any other role. I could let myself shine and let others shine too. When I teach yoga I am able to be the best version of myself without hiding it or being afraid of it. And get to mix my quirky humor into it.” ß We love that part most!
The River was the first studio Sam taught at (she taught countless park yoga classes before!) and coincidentally she had just completed an accessible yoga teacher training with Matthew Sanford in the fall of 2013. Inspired by the opportunity to share yoga with this audience, Sam founded the Accessible Yoga Program at The River. She talks about this program as a small group of people and a community, where everyone knows each other. Together, in Denver a support system has been built within this audience that helps extend Sam’s knowledge even further. “These students are as equally creative in helping to adapt poses and ideas for how to change things up in their practice. The students really are as much of a teacher as I am.” Throughout all of her teaching, a big learning that Sam has had is,
“I can’t make someone love yoga. I can’t force yoga on anyone. It has to be this open space and created space of acceptance and non-judgment and love and hopefully that is what will bring people in. Whether you have a physical disability or not, everyone has blocks and limitations in their minds and bodies and yoga can help you tap into more resources and strengths – exceeding and defying expectations. Yoga is meant to be a gift for every body and I hope that those who find it super intimidating at first, can find the light that I did. But I can’t force it.”
Outside of her yoga world, Sam LOVES music of all kinds. She claims it to be a major part of her life and credits it with occasionally being the only thing that makes sense to her. She loves that music brings people together and even has experience making a little music of her own (she plays the drums and was in jazz band in high school!). Sam also loves writing, connecting with people, and animals. She has a dog and a horse! She hopes to one day be near the ocean for most of her days and learn to teach in a way that is more sustainable by having a greater impact through quality not quantity.
When asked what her single favorite thing about the world is, her response was, “How small it makes me feel. Not in an immobile/insignificant way, but in a limitless and breathtaking way. We’re all a little piece of it.” If she could be remember beyond her life for one thing, she would hope it’d be for making people feel loved and seen. And if you’ve ever been to one of her classes or simply had a conversation with her, you know that that legacy is already living.
We’re so excited to watch Sam grow in the community and on that beautiful stage this Saturday. Please join us! Save $5 on your ticket by using promo code RIVER. Learn more and buy your tickets here!