Meet an Artist Fellow: Yoga, Meditation and Fitness Instructor, Natalie Burtney

Hi there! My name is Natalie Burtney aka Wolfpack Yoga! I am a yoga, meditation, and fitness teacher and artist living in Los Angeles. I teach all kinds of people- different levels, ages, and interests. Everything that I teach includes mindfulness, self-love, and a bit of fun. I teach to be of service to others—to hold space, to spread kindness, and build community!

I chose the name Wolfpack Yoga after the book, Women Who Run with the Wolves, by Clarissa Pinkola Estés. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. Here is one of my favorite quotes that reminds me to get out into nature! 

“Go out in the woods, go out. If you don’t go out in the woods nothing will ever happen and your life will never begin.” 

Clarissa Pinkola Estés

In my free time, I like to be active—hiking my favorite spots around town, heading to the beach, and going to farmers’ markets. I like adventuring to new restaurants with friends. I also write, act, paint and draw. I love to find new recipes that I have never made before and teach myself how to cook them! I love to cook, especially for friends or family.

During the week, especially this year during the pandemic, I teach a lot of yoga and fitness online! Things are slowly reopening in LA and I have started teaching clients in person and at the studio. It has been refreshing to be in person again and to get that connection with students. For me, teaching is about the people—building community, empowering others to find their own inner teacher, and creating a practice that supports them on their mat and in the world!

On the weekends, you can find me just outside the city for quick little trips—often Palm Springs, Big Bear, camping in Yosemite or Sequoia—California is a gorgeous place to live, and I feel so lucky to have so much nature accessible.

I start my mornings without my phone (it has taken me a while to do it!) and write 3 pages (morning pages) first thing. Then, I make breakfast, then practice a little breathwork and meditate for 20 minutes. This morning ritual takes me an hour, and it is a total game-changer for setting up my day. Not only does it help me check in with myself and how I am feeling, but it centers me, grounds me, and allows me that chill time before the day gets too distracting.

Here are some morning yoga stretches I like to get me going in the morning before an active day. They’re meant for all levels, but feel free to skip and adapt to your needs! Yoga is about being connected to your body, breath, and yourself 🙂

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You could practice seated in a chair as well. Practice each of these movements 3-5 times, moving with your breath. Here are the poses to help you follow along:

Half Sun Salutations with Side Stretch—Sun salutations are meant to offer gratitude for a new day, build a little heat in your body, and help you connect to the meditative quality of moving with your breath. Begin in Mountain Pose, feet planted as wide as your hips, feel the connection to the ground. Inhale arms stretch to the sky, exhale side bend to the right, inhale to center, exhale side bend to the left, inhale to center, exhale release your arms and bend your knees as you forward fold, inhale half forward fold, placing your hands on your thighs of shins, exhale to a forward fold, inhale stretch all the way up to mountain with an upward salute, exhale as you place your hands together to your chest.

Forward Fold Twists—From a standing forward fold, bend your right knee, and place your right hand to your thigh or shin, inhale as your slowly reach your left arm up into a twisted forward fold, reach as high as it feels good to you to get a stretch, then exhale to a forward fold and release your arms, inhale half forward fold, exhale repeat on your other side.

High Lunge with Side Stretch and Cactus Arms—From mountain pose, place your hands on your hips and step your left foot back into a high lunge with feet hips distance apart. Inhale as you stretch your arms up, exhale side stretch to the right, inhale arms up, exhale, cactus your arms like a goal post. Repeat on the other side.

Standing Figure Four Stretch—From mountain pose, reach for a rail if you got it, and lift up your right leg, feel your hip rotate to the right and place the pinky edge of your right foot onto your left thigh, flexing your toes, then squat into your standing leg as you bring your hips back. Breathe! This is a great stretch before or after a hike. 

Star Stretch to Temple Squat—Stand in a wide mountain pose, so your feet are at a comfortable distance, turn out your toes and check that your knees line up with them. Inhale, stretch your arms up- like a starfish, exhale as you squat straight down with your shoulders staying over your hips and the weight going into the outer edges of your feet, repeat as needed- this is one of my faves!

Temple Twists—From the temple squat, place your hands on your thighs, inhale and as you exhale, press more into your left hand, dropping your left shoulder in and twist your torso to the right, inhale to center with a neutral spine, exhale as you twist to the other side.  A great stretch to open the hips and back. 

Dancer Pose—From mountain, lift up your right leg, bend your knee and curl your heel towards your butt, stay or reach back with your right hand and catch your foot, kick it into your hand as you lift your chest and look forward – use that rail again to help!

I grew up in MetroDetroit and my parents always had a cottage in the northern part of the state on a lake. it is crazy beautiful up there! I grew up around nature- swimming, biking, boating, walks- my parents are old school hippies so they also really had an impact on my relationship with nature and the outdoors. Every summer we would drive out west and go to national parks and camp for like a month. I remember these trips vividly still, and just being in awe of so many beautiful places, like Yellowstone, Glacier and the Grand Canyon. Nature is where I feel the most like myself, or at home. When I spend time in nature, it feels like a return to something I forgot about- it is a reminder to stay connected. 

My life is busy, moving, and fast-paced—and I love it. I carve out time daily and monthly to find that return to serenity and peacefulness so that it lives inside me no matter what else I have going on.

You can take classes with Natalie from anywhere in the world online! You can find her on her Instagram and her website.

Need some time to reconnect to nature? Book your Getaway today.