We are stoked that San Francisco based yoga teacher Danni Pomplun is joining the Warrior Addict tribe! This guy teaches yoga classes, retreats, workshops, masterminds, trains other teachers, loves sports including cycling, surfing, rock-climbing and snowboarding AND manages to find the time to volunteer with underprivileged young people…how does he fit it all in? Let’s hear his story in this interview with Caleb Packham…
Danni, you're a busy boy.
Yeah. I like to say not busy, but productive. Big difference.
What about Yoga Misfits? Tell us about that.
It just kind of dawned on me one day. When I first started yoga, I had a really hard time fitting in. I feel like I didn't look the part. I feel like I didn't fit the mould. I feel like the way that I came into it was a little bit different. As I started finding my own tribe and my community, someone was like, "You're like the misfit of the yogis," and I was just like, "Wait, what did you just say? What did you just say?"
I just kind of took it and ran with it. It's kind of been like my saving grace, and it's really the way I identify my community. Like everyone who feels like they don't feel like they're a part of something else, it's cool. We've got a place for you.
So who is a typical Yoga Misfit?
I think it's the rule-breakers. It's the people that go against the grain. It's the people that don't follow the stream. That's me. It's the people who don't feel like they really belong.
So tell us what we could expect in a typical yoga class with you?
I have lots of terrible jokes. That's a great place to start. My classes are a blend of me and my passion for anatomy and being a super big nerd. And then also this belief that your inner wisdom is just there, and my job as a teacher is to remind you that it's there. So there's a little bit of chanting. I try to weave in as much philosophy as I can - because I do believe it's an important part of the practice. And I completely just nerd out on biomechanics. I break all the asana rules and really look at the human body when it comes to movement. I see the body as more than just like linear, one way to look at it. You know, we have to look at how we evolved and playing around in different shapes rather than just the traditional stuff which is great to know, as well. I started there and now I like to play with a little bit more.
And tell us, you use music in your classes?
Totally. Absolutely. Yeah, the more music the better. I try to get as much live music, actually, in class as possible. I bring in a harmonium and then I have a drum and then I have a guy who comes in and plays the sitar, he plays the Japanese drum. I have a guitarist. I have a harp player. I have had a pianist in class before. The pianist was really cool. I do a deep house flow where I have a DJ come in and we do a big sound back at the end. Music is a big part of my life and it's really something that ... you know, it's my soundtrack to everything. I feel like that pulse and that energy really translate into movement as well.
And you play an instrument yourself?
Yeah. I play the harmonium and then I play a djembe drum as well.
Tell us about pirates yoga?
Oh, pirates yoga. Yeah. So I'm often asked what kind of yoga I teach and everyone's like you teach vinyasa or you teach iyengar or you teach ashtanga. I like to say that I teach pirates yoga and it's basically I just take all the things that I like (from the other yoga disciplines) and leave all the stuff that I don't.
You've mentioned that yoga was your refuge through a hard time in your life. Can you tell us a bit about that?
Yeah. I was 25 and I had lost a partner in life and I didn't know really how to deal with it. So my drinking and drug addiction took the best of me. I had a failed suicide attempt. And when I was really broken and really at my lowest, I didn't really feel like I had any place else to go and a yoga community opened their arms and welcomed me in. I had never really been involved before like that and they just came in and nurtured me and took care of me and continue to push me down this path. You know, like teachers where we pull things out of people that they don't yet see sometimes or remind them. And they were able to do that for me.
How did you first make the connection with that community?
I had practiced beforehand. I said I was like a yoga tourist where I had taken a couple of classes here and there at a gym. And then my roommate at the time, she saw me broken and was like you need something. You gotta do something for yourself. And she was like there's a studio that opened up down the street. You can go check it out. I went and checked it out and I couldn't really afford it so I started scrubbing toilets to get yoga. And then I slowly moved my way up. I became in charge of the toilet scrubbers and then they moved me up to front desk and then, low and behold, not too long later they offered me a scholarship to a teacher training program. They really just pushed me down the path and I'm so glad that they did.
That's wonderful. And now you give your time generously to underprivileged youth. Tell us about that.
Yeah. I'm a part of the One Love Movement, it's based in San Diego, with a good friend of mine, Kim. I recently brought it up to San Francisco. Basically the way I see it is we have this platform called yoga and part of the teachings of yoga is 'seva' which is the yoga of helping others. I really do believe that as a community we rise when we really help others rise up. And I know that when I was younger if I had tools like yoga and meditation and mindfulness, life would have gone a little bit different. I'm glad that it did go the way that it did, but I believe in helping those people out because I know where I was as a young kid and I know where drugs and alcohol really took over. I feel like we have an opportunity to really ... let's face it. Our youth is really what's going to shape the world. We're kind of just phasing our way out of it. And if we can help them grow and continue to support themselves and give them an opportunity that they could change, why not do it?
And tell us how is yoga going to change the world?
I mean, how is it not going to change the world, you know? I like to remind people if you think you're coming to my class for a workout, great. But at the end of the day I'm more than happy to give you sixty million crunches or chaturangas or whatever it is that you need so that you can get tired and then listen to me tell you how awesome you are and how you really do have that inner wisdom and that inner strength and everything that you're looking for is within you. And I think it's those subtle reminders. You know, yoga just really teaches us how to be better people.
What advice do you have for someone who is feeling apprehensive about taking their first yoga class?
Oh my god, just do it. Just do it. There's so many yoga classes and there's so many yoga teachers and you're probably going to go to a few that you don't like and you're probably going to go to some that you love. Just go and explore it because it's so vast and it's never ending and there is something for everybody.
What's next on your agenda?
I think the biggest next thing that I have is I recently launched a 500 hour teacher training program here in San Francisco and I'm co-facilitating it with one of my teachers who's a senior teacher. It's just kind of one of those dreams where like wow, it's happening. That's probably the biggest thing on my plate right now is running my own 500 hour with my teacher side by side so I'm like ahh.
Well before you leave us, would you mind giving us some words of wisdom for us to take away with us?
Trust that you are enough. Know that you have everything that you need and believe that you are on this path for a reason and remember that.
Watch the full video interview with Caleb and Danni on our YouTube channel here:
For more information about Danni including links to his website and social media pages, click here