Getting to Know Yoga Man Dan McAnally
If you’re a yoga lover or are at all in touch with VIDA’s yoga program, you’ve probably heard of Yoga Man Dan. Dan teaches 17 yoga classes a week at all VIDA locations and does actually have a last name (McAnally.) However, Yoga Man Dan is the name that’s become well-known (for good reason) in the VIDA yoga community!
Dan grew up and went to college in Pennsylvania, where he was a health major. When he had to take a random elective to complete his program, he decided to give a yoga class a shot.
“I played sports my entire life so I thought it’d be fun to try a yoga class. My instructor was very encouraging and made me want to learn more about it,” says Dan.
As Dan’s interest and passion for yoga grew, he decided that he wanted to be able to share that energy with others and got certified at the Yoga Life Institute in Philadelphia. It was during his training here that Yoga Man Dan was born!
“They helped me learn to create an environment that people feel welcome practicing in. It focused more on what you’re doing off the mat vs. on the mat. And they were all OG’s of yoga,” he explains.
After graduation Dan took a position with the Peace Corps as a Health Education Volunteer. He spent 27 months in Mali where he worked at the health center in his village. He taught hygiene and nutrition classes and worked on projects to improve clean water, sanitation and health care conditions in the country. And of course, he taught yoga classes for his fellow Peace Corps members for fun!
Once his tour with the Peace Corps was over he accepted a job with NIH in Bethesda and began a new chapter living in DC. He had been here for a few months when a coworker recommended teaching at VIDA. He walked into his auditions almost four years ago (his 4 year VIDA anniversary is this month!) and has been teaching yoga here ever since!
It’s fair to say we keep Dan pretty busy, since he packs in 17 classes a week on top of his already full-time position at NIH. His typical day starts around 6am teaching back to back sunrise yoga classes, which he finishes just in time to hop on the red line for the 45 minute commute to his office. When he gets off at 5 he doesn’t head home for the evening, he heads right back to VIDA to teach more yoga.
Dan currently teaches Vinyasa, Power, Ripped & Sunrise Yoga, plus mat Pilates and Pilates Reformer as well. Despite being one of our most tenured yoga instructors, he says he still gets nervous before every class.
“I still get nervous before each one because I really care about making sure my students feel good and enjoy the entire class. I’ve been in classes where the teachers don’t care about how the students are doing, or where their series’ just don’t feel comfortable. I try to put together sequences that are smooth sailing and make your body feel good the entire time,” says Dan.
As someone who works a demanding daytime job, Dan stresses the importance of having an hour out of the day where you can let loose and allow your mind to wander to wherever it wants.
“There are so many rules we make ourselves follow in life, and yoga is the one time to let go of all that and feel free. I feed off the energy of my students and want them to get what they need out of my class, whatever that may be,” he explains.
In Dan’s classes you can expect him to be on his mat doing the moves right along with you with a smile on his face from start to finish. He stresses that he’s there to take the journey with you, not just to tell you how to get into a pose.
“It’s like we’re all in a spaceship together, I’m not just hanging back in the control tower. I want to create a positive space with good energy that you can take with you off the mat. Yoga is all about creating that off-the-mat attitude where you’re kinder and more easy-going after leaving the class. I’m just trying to infect the city with good energy,” he says with a smile.
He’s doing a pretty good job of that so far, as he’s built quite a loyal following at VIDA who rave about his classes and take them at multiple locations.
While Yoga Man Dan doesn’t have much free time between working at NIH and teaching a huge amount of yoga, he does enjoy biking around the city and occasionally visiting his Chinatown apartment when he has the time. And, like many fitness enthusiasts, Dan has a huge thing for peanut butter.
“A fun fact about me: I’ve eaten peanut butter every day for the past ten years. Even when I was in Africa, I found a lady in the village that would hand-make it by grinding up the peanuts herself and would sell it out of a bag. I haven’t gone a day in ten years without it,” he says.
Check the schedule to see when you can drop in on a class with Dan, and come ready for some good vibes, probably some laughs, and a ton of positive energy!