Tracy Brennan is your neighbor

Tracy Brennan grew up in La Verne, so moving to Claremont 18 years ago may seem like a small step. However, her journey included a major career change and at least one round the world adventure.

A 1990 graduate of Bonita High School, she moved to San Francisco where she graduated from SF State University in 1995. The young, hard working Ms. Brennan soon found herself looking for work at the cusp of the dot-com boom years. Life in the big city was exciting.

She worked for a software company that grew quickly, in part by helping other businesses plan for the Y2K disaster that never happened. Like so many technology start ups, that company, Trans Century Data Systems, was soon acquired by a larger company, Platinum, located in Chicago. So she moved to the Windy City.

Even though she loved her job in events planning and sales support, she realized that her life was completely out of balance. Working long hours and traveling constantly for business had taken its toll on her health and psyche. She began to burn out. So when the company was sold to a firm in New York, she decided to take some time off.

But what happened next became an even bigger turning point in her life. While skiing in Vail she had a freak accident that left her laid up with a broken ankle. With plenty of time and nothing to do, she began to re-evaluate her priorities and what she really wanted to accomplish in life. She decided not to return to her corporate career.

“I had never been injured before and was still for the first time. It was terrifying,” she said.

Savings gave her the luxury of time, so she decided to see the world. She traveled to Hawaii, Asia and India, but perhaps the most important excursion was a visit to an upstate New York retreat where she took a yoga class. She describes the experience as a major life shift.

Life’s challenges brought Ms. Brennan back to Southern California in 2001 when her father became ill. She moved in with her sister in Claremont and quickly started looking for places to practice yoga.

“There was not a lot of yoga in Claremont back then so I had to go to LA  and San Diego to get the training,” Ms. Brennan said.

She completed 200 hours of training at Devi Yoga, which was run by Claremont native Naomi Bendiner Woldemar. After an additional two-year program in the city, she received her Iyengar Yoga Certification in 2005.

Soon afterward she began teaching classes for the faculty and staff wellness program at Pomona College. She now teaches six classes each semester in Pomona’s physical education department.

Eleven years ago Ms. Brennan took another big step by opening Claremont Yoga in the Village. The studio’s location in a light filled space above Pizza and Such feels welcoming as soon as one enters. Plus, it is one of the only places where you can get a second floor view of the Village. A year later she added a partner, Nicole Reil, and since then the business has grown, with dozens of weekly classes and many instructors. The studio also offers a yoga teacher training program.

“I have to manage over 20 teachers so I am very grateful for my business partner,” Ms. Brennan said.

Claremont Yoga has a wide variety of classes, including gentle yoga, mixed level Iyengar, Kundalini yoga and an inviting sounding evening session called candlelight yoga. Classes in barre and Pilates are also offered. Ms. Brennan noted that evening classes tend to fill up.

“It’s a really great community,” she said. “I have built a yoga family with the people who show up here.”

Yoga changed her life in another significant way, because it was during one of those faculty yoga sessions at Pomona College that she met her husband Dwight Whitaker, an assistant professor of physics.

The couple was married nine years ago and have a seven-year-old daughter named Daisy. Ms. Brennan describes herself as a “busy mom,” but feels lucky to have a healthy and active child.

Yoga takes up a lot of her time but she also enjoys hiking with her family in Sycamore Canyon, Johnson’s Pasture and Mt. Baldy. Her daughter is involved in Girl Scouts as well as in activities at Chaparral Elementary.

“I love to be part of the community,” she said. “People get to be really good friends seeing each other three times a week [at yoga class.] Those of us lucky enough to live here actually are neighbors.”

This is the first installment of a new feature called “Neighbors,” which will focus on interesting residents in an effort to illustrate the diverse range of people who call Claremont home.

If you have a neighbor you think we should profile, please email me at


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