Job: Owner/instructor, Tough Love Yoga
Relationship status: Engaged
There's something very yin-and-yang about a yoga instructor whose 75-minute sessions wouldn't be complete without a blessing from the likes of metal band Death Heaven. An Atlanta native of Iranian descent, Neda owns Tough Love Yoga, where her metal yoga mashups grew out of a desire to make the discipline she's practiced for 13 years more fun and accessible. When she's not stretching out sacroiliacs in her favorite King Pigeon pose, she likes to indulge in a dairy-free brownie or veg-out on the couch with her new fiancé. The couple recently returned from a friend's wedding in Sayulita, Mexico, where Neda's boyfriend proposed on Playa de los Muertos, a pre-Columbian cemetery which, translated, means Beaches of the Dead. "It was just perfect," she says.
What's the lamest pickup line anyone's used on you?
I used to work at MJQ. So you know when you're the bartender and you're feeding people alcohol — I got lots of them. One of them was like, "My friends and I were talking and you're about an 8." I was like, "Wow, thanks, dude! All right, moving on."
What's the first album you bought with your own money?
This is the embarrassing part. It was the Point Break soundtrack. There was a rap song that I was really into. I was in third grade; it was serious business.
What's your sexy-time soundtrack?
I like melodic metal, like Isis or Wolves in the Throne Room — something like that.
What's your pettiest relationship deal-breaker?
Ohhh, bad taste in music, probably. Like if you liked Maroon 5, that would be a deal-breaker for me.
How much would you charge to murder a stranger?
I would not. There's not a price on that. It's just not gonna happen. I couldn't do it.
With whom would you like to play Truth or Dare?
Probably my friend Garrett. He's my best guy friend. He's hilarious. When I told him I was coming here today, he was like, "Do we need to do your makeup, Beyoncé?" He's very funny, very cute.
What personal attribute are you a sucker for?
Nerdiness is probably my No. 1 attribute that I love. My boyfriend's super nerdy and I think it's really sexy.
What do you like best about your job?
I like it because I get to do whatever I want. I've taught at other people's studios and had to develop my program around their expectations. Now I can say "fuck" in my class if I want to. I can teach metal yoga if I want to.
Are the movements any different?
No, it's just the music. I play all kinds of different metal. We do a different band every week. So it just depends on what I'm in the mood for. It's just nice to not have the boundaries. I think I became a better teacher when I stopped caring about what other people thought.
What's your standard drink?
I love whiskey.
What band were you obsessed with when you were 14?
Oh gosh, when I was 14? Probably something like the Beastie Boys or something. I'm trying to think, 14? What grade was that?
What's your guiltiest pleasure?
My roommate makes these brownies and they're dairy-free. I have a lot of food allergies so I can't eat a lot of stuff like that. But they're dairy-free and grain-free and I've eaten one every single day since October. It's like the best part of my day.
What's your least favorite household chore?
Oh, hanging up my clothes when they're washed. That's the worst. I always have a laundry basket stacked full of clean clothes.
Describe your relationship to exercise.
Oh, constant. I mean, it's my job. It's my love. I don't feel right if I'm not practicing yoga.
What's the last thing that made you cry?
Oh man, talking about my dog that just passed away.
What's the last good book you read?
I'm in the middle of doing my first yoga teacher training. Or leading my first yoga teacher training, so I've been reading a lot of yoga books. But the last non-yoga book I read that was good? Into the Woods. It's [set in] southern Ireland and kind of a murder mystery.
What do you wish someone would hurry up and invent?
What movie would you most like to live in?
Can I pick a TV show? Can I say "No Reservations"? That's what I want to live in. I want to be Anthony Bourdain. Movies are kind of hard for me. Lord of the Rings.
What's the best way for a customer to hit on you?
Oh, don't. Yeah, especially not at the yoga studio. It's just really inappropriate and creepy. My boyfriend was a customer of mine when I bartended and he never hit on me. He was just the nice, quiet guy at the bar. And that worked.
Who would play you in the movie of your life?
God, I don't know, I've never thought about that before. I'm trying to think about what Garrett would say. What would my gay best friend say? Um, I don't know. Probably some curvy Latino lady.
What's the one thing you most hope to accomplish this year?
I wanna get another dog. I had two Dobermans and they both passed away in the past couple years. So by the end of the year I wanna get another Doberman, for sure.
What's your least favorite thing about Atlanta?
Oh, the crime. I don't like that I don't feel safe anymore. I used to gallop about the city, drunk at 18 years old in East Atlanta by myself. And now, it's like all I ever hear of is people getting thrown in trunks, and getting mugged. It's just sad, you know.
Is there a drawback to being attractive?
That's a weird question. I don't think attractiveness has so much to do with anything? I know a lot of people who might be physically attractive at first, and then they're nasty people.
Name one thing you've stolen.
When I was a kid I stole some mints from Eckerd. I remember I had like a blue jacket on. I don't know why.
Who's the most important person in your life?
My parents, for sure. They're phenomenal people.
Have you ever been dumped? If so, what was the reason?
What wasn't the reason? I don't know. I feel like I've gotten dumped a few times. The last time I got dumped was my current boyfriend and he was going through a divorce and he said it was too much. I think she was dating before he was, so I didn't really feel bad about it. I didn't break up a marriage or anything — I would never do anything like that.
What would you order for your last meal?
My mom's lamb. It's so good it's ridiculous. And one of those brownies. Yeah.
How do you handle rejection?
I think I have a different outlook on it now that I'm older. I probably didn't handle it very well when I was younger. I think that's one thing I've really learned through my yoga practice: Something bad will happen, but like, it's temporary.
What did your parents want you to do with your life?
My parents are both science nerds. My mom was a chemist and my dad's a doctor. I think they both wanted me to go that route, and I actually wanted to go that route. I studied neuroscience and psychology and I was pre-med and all that stuff. And then I got burnt-out and quit. I still graduated college. I think they were worried, but they're really happy for me now.
Have you ever stalked someone on Instagram?
Colonel Meow. He's a cat [laughs]. He's a really cute, fluffy cat and he looks angry all the time.
How often do you talk to your mother?
Almost every day. We're really close as a family.
What's your preferred footwear?
Um, barefoot, most of the time, just because I'm teaching almost every day. But I really like big, big, big, big heels.
What's the most romantic place in Atlanta?
I really love the telescope at Fernbank.
What's your wackiest piece of personal trivia?
When I was a kid I collected a lot of weird things. And one of the weird things I collected was toothpaste caps. I know. I was a really weird kid. I had a whole box full of them.
What's your weirdest recurring dream?
It's always like running through a dark castle and it's all stone. And it's really, really interesting. And I'm always like running, but I'm calm. You know? Like I'm not terrified. But I remember vividly being a little kid and having that dream.
Where would you go on a bucket list vacation?
Not counting rent or bills, where does most of your disposable income go?
My house has flooded twice this past year, so most of my disposable income goes to fixing the house again.
What's your life's ambition/grandest dream?
I already got it. I wanted a studio and I wanted to teach yoga teacher training. I guess it's time to make new goals.
If you had to spend $1 million in one afternoon, what would you do?
I think I would give it to my parents. They've really supported me a lot. I want my dad to retire. He's a doctor, but he's gonna be 71 in March and I want him to retire and enjoy his grandkids.
Have you ever stolen a friend's boyfriend?
Wow, no. I haven't stolen a friend's boyfriend. I have dated a friend's boyfriend after they were done dating. There was a lot of that in Atlanta when I was like, early 20s. It was kind of incestuous, especially working at MJQ. Not proud of it.
What's your own character flaw you'd most like to fix?
I'm a control freak. I'd really like to be less controlling and like, um, yeah. I think the anxiety that comes from being a control freak, I'd like for that to be a little less, yeah. It's bad for everybody, especially when you're the boss. I mean, I never like to think of myself as the boss, but like, you know, just like, letting go a little bit more. I think if I let go a little bit more it would be good.
Why do you think someone nominated you for the Lust List?
I really honestly mean it when I say I thought it was like a prank when I was getting called. I just really think it's flattering and nice and sweet. It makes me a little uncomfortable.