Blog

Vibrant Health, Yoga

My Journey as a Yoga Teacher

yoga onelife
Teaching Yoga at Onelife Fitness, Norfolk, 2016

People are sometimes curious about what makes my yoga sessions (group or private) so different from what’s typically offered at gyms or yoga studios.  I guess the easy answer boils down to my extensive training and experience.  Here’s a run-down:

1985 – Began teaching aerobics classes at recreation centers and gyms.  This involved training in choreographing routines and perfecting the art of cueing for students to be able to follow along easily.

1987 – Earned my first national certification as a group exercise instructor from the National Dance-Exercise Instructors’ Training Association (NDEITA).  This involved physical practice as well as studying and passing a written exam on anatomy, physiology, and kinesiology as related to exercise classes.

LCC 1
From an instructor portfolio, 1991

1995 – Earned national certification as a group fitness instructor from the Aerobics (now “Athletic”) and Fitness Association of America (AFAA).  This involved extensive home study followed by passing in-person practical and written exams.  This certification is still current, having been renewed every two years through continuing education.  I went on to become an Examiner for the AFAA practical examination.

1996 – Earned national certification as a personal trainer through AFAA.  I attended two separate trainings – one for the professional practice of personal training and one specifically for weight room exercises – and passed practical and written exams for both.  This certification is still current, having been renewed every two years through continuing education.

1985-2000 – During this time I taught a wide variety of group exercise classes such as low impact cardio, high impact cardio, weight training, core training, Step aerobics, boot camp, interval training, and circuit training.  Sometimes as many as 16 classes a week.

2000 – Attended my first 20-hour yoga teacher training (Level 1) through YogaFit.  This involved learning and practicing teaching a set group of yoga poses (asanas).  After this, I started teaching beginner’s yoga classes twice a week in addition to my other group classes.

2000-2011 – Continued teaching yoga along with other group fitness classes while periodically attending short yoga-related workshops and trainings such as YogaFit Level 2 and Level 3.  I also “self-taught” myself yoga through reading many books and articles.

2007-2008 – Spent seven months living in a Carmelite hermitage in Wisconsin focused on a life of prayer and manual labor.  I mention this here because it highlights my connection to spirituality, which is very important to me and to my teaching.

2011 – Completed my first official 200-hour yoga teacher training through Angela Phillips Yoga Center in Virginia Beach.  Typically, new yoga teachers do these trainings with absolutely no experience of any kind of teaching.  The only requirement to attend is a regular personal practice of yoga for about two years.  So my training was built on a solid history of many years of study and teaching experience.  200-hour trainings focus not only on the physical asana practices, but also on the history and philosophy of yoga, breathing techniques, and meditation.  Shortly after this training, I stopped teaching group exercise classes to focus exclusively on teaching yoga.

YTT 2011
With Angela Phillips and the other teacher trainees, 2011

2017 – Completed the Yoga of Recovery training (100 hours) at Yogaville.  This involved learning the traditional paths of yoga (raja, karma, bhakti, etc.) as taught in India along with 12-Step philosophy to address addictive behaviors and unhealthy habits.

2018 (winter) – Spent two months living at Yogaville working as support staff in the Living Yoga Training (LYT) program and participating in yoga classes and meditation sessions daily.

2018 (summer) – Completed the Raja Yoga teacher training (180 hours) and the Adaptive Yoga teacher training (80 hours) at Yogaville.  These comprehensive trainings put me over the top for 300 hours of advanced training, allowing me to register with Yoga Alliance at the 500 hour level.  E-RYT means Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher.

raja 2018
With my Raja Yoga class, Yogaville, 2018

2019 – Earned a master’s degree in mental health counseling from Old Dominion University.  This included working a 100-hour practicum and a 600-hour internship at an agency in Hampton, VA serving children, adolescents, and adults.  I facilitated a workshop for staff on mindfulness and meditation, and held a weekly meditation group for staff and clients.

2020 – This year, I celebrate my 20th anniversary of teaching yoga!  It’s been an amazing journey so far.  I’m grateful to all the wonderful teachers, especially those at Yogaville, who have guided me up until now.  For me, yoga is holistic, having something to offer for everyone in attaining and maintaining health in body/mind/spirit.  My training and experience allows me to meet students where they are and help them move where they want to go.

How may I serve you?

Spirituality, Yoga

Yoga Means….

four rock formation
Photo by nicollazzi xiong on Pexels.com

Yoga is about gaining control of the contents of the mind. Yoga is not about standing on the head, retaining the breath for so many minutes, or meditating for hours (although if you have the ability to do those things, that’s alright – just don’t think of them as “goals”). Yoga means learning to keep the mind in its proper place as servant rather than master of our lives. All the practices of Yoga are available to help us on this path. Observe your thoughts. And notice the sorts of things you choose to read, ponder, and discuss. Are they helping you (and the world) or causing harm? When thoughts come, realize you have a choice whether to follow them or drop them! Peace to all! Namaste…. ❤

Spiritual Direction, Spirituality

Discerning Truth

Please remember that the “good guys” and “bad guys” are not always who they seem to be. The wheat and the weeds grow together in all places — in individuals, in communities, in human institutions. It’s up to you to get quiet and discern the truth for yourself. Start by questioning everything you think you believe. Where did you get this “knowledge?” Did someone tell you to believe it; did you read it somewhere, etc? Quiet the thinking part of the brain for a while, and listen to your gut and heart. The Truth is true in all places and all times — so you know what it is, you can hear it, deep within yourself if you get quiet and listen. Please take your time. This cannot be rushed. When you sense what is true, you will feel confident, peaceful, even joyful. No one can take this away from you — ever! Also remember that those who know Truth are not generally the ones who are shouting from rooftops. They are the ones who go quietly and peacefully about their lives day after day, year after year. They will not force their beliefs on you. But they will share trusted guidelines, hundreds or even thousands of years old, for discerning Truth and making wise choices.
Peace to all!

beautiful beauty blue bright
Photo by James Wheeler on Pexels.com
Vibrant Health

Homebound? Here are tips!

Greetings! Here are some tips if you find yourself at home every day and stuck in a monotonous schedule:

— Keep your bedtimes and rising times as consistent as possible. Make your bed in the morning to help separate nighttime from daytime.
— Eat three meals a day and limit snacking to avoid weight gain. Choose set meal times that work for you. Example: 8:00AM breakfast, 12:30PM lunch, 6:00PM dinner. If you have trouble with snacking, ask yourself if you’re trying to keep your hands occupied. If so, try writing or drawing. If it’s the mouth/tongue that wants to stay busy, try chewing sugarless gum or sucking on ice cubes.
— Get some fresh air and sunshine every day. Perhaps take a walk or do yard work.
— Get exercise every day, either indoors or outdoors. Walking, stretching, and yoga can be done every day. Household chores such as sweeping, vacuuming, and dusting can provide good exercise too.
— Limit TV as it tends to numb the mind. Instead try reading books or doing crossword puzzles.
— Cultivate your spiritual life with prayer, meditation, and/or chanting.
— Explore your creativity with writing poetry or stories, singing, dancing, painting or other activities.
— Call (rather than texting) a friend. If you just need some human connection, reach out and chat!

Take good care of yourself physically, mentally, and spiritually.  Namaste….

white and red wooden house with fence
Photo by Scott Webb on Pexels.com
Spirituality

A Time of Suffering

What if there is only ONE suffering soul, one being, one consciousness in the whole world?

“I am not alone in my tiredness or sickness or fears, but at one with millions of others from many centuries, and it is all part of life.” — Etty Hillesum

“The image of Jesus on the cross somehow communicates God’s solidarity with the willing soul. A Crucified God is the dramatic symbol of the ONE SUFFERING that God fully enters into WITH us—much more than just FOR us, as many Christians were trained to think.” — Richard Rohr

black hawk soaring
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Pexels.com
Poetry, Yoga

Yoga Sestina

Here’s a poem I wrote a few years ago in the sestina form
(originally published at The Camel Saloon in 2013):

Yoga paths make whole,
send our hearts reaching
out from bodies united
to mind, breath, energy.
We stretch arms, legs, center –
all for blossoms of clarity.

Physical aches and stress clear
away, and even heart’s holes
are healed. Our centeredness
flows from opposites reaching
then blending. Energetic
bodies grow toward union.

Finite minds see unity
with Cosmic Mind; cleared
breath brings life-energy
and mental wholeness.
Contentment at last: a reach,
a handshake, with our true center.

Rambling thoughts are centered;
desperate regrets, fears reunited
with inner peace. Vistas reached
via persistence; wide clearings
bring options and fill holes
opened by misused energies.

Physically, mentally re-energized,
we remember our center:
Honoring the soul makes us whole.
We realize yoga means union
(with God). Our tangled paths clear,
reveal the goal within reach.

Pointless desires drift from reach
of fickle hearts. Our energies
refocus new-found clarity:
Live for God, from our soul-center
to manifest ever-true unity,
the wholeness of holiness.

God’s love reaches us with clarity
to make whole our divided energy:
Our heart-center rests in unity.