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…. ❤

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.

Spirituality, Yoga

Advent Yoga

For the second year in a row, I am offering a two-hour Advent-themed Yoga class at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Hampton, VA.  This year, the class will take place on Saturday, December 7th, 1:00-3:00PM in the fellowship hall.  This class is free and open to the public.  Join us for a prayerful experience integrating body, mind, emotions, and spirit during the holy season of Advent!  (Bring your yoga mat if you have one.)

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