TBY Featured Teacher:
A Passion for Practice
Interviewed by Julia Jonson
Describe your journey into yoga and how it’s impacted your daily life.
In my early 20’s I bought a yoga DVD and started practicing in the privacy of my living room. I wanted to become more flexible and stronger and had heard great things about yoga, so I gave it a shot. I wasn’t consistent though, and eventually stopped. Many years later I began to suffer from sciatica and was encouraged by a chiropractor to take up yoga again. I actually took my very first class at Total Body Yoga and was just blown away by how good I felt. I walked out of class feeling like the weight of the world had been lifted off of my shoulders. Looking back I realize I’d gotten to a point in life where anxiety was the norm, my body was in constant discomfort, and my mind wasn’t in a happy space. I immediately knew yoga would forever be a part of my life. My aches and pains began to disappear, my anxiety started to subside. I just felt like a happier version of myself. Over the years I’ve ebbed and flowed from a more vigorous practice to more gentle, therapeutic movements. I currently try to practice daily and in the last year have become much more committed to a meditation practice. It keeps me sane, happy and grateful for even the smallest things in life.
You’ve said one of your passions is offering yoga to athletes. What it’s like to teach runners, triathletes and Ironman Athletes?
I love it! It absolutely fills me to the brim to offer something so peaceful and healing to these amazing people who are so dedicated to their sport and who put so much time and effort into their training. They are in motion so often, so giving them that hour or so of space and time to slow down, to connect with themselves and their breath, and to help their bodies recover feels very impactful. It has also made me realize how much athletes and yogis have in common …. The focus, discipline, and body awareness. Plus, there is a meditative quality to long runs, bike rides, swims, and walks. I hope that as I learn more through my 500 hour training, I’m able to offer even more to athletes in the area.
You’re an athlete yourself. What role does your yoga practice play in this part of your life?
It plays a huge roll. I use the physical practice to keep myself stretched out and to help keep all of my stabilizing muscles strong. When I don’t find time to practice daily, even if it’s only 15 minutes, I’m a tight, uncomfortable mess. I really credit yoga as the reason I’ve been injury free thus far. I also meditate daily and find that it helps with my training as well. It allows me to stay focused without being too insanely attached to the outcome of things.
How exciting that you’ve chosen to earn your 500 hour yoga certification! I know the program you’ve chosen is truly one-of-a-kind. Please elaborate.
I have to thank Brooke Cline, who also teaches at TBY, for encouraging me to apply for the Yoga Medicine 500 hour teacher training program with Tiffany Cruikshank. I’ve so far completed one 60-hour module that focused on Chinese Medicine and Myofascial Release. The program is unique in that it allows you to pick and choose which modules you’d like to take, so you’re able to focus or specialize in different areas. I plan to take the orthopedic modules (hip, shoulder, spine, etc) along with a yin and meditation module and possibly even a module that works on cadavers. It’s very anatomy based, so I’m learning so much about our fascinating bodies. I can’t wait to continue to grow my teaching so I’m able to offer more to my students.
When I practiced with you recently, I felt like we did some really deep work with tennis balls that truly left me feeling really at ease, balanced and even well rested. Tell me about the myofascial release work that are often part of the framework of your classes.
Self myofascial release (SMR) is awesome! It’s the same concept as foam rolling but I typically use tennis or lacrosse balls. I find you’re able to get into smaller, more isolated areas of the body with these smaller objects. You essentially use your bodyweight to work through the different layers of fascia to help hydrate the tissues, break up adhesions, reduce friction, and improve range of motion. It’s a great way to work into areas of discomfort or tightness because of an injury, scar tissue, bad posture …. the list goes on. It’s a perfect compliment to yoga so I’ve been including it more in my classes. Each week I try to give students different ideas as to how they can use myofascial release to address their tightness so that they are able to do it on their own.
Yoga used to be this obscure and mysterious practice and now it’s everywhere. Why do you think yoga continues to grow in popularity?
I think it’s simple: people realize how much better they feel when they practice yoga. I feel like our society really thrives on keeping us super busy and we’re finally starting to realize that maybe that such busyness isn’t good for us. Taking the time to slow down, to unplug from technology, to appreciate our breath and to connect with our internal body are all things that yoga encourages. Being present can make you feel more alive.
Any favorite thing, guilty pleasure or little-known fact about you that you’d be willing to share with the TBY community?
Ha! Well, I do have a weakness for fun shoes, hip-hop music and pickles. Not in any particular order. I’ve also become known for wearing crazy, fun or wild yoga pants. The more outrageous the pattern the better! They make me feel strong and invincible and put a smile on my face.
Audrey’s Teaching Schedule: