September 4, 2012

Who has inspired you?

Finding a teacher you resonate with can change your life.

It could be their wealth of knowledge, their sense of humor, or simply the presence they create as they flow through the room. You may feel an instant appreciation for the passion they have for their subject matter which makes it so easily digestible to you.

I am lucky to have stumbled upon my the teachers who have molded my path, not only on my yoga mat, but also throughout my life.

My very first yoga teacher, back in the mid ’90s at Yogaworks in Santa Monica, California, was Seane Corn. Millions of yogis all over the world have practiced with Seane by this point and know that not only is she a phenomenal teacher whose classes are deeply rooted in alignment, but she is also a woman who has used the power of yoga to inspire conscious activism and ignite grass roots social change. Her poignant teachings have been able to inspire yogis across the globe to uncover their deepest passions and motivations and make changes that reflect their unique purpose.

I moved from Santa Monica to Boulder in 2004, oblivious to who was who in what has become one our country’s most saturated yoga “market.” Knowing I preferred classes deeply rooted in alignment, I tried the Yoga Workshop and found my next two teachers, Richard Freeman and Mary Taylor. Studying with Richard really molded my path in the yoga world and formed who I am today as a yogi.

Richard has been a student of yoga since 1968. He spent nearly nine years in Asia studying various traditions that he incorporates into the Ashtanga yoga practice as taught by his principal teacher, K. Pattabhi Jois of Mysore India. Those of you that have had the pleasure of being able to spend time with Richard know how profound his philosophy is and how he has been able to develop such a unique, metaphorical teaching style.

After applying several times over, Richard and Mary finally accepted me into their one month long summer intensive a few years ago. Over 1,000 students apply each year and they have room for only 40. That summer was filled with tons of philosophy, chanting, contorting my body like a clown’s balloon, and some of the deepest meditation I’ve been through. It was—to put it simply—life changing. Another one of his summer intensives just ended. If you missed it, make a point to pencil it in to your yearly calendar now so you don’t miss it next year.

Desiree Rumbaugh has also been a major influence in my yogic life. From the first time I took a class with her at a Yoga Journal Conference, I knew I was hooked for life. Her alignment cues spoke to me in a way that has opened my body in new dimensions.  She has the ability to demonstrate some of the most advanced postures and even more amazingly, get students into some of these postures they need thought feasible. She does it with a sense of humor and quest for authenticity. Since I’ve met her and we’ve become friends, I’ve spent several weeks in intermediate/advanced intensives with her where she has been able to draw out the bright and shining light within me.

You often hear about the standard bulk 200 hour courses, but weekend workshops, five to seven day intensives, yoga conferences or festivals are additional ways to change your body and mindset. For example, after I had given birth to my first child, I spent five days with De West, who holds a 36-hour Pre-Natal/Postpartum Yoga intensive every spring in Boulder well worth your while flying in for. This was a fascinating experience I only wish I had been able to take before I got pregnant so I could have lived by her words of wisdom.

Another fantastic 60-hour training was with Elysabeth Williamson, who is actually the founder of Principle Based Partner Yoga. Elysabeth has been a teacher and innovator in the world of yoga for over 20 years. Her unique, heart-centered teaching comes from over 30 years of practice in a variety of yogic traditions. Her primary passion, which was evident in the Principle Based Partner Yoga training, was how to use yoga as a tool to open the heart and cultivate healthy relationships.

Those are just a few people I’ve studied with and learned so much from. What yoga teachers have inspired you?



Editor: Brianna Bemel


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