Yogi योगी Insight (part 8 in a series)

If you are coming here for the first time, you have entered part 8 in a series about aspiring and experienced yogis’ journeys. I hope that you enjoy it and follow along. Namaste!

I met Shannon during sculpt teacher training. She is a smart and strong woman who is soft-spoken outside of the studio, but radiates with a commanding presence when she leads a class!  

shannon blog pic

Yogi: Shannon Yun
Studio: CorePower Yoga

Q: Who or what influenced you to take up yoga?
A: My first time doing yoga was through the Nike Training Club app. I came across the yoga program on the app and thought it would be very easy, but it wasn’t at all! I continued to do it and try to get better. Soon after, I started watching and following a yoga instructor on YouTube called Yoga by Candace. I used to struggle with doing her power yoga sequences. In the fall of 2016, I attended a yoga workshop she held in the area and I thought wow, this is easier! I became more confident in doing yoga and joined a studio to lose weight and tone up for my upcoming wedding.     

Q: How long have you been practicing yoga?
A: Since September 2015.

Q: What aspect of practicing yoga do you like the most and why?
A: I like how I feel after taking a yoga class. The same goes for other workouts I do such as lifting and Crossfit. All of them are hard while I’m doing them, except yoga is a little different because it challenges both my mind and body — when I’m done taking a class it puts me in a euphoric-like state.   

Q: What is your favorite posture and why?
A: I love forearm stand. When I first saw someone in the pose it seemed elusive to me. I thought I would never be able to do it. I practiced the posture for a very long time and suddenly one day it clicked and I was like wow, I can do this! I still enjoy doing forearm stand because I worked so hard to achieve it. I continue to practice the pose regularly at home and after class. I like staying after class to work on my form because I’m warm and forearm stand requires a lot of shoulder opening and core strength.       

Q: What aspect of practicing yoga do you find the most challenging and why?
A: Breath. I struggle taking full deep breaths. When you take a full deep breath you have to extend through your diaphragm and your belly. In a public setting, I don’t take full deep breaths because I’m distracted thinking my belly looks distended. It’s my own personal struggle and I’m trying to let go of that mentality. It’s very easy to take a deep breath and fill from your chest, but filling through your belly is different. I think that’s why I have I have back issues because my thoracic spine isn’t fully extending when I take breaths.

Q: What is most fulfilling to you in your yoga practice?
A: It’s a tie between strength and flexibility. I love being able to accomplish the forearm stand, which requires strength and flexibility. However, my number one wish through yoga is to have open hamstrings, that would be my dream. I admire people who can fold their chest to their legs in forward fold. I have made progress over the past few years in reaching my toes and having a flatter spine in seated, standing and wide-legged forward fold which is fulfilling.

Q: How long have you been teaching yoga and who influenced you to become a teacher?
A: I’ve been teaching since March 2018. Tatiana, the manager of CorePower, where I practice influenced me to become a teacher. I was taking a lot of sculpt classes and I knew that I wanted to take teacher training, but I wasn’t sure which style class I wanted to pursue. She encouraged me to take sculpt teacher training and then at the end assess where I want to go from there.

Q: What aspect of teaching yoga sculpt do you like the most and why?
A: I love creating interesting sequences that include poses that challenge people to try something new. I aim to make my classes difficult, BUT doable. For example, this week in class I incorporated power push-ups, where you lift both of your palms off the mat. It’s a move that most people would never try on their own. Seeing people attempt an exercise they wouldn’t normally try because they feel safe in my class is great!

Q: How are weight training moves beneficial to yoga practice?
A: Strength is very important in yoga — when you combine strength and flexibility it helps prevent you from overextending your muscles. Yoga sculpt combines those two elements, which is one reason why I like the format so much. Take backbends for instance, if you have a really flexible spine you can overextend your back. What keeps you from doing that are your core muscles. A strong core will help you do backbends safely. Also, when it comes to increasing strength it’s smart to mix up and progressively add on when incorporating weights. Your muscles adapt to your physical activity. Doing a variety of poses with various weights is taxing on your central nervous system and challenges your body so that your muscles don’t become stagnant.

Q: Is there one exercise that you always include in your sequence?
A: Yes, planks because they are a full body movement that can be done in various ways that present new challenges. I incorporate four to five different plank exercises in my sequences to awaken various body parts.

Q: What advice would you give to a new yoga teacher?
A: Be confident! If you feel nervous tell yourself I have the skills and knowledge, I can do this! Squash any self-doubt or thoughts of making mistakes or you risk fulfilling those expectations. Instead, think to yourself, I’m awesome! That attitude will come through and be apparent to others and they will, in turn, think wow, that was a great class! Confidence is everything, but not in an egotistical way, rather you are valuable and you have something to share with others.

Also, whether you’re a student or a teacher, take different styles of classes. Never be afraid to try other exercises — there’s so much you can benefit from if you have an open mind to learning new things. Even if it’s discovering a fresh way to cue something by participating in another teacher’s class.

The sky is the limit for Shannon and I cannot wait to see what new heights she takes herself and her students!

Yogi योगी Insight (part 4 in a series)

If you are coming here for the first time, you have entered part 4 in a series about aspiring and experienced yogis’ journeys. I hope that you enjoy it and follow along. Namaste!

I met Katie through Power Yoga Teacher Training. We became friends and shortly after she said: “I’m going to call you Kimbo, do you mind?” I liked the playful spirit of Katie’s intention and was like, alright! Now, whenever I hear “hey Kimbo” I know instantly that it’s her and it makes me smile. Take note of Katie’s name because she has a natural gift for teaching yoga and I’m confident that as she continues to hone her skills, she will make her mark in the yoga world!

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Yogi: Katie O’Donnell
Future Studio: CorePower Yoga

Q: Who or what influenced you to take up yoga?
A: I started practicing yoga in college in North Carolina when my friend Laure Bongiorno recommended it to me. I played collegiate soccer and I was dealing with an injury at the time that left me with fairly limited workout options. Laure recommended hot power vinyasa as a way for me to stretch and to get a good sweat. I attended a few classes with her, sweated a lot, loved it and decided to sign up for a membership!

Q: How long have you been practicing yoga?
A: I have been practicing yoga on and off for about five years, but I became serious about it and more committed to the practice two years ago.

Q: What aspect of practicing yoga are you most passionate about?
A: When I first started practicing yoga I was most aware and passionate about the physical benefits. I liked the way it made my body feel and I could see tangible changes in my physicality. As my practice grew over the years, my passion shifted more toward the mental benefits of yoga. I feel more at ease, open-minded and confident when I practice regularly. I find that just an hour on my mat helps me to let go of any negative feelings I may be having and it helps me to process other feelings in a more rational and sensible manner. I have more patience, for myself and for others, and a deeper understanding of my daily thoughts and feelings.

Q: What is most challenging for you as a yogi?
A: Meditation. It is something that I have wanted to incorporate into my daily routine and practice for a while, but I haven’t quite been able to. I think I need a jumping off point, some guided meditation resources to start the process nice and slow, and of course actively setting aside time daily to meditate.

Q: What is most fulfilling for you as a yogi?
A: So far it has been sharing with others how accessible yoga can be to everyone! Yoga looks and feels different for every individual. For some it may be studio time, for others, it may be yoga at a gym, or privately practicing at home. Every pose can be modified in some way to make it achievable and often times themes resonate with many individuals. It’s fun to dedicate an hour or so to your well-being — mentally and physically; we all need that! The sense of accessibility is something I aim to bring into my own classes to help make every student feel that they are comfortable, confident and safe on their mat.

Q: Why did you take Power Yoga Teacher Training?
A: I decided to take PYTT because I wanted to deepen my yoga practice. I wanted to uncover something within myself; find a passion, learn something new, and connect with wonderful like-minded individuals. I also wanted to bring more consistency into my practice. I tend to fluctuate in how much I take a class. One week I’ll go five times, then not attend for three weeks, come back for two days after that, etc. I needed a commitment from myself that I was willing to put myself and my practice first for eight weeks consistently.

Q: You just graduated from 200-hour PYTT, what is your short-term plan? What is your long-term plan?
A: Ideally, my short-term plan is to audition to become an instructor for CorePower Yoga this fall. Long-term I’m not entirely sure. It’s exciting that opportunities for yoga instructors continue to increase as awareness of the benefits of the practice grow. It would be fun to experiment with options in terms of private practice offerings. I think one thing I can say with certainty is that I am interested in starting some sort of free community class or getting involved with locations that offer that. Yoga is for everyone and I want to help bring it to as many individuals as possible!

Yogi योगी Insight (part 3 in a series)

If you are coming here for the first time, you have entered part 3 in a series about aspiring and experienced yogis’ journeys. I hope that you enjoy it and follow along. Namaste!

I heard through the yoga grapevine at CorePower that Jenn was a great teacher and I had spoken with her a few times at the front desk. One evening, I decided to take her C2 class and the rest is history! She became one of my favorite instructors, a friend, a mentor, and one of the leaders of my Power Yoga Teacher Training (PYTT) program.

Yogi: Jenn Price
Studio: CorePower Yoga, Fairfax

Q: Who or what influenced you to take up yoga?
A: I had just moved back to the east coast. I was at home transitioning from a corporate job to being a new mom. Once I was able to have some free time I started attending a yoga studio within walking distance of my house. I was looking to get back into a physical activity and wanted an hour of time to myself. I started off with Hatha yoga. I liked it because it felt really good on my postpartum body. I had always been very athletic and the class made me feel like I was accomplishing something. I immediately found myself wanting to go back more and more. I liked doing something just for myself. Later on, I took a Power Vinyasa class led by Jaimis Huff. It was the first Power Vinyasa class I had ever taken and it knocked me off of my *ass! I was like that does not qualify as yoga! I didn’t return to her class for a long time. Jaimis ended up being one of my biggest mentors and a friend that I still reach out to today for guidance.

Q: How long have you been practicing yoga?
A: I took my very first yoga class in February 2015 — the Hatha yoga class.

Q: What aspect of practicing yoga are you most passionate about?
A: I love the challenge of arm balances, backbends and inversions. For me, one of the juicy detoxifying aspects is to be able to slow down and treat myself inside and out.

Q: How long have you been teaching yoga?
A: Since April 2016. I did my Teacher Training at CorePower, but I had never practiced at CorePower before I did Teacher Training there. I reached out to the CorePower corporate office in Denver to inquire about training opportunities. I was connected with Liv, the studio manager at the time. The first class I took at CorePower was Liv’s C2 class. I loved that CPY Teacher Training was intensive. CPY’s programs are unique because the number of classes they require is definitely a lot heavier than other places.

Q: What is your mission as a yoga teacher?
A: I hope that everyone leaves with a deeper sense of connection to themselves. I want people to feel gratitude for who they are and that they are supported. I want my classes to be inspiring so that people feel energized and a sense of accomplishment, but more importantly, awareness for how truly strong they are. I know my classes provide physical challenges, but it’s also about breaking down mental walls that we create for ourselves and thinking in our heads that we can’t do something.

Q: What aspect of teaching yoga are you most passionate about?
A: It’s similar to what I’m passionate about in my practice — striving to teach self-love through an understanding of what happens on our mat, what we can and cannot do and how that translates in our life. I want people to know that they can come to the mat as they are raw, broken and messy and that there are no expectations. I want them to learn through their yoga practice that the love for themselves if it’s not already there, can grow from an awareness of who they are, what they want to be — experience growth on their mat.

Q: What is most challenging for you as a teacher?
A: The constant pressure I put on myself to create innovative sequences that continue to turn it up and take it to the next level for students is a challenge. I realize that I put that pressure on myself. It’s the same as in my own practice — I have expectations of what I want to do and I’m always having to remind myself that it’s not about the postures.

Q: What is most fulfilling for you as a teacher?
A: The friendships and connections that I have made with students. It’s important that I always teach from my heart and what feels right for my body. It’s a big chance you take when you put something like yoga that is sacred and personal to you and share it, hoping that others feel the same. The CPY community has been so accepting and supportive of me and my teaching — embracing my sequences and my mentality of yoga off the mat. Knowing that students resonate with what I teach and the life lessons that I share is awesome! It’s what links us together and is the whole point of yoga.

Q: How do you come up with your themes/intentions? Your sequences?
A: My themes are always related to something that is going on in my life or a conversation that I had recently with someone in my class, a friend or family member. It’s important to me that the themes I share are authentic so that I’m connected to what I say. I think that’s how it translates to something genuine and more importantly, impactful. Someone recently commented to me that it always seems like I am speaking from my heart. I replied I am. I hope to inspire my students, and if I’m sharing personal stories of what’s going on in my life I’m allowing the energy of our class to uplift me in return — it’s a reciprocity, coming full circle.

In regard to sequences, I always strive to pick an area of practice that allows students of all levels to have something to work on when they show up to take a class. It can be a focus on a specific part of the body, a particular part of yoga like backbends, inversions Ayurveda (holistic healing), or the moon cycle. Sometimes it can be based on one of my student’s requests — if they have something specific they really want to work on. At the end of the day when you come to my class, you know that you are going to get a good flow, some drills to strengthen for arm balances and inversions.

Q: What is some advice you have for a new yoga instructor?
A: Always teach to what feels right in your body and what speaks/radiates from your own heart. Also, try not to fall into the teacher’s curse of losing sight of your own practice. Make time to stay committed to your practice. It doesn’t have to be a studio class — it can be cultivating a home or self-practice. Keep some time sacred for yourself!

Together We Rise

My fearless yoga sculpt teachers Madeline and Kim led an empowering theme class in honor of International Women’s Day! Forty-three women and men joined together at CorePower Yoga Fairfax to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, political, and (health and fitness) achievement of women. The music and sequence were motivating and the whole class had a blast! During the midpoint of class, Kim yelled “I see you,” words of encouragement she uses to acknowledge that she knows we are working hard and giving it all we have to push through to the end! Two mother-daughter duos in attendance I thought were particularly inspiring, Madeline and her mom Julie, and devoted sculptor Jen who brought her daughter Morgan.

Today, I offer all of my #galOTgo followers this intention … “Don’t run away from what looks like a challenge. It may be an important part of your path. You have to be persistent and follow what you believe.”
– Tao Porchon-Lynch, 99-Years-Young Yoga Master

Time Flies When You’re on the Go

In 2015, I set out to complete a Spartan Trifecta, but not just any Sprint, Super and Beast, I purposely chose the most difficult Spartan Races on the east coast. I started with the Virginia Super at Wintergreen, then tackled the Vermont Beast at Killington, and finished with the Boston Sprint at Fenway Park. I entered the obstacle races solo and had the honor of connecting with some incredible competitors, and meeting their supporters along the way. Everyone I met made my experiences memorable and fun!

In 2016, some unexpected injuries and surgeries got in my way, but I focused my energy on making a comeback in 2017 because life is too short for a pity party! I trained year-round approximately five times a week and pushed myself outside my comfort zone to try races of all kinds that I had never done before.

I’m not going to sugar coat it; 2017 was exhausting, but I had a blast! I owe the privilege of being able to participate in the events below because of the support from my friends, community, and local businesses like Westfields Dental and CorePower Yoga Fairfax. Thanks to all for the positive memories!

DATE EVENT LOCATION
May 7 40th Anniversary TD Five Boro Bike Tour New York City, NY
May 14 DC Bike Ride Washington, DC
June 17 Tough Mudder Full Whistler Olympic Park, Vancouver, BC
July 29 VA Momentum: SUPTri (paddle board, bike, run) Bridgewater, VA
August 27 Philly 10K Philadelphia, PA
September 9 13 Colonies Ride Washington, DC
September 16 2017 National Capital Region 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb Oxon Hill, MD
September 23 GlowDogGlow 5K Loudoun, VA
October – January Yoga Teacher Training School Fairfax, VA