started teaching yoga 25 years ago and created Foundation Yoga 20 years ago. Those numbers astound me. The fact that I love what I do more each year astounds me just as much.
Through the years, I’ve watched yoga become more popular than anyone dreamed possible. This is partly because yoga has evolved into a Westernized version of itself. Yet as “fitness yoga” has spread far and wide, my love of traditional “wellness yoga” has grown deeper and more grounded in the ancient art of individualized practice.
In its purest form, yoga is taught one-on-one and uses poses, spiritual study, nutrition and chanting to correct misalignments in the spine and the student’s core. That is the ultimate expression of wellness yoga. But in the modern world, one-on-one instruction isn’t feasible for most people. So the question quickly becomes, “Can you teach a group class and still meet the goals and needs of each person?”
The answer is yes and it’s harder than it sounds. It takes intense observation to see who needs extra help or pose modifications that day. It takes the ability to create the class flow based on who is present and the common themes that arise (stiff necks, sore hips, sleeping issues). It requires a willingness to learn at a much deeper level than can be taught in a 200- or even a 500-hour certification course.
As an example, a student recently asked if she could come back to class after several years of health and weight challenges. She now has a pacemaker and has lost 50 of the 75 lbs she had gained through her illness. “Of course you can take classes,” I said. “Your doctor has okayed exercise, right?” “Yes!” she said happily. Then she revealed that two other yoga schools had rejected her. One said she was too out of shape and needed to walk off more weight before starting yoga. The other said the pacemaker made her too high-risk to work with.
Her story made me want to shout from the rooftops, “Please, please, please don’t send away yoga seekers in shame and rejection.” As a teacher, it is my greatest responsibility to share yoga’s powerful potential to heal. It is my greatest joy to mentor those longing for a deeper level of health and wellbeing. It is my greatest blessing to bring someone from a place of despair about health to possibility and hope. Everyone deserves that and it is the mission of Foundation Yoga.
It is a challenge and a thrill for every yoga teacher who embraces it. It has been my love, my passion, my driving force. May it be so for another 20 years.
In fullest gratitude – Diane