Teacher of the Month: Hannah

It’s fitting to feature Hannah as our teacher of the month for September, because she came to Breathe two years ago at this time for our teacher training. She teaches an energetic Flow practice Tuesdays 7:00-8:00pm We knew she was a water enthusiast, and we were curious to learn more about her. Here are some fun facts about Hannah.

How did you start practicing yoga? What was your early yoga experience like?

Through my exercise science studies, I was introduced to yoga through functional training. Though, one of my first experiences was hosting a Yogathon with my undergraduate Exercise Science Club on UNCW’s campus. We wanted to offer something different for students to participate in to introduce different forms of exercise and help them find relaxation during busy college semesters. We brought in instructors and hosted a full day of different styles of yoga out on the lawn. It was a great event and one of my first memories of realizing the true benefits the practice offers.

When did you get a sense that yoga was different from other exercises you have done?

I enjoy trying different trends in fitness, whether that be running, crossfit, funcational fitness, a new pop-up gym; however yoga has been the only style of exercise that is consistent regardless of location. There are certainly different styles and trends; but yoga never “hurt” me, instead made me realize lifting heavier or running longer wasn’t ideal if I was in pain. It made me reconsider why I was exercising and the true benefits I wanted out of exercising. I truly enjoy yoga because of its ability to push the body to a similar state of exertion, but then train the mind and breath to find an optimal point without pushing yourself too far. It finds the edge and keeps you honest. The more I practice, the more I dive into the history of yoga, which I love because I am a total nerd at heart.

What is your favorite yoga pose and what is your least favorite yoga pose? And why?

This is a tough one, I LOVE balancing poses because of the mind and breath aspect. Balance one day can be completely different than another day, also balance is one huge area of interest of mine in regard to the aging process. However, I would actually consider Malasana, Garland Pose to be one of my favorites. It has the ability to build strength, focus attention, and bring about a calming sensation. As I am still working toward to full pose, I think back to a time when holding a modified yogi squat was uncomfortable but now I find myself finding more comfort in this pose with each movement forward. It is amazing to me in certain areas in the world where they hold this pose for hours; I once sat in a yogi squat with a fitness mentor for 10 min and I could hardly stand up after. I realized to respect the pose after that experience, little steps are the way to go!

My least favorite yoga pose is probably anything that I move into too quickly or force myself into. I have a love/hate relationship with Kapotasana, Pigeon Pose. I used to love this pose, but realized I was moving into the position with incorrect form. Now, working to fully experience the pose; I sometimes push myself back to where I was, but realize I can’t jump in too fast.

In what way does your yoga practice most impact your daily life?

Yoga has the unique ability to elevate the body through exercise, but also trains the mind and breath which transfers into everyday life. I can always tell after I skip a few days/weeks of not practicing. I find myself getting stressed or moving through life too fast..my friends call this having too many brain tabs open. Yoga allows me to take time for myself without other distractions. At some points in my practice, I even find myself distracted during my practice, because I would have to think about poses to do and then start down a rabbit hole of just fun poses to try rather than actually practicing. When this first started to happen, I decided to slowly begin a more structured Ashtanga practice, and that becomes the beauty of yoga. There are different lineages and practices that give you what you need at the time.

This month at Breathe we are focusing on the third limb of yoga, asana. How asana practice benefited you physically and in daily life?

As many find yoga, asana was how I found yoga. However, my asana practice has grown from just focusing on the poses to finding the benefits of breath. I find poses put you into the position, they physically stress the body; but when this happens during a practice the true benefits come from allowing the mind to stay focused and the breath to remain calm. The breath has the ability to bring the increased sympathetic mode of fight or flight that the body experiences into a parasympathetic state of balance. Our asana practice drives this system to actively alter the chemicals in our body to adapt with what we deal with in our lives outside of a yoga practice.

What is a fun fact about you that not many people know?

Hmm…I have an irrational fear of walking over city grates and make homemade kombucha. But really, many know my love for sailing, but not many may know I started a business this summer offering a sailing camp for kids and adults in Cape Charles, VA. I am also helping restore an old wooden sailboat to hopefully sail around the world one day; although I don’t know if my cat (aka puma), Luna, will enjoy that!

Tell us something about teaching at Breathe. 

Teaching at Breathe has been an awesome experience. I taught a few years prior to teacher training, but nothing compares to the support and opportunities that have been given to me though Breathe. I find as a teacher at Breathe, it is a true community where not only do I feel supported and learn from the other RYT, but also from the awesome students who give me constant feedback whether they realize it or not allowing me to grow as teacher.