Teacher of the Month: June

June has been teaching at Breathe for all 7 years we have been in existence. We love her patient presence and her nurturing, motherly charisma. Plus her laugh always makes us smile. We couldn’t resist featuring her for this month.

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

As a child I was an introvert, in my own world, but living fully in my body. I was happiest when I was dancing, running around, doing gymnastics and being upside down. It was a natural progression to go into martial arts, but I didn’t enjoy the competitiveness. I was drawn to yoga because I could be alone, in my body, moving, but in a more mindful, non-competitive way.

When did you get a sense that yoga was different, not just a way to be physical? 

At the end of the first class, lying in Savasana, tears flowed from my eyes. I was going through a challenging time in my life and was finding it hard to cope. Feeling the stress leaving my body through movement and tears was so powerful that I kept coming back. The experience reinforced what I’d always known, that I could express myself through moving my body and find trust in myself.

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

One of my favourite poses is Vasisthasana (side plank).  It has the perfect combination of balance, strength and presence of mind. It’s also a paradoxical pose for me because it requires strength and softness.

My least favourite is Kapotanasana (Pigeon) because my knees are not happy. I’ve learnt to listen to sensation and trust my body’s wisdom. So I adapt, and practice reclined pigeon instead. Happy knees!

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

Yoga has had such an impact on my daily life that I can’t even separate the two. Yoga is integral. It’s my chosen spiritual path where I can learn and grow. It’s about being kind, compassionate and loving. Yoga has taught me to slow down and be present so I can notice the little things in life that bring joy. My day begins with moving, meditating and reading.  This daily Sadhana practice keeps me grounded. It’s a special time to check in with myself, to reflect on what has been and to contemplate what is to come. It’s a time to light a candle and remember loved ones.  I highly recommend it!

This month at Breathe we are focusing on the second niyama, santosha, contentment. How do you experience/practice santosha on your yoga mat, in your teaching, and in daily life? 
Santosha is closely linked to gratitude for me. When I’m grateful, I’m also content. On my yoga mat I practice Santosha when I accept my body’s limitations, because I’m also grateful for my body’s abilities.

I’m content in life when I realise I truly have everything I need. I’m grateful that I have my family, loving relationships, a cozy home, our pets, and my health, so everything else is a bonus. The gratitude I feel brings a sense of contentment.  Sure there are times when I wish for other things (like world peace), but thinking about all the things I’m grateful for, brings contentment.

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

People might not know that I have a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and I’ve been to 59 countries in the world.

Tell us something about teaching at Breathe.

I’ve been teaching at Breathe for seven years and it’s my yoga home from home. Meaghan & Gil support me as a teacher and offer wisdom and guidance when I need it. I teach gentle yoga, but I also have the opportunity to offer special workshops and classes, which helps me to grow as a teacher and offer more to students.