Just A Titch: On the Mat – An Interview with Amy Estes, Part 2

Teachers.

Don’t you just love them?

I know I do.

There are those that inspire me and those that make me laugh. Some help me solve problems in my classroom and others that help me solve problems in my life.

I’d like to introduce you to some of my favorite teachers here.

Teachers in studios, classrooms and in the world at large. These are the folks you will see featured in my new series of interviews here at Teacher Goes Back to School.

I hope you enjoy these teachers as much as I do!

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Have you met Amy yet? She’s April’s Featured Teacher and kick ass high school teacher.

In case you missed it, here’s PART 1.

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When did you start practicing yoga?

My first yoga class was in 2004. It was a Bikram class and even though it was hot and scary, I loved it.

Why did you start?

True confessions: a girl I worked with told me she knew someone who lost 20 lbs in two months doing Bikram. Since I’d have given my left arm to do that, I thought a yoga class seemed pretty reasonable.

I went a few times and on my third session, I found myself laying in corpse pose crying (and not just from the heat!) [Ed. note: What is up with all the crying in yoga?] and realized that it wasn’t just a physical thing happening. I was hooked and used to get up at 5 AM every single day to go to hot yoga before work.

Where did you practice?

I initially started at Bikram Yoga Granite Bay because I was living in Rocklin. When I moved to Midtown in 2004, I moved to Yoga Loka, where I practiced for nearly two years. I tried out It’s All Yoga because I wanted a break from Bikram and then for a variety of reasons, I stopped coming to IAY and/or doing yoga at all.

I found you and Michelle via Twitter, and decided to come back. I’ve slowly gotten more into it and am trying desperately to make it a weekly, regular thing. I think that yoga is hard for me to commit to, because it’s not just a physical workout, all the emotional stuff comes out, too and that can be a little intense for a Wednesday afternoon, you know?

[Ed.note: Yoga can ruin your life as you know it. – as per Michelle].

How has your practice evolved over time?

I love Bikram, and still go occasionally, but I think that often times, the emphasis in that class is about pushing really hard and finding your max. I often feel insecure in those classes because I’m a curvy girl and I can’t do some of the poses.

I prefer to be a lot more gentle with myself. Yoga isn’t just a “workout” — it’s a time when I feel really connected to my body and all of those feelings I have around it, both positive and negative. Also, my practice has changed — positively — since attending Michelle’s classes because I really do feel safe there to bring all my “stuff” because she’s incredibly nurturing, and also a friend.

The older I get, the more okay I am with myself and my particular body and feelings, and that makes yoga more of a joy and less of a competition or place to push myself.

Do you have a home practice? What is it like? How often? Where? How’d you start and how do you keep at it?

My home practice has increased since I started going to CrossFit, simply because I need to stretch all the time. It’s usually a few poses at night, in my living room, with terrible reality TV on in the background. I know, not very yogi-like, but it’s better than nothing, no?

[Ed.Note: Always].

What’s your favorite pose? Why?

Tree and Warrior make me feel really strong and grounded. I love Pigeon because my hips and low back are always tight. I also look forward to a long Savasana after a good practice.

What’s your least favorite pose?

Downward facing dog is my least favorite. Actually, anything inverted at all. It makes the blood rush to my head and I hate that feeling. This probably means I need to do them more, right?

[Ed. note: Or you could kill the dog and NEVER do it again].

What other blogs do your read? Why?

I read well over 100 blogs, so listing them all would take forever. My absolute favorite blogs are Yes and Yes (because she’s smart, funny, and insightful), Mimi Smartypants (because she makes me laugh out loud) and Caffeinate Me (because the author is one of my best friends, and I think she’s an insanely talented writer). I tend to read blogs that I find inspiring but also real.

I love lifestyle blogs, but I also need to feel like I could have the author over for dinner and they wouldn’t judge my pile of laundry. I like blogs that are funny, well-written and helpful in some way, or blogs that belong to people I hold dear (and usually fall into one of those categories anyways!).

Who or what inspires you?

I think working in a profession where I’m forced to be creative is good for inspiration—teenagers see the world so differently than I do, and also, kids are brutally honest about how they’re feeling, which definitely inspires thoughts. Otherwise, I find inspiration in a good book, a song that makes me want to dance or cry, conversations with my closest friends, a long drive on a sunny day, in cooking or baking, during a long bath or shower and the things that I write off-line, in my paper journal.

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If you’d like to learn more about Amy check out her blog, Just A Titch.

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Please leave any questions or comment love below – we’d love to hear from you.

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INTERVIEW ARCHIVES:

March 2010 Anna Guest-Jelley, Founder Curvy Yoga

February 2011: Jed Brewer, Public School Teacher/Music Executive

December 2010: Madeleine Lohman, Yoga Teacher/Massage Therapist

November 2010: Alicia Herrera – 4th grade teacher/Textile Artist – Spirit House Designs.

October 2010: Ryan Fong – Teaching Assistant/PhD Candidate in English at UC Davis.

September 2010: Michelle Marlahan– Proprietress/Fairy Queen of It’s All Yoga in Sacramento, California.

MadYoga Debuts: An Interview with Madeleine Lohman

Teachers.

Don’t you just love them?

I know I do.

There are those that inspire me and those that make me laugh. Some help me solve problems in my classroom and others that help me solve problems in my life.

I’d like to introduce you to some of my favorite teachers here.

Teachers in studios, classrooms and in the world at large. These are the folks you will see featured in my new series of interviews here at Teacher Goes Back to School.

I hope you enjoy these teachers as much as I do!

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I’m so excited for this month’s interview!

Have you met Madeleine yet?

Love her.

Madeleine Lohman is December’s Featured Teacher. She teaches Yoga Basics, Gentle and Level 1-2 yoga at It’s All Yoga and she is also part of the IAY Teacher Training faculty. Plus she does massage and private yoga sessions/parties.

Did I mention she also totally rocks?

When did you start practicing yoga? Why?

Sometime in the late-mid nineties, I returned to Seattle after going to school in Montreal. I had my degree in English Literature which naturally led me to work at a toy store. (The coolest toy store ever, Archie Mcphee, but that’s another story…)

I had free time and brain space on my hands, and needed something new to think about. My friend was taking classes at a community center, so I went along.

It was a beginner’s class, but an accelerated one intended for folks who were already “in shape.” I don’t know what led me to believe that described me. I’ll never forget the teacher kneeling beside me trying to encourage me to roll back into plough pose. All my efforts produced almost no movement, only grunting.

I do remember that I did my first handstand in that class. I actually cried out: “Jeezus!!!”

The teacher didn’t find it funny.

How has your yoga practice evolved over time?

It has definitely moved out of the realm of competition and into the realm of kindness. It took a long time. It’s still happening.

I mean, I was never going to be a super-power-vinyasa yogi, but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t mistake yoga as just another way to “improve” my body.

Old habits die hard.

When you spend your teen years dieting and exercising in a punishing way, yoga can quite neatly fit into that regimen. Yoga can either change your bad habits or just give you another tool to cement them with.

Now, the asanas (poses) are a way to lavish attention on this body just as it is. And to make meditation, breathing, and just generally living a little easier.

How long have you been a yoga teacher?

Since 2003 or so. My first certification, ironically enough, was through “YogaFit.” They do trainings which take place over one weekend, which certainly opens them up to a lot of criticism in the yoga community.

And no, you can’t learn to be a yoga teacher in a weekend.

But it’s a very useful starting point for students like me, who were being nudged in the direction of teaching by a lot of sources, but were afraid of the full, Yoga Alliance approved, hundreds of hours type of commitment. It lets you know if you’re moving in the right direction.

And then I felt ready to jump in to the hundreds of hours of training I’ve done since then, knowing I liked what I was experiencing.

Truly, though, the only thing that prepares you for teaching is teaching.

Lots of it. As much as you can. Especially, when you’re starting out, offering your teaching freely to groups that might not ordinarily have access to the practice.

Do you have a home practice? What’s it like?

I believe if you don’t have a consistent home practice, you got nothing to teach.

My home practice finally started because it had to, it was a requirement of my second teacher training. There’s nothing like having to turn in a report that makes you get your practice in gear.

Since then, it’s faltered now and then, but for the most part, that’s how I teach, by making sure I practice and then teaching what I’ve found.

After confidently telling students for years that it’s more beneficial to have a shorter home practice that’s more frequent, I’ve completely changed my mind.

I do practice every morning, but by that I mean a sitting meditation and some very simple stretching.

In terms of the whiz-bang, full-on, get-down-on-it asana practice, I do that Monday/Wednesday/Friday, because I’m regimented like that. I discovered that shorter asana practices every day made me feel like I was reading a bunch of short stories, when what I wanted was to read a novel.

For me, taking a class definitely does not take the place of a home practice. Home practice is the work, class is the vacation. And as anyone who’s read my blog knows, I have a little trouble taking enough vacations.

Favorite pose?

Everyone gets a free pass or two in yoga, the poses and body parts that generally give you no complaints and are a lot of fun to wallow in. For me, that’s hips and hamstrings. So, give me a forward fold or a pigeon and I’m happy. The one pose I do every day, though, is downward dog.

Least favorite pose?

I’m not sure what you would call the opposite of your “free pass” – but for me it’s anything that requires upper body flexibility or strength. Chaturanga is the first that comes to mind, but any pose where you bind your arms (clasping hands together in a complicated way behind your torso) will find me cursing and looking for a strap.

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If you’d like to learn more about Madeleine check out her new website and blog!

Stay tuned for Part 2 – MadYoga Goes Online!

Please leave any questions or comment love below – we’d love to hear from you.

INTERVIEW ARCHIVES:

November 2010: Alicia Herrera – 4th grade teacher/Textile Artist – Spirit House Designs.

October 2010: Ryan Fong – Teaching Assistant/PhD Candidate in English at UC Davis.

September 2010: Michelle Marlahan– Proprietress/Fairy Queen of It’s All Yoga in Sacramento, California.