By Jana Hill
I have been practicing yoga since 1998 and certified to teach in 2012, at Pacific Yoga, in Seattle. I am an RYT-200, and I have expanded my yoga studies past my continuing education requirements, for Yoga Alliance. In late 2017, I plan to continue what will absolutely be a lifelong study of suspensory movement: my motivation for suspensory study is Theresa Elliott, black-belt in yoga and director at Taj Yoga.
I also have a new-found love for Yin yoga, and I am delving into a second Chair Yoga style — I teach one for seated yogis with body challenges, and have started an upright practice as well.
I started Bennu Yoga with a dot-com and a wish. Teaching was minimal in 2012, but two years later my wish came true: I landed a regular class, near home. That one class led to my current worklife, assisting at a nonprofit and teaching weekly — always two, and as many as a dozen classes.
How I came to yoga:
I first met yoga in 1998, when I was a full-time journalism student, with a deep need to de-stress. My go-to mind-body practice prior to yoga was running. My breathing cues in yoga come from that — rhythmic breath-flow with continuous, uninterrupted movement is medicinal. In the 90s, I taught step-aerobics, low-impact aerobics, and strength classes. But when the stress got ahead of me in 1998, exercise alone was not enough.
Yoga was different. It became not just exercise, but my go-to mental and spiritual practice. I have allowed it to unfold, year after year.
In 2006, my news-work led to a repetitive stress injury. Pain brought me back to the mental and spiritual side of yoga in a big way: as soon as I was able, I re-upped my asana practice. An open-hearted and very talented instructor trained me, within my limits, for several years — she designed sequences where my sore wrists did not touch the ground, and my tender back strengthened. Today, I have my entire practice back.
My experiences in life and yoga have helped develop my teaching style. I am a cautious instructor, offering the alternative pose first, before the full pose. And while yogic spirituality is where I live, I tend to present it in a universal way. Yogic spirituality is mindful movement, intention, and a focus on the breath — that connection can happen without uttering a word. So, sometimes, I don’t mention what’s happening in the practice. In the wordless moments, I try to teach people to access mental-stillness.
My teaching is rooted in a nearly two-decade home-practice and an indepth independent study that started with class-one, in 1998, and never stopped. I design sequences and classes for my students that draw on what yoga has been for me — an anchor, an outlet, and a complementary medicine. I have taught group-fitness classes for more than six years — including four years of aerobics instruction, in the 90s — with two of those years dedicated intensely to yoga. I intend to expand my yoga teaching experiences in 2017 and beyond.
Group classes I have had the honor of teaching include the following:
- Yoga — styles include Slow Flow Vinyasa, Hatha, Gentle, Restorative, Yin.
- Pilates: Mat.
- Step Aerobics.
I learn from my students, every time I teach a class, but my teaching experiences often feel decadent. I love seeing a roomful of yoga poses — it’s like watching a sunset. As I sub “non yoga” exercise classes, I continually see a melding of practices. Running was like flow-yoga to me. TRX is like flow yoga to me. The mind-body connection is all around us, no matter where we are standing. All we have to do is bring our attention to the moment, move, and breath.
See you in class!