By Jana Hill
Yoga Instructor and always-student
Yogacation — hmm, which “ation” is she talking about. This is about education, but not in the traditional sense. It’s that all-encompassing, soaking up over time kind of education, and the official kind.
This particular page is one my husband suggested I put up. He mentioned that my path in yoga is rather intriguing and maybe I should talk about that. I taught my first yoga-class as a sample-class, in Seane Corn’s teacher-training, in Santa Monica. I’ve hopped a plane to study Restorative Yoga with Judith Lasater. I’ve interviewed some yoga-greats, and done classes all over the West Coast. Yoga has been a practice that sinks to-the-bones with me, and it was love-at-first-pose.
On the education side of things: I am currently an RYT-200, and I have studied and practiced yoga since 1998. Workshops: many. Some are listed here. Classes: countless. Practice: daily, since I began; sometimes physical yoga and sometimes mental-yoga.
I started with an Iyengar practice, which emphasizes alignment; then transitioned into Vinyasa, a style with progressive sequences that flow together like a dance. Vinyasa translates from Sanskrit like this: nyasa meaning “to place” and vi “in a special way.”
I am almost at the two-decade mark, in my practice. In that time, Iyengar and Vinyasa yoga combined to form a flowing but alignment-attentive style that I now teach — slow-flow yoga.
The continuous Yogacation path played out like this …
Education, from today back to 1998:
Ongoing: Private session yoga-study
I study and practice with my yoga teacher, as often as I can. She is a doctorate in archaeology and an Iyengar-trained instructor. She trained the Huskies, at one point, and still teaches to friends. One of her recent students could only do Restorative, due to the impact of his cancer.
She teaches only private sessions, and I was fortunate enough to be the receiver of that. We practice together and follow up with a chat, breaking down poses to the nth degree: because we are both total yoga-geeks, and she is a brilliant encyclopedia of yogic knowledge.
My regard for yoga deepened, and my practice became something bigger, on her watch. She was instrumental to my choice to train as an instructor. When I have a yoga-emergency, she answers texts within minutes, before class (“What poses do I avoid in this class? One student is four months pregnant. … “One student has RA — what do I do there?” She is now one of my closest and dearest friends, but she hates public attention, so you do not get to know her name. She is Iyengar-focused and also heavily influenced by Steve Ross.
I have met some famous people in the yoga community, but she is the most famous, to me.
I took my first Yin class in 2007, and it was overwhelming. It’s a deep-stretching, full-release practice described by one of my teachers as a way to clean out the “issues in your tissues.” I guess I had too many issues back then. I love the practice now — I attend one to two Yin classes weekly, and I’m in the process of an independent study. I teach Yin, at Movement Arts, and I certified to teach Yin in Carol Mason’s Yin Yoga Teacher Training, in May of 2017.
This is a class-style created by Kara Keating, the director at Movement Arts. I trained in the practice in October of 2016, because it’s fun. It’s sort of Zenned up dance-party yoga — mindful movement for every-kind-of-health, including the physical heart and the energetic one.
Skill In Vinyasa is a workshop-series, with Theresa Elliott. I studied weekly with her, from January to May, in 2016. If you attend my classes and hear me mention “my trainer,” that’s who I am referring to. She is an anatomy and body-movement guru. In this workshop, she broke down her own curvy-cool version of the Sun Salutation, which she has devised and named the Suspensory Sun Salutation. I continue to study under Theresa, at every opportunity that fits into my calendar.
Theory and Practice of Restorative Yoga:
On March 19, I flew to San Francisco for a one-day workshop on Restorative Yoga, taught by Judith Lasater. The 32-student event was held at Bija Yoga, in San Francisco. Yes, it was awesome to finally meet the writer, doctorate, and physical therapist who helped shape my practice and teaching protocols. If I ever put my hands on students (to the yoga newbies, some instructors will move your body for you) I will ask first, every time. The “ask first, then touch” protocol is hers. When I say, “The full pose is not the best pose, the best pose is the best one for your body today” — that is a guideline I took from her books. I read her first book in 2000, and her writing has created brush-strokes for every element of my teaching.
Teacher training: 2011 to 2012
200-hour Yoga Teacher Training at Pacific Yoga, studying with Theresa Elliott and Kathryn Payne. Awesomely cathartic. I’ve taken many workshops from Theresa, since I started as a practitioner: I did not keep track of all of them, because I didn’t start this as a career. I think when I started doing yoga, it was more like gaining a new body part, or a new section to your mind. I love yoga. And Theresa is a brilliant encyclopedia of kinesiology. I am always on the edge of my seat when I train with her.
Interviewed Judith Lasater about the notion of licensing for yoga teachers, and the protocols for body-adjustments. I was a freelancer then, and the article is shelved. I pitched it to two magazines, and they passed. It’s still kicking around her somewhere — maybe I’ll dust it off and post it.
Authored the Guide to Understanding Yoga and Breast Cancer. This project included interviews with healthcare professionals and women who had made it to the other side of cancer treatment, as well as some still in the thick of it. I interviewed author Mary Pullig Schatz, M.D., for that brochure.
Hmmm, my yoga library. It is big. I will add some details later — I own every Judith Lasater book, and find myself re-reading her pose-information often, just to cement what I’ve learned through teaching and practice. I also really like books by Mary Pullig Schatz, M.D. I rarely go more than a few days without studying something yoga-related: poses, body movement, Patanjali, pranayama.
Studied anatomy in a classroom setting, in 2014. Study independently, and often.
Took a sequencing workshop from Theresa Elliott. This is when I first started pondering a teacher-training, and was using the event to scout her studio.
Interviewed Seane Corn, instructor and co-founder of Off the Mat, Into the World. I sat in on two days of her yoga teacher-training, as part of the interview. She invited me to take part, during the “get up and teach” section of the class. So, my very first experience as a yoga instructor was in front of Seane Corn. Wow. It was kind of thrilling.
Interviewed Krishna Das, over the phone, for New Age Retailer magazine, in Bellingam. It was a lovely interview. He’s just as joyful as you think he is.
1998 to Now
I have taken countless classes, all over the West Coast — Vinyasa, Iyengar, Restorative, Yin. In gyms, in studios, living rooms, and one barn. I miss the barn. I have practiced at bus stops, in cubicles, meeting rooms, hotel rooms, a breakroom at a daily newspaper, and on my front porch.
Took my first-ever Yoga class at Yoga Northwest in Bellingham. It was a “baby, where have you been all my life” experience. The rest is history.
At age 5 or 6
My Grandma Corva, on my Mom’s side, was my first yoga-influence. I also recall yoga-talk from my Great Aunt Ruth. Grandma was a devout Catholic. Both were from a generation when yoga was considered odd and spiritually dangerous, in mainstream circles. Both practiced anyway. I remember watching Grandma Corva move slowly through Sun Salutations in the living room. I have her Hittleman book.