What got you into yoga? When, Where, Why?
I went to a Yoga class with a friend in 2001. Neither of us knew what we were getting into, but thought it would be fun to stretch and relax. I liked it. I didn't think much else about it for several months more. Then I made a move from Birmingham back to my hometown in Athens, Alabama.
I needed some kind of healthy activity to devote myself to and Yoga seemed as good as any. It reminded me of the full-body adventure of dancing, which I loved. So I got a few Yoga tapes, thinking, "this is going to be my discipline."
I started doing Yoga about 4-5 times a week with my videotapes. I began reading about it–the philosophy and ethical considerations of the practice. All along the way, I had begun to transform my habits. I stopped smoking, stopped drinking (mostly!), stopped friends that could no longer facilitate healthy relationships. By the time I moved to St. Pete in 2003, I was a Yogi, clear and true.
When and why did you decide to start teaching?
It wasn't until I got to Florida that I started attending group classes. What a playground! I found several teachers I liked practicing with and dove right into the community.
About a year after that, one of those teachers decided to drop one her classes and encouraged me to take it over. I was not so confident. Being a student of the practice and a teacher are two different things.
She nudged me a little more and basically I said, "OK, fine then." I was looking for more fullfilling work and this jumped in the way. I had no training, yet, but alot of support.
Briefly describe your training and influential teachers.
My principal teacher, Arlena Dominick, worked with me for about two years, those first teaching years. I can't credit her enough for the fundamentals of Yoga instruction, from the poses to the pedagogy. She was my windfall. I didn't know it then, but this level of attention from a teacher is a luxary. I highly recommend it.
Several years later, after moving to Austin, I finished a 200-hour teacher training at Dharma Yoga. The director of the program, Keith Kachtick, really got me thinking in new directions about what was possible in a Yoga class setting. For instance, how do you present the rich teachings of the practice without breaking students out of it or lecturing? He was able to sound out the philosophy in an intelligent and thoughtful manner while we were, say, holding Warrior pose and sweating through our palms. He taught the practice as a meditation, through and through. And it's because of him that I have this emphasis in my own teaching.
My current teacher is Tony Nenov. I am learning the limits imposed by my mind. Stay tuned, I am sure that many of my sequences and emphasis on strength will be a channeling of these insights.
Briefly describe your personal approach to the practice.
I approach the practice as a meditation with the end point emphasis of seated meditation. Important is the idea that one can turn awareness back in on itself and that experience does not feel like "I."
I have dropped all pretense of understanding the metaphysical claims made by ancient texts and other teachers. I am less interested in chakra theory and reincarnation than in the sciences of the mind–Psychology and Neurology, especially. I intend to take full advantage of this knowlege in my practice, which is simply the practice of being what it's like to be human. We all have the same basic equipment–arms, legs, a brain, a heart. How can we put it to optimal use?
Briefly describe your own practice and any thoughts or insights about staying with the practice.
I practice asana most days, though the time available for it varies. It fits into my schedule between home duties, teaching and sleeping. I meditate every day. I consider all that I do to be an effort at Yoga, so in essence, I practice all the time.
No advice to offer, but perhaps a little perspective. If you want to do Yoga, then you have to practice. No shortcuts. There are plenty of approaches to choose from, so most people could find a fit. Yoga isn't for everybody, though. Nor does it need to be. It isn't the only way, just a very, very good one.
I couldn't leave out my little familia. I enjoy playing house with Kevin, my hubby, and Porter, my son. I feel connected to my extended family and friends, the Yoga community as a whole and the many whom I haven't even met. They are all part of this great experiment we are in.
I am also not a bad home cook. I might even be a food snob. I read avidly every moment I can. I write. And I am trying my hand at gardening, though I haven't any talent for it.
Kerry teaches on Sunday's at 9AM, Yin and Yang Yoga. You can check out her class description, bio and full teaching schedule on her website: www.kerrywillsyoga.com