Its January! Just a few more weeks of winter to go 🙂 I suggest you use that new found commitment to health and a stress free life by getting to Elsa’s Gentle Yoga class at 6pm on Wednesdays. Here is a little more about Elsa and how she came into teaching at Eastside Yoga.
Describe your first experience with yoga?
I had just finished my thesis for PT school and was in limbo before starting my first job in 2001. A classmate and I took a road trip to the East Coast, she was planning to move to New York after graduation, so we went on an exploring mission! The farthest we got was Boston to visit some friends. There was a blizzard and our rental car was stuck under a dome of snow … and since Texans aren’t the most savvy about digging cars out, we were cooped up for a couple days. I guess we got stir crazy at some point, watching movies got old, so she offered to teach us some yoga! I recall being pretty good at tree pose and warriors, but I had a hard time with downward facing dog! Though I enjoyed it, I didn’t do yoga again until I moved to Houston a couple years later. And it wasn’t until Steven and I began dating that I started learning more about the true practice of yoga : )
Is there any aspect of a yoga practice you enjoy teaching the most?
I suppose it is because I am a PT, but I enjoy teaching people about alignment, posture and their spines! Such a nerd, but I have seen so many people injure themselves just sitting at a computer, or picking up their dogs (not to mention the sports injuries) that I want to make sure to teach them how not to injure themselves in a yoga class. There are so many aspects that a well-rounded yoga practice can help with, for injury, recovery AND prevention. My hope is that they will take this with them through their daily routine!
You have been working as a physical therapist for over 13 years, how does your experience in that realm show up in your class and how you teach?
I think it shows up in my instructions and how I structure a class from start to finish, hopefully it doesn’t sound too much like a lecture because I don’t want technical knowledge to take away from the feel of a class. I spend a lot of time warming up the spine, hips and shoulders so it gives me a chance to see how students are moving and where they are restricted. Sometimes the injuries they are working with go so much deeper than where it actually hurts. I like to explain things so when students want to know the technical details, I am happy to provide and guide!
Having extensive knowledge of anatomy and kinesiology and 13 years of experience with working one -on-one with patients, how would yoga students benefit from a private session with you?
I hope that I can bring to a private session a point of view that incorporates a student’s yoga practice with work habits and daily routine. So many times, we separate our physical asana practice, from what we are doing the other 23 hours of the day, but it goes hand in hand. Some students come to class to release the stress or tension of their work day, which is a wonderful reason, but trying to put that cause and effect together can result in deeper results. The way people move (or don’t move) can cause or prevent long term chronic injuries. Priming your joints to be prepared for the mileage you put on them is key in prevention! Though I can’t prevent someone from tripping and falling, we can probably work on a lot of things to make sure that the injury is less severe!
What have you learned the most about teaching group classes?
It comes from working one on one with patients: I have to stop myself from focusing on one person with one injury sometimes, I could put together a whole practice for a certain person because in healthcare, that’s what you do! I have to remind myself that teaching a group changes the focus, and though I might cringe and want to adjust a specific person every single time, everyone needs the attention in a different way. I can watch a person like a hawk in class but it doesn’t mean I will improve their experience that day by doing so. Students usually don’t enjoy “too much information” the whole time so I do it subtly! It is my responsibility and my goal to give personal attention to each student, whether it be to prevent pain or to exchange energy! Teaching the gentle hatha yoga classes allows me to do that because we keep the classes small …
What do you like most about East Side Yoga?
I love that I can go there whenever I want and I always know some smiling faces coming in or out of the door!