How did you first get interested in yoga? I was first introduced to mediation as a teenager by my Mom. She was using visualization along with western medicine to help heal Breast Cancer. She taught me to use meditation to improve my sports performances. It worked for both of us and helped to deal with the stress as well. After taking my first yoga class I was hooked.
What change has yoga made in your life? Yoga has taught me to slow down and enjoy each moment. Just like the breath, the moments pass and do not come again.
What inspired you to begin teaching yoga to others? Shortly after my Mom went through treatment for Breast Cancer, my Dad was diagnosed with stage 3-4 Leukemia. If I didn’t have the tools of meditation and the asanas, I don’t think my young mind could have handled it. I’ve always been an active person so the asanas appealed to me right away, but the meditative qualities of yoga changed my life. I knew it would be selfish not to share these tools with others.
What special qualities does it take to be an instructor for teacher training courses? Some schools require that students take yoga for a number of years or attend a certain number of classes per week before attending a teacher training course. Mukti Yoga School believes that no matter how long someone has been practicing yoga, one must listen. The most important qualities are a willingness to grow and learn with a sense of compassion.
How are athletes able to benefit from a yoga practice? Elite athletes are natural yogis. The focus and discipline it takes to get to an elite level in any sport is what is taught in the ashrams to master the mind and generate vitality in the body. Yoga prevents injuries by balancing strength and flexibility in the body which is why most athletes are interested in yoga at first. Often what keeps athletes consistent with a yoga practice is the focus that is gained. Through yoga athletes learn to visualize the aspects of the sport which need improving and to shake it off if a mistake is made. Yoga helps athletes reach their highest potential.
Can you tell us a little about the concept of Mukti and what it means to you? Mukti means liberation or spiritual freedom. Yoga is a way to free the mind and body of clutter. Mukti Yoga School is based on this sense of freedom. When one feels free anything is possible.
What do you think is the one thing most people could do to improve their lives? Meditate. Even if it is only for 11 minutes every day. Everyone has 11 minutes.
How important do you think it is to make choices to eat organic food and buy organic clothing and household goods when possible? We are what we eat therefore eating organic food is very important. The skin is the largest organ so being mindful anything coming in contact with it such as clothing and cleaning supplies is very important it promoting perfect health.
What was the most memorable experience you’ve had leading a teacher training course? Wow, this is a hard question as every teacher training group is so special to me. During all of the foundation teacher trainings, the teachers teach a supervised free group community class. All of the teachers teach a portion of the class. During the first community class in the first teacher training I led, we had a student who was 8 months pregnant, another student with vertigo and a blind student! I couldn’t believe it! They were thrown into the fire right away and handled it like rock stars. After that the community classes were easy breezy!
What advice would you give to someone who thinks they might want to become a yoga teacher? Meditate and eat a pure diet. When meditation is part of a teacher’s daily practice the pressure to perform is no longer there. The teacher just needs to show up and become a channel of the wisdom flowing through. Also, remember it is okay to be playful when we teach. We often take ourselves too seriously!
You can learn more about Julie and her teaching activities from the Mukti Yoga School website. You can also find Julie and Mukti Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.