Feature Teacher: Heather Dotterweich

Fairly recently, I asked the question to one of my classes, "why do we come together to practice in the community?"

 

Many voices came forward, expressing reasons why they come to share in their practice; some of those reasons being to build connection, others being that they just wouldn't practice on their own. 

 

One individual shared "I learn better in the community."

 

This was a response I felt really captured the value of practicing in community. By practicing in a community, we become more than just our own experience. Within a community, lessons can be shared, explored, and even developed further so that new discoveries are made furthering the development of the community.

 

In order to see this kind of development within a community, however, the mindset of the forever-student must be present. We call it the "beginner's mind". The individual that, no matter how long they have been practicing, is able to maintain their "beginner's mind" and always come to their practice with intention to discover is the individual that will continue to stimulate and elevate the growth of the community. 

 

At Bristol Yoga, we are fortunate to share space with one particular individual who approaches more than just her yoga practice with the "beginner's mind", reminding us the value of approaching each day with the wonder of curiosity and intention to discover. 

 

This luminary individual is Heather Dotterweich!

 

1. When and how did you find yoga?

I first encountered a formal yoga asana class about 11years ago in the old Bristol Ballet studio, above the Blackbird Bakery. The teacher had spent 2 years in an ashram and was very fluent in her use of Sanskrit, but what felt more foreign were the positions, (basic asana) that my body was being asked to move into! However, an excellent teacher, and a growing awareness that I was connecting with something deep inside, kept me coming back to class.

 

2. Why did you choose to pursue teaching yoga?

Teaching comes fairly naturally to me, and I'd taught High School 'World Religion' in Scotland. However, I never set out to be a yoga teacher. It wasn't until year seven of practicing that the thought started to take root. So I spent the following year visiting lots of studios, doing various weekend courses, and talking to teachers to try and discern if this was right for me. Eventually, through a recommendation I found Lydie Ometto's Yoga Teacher Training school at Inner Sea Yoga in Johnson City. I graduated and began teaching 3 years ago, and that's when the learning really began, and still continues!

 

3. When and how did you come across mindfulness practices and what drew you to explore and teach mindfulness?

Several years ago I noticed more and more the numinous moments in life, where everything seemed to move beyond space, time, words and even thoughts, and I was left with a sense of just being. Often it would be times when I deliberately slowed everything down, and just paid attention: hanging laundry outside, watching a bird, a sunset, and the result was delicious! This experience is common to everyone, when we allow it! I then noticed that the term “Mindfulness”, (bringing awareness to the present moment) kept coming up, and realized that this is what I'd been accessing! I knew a little about meditation and assumed it was beyond me! Lydie talked about it's important connection to yoga, during my teacher training and we practiced a little. But it wasn't until I investigated further: seeing Mindfulness and meditation as a common thread running through the major religions, read some neuroscience research showing it's benefits, listened to several 'how to' courses, attended workshops and read some books, that I decided it couldn't be ignored! Most importantly, I tried it out, and I'm really pleased I did, now it's an integral part of my life and yoga teaching.

 

4. What have you learned from your mindfulness practices and your yoga?

I've learned that it does not make life's struggles disappear! But instead, makes life more doable!! I know my body better, my mind better, I have a deep compassion for myself, and all my foibles. There is a natural honoring that unfolds, and a sense of interconnection with all sentient beings! It's very liberating. It's been a paradigm shift!

 

5. What are you doing when you aren't teaching?

Cooking Indian food, reading Indian novels, watching British Murder Mysteries and documentaries. Reading about and doing yoga/meditation things. Hanging laundry outside, sitting under the cedar tree, dancing around in the house and singing, drinking coffee. Generally helping kids and husband around home, being very attentive to the cat! Going off on mini adventures.

 

6. What are 3 things you hope to learn or explore in the future?

I don't have any real clarity about the future. I do want to continue with my practice, which I hope will involve gaining more insight, but just really being open to the moment!

I'm presently enjoying teaching the students at Morrison School, and am excited to be sharing at Bristol Yoga again. I want to continue being a loving witness and support to my husband and children's unfolding life journeys, and to love and have curiosity about anyone and everyone everywhere!

 

We are so pleased too announce that Heather will be returning to share her practice with the Bristol Yoga Community starting in May on Tuesday Nights at 5:45 PM for Mindful Flow. If you need inspiration to connect with the present moment sooner than that, she will be sharing her Mindfulness and Meditation Workshop this Saturday, April the 16th at 2:00 PM!

 

 

Feature Teacher Presented by Marcy Hullander

Fostering Connection for February

February is a month reminding us to cultivate connection, connection to ourselves and to all of those dearest to our hearts. We live in a society that utilizes technology to encourage connection, ironically, however, it seems we are more disconnected than ever. Technology is constantly competing for our attention with social media, emails, cell phones, and the latest and greatest iDevices. It may appear that we are cultivating connection by staying up to date with people in our lives via social media and our cell phones, but in fact, we are only distracting ourselves from the present moment, developing a relationship instead with our cell phone or social media account (you can literally train the keyboard of your phone to adapt to your texting lingo and have you ever noticed how your social media account knows all of your favorite links to browse?), and missing out on opportunity to connect with ourselves. When we miss these opportunities to connect with ourselves, our ability to connect with those around us suffers as well.

In order to function in today’s society, utilizing technology is pretty unavoidable. In fact, technology has made many good things possible, like bridging the gap between families separated by distance, enabling a more free flow of information, and creating more broadly shared communities of interest. However, there are ways to make the digital world work for you, and not the other way around, so that you can in turn build better connections with the people around you.

Here are a few tips to incorporate technology into your life in such a way that it does not disrupt your quality of life.  

  1. Establish Sacred Times
    Being mindful, make clear, conscious choices about when, where, and how you use technology in your day. Determine sacred times and spaces where you allow yourself the opportunity to “disconnect” in order to truly connect with yourself and others. For example, declare any time you are on your yoga mat a sacred time to truly spend with yourself free from technology, establish “technology free time zones” during your morning and bed time rituals so you can mindfully prepare for and unwind from your day, or ban technology from the dinner table and use that time to connect with your family and loved ones.
     

  2. Make a practice of using technology Mindfully rather than Automatically
    When new technology develops, we learn how it can connect us to loved ones, how it can help us manage our lives, and also how it can distract us. Bring awareness to what is motivating you to reach for your phone at any given moment. Are you bored and just distracting yourself? Or is it truly necessary for your job? Get clear about your intentions behind the use of your technology and even establish times FOR using technology. For example, reserve time(s) in your day specifically for replying to emails so that you can truly give them your full attention, or even reserving similar times in your day for some literal face time using your iDevice or skype network to connect with loved ones.
     

  3. Make the most of Face-to-Face Connections
    Yes, technology has helped us to maintain connections that might have otherwise been lost, but it still does not replace real, in-person connection. When you have the opportunity to share space with another individual in your life, turn off your notifications from your device or turn on airplane mode and give yourself and the other person the space to truly connect with one another free from distraction.

    Applying your mindfulness practice to your relationship with technology can serve to enhance your daily life by allowing you the space to connect more deeply with yourself as well as those around you. If you find yourself still struggling to master your relationship with your device, maybe even consider downloading one of the new mindfulness apps for your phone. Moment is an app for iOS devices that tracks the amount of time spent on your device (Moment Family monitors screen time of any family members with the app on their phone for parents looking to enforce daily limits) and a similar app is available for Android devices called BreakFree. Establish goals for yourself to spend less time on your phone overall, or with specific apps throughout your day and move forward into February with the intention to foster more meaningful connections with yourself and those around you.

 

 

Presented by Marcy Hullander

Feature Teacher: Amie Odum

Tis the season to celebrate, and so we continue to celebrate our beautifully unique Bristol Yoga Community. In our last Teacher Feature post, we talked about how the chaos of works in an unseen order to bring people together. Most certainly is this the case in regards to the Bristol Yoga Sangha. Each person wanders through our studio doors at the most opportune time bringing with them unique gifts that contribute to the overall wellness of our community.

One individual, who has also very recently joined our community as a leader and teacher, brings the gift of warmth and nurturing presence. This individual has blessed our community with the kind of presence that comes from a warm, cuddly momma bear. She is the warm, comforting hug you need on a rough day. Her nurturing presence is the kind of support that makes the glue that holds a community together.

This beautiful, loving soul is Amie Odum.

Here is a glimpse into the life of Amie to help you see why you’re so drawn to hug her when you see her shining face. 

 

  1. What brought you to yoga?

    I came to yoga for the love of the feeling; I love stretching, I love seeing if I have enough strength to try a new pose, I love laughing at myself for falling out of a pose. And now, all these years later, I love finding the peace, the stillness, the awareness and compassion for my body and loving myself through this journey called life.

     

     

  2. If you could define your style, what would it be?

    The style of yoga I teach comes from a place of love. We talk and laugh and check in with one another. I enjoy teaching a slow pace. I like teaching mindfulness. I teach about the chakras and hand mudras. I like for my students to have time to feel. I teach awareness in the pose. We explore not only what the physical body is feeling but also what is the emotional body feeling. I like to throw in a new pose occasionally for a challenge to grow my students practice and allow them to see if they can accomplish something they never thought to even try. And I end my class with a short meditation. I would call my style "eclectic yin".....a little bit of everything in a slow comfortable environment.

 

  1. What are three likes and three dislikes you have?

    Three likes: Laughing, Hugging, Chocolate

                Three dislikes: Rudeness, Being Cold, A world where people can't have clean water

 

  1. What are you doing when you are not teaching?

    When I am not teaching, I am learning. I read and research all things that interest me. I also spend as much time as I can with my kids. I can be found out wandering in the woods or at the lake picking up trash or traveling to see friends. I also paint murals and I try my hand at almost any home repair project or anything to create something or fix something or re-purpose something. And I cook or enjoy my kids cooking almost everyday.

 

  1. What is the most important lesson you have thus far learned from your yoga?

    Most important lesson from Yoga thus far, to show myself the same love and compassion that I would freely give a stranger.

     

 

  1. What is your favorite posture/asana?

    Eagle is my favorite power pose and pigeon is my favorite yin pose.

 

  1. Do you have a favorite book?

    The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer is my favorite that I read again and again, but I own an entire library of books, so it is really hard to pick my top 10 favorites, lol.

     

 

  1. How long have you been practicing your yoga?

    I have been practicing yoga for about 10 yrs.

 

  1. What do you LOVE about Bristol Yoga?

    There is a feeling at Bristol Yoga that I have never experienced at any other studio. I think it is a tangible love that permeates the studio. Authenticity. Compassion. All good vibes, like a heartbeat. You are seen and heard and loved at Bristol Yoga.

     

 

  1. What is a favorite quote you would like to share?

    "You will live in joy and peace; the mountains and hills shall break forth into singing before you, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands." Isaiah 55:12

     

    Loving presence radiates from the core of Amie’s being and that’s why we are so grateful for her contributions to the Bristol Yoga Community. If you are missing the feeling of a warm loving embrace from your life, join Amie during the week on Wednesday mornings at 10:00 AM for Movement & Meditation.

Feature Teacher presented by Marcy Hullander