During practice, I can hear my breath mix into the flow of everyone else's in the room. I can push myself to achieve my best pose of the day, or I can find myself honoring my body in a resting pose, and no one pushes me to come out of it. I can feel the engagement of the instructor through hands on adjustments, and when I am in my final pose, savasana, I am completely relaxed. My mind, my body and my breathe are at ease. My soul is at ease. I am home!Read More
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
Yoga means “to yoke, or unite,” to bring together in harmonious union. According to Sharon Gannon, co-founder of the Jivamukti yoga method, yoga is actually our natural state from which we, over time and with experience, drift away. Much of what is learned through a yoga practice is how to re-unite the mind, body, and spirit, returning to our harmonious, natural state. Once we learn to live in union with our selves, understanding every facet of our own being, we can begin to live in harmonious union with those around us.
One member of the newest members to our Bristol Yoga Community lives this idea on and off of her mat. There is a saying in the yoga community that “one does not practice yoga for themselves, but for those around them.” This individual lives her yoga not only to find harmony within herself and her own life, but also to bring harmony to her community. As owner of White Birch Juice, promoting and educating her community on the value of a healthy lifestyle is a priority, and as a yoga teacher, this individual knows that a healthy lifestyle is not limited to the physical body, but includes your mind-body, emotional-body, and spirit-body.
Not only that, but this individual also knows in order for a person to live a truly, all-encompassing healthy lifestyle, they must also be in harmony with the life that surrounds them.
And this is why we at Bristol Yoga are so thankful to have Nicole Dyer as a member of our teaching community teaching others how self-love is actually a selfless practice.
Here are a few questions we asked Nicole to help you get to know her loving and generous spirit.
What brought you to yoga and made you choose to pursue teaching?
Yoga came to me about 4 years ago. Once I started practicing I realized how I hadn't ever really taken the time to slow down and unite mind, body & breath. I was dealing with a small injury at the time, and saw the huge impact my practice had on my body, leaving me with no pain and left me constantly looking forward to being on my mat again. The moment I realized Yoga was so much more than learning poses, or asanas, and much more about loving yourself in order to give love to those around me, I wanted to share that feeling with others. I saw an incredible impact in my life on the way I started "responding" instead of "reacting" and wanted to share this with others too. This whole, new world started to open up for me and that was about the same time that huge changes in my life started (leaving my jobs to start my own business, become a Yoga teacher), and I really wanted others to have that same opportunity in their own lives. I then decided to go through a teacher training in Asheville; that is where I really learned that yoga is SO much more than simply calling yoga poses.
2. What does yoga mean for you?
What does yoga mean to me? I am always reminded of a quote one of my teachers shared with me, "You are perfect, absolutely perfect inside, but there is much work to be done." It is the constant reassurance that we were all born with this "blueprint" this makeup of who we are deep down, and it remains there in perfect form. As we pass through the journey of life, it becomes harder to see it, feel it and know it. By practicing yoga, slowing down and being still, listening, we can unite the mind, body and breath to get closer to original form of ourselves. By doing the work, and delving into ourselves for that deeper sense of knowing our being, we get closer to ourselves. By incorporating the poses, breath work & meditation I am able to come to this place of stillness and cultivate LOVE:) Without doing this, for me it is hard to take care of others, or continue to roll with whatever life likes to throw at me. Yoga for me is truly being present in the space between what has happened and what will.
3. Being the owner of white birch juice, how does yoga influence your work?
Yoga influences my work with White Birch Juice on a day to day basis. In terms of running a new, small business, I don't think I could imagine doing it without the outlook I have cultivated now. It helps me cope with stress, finding balance between work, relationships & what is really important. Like I mentioned before, I am grateful to have learned this way of finding balance and "responding" instead of "reacting," whether it’s simply being mindful and taking 3 deep breaths before doing anything else, or maintaining morning meditation so I can think clearly and calmly throughout the day.
4. What are you doing when you're not teaching or making delicious juice?
When I'm not juicing, I am either practicing yoga, spending time with friends, cooking, being outside, especially rock climbing. I discovered climbing just this year and have been amazed how it is so similar to yoga, physically & mentally. "Yoga on the rock," its incredible!
5. Of all the places you have been in the world, where is your favorite place? And Of all the places you have not been in the world, where do you dream of going?
Something about Peru, one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. I was there with my best friend from NH and it was just breathtaking. We lived in a small village called Ollantaytambo for several months volunteering. Bird’s eye view of Machu Picchu was probably the most breath-taking view I have ever seen. I really would love to visit New Zealand one of these days :)
If you need a little help bringing yourself into union, join Nicole on Tuesday afternoons at 12:15 PM for our 45 minute Flow-N-Go class and grab one of her freshly made juices from the fridge afterwards! The rest of your day will surely be charged with more awareness of your wellness.
Feature Teacher Presented by Marcy Hullander
It is such a pleasure to watch the Bristol Yoga Center community evolve and transform as it continues to grow. In witnessing this, it becomes apparent how much a community becomes an entity in itself. A community experiences the same ebbs and flows of life and circumstance just as the individual members of which it is composed. A community experiences periods of growth and recess, of ease and dis-ease, of harmony and disharmony together as one body. When adversity befalls one individual of the community a ripple effect is felt throughout. Conversely, as positive individuals enter into the community, they contribute to the overall positive energy of the community.
Fortunately for the Bristol Yoga community, more and more radiant beings continue to walk through our doors with a desire to share their love and positivity with those around them. We could not be more grateful for one individual in particular that has recently joined the community as a teacher. What makes this individual so special is the authenticity of her spirit and passion for helping others; the warmth of her glowing presence is felt by all and is a generous gift to the Bristol Yoga Sangha.
This individual is… Cassidy Hutchinson!
Here are a few questions we asked Cassidy to help you get to know her a little better:
When did you find yoga and how?
I found Yoga during college, at William Peace University in Raleigh NC, in 2009.
How has your practice and view of yoga changed from the time you started?
When I really started to follow a daily yoga practice, it started as a method in developing mental well-being and physical discipline. I wanted to alleviate pain in my body and to cultivate a peace of mind. At first, I thought that I could only practice in class, led by someone who knew more than I did but, but as I began to practice at home I realized that I could focus more on what was going on in my own mind and experiment with my own body's needs, without keeping the pace of an Ashtanga or Bikram class.
What made you want to teach?
I found that I wanted to teach because of my interest in offering healing. I possessed a natural gift and deep desire to help people alleviate pain from both the body and mind. I quickly began to recognize that the benefits of a yoga practice could be extremely healing for not only myself but for other. This desire to help people and to grow my own practice encouraged my desire to attain my YTT and bring this knowledge to others.
When you aren’t teaching, what are you doing?
When I am not teaching I am making jewelry and painting. I started an ETSY shop called "The Priestess Tribe" where I focus on making healing crystal talisman and inspirational artwork :)
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
If I could go anywhere in the world I would travel to Provence, in the South of France. I have mild obsession with aromatherapy and I would love to lie in the lavender fields of France. I feel that I would experience a delightful peacefulness out in the countryside of France, picking flowers and making herb bundles of Lavender. Bliss.
What is your favorite season and why?
My favorite season is Fall. I adore the blooming colors of the trees as they fall into a quiet stillness that only the onset of winter brings. I feel like it makes me appreciate the soft breeze and warm rays of sunshine just a little bit more than before. It's almost as if by knowing that the cold nights of winter are around the corner that I stop more often to appreciate the quiet moments of the busy forest. It allows me to feel extra gratitude in every moment as I honor the folklore of the Greek goddess Persephone and her mother Demeter, while Persephone loved the spring and summer, her mother was the Goddess of the Harvest. It reminds me that although all good things may come to an end, all good things also begin again.
What is the biggest lesson you have thus far learned from your yoga?
My biggest lesson I have learned from yoga is to honor the little voice within. During my yoga practice, I began to recognize my quiet voice of intuition. That this voice was only able to speak with me while I am quiet and still. While I am in the midst of loving myself and focusing only on my current moment, my current movement. In this stillness, in this focus, I can decipher my true wants, needs, and desires. And when I know what I want, I can listen to why I want this and align my actions with my intuition; with my own personal truth. And when I live my truth, I am happy.
You’ll know Cassidy by her glowing presence that radiates from the lightness of her spirit. After taking a class with her, don’t be surprised if afterwards you find yourself beaming similarly. If you could use a little more light in your life, come salute the sun with her at our Sunrise Yoga classes at 6:00 AM Tuesday through Thursday!
Feature Teacher presented by Marcy Hullander