Hi all! Please welcome Cynthia Heckman to the Whole Life Blog today! Cynthia is a talented yoga teacher as well as one of my favorite graduates of Whole Life Yoga’s 200 hour and 500 hour yoga teacher trainings. Cynthia is a much braver woman than I for teaching yoga to families. Please join me in welcoming her and ask her any questions you have in the comments!
Why and when did you start practicing yoga?
I started practicing yoga in 1994, when my first son was 3. At the time I was just looking for any class at the gym to help me get in shape.
After the first class, I knew yoga was different. Instead of just feeling energized after class, I felt energized and peaceful.
What do you specifically appreciate about Viniyoga?
It wasn’t until more than a decade after that first class that I had the good fortune to find Tracy Weber and my introduction to Viniyoga. After so many years of gym class yoga and Iyengar yoga, it took me awhile to fully integrate Viniyoga into my practice.
Now I wouldn’t have my yoga any other way. Firstly, in Viniyoga movement and breath are fully fused together. This brings a totally new awareness of the body and encourages more focus during practice, as well as other physiological benefits. Secondly, in Viniyoga the practice is designed to suit the individual who is doing it. No more trying to force my body into an ideal pose, but, instead, I get to choose the poses that my body needs. With regular practice, this has resulted in new love and appreciation for the body I was born with.
What yoga myths would you most like to debunk?
The yoga myth I would most like to debunk is the idea that if you are a yoga teacher you must be some kind of human pretzel. Flexibility is nice, but it isn’t a pre –requisite for teaching or practicing yoga. The body you have will work just fine, thank-you.
I completely agree. If you had to be a human pretzel to teach yoga, I’d have been disqualified long ago. That’s why I like teaching yoga to people who think they “can’t” do yoga. Who do you most enjoy teaching?
When I first graduated from teacher training I promised myself I would say “Yes!” to the first person who asked me to teach. I imagined this would be a class for adults at a studio or gym, but, no. The first person to ask me was a friend of mine, a mom who wanted a family yoga class at a local community center. I said yes, and I was terrified.
It turned out though, after a few bumpy classes, teaching kids with their parents was a good fit for me. I learn so much from the kids with their open hearts and playfulness and try to help the parents find a few moments to relax in the midst of yoga chaos. We all laugh and laugh, which may be the best practice of all.
Tip for teachers who would like to try teaching kids: After you graduate from teacher training, consider taking an Improv class, and/or a class specifically geared toward teaching kids yoga. It really helps when you need to change your plans on the fly.
Now that you’ve graduated from yoga teacher training, how are you sharing what you learned?
It has been said that if you are given the yoga teachings and don’t share them, you are a thief. As a teacher who only finds time to teach an occasional class or series of classes, I’ve thought about this a lot.
How do I share yoga when I’m not formally teaching without being annoying and preachy? I like to think that doing my best to follow the yoga sutras is the answer. I share their beauty whenever I’m given the opportunity. Here’s one I love:
Sutra 1.33: “The mind becomes quiet when it cultivates friendliness in the presence of happiness, active compassion in the presence of unhappiness, joy in the presence of virtue, and indifference toward error.”
Easier said than done, right? But as some wise soul once said, “That’s why they call it a yoga practice not a yoga perfect.”
What is your favorite book about yoga?
My favorite book about yoga is The Essence of Yoga , Reflections on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by Bernard Bouanchaud. Quoted above.
Who is your yoga hero?
I have many yoga heroes. From great teachers who spend their lives sharing the yoga tradition, to the regular practitioner, who, despite all of life’s obstacles, returns to the mat again and again. Namaste to you all!
Cynthia Heckman is a homeschool mom and yoga teacher. She graduated from Whole Life Yoga’s teacher training in 2009. She occasionally teaches kids’ and family yoga at Loyal Heights Community Center in Seattle and tries to live by and share the yoga teachings every day. Contact her at Chyoga@earthlink.net.
Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, learn about our Yoga Alliance Registered yoga teacher training program, and check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series.