You’ll want to meet Alison Baenen, one of our passionate instructors, during whose classes you’ll not only learn asana, but also playful curiousity, patience and a sense of empowerment.
How long have you been in DC?
I grew up here! But I am actually something of a newcomer. I moved back to DC at the beginning of 2015 after 15 years in other places: Chicago, Thailand, Los Angeles, New York, Brooklyn, the east end of Long Island, India and anywhere else airplanes go.
If you had to describe your life in the form of a yoga pose, which pose would it be?
The space in between the poses.
What is your favorite thing about the DC yoga community?
That it exists at all! One of my ongoing prayers is for a sangha of wise and curious friends.
What is your favorite thing to do around town?
Eat tacos at the Dupont Circle Farmer’s Market on Sundays.
Could you describe any best practices in sharing yoga that you apply regularly in your classes?
Authenticity. Showing up where I am at the present moment and teaching from that place.
How has sharing yoga affected you?
Wonderfully : )
What pose or practice do you like to teach to help students feel empowered? To relieve stress? Heart-openers for empowerment.
There is a great deal of strength in intentional vulnerability.
When I can’t get my heart or my head to slow down I put my legs up the wall. There is something so soothing in putting my back on the ground.
These are poses that work for me, so I offer them to my students, but, ultimately, everyone’s experience is uniquely his or her own. My hope is that by encouraging students to connect to their inner wisdom they will find their own paths to empowerment and relief.
Please describe a challenging moment that you have experienced teaching, how you faced that challenge, and what you learned from it.
I’ve had students ignore me, contradict me, resist me, and so clearly be just not that into me. The thing is, it’s not about me. As Yogi Bhajan says, “You cannot make your life a reaction to others; you must make your life your own. ”
What advice do you have to other sharing or seeking to share yoga with others?.
A direct quote from some of my dearest teachers: Teach your yoga. It may not be for everyone, but it will resonate with someone.
Describe your personal circumstances or experiences that made you want to share yoga.
At a certain point the best way into the practice was out. I teach what I need to learn.
What is your favorite style of class to teach, and why?
I love a sweet, intentional flow followed by restorative poses that require all the props. Sweat and then sleep.
Where do your sentiments lie on the “yoga as spiritual practice” versus “yoga as body shaper” spectrum?
Taking care of your body is a spiritual practice. What a beautiful place to start.
What tools do you think are essential for starting a yoga practice?
Curiosity, a sense of humor, patience, and, if you sweat a lot, towels.
Is there an essential yoga mindset?
Are there a few key words or touchstones that make yoga relevant to the many?
Everybody breathes. We might as well pay attention to doing it!
What is yoga to you?
Being as present in the present moment as possible.
In a class full of people with wildly different aims, how do you strive to keep everyone engaged and motivated?
Light some sage. Lighten the mood. Dance break.
As a teacher, do you find that most people’s intentions metamorphose as they practice yoga? Meaning, do clients come to you to get arms like Jennifer Aniston’s but end up finding self-acceptance (or gratitude or openness) instead?
The only person’s metamorphosis I can speak to is my own, but if my yoga journey is any indication, students come for the arms and stay for the peace.
If you could do only one pose from now on, what would it be?
Besides shavasana? I actually have a fantasy about spending several hours in double pigeon on one side, then several hours on the other. At a certain point I would probably leave my body, and that would be awesome.