Tag Archives: Stephanie

Learning something from my daughter

Photo: headshot of female teacher at yoga studio
My daughter, the yoga teacher

I had a special pleasure today in my hatha yoga class at Thrive Yoga: the class was led by  my daughter, Stephanie. We’ve been going to classes together since 2004, and she went through teacher training in 2006-2007 at Flow Yoga and then took additional training at Thrive this past year. She’s been teaching community and kids classes and subbing at Thrive. She’s been bugging me for months (or a year) to take one of her classes, but her teaching opportunities and my schedule always seemed out of sync. Finally, she filled in on a Sunday morning.

I think that the biggest compliment I could give her was that after the first five minutes, I forgot that she was my daughter, and just cursed under my breath that she was kicking my butt in high lunge and Warrior II. It was still a hatha classes, strong on fundamentals and focused on breathing and body awareness, but it kept up a good flow so that I felt touched in my whole body at the end. It certainly was a test for my ego, allowing myself to be guided by my daughter through a yoga routine and holding back from taking a picture of her in the class.

Stephanie’s been teaching a lot over the past week or so because there have been a lot of class openings. Susan and Dave Bowen, the Thrive Yoga owners, led a group on a retreat in Hawaii (and taking some leisure time while they’re out there). Hopefully, there will be many other opportunities for Esteff (as she prefers to be called — it’s a long story).

It’s happening again

Three days straight without going to a yoga class when I had promised myself that I would not allow myself to back out of practice. At least, I got one evening of practice in at home. There’s a small window of opportunity at Thrive Yoga in the evening. I get off work between 5:30 and 6:30, and need a full hour to get home. Classes start at 7:15 or 7:30 so I have to make a point of leaving closer to 5:30 than 6:00. I then can’t have any delays on the Metro, and my wife has to pick me up on time. Otherwise, I can’t change my clothes and drive to the studio in time for class.

Of course, I could always back my kit and go straight to the studio from the station. I would have to decide that in the morning, and carry my stuff with me.

I have not been back to Flow Yoga Center since my knee injury. That’s used to be a lock each Tuesday or Wednesday. My daughter, Stephanie, and I have fallen out of the habit of taking classes together. She has gone back to college at the University of Maryland to finish off the last 16 credits for her BA and that ties up her evenings. Back in the old days, I would walk over to Flow in 30 minutes and start class at 6:30. Fewer chances of happenstance impeding my practice. I do miss my exposure to a different class of yogi/yogini, and the smiling face of Debra Perlson-Mishalove, who was recently blessed with a baby. The absence of a downtown practice also means that I don’t shell out money of classes in a time of tightening budgets.

Another yoga teacher gets her start

Photo - Stephanie SmithMy daughter, Stephanie, has been awarded her 200-hour yoga teacher credential by the Flow Yoga Center teacher training program. It’s taken her a while, in part because she is so conscientious about fulfilling all the obligations and mastering the material. She took it very seriously. For about six months, she has been volunteering yoga classes at one of the House of Ruth‘s shelters for battered women. Now she’s going to be looking for more teaching opportunities.

Great going, Estef!!!

Who says Sanskrit is a dead language?

Sanskrit is a language that was not taught in my high school. Its vocabulary has not slipped into the street chat that is the beachhead for any new lexicon, although the increasing popularity of yoga may change that in the future. But in the meantime, anyone wanting to know how pronounce their favorite pose can turn to the Online Sanskrit Pronunciation Guide. This service is provided by Tilak Pyle, and I see my daughter Stephanie using it all the time for her teacher training studies at Flow Yoga. This is not a tutorial for learning Sanskrit, but is does take some of the mystery out of the nomenclature.

Teacher training

My daughter, Stephanie, has signed up for teacher training at Flow Yoga this fall. She starts classes in September, but is already reading the assigned literature. She is really excited about the opportunity to dive deep into yoga. It will represent a big investment, $2,700. It will be 200 hours of hard work over six months. It takes a lot of courage and discipline to head in this direction. Just think, in December 2004, I was dragging her to her first yoga classes.

Her full-time job is with the Teamsters, in their organizing department, but it’s hard to tell at this stage whether it’s a long-term career. She has found a real home for her practice at Flow Yoga. Over the past six months, she has been on a “work for classes” arrangement with Debra, the owner, helping at the front desk and doing other tasks. She says that she really enjoys working with the staff, teachers and customers drawn to Flow.

She recently had mononucleosis and has yet to regain all her strength. She is a beginner who has not mastered all the poses so she will have to grow in a lot of different directions at the same time. She would probably admit that yoga has played a big part in getting her to eat healthier and stronger. Once she finishes, she’d like to start teaching on a part-time basis. She became a vegetarian awhile ago.

What a parent should teach his kid

Before my class at the Flow Yoga Center last week, I paid for my daughter’s pass, buying her a five-class one so that we can share a weekly encounter of sweat, deep breaths and bliss in the final savasana. As the owner was swiping my credit card through the reader, she said, “I wish we had more fathers like you!” I joked that it was my way of bribing Stephanie to give me some time. We go out afterward and have a bite to eat or sip on a smoothie and talk about the practice, her career plans or her parakeets.

But seriously, giving yoga (or meditation) to your child is one of the smartest investments that you can imagine. I regret that I waited until she is 28 to give her yoga classes — I wish I had gotten started 10 years ago, or when I was 28 or whatever. Yoga should be like sending your kids to summer camp (so they can learn social skills), making them take swimming classes (so they don’t drown), paying for driving lessons (so they don’t smash the family car and kill themselves). And let’s not get started about the thousands of dollars into college education that almost any parent willingly undertakes.

When we approach yoga seriously and with reverence and awe, we acquire skills that allow us to deal with our bodies and our emotions. I call it a user’s manual for the mind-body connection. I don’t care if Stephanie will ever manage to do Bhairavasana, but I do want her to find the stillness that comes from quieting our tense muscles and mental ticks. Yoga teaches you how to be an adult living in balance. I wish I had known about it when I was on that steep learning curve that starts as a teenager and never seems to level off.

I know that you can only put your kids in a position to achieve fulfillment, but you can never make them actually do them (horse/water/drink – a hard lesson my wife refuses to learn). The frustrations of parenthood abound. I have given up all expectations about where my kids are going to end up — I only hope that they are happy on the way to achieving it.

But I will pull the last dollar out of my wallet if they ask to go to yoga class with me.

¡No te aproveches, Stephanie!

This post was originally a contribution to my Open Mind Open Body online forum.

Daughter and yoga

This Monday evening, I went to my class with Stephanie. She had never done any formal yoga before, which surprised me because I thought she would have run into it at college or in her dance studies. She has taken the Art of Living intro course so it all can’t be that foreign to her. A Yoga 1 class is a lot to throw at a beginner because there’s a lot to keep track of. We both sweated up a storm because the room was packed and we were getting into a really dynamic flow.

Afterwards, we had a light dinner together, a veggie sandwich for her and a salad for me. We talked about the class and our plans for the holidays. Some quality father-daughter time together. She says that she wants to do it again. We’ll see if her enthusiasm continues.

Crash Course – Art of Living

My daughter, Stephanie, started taking the introductory course to Art of Living, inspired by the work of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. I encouraged her to take it because I thought it would be a good transition between college and real life — a time to think, share ideas with interesting people and get some new skills. It costs more than just the equivalent of a yoga class — about $250 full fare or $125 for students — but I felt that it was well worth the money.

I took my intro course two months ago and it was a powerful experience. It stretches over six days, four weekdays and a weekend. The weekday classes were about three hours long, while the weekend classes five hours each. In a way, it’s a bit like a cross between a workshop and a retreat. It takes you out of your routine and molds your activities around the learning experience.

I took it with a small group, just five people, while Stephanie has about 20 in her course. Sometimes, they give the course to 100 or more people. In India, the course is giving in massive gatherings — it has to be that way in a country of billions. The core of the AOL practice is the Sudarshan Kriya, a purification process. A longer form is done regularly in a group (60 minutes) while a shortened form (20-30 minutes) is done daily. A summary of its benefits can be found on Lifepositive.com.

You are not supposed to revel what goes on in the classes, but I have found several websites that details what happens. The best summary is Bharani’s Revelations.

You can read a long portrait of Sri Sri, Emperor of Air, in Yoga Journal. The DC Chapter will be welcoming Sri Sri next week, May 6. Details are on the site. If I have one reservation about AOL, it’s the reverence and adulation with which Sri Sri is held by many of his followers. He is definitely charismatic in a quirky, Hindu way. One thing is sure — the Art of Living Foundation is a huge international organization, sustaining operations in over 100 countries and reaching into new areas. It gives APEX course for corporate management and staff as well as maintains an aggressive presence on university campuses.

What does AOL add to my yoga practice? It’s increased my lung capacity in a really short time; it’s increased my alertness; it’s given me methods to refresh my mind throughout the day. By giving me greater awareness and sensitivity to my breath, I’ve improved my concentration and meditation. By coming to AOL and yoga together, I was able to see how much yoga could benefit me. At my first yoga class after the AOL intro course, I was able to get into deep bends and other poses and hold them because I was breathing more easily and deeply. I suppose I could have to come the same condition through other methods, but it would have taken more time.