Get to know a little more about our beloved Valerie! If you have been to her classes, you know how special she is! If you haven't been, make sure to put it on your calendar because you are missing out!
Eagle River, Alaska
Classes taught at GYC:
Flow for All on Saturday mornings at 7:30 & 9.
How long have you been teaching?
I have been teaching yoga for 12 years
Why became a teacher?
I took my first yoga class as a junior in high school and was immediately captivated by the union of movement, breath, and the moments of quiet and stillness of the mind the practice provides. In college, my yoga practice became my lifeline. I spent much of those years feeling lost, trying to navigate my place in the world, and it was the moments that I stepped on my mat that brought me back to myself and cultivated a sense of belonging. It was that period of time that led me to my first yoga teacher training in 2005, and within the first day of that training, I knew the practice of yoga would be a consistent part of my life going forward. Looking back at these past 12 years, I’ve changed and evolved greatly, but my yoga practice has remained constant and still cultivates a sense of coming back to myself.
Favorite pose and why?
I would say my favorite posture changes on a weekly basis and is dependent on how I am feeling in any given moment, physically and energetically. The shape I’ve probably been loving the most lately is Legs-up-the-wall pose (Viparita Karani). Between my full-time job as a middle school teacher and spending much of my nights and weekends teaching yoga and fitness, my days are long. So this pose feels absolutely heavenly, and is one of my favorite postures to take right before bed. It’s is a wonderful way to feel grounded and to come back to yourself following a busy day.
Favorite tune to hear in class?
Work Song by Hozier and Water by Jack Garratt- definitely not traditional yoga songs but I can’t help but dance a little anytime these songs come on during a practice
Motivational tip or favorite quote?
“We are the authors of our lives. We write our own daring endings.” Brené Brown
Advice to beginners?
The practice of yoga doesn’t expect you to be perfect or flexible, and neither does the teacher. By simply taking the time to step on your mat means you’ve already accomplished the hardest part. This practice is all about exploration- exploring who you are and what is felt in any given moment- not perfection. It’s not about a specific pose or shape, and it’s definitely not about what you see on Instagram. It’s a personal journey that can help you navigate your life a little differently, on and off your mat.
What do you emphasize in your class?
What I always hope to convey in a class I teach is that there is not one shape for any given posture that is the ultimate goal. A shape that works for one person’s body is not always a shape that will work for another person’s body. We are all made so differently- structurally our skeletal systems are different and based on how we spend our days and things we’ve experienced in our lives, our tissues are also very different- all of which determines what may be available in our asana practice. Every person has the permission to take what he or she needs at any point in time based on what they are feeling physically, energetically, and even spiritually. There is never one right answer, option, or shape.
What would you like students to gain from your class?
I hope students are able to experience a sense of letting go and a return to what feels true and authentic to them when they practice with me. This life is demanding and with its demands we often feel the need to hold on more tightly, to control life and its experiences a little more. We also frequently get caught up in the expectations of either others or ourselves, and sometimes forget that if we give ourselves the space to listen to our intuition, it will never lead us astray. Through the practices I teach, my hope is to help students wear down the path of these tendencies to hold on more tightly and to try and control things more, and instead learn to navigate their path with more ease and authenticity, not just on their mats but in all aspects of their lives.
What difference have you noticed in your body or overall health since practicing yoga?
Oh so many! Probably far too many to list, but if I were to name the primary benefit the practice of yoga has provided me, it would be trust- trust in myself and trust in my body. Our bodies are incredibly smart and when I finally learned to trust it rather than control it, my overall health and well being improved drastically. The practice of yoga has also allowed me to see that all that I seek is already within me and I won’t find what I need from an external source. I simply have to give myself the space to listen
Where can we find you when not at GYC?
When I’m not at GYC, you can find me at a variety of studios in southern Maine teaching yoga, teaching health and wellness at the middle school level, at the movies with my favorite guy, in my kitchen creating delicious recipes and having epic dance parties, and traveling to as many places as I can!
Who knew (fun bit of info about you)?
I spend my free time reading anatomy books for fun! I truly love the study of the human body and devote as much time as I can learning more about its complexities and intricacies. I find it absolutely fascinating and love integrating my knowledge of the human body into the practice of yoga.