SPOTLIGHT ON LYP GRADUATES:
Teachers Making a Difference!
July 2012 Spotlight on Liz Franklin, Creator of Liz Franklin’s Yoga in Chairs®
Liz Franklin began practicing yoga in 1995. Like many other yoga teachers, she started teaching when her teacher was sick and asked her to teach the class that evening. She was reluctant at first, but as she started leading the class she was filled with an incredible peace and overwhelming joy. “I had found my calling and have not looked back since then!”
Liz graduated from the Living Yoga Program in November of 2005. Since her graduation she has gone on to publish a series of three videos which allow people all over the world to practice Yoga in Chairs.
Liz started practicing yoga in her mid-thirties and was hooked after her first class. It was during her preparation for and recovery from abdominal surgery that Liz fully realized the potential of yoga, using relaxation, pranayama and visualizations exercises learned in yoga to help control the paid and speed her recovery.
She was inspired to develop Yoga in Chairs by watching an older member of her class struggle to move up and down from the floor. This student eventually left class due to this frustration. Liz realized that there was a need for yoga that was more accecible for students with physical limitations and set about to develop a gentle, but effective, yoga practice while seated in chairs or wheelchairs. “The investment I made in having the videos professionally produced has been paid back many times over.”
Liz loves sharing yoga with people who never dreamed they could practice yoga. “It is such a joy to watch their posture improve, to hear them breathing deeply, to see the stress melt off of their faces and bodies. I have had so many wonderful compliments from my students. They have seen improvement in so many facets of their lives, from reducing the pain of arthritis to helping with symptoms of asthma to better balance and ease of walking to improved sleep. I am constantly amazed at how beneficial even one hour a week of yoga class can be.”
Her program has evolved over the years and she now teaches her chair yoga program to other yoga teachers who wish to work with this population. Her video programs are now helping her to share the benefits of Yoga in Chairs with people all over the world.
“I am honored to be able to share this gift with so many other people, my students, people who use my videos, the teachers who train with me and share the program with their students. Yoga is more than an exercise; it is a way of life!”
March 2012 Spotlight on Janet Parachin
Upon completing the Living Yoga Program summer intensive in 2004, Janet Parachin returned home to Tulsa and started teaching two morning classes at the YMCA. She enjoyed introducing yoga to people who wouldn’t feel comfortable walking into a yoga studio. Over the years other yoga teachers have said to her “the Y is a good place to start, but you can’t teach real yoga at the Y.” She always replies, “Come to my class and then tell me you can’t teach ‘real’ yoga at the Y!” For Janet, a well-rounded class always includes pranayama, meditation, and deep relaxation—all in one hour!
One day after class a student asked Janet how she too could become a yoga teacher. She was disappointed to hear that she would have to travel out of state to study because her work and family situation didn’t allow it. She said to Janet, “You’re an educator and a yoga teacher. Why don’t you start a yoga teacher training program?” At the time Janet was a professor at a seminary and wanted to make a change. Over the next year, she left her job, developed a curriculum, completed the paperwork to license as a private vocational school, and commenced the first class of students in July 2007. Yoga Spirit Academy is a non-denominational hatha yoga school, the first school to open in Oklahoma. Her partner in this venture is her husband, Victor Parachin, who teaches the philosophy and meditation classes. They’ve had 70 students in the program so far.
Over the years they were entertaining a new idea—a cooperative yoga studio where teachers advertise their own classes and keep all the profits from their teaching. “We believe that it’s possible for yoga teachers to make a living teaching yoga, but it’s nearly impossible if you’re only working for someone else.” In 2010 they opened Yoga Cooperative, an intimate yoga studio in an office building in mid-town Tulsa. They teach weekly group classes, offer monthly workshops, and provide private sessions.
Janet’s continuing studies in anatomy, restorative and therapeutic yoga has increased her training hours to 500 primarily through courses with Judith Hanson Lasater, Doug Keller and Susi Hately. She shares the knowledge she has gained by offering monthly workshops such as yoga for the back and restorative yoga, and by working individually with people who want to get out of pain. Janet says, “Thank you to Living Yoga Program faculty Donna, Charles and Ellen for sharing your passion for Yoga with me so that I could walk this amazing path for myself.”
December 2011 Interview with Sanieh
Since graduating from the Living Yoga Program in October of 2005, Sanieh went on to study with renowned yoga teacher, Shiva Rae. “What started out as one training turned into several hundred hours of teacher trainings through the Sumudra School of Living Yoga. After 3 long years and 8 months, I completed the Advanced level teacher training with Samudra (Shiva's school) and was invited to be a mentor for other students across the nation (although mostly in my region) on behalf of Shiva herself and her TT program. At this time I was also invited to assist my primary teacher in workshops and teacher trainings in Venice Beach, California, Kerala, India and my biggest honor, here in Austin, TX where I served as Lead assistant in my own backyard.”
Sanieh has gone on to develop a module to share with teacher trainees on Finding Your Authentic Voice. She assisted Charles MacInerney with a weekend retreat in 2009. “It's been a blessing and an honor to be invited to teach at retreats and conferences such as the Texas Yoga Retreat put on by my LYP, the Texas Yoga Festival (in October this year!) the Nashville Yoga Conference and others in progress. One of the most fun aspects of teaching yoga that I'm grateful to have been able to create is that of leading workshops locally, nationally and internationally including such places as Austin, San Antonio, Nashville, TN, Hopkinsville, KY, At Present Moment Retreat Center in Mexico and in June, I'm excited to co-lead a sold out retreat at Maya Tulum Mexico where we have people attending from 6 different states, 2 hemispheres and 3 countries!”
Sanieh started doing Crossfit about 3 years ago and then started doing triathlons last year. “I sat down and looked at my experiences and where my expertise of teaching met my personal experiences and daily practices and I came up with a Yoga for Crossfitters series that is in the process of being trademarked! This allows me to take the skill and over 1,000 hours of teacher training experience I have and partner that with my knowledge as a Crossfit Athlete creating a specific yoga practice that caters to their needs for their sport. I'm thrilled to share that I've been traveling the local circuit booking workshops, clinics and on-going classes within this community meeting their needs. I encourage yoga teachers everywhere to see where they can go outside the box and get creative with possibilities within their teaching in a way that allows them to create the rules for themselves financially while offering a genuine service where there is a need.”
“Thank you LYP for giving me such a solid foundation. I continue to be grateful for what you have given to me and continue to look forward to working with you more in the future in any way you will have me! You always remember your first”
*Voted one of Austin's Top 10 Fittest by the Community and Austin Fit Magazine
*On the board for Breakfast Club Yoga, ATX - a new organization in Austin with an emphasis on dissolving lines of separation within the yoga community
*Lululemon Athletica Alumni Ambassador
*devotional CD to be released this year
June 2011 Interview with Mary Esther Middleton
Mary Esther Middleton graduated from the Living Yoga Program in June of 2003. The next day she began teaching 3 classes a week at a studio where she had practiced and been mentored. "I was nervous that first day. All of my friends were wonderful and encouraging. It took a while, but my confidence and skills improved, and it all started to feel natural. The joy of sharing a yoga practice with others was and is the perfect place for me."
Soon after graduating from LYP Mary Esther started helping with the Austin Free Day of Yoga. Under her leadership this event has continued to grow over the last 7 years. It requires the organization and coordination of up to 200 yoga teachers, and regularly draws several thousand participants. Mary Esther has helped other communities start their own versions, including Houston and Dallas, and recently organized the Free Day of Yoga into a Non-profit corporation. She also plays a vital role in the Austin Yoga Teacher's Association, maintaining the website and teacher's directory. She is also the Logistics Director for the Austin Yoga Festival (www.austinyogafestival.com) in October
Mary Esther's teaching continues to flourish. She currently teaches 12-15 classes/week at corporate locations, community centers, and at schools. She takes time off to spend in nature. "We have rafted through the Grand Canyon, run gorgeous rivers, gone scuba diving, and snow skiing. And then I come back to teaching... Yoga is life!".