We caught up (virtually) with Julie to ask her about her teaching style, inspiration, and more! Catch Julie online at The Yoga Lounge for her regular Thursday 9:30AM Restore & Repair class. Also check out Julie’s wealth of offerings on her website, BodyMindEase.com.
What is inspiring/informing your teaching lately?
Like those taking the time to read this, I am a student for life. Pursuing knowledge through trainings, courses, books, retreats, and sitting with Buddhist masters in ancient Burmese temples just happen to have been my path to heightened curiosity and inner sensitivity.
Today, my main practice is simply turning inward.
I was recently reminded of the power of this by Ayurveda and Yoga Therapist, Indu Arora. She responded to a request for a manta from a participant at the International Yoga Nidra Conference;
“There are so many mantras. To point you to one, would be leaving the rest. If you have to walk out with a manta today, walk out with the sound of your breath, walk out with the chatter of your mind. There two mantras are constantly within us. They reckon us back to ourselves. The breath is the most powerful mantra (svara) the second is the mind (chitta mantra). If you have to listen to one mantra, listen to these. That will take you to the infinite source of all possible mantras. The answer doesn’t lie within anything outside, it is there within you, within us. Everything else becomes dependency, something we want to hold. It is in you, reach that.”
Indu’s words help me ease up on my pursuit of external knowledge and rest more in what I might call Being or Love. Learning from other teachers and wisdom teachings from various paths has its purpose and allure, all the while knowing these are pointers to understanding, not “Understanding” itself.
Some of my best teachers to point me inward are my partner Mitch, family, friends and students. It’s fascinating to listen to the mental chatter when another has inspired or triggered me. Check it out.
My teaching is intended to spark the possibility, and eventually trust, that what the student is looking for, is within.
What can someone expect from one of your classes at the Yoga Lounge?
My classes at the Yoga Lounge co-create opportunity to let go of expectations and limited ideas of ourself and turn inward to inner wisdom. This often means slowing down; practicing with more spaciousness. At times, we may move more quickly. I invite each participant to move at the speed that mindfulness can keep up. This evokes curiosity and shifts us out of the recursive tape loop of repetitive thoughts.
Can you describe some of your journey as a teacher and how it has led you to where you are today?
Life keeps teaching me that we are really not in control, as much as we like to think we are. This is apparent in my yoga journey.
My mom was among the first certified yoga teachers in Alberta, studying under Friedel Khattab. Health problems prevented mom from teaching but to this day, she is a yogi through and through. My Dad hosted radio and tv shows and taught broadcasting. He continued his weekly newscasts for Canadians in Hawaii, until just a few years ago, at over 80 years of age. It makes me smile to see how Mom, Dad and other influential people are like the banks of a river through which my teaching flows, and that maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise that my online meditation recordings have had well over a million listens.
Life steered me toward Yoga Therapy specifically after questioning the chronic tightness and pain in my lower back that progressed to my hips, as well as frequent headaches. My yoga practices at that time didn’t seem to help. This pain led me to functional, therapeutic movement and shifted my approach to yoga asana and meditation. Now, at 57 years of age, I feel better than I did in my 30’s. Gratefully, at this time in my life, I rarely experience pain. The aching hips and lower back are a thing of the past.
Pain is a normal part of life, and there is much we can do to support the body, heart and mind for less pain, more ease of being. This excites me and inspires me to help others examine their relationship to pain and learn to move their body in a more functional way.
What kinds of habits or practices are you using to manage during this time?
I am committed to my personal morning practice before turning on any sort of media, checking text messages or emails. This includes gentle asana, pranayama and meditation. It is basically what I teach Thursday mornings at the Yoga Lounge with more emphasis on super slow movements, meditation, mantra and pranayama.
My favourite place to practice is in nature. As I ski, cycle or walk, I’ll notice nature – what a teacher She is – and listen to the chatter of my mind. Sometimes I’ll sit under a tree or beside a stream, as one of my teachers and dear friends, Steven Smith, says “doing nothing with full commitment.”
Much of my practice is influenced by iRest@ Yoga Nidra which expresses itself through me in stillness, yogic moments and dancing like there’s nobody watching.
I end each day with sensing into my body and seeing what it seems to want to bring completion to the day. Maybe its a gentle tensegrity practice, or a meditation, or nadi shodhana (alternative nostril breathing) ….maybe its laying in bed attending to sensations and thoughts, mindfully.
Are there any tips you have for students who are practicing from home during this time?
The Yoga Lounge live-streamed classes and videos are super supportive for continuing practice and community connection. I’ve taken in more Yoga Lounge classes since it went online than ever…and love them all. Nope, I wasn’t asked to say this.
Set a daily schedule for your practice times. A little bit often is great. Begin and end your day turning inward, in whatever way works for you. It could be as simple as laying in bed, with your hand on your heart, noticing and allowing yourself to be, just as you are. Loving kindness, compassion, joy and equanimity are all within us.
Notice the physical activities you miss and find another way to challenge the body. I miss climbing, so I do more strengthening yoga practices. I miss skiing and higher elevation hikes, so I do more squats and only use the bathroom that requires the more stairs to get to. Dust off the hula hoop, or grab that skipping rope from the bottom of the storage box. Do whatever makes your heart sing and your body move.
In closing, we have everything we need to meet any given moment and sometimes we need another to point us home. I’m here for you as is the rest of the Yoga Lounge teaching team and community.
Thank you for being part of our amazing community!