Friday, September 8, 2017

Teacher Feature: Devon Wilson-Hill

Teaching at O2 Since: 2008
Devon’s Thoughts on Koundinyasana Month: “I remember watching a student do this pose when I was just beginning my practice. It looked so fun! At this point, I couldn’t do Half Moon. But in a year, I could do Koundinyasana.  Revolved Triangle is another of my favorite poses. So is Fallen Warrior or ‘Hippie Warrior’ as Mimi calls it. You could say I’m all about IT band hip stretches. And Koundinyasana is all of that in the air! Taking off! Totally awe inspiring.”
10am Fridays – Mommy & Baby (Postnatal)
**Saturday, August 5th: Self-Care in the Resistance ($45) – sign up here
5:45pm Wednesdays – Prenatal
12:30pm Saturdays – Prenatal

Devon’s yoga practice started as a counterpose to her other passion:  running.  “I needed to stretch in order to keep running injury-free,” she said.  But what kept her coming back was the surprise element of her practice, both in what it was teaching her off and on her mat.  “Yoga marries the physical endurance and challenge with mental focus and awareness.  Every day I do yoga, I’m a better person and a better citizen.  There is nothing else that brings that effect consistently,” Devon said.  What brought her to O2 Yoga, specifically, though was a coworker who invited her to a Karma Class that happened to be Astanga, which resonated with her previous yoga experience.  She kept coming back because of the clear and anatomically precise — yet still very creative — nature of O2’s teachers.  Devon eventually joined the workstudy staff, lending her friendly presence behind the sign-in desk, which brought her even more deeply into the studio’s community before going on to do Mimi’s 200-Hour Teacher Training Program.  “I teach in order to share my excitement, my awakening, with others.  Teaching is fun and rewarding.  I also value the relationships I build with students.  Teaching at O2 has made my community richer,” Devon said.  Even more than that, teaching helps her remain present and deeply value this moment, which also means being flexible and adaptable to changing the plan when need be.  “That’s why, as a teacher, it’s important to have a regular practice and teach from experience,” she said.  Being present and open paves the way for everyone to have a great yoga experience, be they student or teacher.
These days, Devon teaches mostly pre- and postnatal yoga at O2, though occasionally she will sub one of our “regular” classes.  Never fear, one of these days she’ll return to teaching an O2-style class, but in the meantime, she’s doing the good work of building a community of mamas-to-be as well as new moms in these specialized classes (also taught by Barrett on Sundays at 7pm in Somerville).  Prenatal Yoga is designed as an accessible, relaxing, and preparatory practice for women at any stage of pregnancy, while our Postnatal (aka Mommy & Baby) classes help postpartum women rebuild abdominals, chests, and backs — it’s important to note that the babies aren’t participants in this class but, rather, welcome to the space.  Both of these class styles include a community element where the students can share about their experiences and many a friendship has been forged at O2 this way!
For those of you not in the pre/postnatal market who need a little more Devon in your lives, we’ve got you covered: she very consistently has workshops on offer at both studios.  Coming up on Saturday, August 5th, she’s got her second Self-Care in the Resistance workshop, this one focused on hips.  This class combines a short O2-style class with very relaxing and restorative yin poses.  Basically, if you like to feel very calm, peaceful, and centered, you will love this experience.  Devon will be donating a portion of your enrollment fee to the Southern Poverty Law Center, just in case you needed an extra excuse to sign up for an extremely zen afternoon.
And for those of you with a yoga teaching interest and/or background, Devon will be leading an Intro to Teaching Prenatal Yoginis 2-part workshop, the first date being Saturday, August 19th and the second being Saturday, September 16th, both in our Cambridge location. 
She also regularly teaches different Kids’ Yoga classes — so stay tuned for details about upcoming opportunities for such fun this fall!
Devon is one of our most practically minded teachers with an incredibly vast library of knowledge about yoga, anatomy, meditation, and so much more, which makes her a true resource both as a teacher and student at O2.  She takes the time to get to know her students and their practices so the more regularly you take class with her, the more specific her advice and assistance will get — Cambridge manager Sarah often jokes that it was five years into her practice that Devon finally taught her how to do a proper vinyasa.  Devon has a keen eye for detail and can utilize her super powers to make you the best yogi you can be!  Get to one of her classes or workshops soon and you’ll see what we mean…

What’s your favorite pose to teach?
“I love teaching arm balances. We don’t do them too often in prenatal yoga (wink) but I love to fly! Crane, Koundinyasana, forearm stand! I love how confident and excited it makes me feel. It also humbles me.  I respect how one must be hard and soft to really take off. Strong core but open and supple at the same time in order to float and stay balanced on your hands, head, elbows, chin. I also love that we do these poses at O2. Lots of other studios don’t teach these poses! There’s always a variation everyone no matter how long they’ve practiced or how much sleep they got last night.”
What’s your favorite pose to do?
“Supta Viransana. I know. Everyone hates it. This pose with the fancy name is the one you do when instead of sitting on your heels while kneeling, you have your feet on the outside of your hips. I love this pose because I always enter it like a beginner. What are my knees doing today? Do I need a block? Two blocks? How does my back feel. This pose makes me go very slowly and check in. On the days I can lay all the way back and settle, I focus on my breath and releasing and doing less. It’s great for calming my nerves. Do I love it? Sometimes I could just stay there for twenty minutes, I kid you not. Do I hate it? Sometimes. Yes. Absolutely. And it makes me angry. So, facing that pose is my challenge and my yoga. On another level of ego, it sure helps my running stride and makes me faster…”
Do you play music during class?
“I don’t play music during class. I used to. I love music.  And sometimes I enjoy practicing to music. It can even set the tone. In a group class, however, the power of the breath is stimulating and part of what makes this communal practice so rich. I’m often listening to a podcast or NPR.  Being quiet with others is powerful. Have you ever experienced an awesome savasana where forty people are so still and calm. When the bell chimes, all of a sudden there’s a new buzz, a new energy in the room, not from the clashing of bells but from everyone’s energy.  I find it helpful as a teacher to tap into those sounds when I teach and when I practice. But, come on, let’s not be dogmatic about anything. I’ve been in other classes where there is music and it’s been powerful, too.”
Any “Fun Facts” you’d like to share?
“I really like ice cream. I may eat it for dinner once a week. I also like fast cars. Half the time, I can’t figure out how to work my iPhone.”

To learn more about our fabulous teaching staff, click here.

Originally published on August 1, 2017.  View it on O2 Yoga's website here.

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