Erika’s Thoughts on Bird of Paradise: “Bird of Paradise is a challenging pose for my body. My hips and shoulders are on the tighter side, so I need a lot of preparatory poses in order to safely get into it. Of course, because it’s hard, it’s exactly the sort of pose I need to incorporate into my practice. Working towards challenging poses helps to push us beyond our comfort zones and make us into better yogis! But at the same time, I understand what needs to be done in terms of sequencing to help students safely reach this peak pose. And I understand from personal experience how exciting it is to progress towards a pose you never thought you’d even be able to approach!”
Erika found her way into yoga when she decided she needed to find a form of exercise that was good for her body and not boring for her mind. O2 Yoga turned out to be just that! After doing a few yoga sequences on a video, she decided to give this studio with this crazy purple awning right down the street from where she lived a try! “It was during an Open House. The class was called ‘Introduction to Primary Series,’ so I assumed it was appropriate for beginners. It definitely wasn’t! But I bought my first 10-class card and found my way to some actual Basics classes — and the rest is history!” Erika recalled.
That was thirteen years ago and in that time, her practice not only blossomed, she also got increasingly more involved in the O2-community by joining our stellar workstudy team, working at the desk in Somerville for many years. It just so happens, we’re hiring workstudy currently in our Cambridge studio — for Erika’s Sunday morning class, no less! Being part of this close-knit team of dedicated O2 Yogis is a great way to immerse yourself more in our community and help us keep our studios the welcoming, homey, warm places that they are. Workstudy is a two-hour-per-week commitment in exchange for an unlimited yoga membership. Interested in learning more? Ask us about workstudy next time you come for class! Erika is one of the many wonderful teachers we have who got her active start with us behind the sign in desk. It’s a great way to get involved.
And for Erika, the decision to get more and more involved was an easy one. “Yoga was the first type of physical activity that I tried that I actually found myself looking forward to. I didn’t have to drag myself to a yoga class the way I would drag myself to the gym. And once I started practicing regularly, I discovered the calming psychological effects as well as the physical ones,” she said. So while her love of the practice grew, so did her interest in learning the other side of it: teaching! 2012 was the first year Mimi offered her 200-Hour Teacher Training Program in a weekend format, which made it possible for Erika (and many other studio regulars) to participate at last! Her “day job” is teaching 7th grade World Geography, so she originally thought she might do TT to create a “yoga club” for her students. “Once I immersed myself in Teacher Training, I discovered how much I enjoyed creating sequences and teaching within the O2 style and setting. I had already been a part of the O2 community for so long that teaching kind of seemed like a natural next step. And I also found that teaching adults was a nice complement to my ‘day job’ working with twelve- and thirteen-year-olds,” Erika said. So it was only natural that she decided to do the Karma Program and continue on as a teacher.
Erika’s classes are thoughtful and creative with plenty of opportunity to challenge you, whether it’s your first or nine hundreth class. There is always somewhere new for students to work towards advanced postures in her Power classes while her Basics classes show the broad scope of how to approach really foundational aspects of the O2-style while getting a solid sneak peek at what newer students can look forward to as their practice progresses. We are so delighted to have Erika both as one of our more senior teachers as well as such a long-time student. Treat yourself to one of her stellar classes sometime soon!
What’s the best lesson you’ve learned from Mimi?
“It’s not anything explicit, just the example she sets through her way of being and interacting with others. Even when she’s facing challenges, she’s so immensely gracious and full of loving-kindness, in a way that really inspires me.”
What’s the best lesson you’ve learned from teaching?
“How to be patient with my own practice. (Sri K. Pattabhi Jois: ‘Practice, practice and all is coming.’) I encourage students to be humble about their own limitations, and I’m constantly reminded to follow that advice myself.”
What’s the best lesson you’ve learned from one of our other teachers?
“Honestly, I learn something new—or I’m reminded of something I’d forgotten—every time I take a class at O2. It could be a transition that I’d never thought of before, or a way of cuing or approaching a certain posture. One of the great things about O2 is that we all teach in a consistent style, so we’re constantly drawing inspiration from each other.”
What’s your favorite pose to teach?
“Floppy fish, or sumo steps from second series, or any pose that causes people to take themselves less seriously.”
What’s your favorite pose to do?
“Half moon—it feels like flying!”
What’s your “dream pose”?
“Hopping up into handstand without assistance. I’m definitely closer than I used to be!”
Do you have a mantra?
“It’s not really a mantra, but I keep coming back to this saying: Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. Some of the most amazing experiences I’ve had were the ones that made me the most apprehensive at the beginning.”
Do you play music in class?
“I do like to play music, but I tend to choose ambient or world music—something where the lyrics aren’t a distraction.”
Any “Fun Facts” you’d care to share?
“I have three cats who are named after characters from the TV show Lost, which gives you an idea of their ages, as well as my level of geekiness. I absolutely love to travel—I’ve been to Cuba, Japan, East Africa, Peru and various other places. I’m planning a trip to Portugal for next summer as a 40th birthday present to myself. And when I have time, I also like to take on knitting and sewing projects.”
Anything else about your teaching or your practice or yourself?
“Just how grateful I am to have landed within this amazing community.”
Originally posted on O2 Yoga's website on October 1, 2017. View it here.