Inside Out - Local yogis discuss their own personal journeys
Natural Awakenings asked five area yoga instructors about their personal yoga experiences. This diverse group of people attributed their practice to everything from physical healing to helping them find their place in the universe.
Cheryl Crawford is a RYT-500 yoga teacher who practices YogaKids, Laughter Yoga, Anusara, Kundalini, Correlation Vinyasa and Hot Core Power at Decatur Yoga & Pilates and in private sessions. She was on bed rest before giving birth to triplets 17 years ago. “I was in pain from having been on my left side for four months,” she says. Her spine had been in a diagonal position and it hurt. Then she started yoga classes. “I noticed right away that I felt better,” says Crawford.
Her yoga classes began to pay off in a deeper way as her three girls grew. “I found myself saying things I didn’t think I would say, like when they were fighting over a book or something,” says Crawford, who again turned to yoga. “You go inside yourself. I taught myself how to be a better parent. Yoga gave me that space to learn.”
Also former elementary school teacher, Crawford founded Atlanta Yoga Movement and co-founded Grounded Kids Yoga, which takes yoga into Atlanta Public Schools in workshops, staff trainings and after school clubs, and offers teacher certification. “Yoga helps us connect to our center and each other,” she notes. “It's even more potent with children. It helps release negative, stuck patterns and teaches children how to create newer, kinder patterns.”
For Crawford, yoga is still personally powerful. She says, “It helps me eradicate what is not me and what’s getting in my way.”
Jason Anderson is a six-foot-five-inch former NCAA Final Four basketball player who played forward for Portugal’s professional basketball team, Atletico, in 2005 and 2006. He is now a ERYT-500 instructor at several studios, including Atlanta Hot Yoga Buckhead and Korsi Yoga. He started doing yoga after suffering a knee injury, and says he finds clarity on the yoga mat. “At first, it was just part of my training, but the more I practiced the more I got into it. It was something I desperately needed at the time—concentration to free myself from distraction.”
Anderson also created Calmtivity Yoga, which he teaches to professional athletes and others that want to gain focus fluid power, a vinyasa flow practice with an emphasis on slow, fluid movements to promote fluid decision and action upon a foundation of security. He says that yoga enhances athletic performance by teaching athletes to breathe consciously and slow down their game. “If you slow down, you simulate being in the zone,” says Anderson. “There’s more awareness and responsibility and there’s more composure and effortlessness while you’re doing your thing. You’re not trying to be, you’re just being.”
For Anderson, finding yoga meant finding himself. “I am more aware of how I feel, just taking ownership of my own feelings and thoughts and having greater self responsibility,” he says.
A yoga teacher in an elective college class inspired Nicole Jurovics. “She was really old, like 40,” jokes the now 41-year-old Nicole. “She was incredibly strong and gorgeous. She really sparked my interest in it by how badass she was.” The mother of two sampled different styles and teachers and backed off from yoga occasionally, then finished the Atlanta Yoga Fellowship Teacher Training Program in 2004. She teaches vinyasa at Decatur Yoga & Pilates, Yoga Samadhi and privately. Jurovics is co-organizer of the Southeast Yoga Conference, held this year from September 25 to 27 in Midtown, which is expected to draw up to 500 people.
Jurovics wants people to realize that they can benefit from getting back to the basic poses in yoga, which still build heat and require strength. “The best thing about yoga is that you can do it forever, because it’s just moving and breathing mindfully,” she says. “It’s kinda infinite what you can learn about it and all it can give you.”
Neda Draupadi Honarvar, director and founder of Tough Love Yoga, teaches alignment-based hatha yoga alerts students via her website, “Expect hard work and play with generous servings of sweat.” A 200-hour certified teacher in both Classical Hatha Yoga and Kali Natha Yoga, Honarvar was in Tucson recently, working on her 500-hour yoga teaching certification. Tough Love Yoga also offers teacher certification.
Honarvar recalls, “I was trying to get a couple of my guy friends to join me, and they said, ‘If you play metal, we’ll come,’” so she created Metal Yoga. “It’s still my biggest class of the week,’ she says. “It’s really cool to see the people it brings out, people who are normally intimidated or not really drawn to the practice. It takes a little bit of the edge off and makes it more accessible.”
Honarvar says that yoga helps her cope. “Naturally I’m a pretty anxious person,” she says. “My day-to-day goal for practice is just to function. When I did my first teacher training, everything that was keeping me small and in pain and unhappy just deconstructed. The ability to transform continues to unfold for me.”
William Hufschmidt grew up in California where yoga was not uncommon. He started meditating in high school, and began yoga when he was in college at Humboldt State University.
“When I got to college, I said ‘This sounds like the right thing to do.’ I was in a fairly significant car accident when I was in high school,” Hufschmidt said. “I shattered my leg. It was something I could do with my body where I felt really comfortable.”
Twenty-five years later, Hufschmidt teaches tantric hatha yoga in the lineage of Kripalu and Pranakriya. He is a licensed message therapist practicing Thai Yoga Therapy and founder of Yoga with William. He has earned 200 and 500-hour certifications in Kripalu and Pranakriya.
In addition to holding classes at Candler Park Yoga, Evolation Yoga, and in private, he is a senior director at Pranakriya School of Healing Arts Yoga, and travels around the country teaching teacher level certification.
Hufschmidt said he could not imagine life without yoga. “To me it’s really about evolving, who I am as a person and giving me a perspective on myself and seeing how I fit into the larger society, a larger creation,” Hufschmidt said. “If all we do is keep our yoga practice in the class and we don’t extend that to our daily life, that’s a disconnect.”
Contact Crawford at 678-974-5198 or GoGrounded.com. Contact Anderson at [email protected] Contact Jurovics at 404-229-0054 or seyogaconference.com. Contact Honarvar at 404-919-1008 or ToughLoveYoga.com. Contact Hufschmidt at YogaWithWilliam.com.