Meet Shauna Nyrose ,November’s Yogi of the Month. Shauna is a dear personal friend of mine, we met in what was our first teacher training as we nervously set our mats up beside one another.Since than we have both grown
and changed in the name of yoga. I was very new to the practice, she had practiced for years but maintained a successful career in marketing. It was Shauna’s guidance that allowed for Yoga Warehouse to come together, I had an idea but little knowledge of execution,over a bottle of wine Shauna guided me through the steps to make it a reality. Helping me along the way in a few months the site was launched. Shauna was a natural choice for Yogi of The Month yet it took just about a year and a half for me to ask her. She is so humble she never mentioned it but I wonder if she ever wondered why, the reason; I knew Shauna was going to do something amazing with her marketing abilities and her strong yoga foundation and I was waiting to see it flourish. Just last month Shauna launched Top of the Mat. This is the perfect marriage of her skills and passion, Shauna has left her previous marketing position to run Top of the Mat and focus on her teaching.Shauna inspired possibility in me, she is a wonderful teacher, loving mom, and kick ass friend, get to know Shauna Nyrose.
1 What does yoga mean to you?
Yoga is unity, the alignment of body, heart and spirit both with the self, one another and the planet. Yoga, to me, is freedom. Yoga is practice. Yoga is love. Yoga is community. Yoga gives me an ever expanding tool kit to help me lead a more intentional life. And to learn how to be a better human being; how to respect and care for the people and all the experiences in my life, the light and the shadows.
I began practicing yoga after the birth of my son, over nine years ago. I was dying to get back to some form of physical exercise and I knew I wasn’t ready yet to get back to running. A Bikram Yoga studio was right next door to the gym I worked out at… so one day I just went it. That first class, with an instructor named Dan (who will always be one of my favorite instructors), changed everything. It was the hardest thing I had ever done… but in a good way. I was immediately physically and mentally challenged in a way that was profoundly different than anything else I had experienced. I loved the discipline. I loved that there was a bunch of stuff I couldn’t even do. I loved savasana, the sense of complete awareness yet being so totally at peace. And in a way it all felt so familiar, so right. It was like coming home.
3 Where and with whom did you study with?
My initial training was with renowned yoga teacher trainers Nicki Doane and Eddie Modestini of Maya Yoga. Their offering is this amazing, strong fusion of Ashtanga and Iyengar systems of yoga drawn from many years studying with the masters BKS Iyengar and Sri K. Pattahbi Jois themselves. Nicki’s guidance in particular has truly shaped the teacher that I am today. Confident, disciplined, while still holding space for compassion and love. Since then, I have had the privilege of receiving the teachings from different systems. I believe strongly that lineage is very important to yoga and therefore we must always seek continuous study with modern guru’s and masters. However, I also believe that as teachers, we must also be students in our own communities as well.
It’s really simple… the practice keeps me coming back to the mat. It simply never ends. I love that it evolves and iterates depending on what I need in any given moment. Right now, my intention is to study and explore the breath deeper as a way to strengthen my internal and meditation practice. But every day I step on my mat, I try to open myself up to be free to accept whatever it is I am supposed to be learning in that moment… that, in and of itself, is the practice.
6 How has your practice evolved?
Over the years, my time on the mat has steeped into every facet of my life pretty much. I now see my relationships, my work and my life experiences as part of my practice. I have learned to trust the wisdom of the universe more (there is no such thing as bad timing or bad luck) and to accept that there are many different ‘truths’ to be had, not just mine, and to be OK and grateful for that.
7 How might you and/or your life be different if you hadn’t found Yoga?
I don’t think I would be as happy or grateful for all the blessings in my life. When I close my eyes to sleep at night, sometimes I say a little prayer for all the things I am grateful for… it’s a long list… I often fall asleep before I’m done.
Headstand. I do it every day. Aside from all the amazing physical benefits of the inversion, it clears my mind and very quickly and efficiently connects me to my center. At the same time, I feel grounded and yet uplifted. I stay for as long as I can and when I’m done, I feel amazingly clear and refreshed.
9 Tell us about an asana you struggle with!!
Full lotus (Padmasana). I’m not sure I will ever be able to do it. It makes me sad because it’s like the quintessential yogi pose, one that is designed for sitting for long periods in meditation… with tight hips and ankles, there is nothing about it that is peaceful or comfortable for me. But I still work on it. I almost said Hero (Virasana), but I have been working on that one for several years and now it’s actually not so bad! With yoga anything is possible.
My kids and my husband and our crazy, amazing, loving extended family. They are my foundation.
I am inspired by people using their time and talent to change the world; people like Ryan Leier (Vinyasa Yoga for Youth), Pam Radar (Africa Yoga Project), Loyal Wooldridge (IAMMe Anti-Bullying Campaign), Seane Corne (Off the Mat), Marianne Williamson (running for US congress!), Michael Stone (author, activist) and Sheryl Sandberg (author, Facebook CEO).
I am inspired people like you, Chelsea, and Sheila Chutskoff (owner of Oranj), who work hard to build community even if it means standing alone at times. I am inspired by many teachers right here in Kelowna; Susie Newson, Dana Skoglund, Laura Martini, Tamara Logan, Melissa Appleton Berry, Tara Pilling, Sonia and Jeff Tomlinson,… (this list could go on and on…).
Finally, I am truly inspired by my students. Every day, every single one of them. I am grateful for all they have taught me. Sometimes I just can’t believe that this is my ‘work’.
11 What tips can you offer beginning students for a safe practice?
Establish first why you want to do yoga – for the physical benefits? To de-stress? Recovering from injury? Spiritual or meditation practice? Then, do a little due diligence and research local studios online to find ones with an offering that fits your needs. Then try them out! If you are working with injuries, chronic pain or a lot of resistance/ tightness in your body, be sure to communicate that with your teacher so that he or she can help modify or show you alternate postures to fit personal needs. I really believe that it’s so important for beginners to find a practice that fits their needs with teachers they like and trust. This can be the difference between an occasional practice and a lifelong commitment to the benefits of yoga.
Teaching yoga, in the beginning, can be fraught with anxiety and self doubt. It is hard to know where to start after graduating your first YTT. In fact, I just recently launched a platform, Top of the Mat, that addresses so many of the very issues that new teachers are faced with at the beginning of their careers; everything from how to actually put together a class, how to create an amazing experience for your students, how to market yourself with integrity and how to establish an intentional career path. Connecting with and seeking mentorship from other teachers in the community can be extremely helpful for new teachers. I also firmly believe that if you are committed to being a teacher, you have to teach! Get up to the front of the room, no matter how much it scares you, commit to making it happen. Confidence comes with practice. And finally, stay connected to your own practice. It will help you to keep things in perspective.
13 What few steps do you think a yogi can take today to tremendously improve their practice?
It’s very important to get on the mat. Often. In the beginning, taking group classes with knowledgeable teachers is important as it will teach students proper postural alignment and helpful modifications for your body. Again, if you are working with specific issues, perhaps schedule a few private sessions with your teacher to learn safe and appropriate postures to help you heal. At a certain point, as
much as I love to see my students bright faces in the studio, one of the best things you can do to improve your practice is to develop a home practice. This will allow you the space to learn so much about yourself and your practice in your own time. And one of the best things about yoga is that it is available anytime, anywhere! Soon you’ll find yourself slinging your mat along with you on family vacations and business trips just because you know that time on your mat is invaluable.
14 Where are you teaching now and how can we find out more about you?
Top of the Mat is an educational platform available for yoga teachers and studios at www.topofthemat.ca. You can also follow Top of the Mat on Facebook and Twitter. I teach regular classes, from Easy Yoga to Power Yoga at Oranj Fitness, schedule is online at www.oranjfitness.ca. For students (past, present and future) and friends, you can join my Facebook community at Shauna Nyrose Yoga where I post both useful tips and inspirations to help students on their path.
Shauna is an enthusiastic vinyasa yoga teacher and creator of Top of the Mat, an educational community offering mentoring, career planning and marketing management to yoga teachers and studios. Shauna has been enthusiastically practicing yoga for over 9 years and completed her 200hr Certified Yoga Alliance training with highly regarded teacher trainers, Nicki Doane and Eddie Modestini of Maya Yoga, HI. Gently infused in the classical teachings of Ashtanga, Iyengar and Vinyasa inspired systems, Shauna delivers a powerful, alignment based teaching style appropriate for all levels. Her students love her quirky sense of humour, approachable nature and her ability to translate the teachings of yoga into contemporary life practice. Shauna is happily married and Mom to two amazing kids that give her many opportunities to practice off the mat what she preaches on the mat.