Thursday, November 17, 2011

Teacher of the Month: Juliana Mitchell

By Rebecca Merritt

Juliana is caring, devoted, and motivational teacher who will have a major influence on your practice. She will meet you at your level, explain how perfect you are in this very moment, then inspire you to take your yoga practice a little deeper simply by being her sweet self. At New York Yoga, Juliana specializes in Restorative Yoga but can also be found teaching Vinyasa, Prenatal Yoga and various workshops (including a Yoga & Chocolate workshop when we are particularly lucky). She is also on the faculty for New York Yoga’s 200 hour Teacher Training Program.

You can join Juliana in sharing her love for Restorative Yoga every Thursday at 3:05pm and Sunday at 7:15pm, both at our York Studio. For those of you who have not yet experienced Juliana’s Restorative classes you are truly missing out on a treat. Restorative Yoga is the dessert of your practice; it will help you lengthen your breath, de-stress, heal and (of course) restore.


 When did you first discover yoga?
When I was 6, I saw the gymnast Nadia Commaneci do a routine on tv and I was in total awe! Deciding to practice every day until I could do splits and backbends like her, I concocted some intuitive way of teaching myself. Unwittingly, I had begun my asana practice. Then when I was about 10, my Mom found Yoga and practiced for a time under Gurudev (aka Amrit Desai). She and I are extremely close, so witnessing the way Yoga brought her joy and balance was incredibly impactful for me. Mom taught me some more poses, introduced me to the concepts of non-duality and non-attachment, and exposed me to the practices of meditation and chanting.

How long have you been teaching?
In 2001, I was practicing Sun Salutations under a tree by myself and in an instance there was a distinct shift like a crack of lightning: This. This path. This path of Yoga. My life has been consciously committed to this path ever since. In 2004 I underwent a Yoga Teacher Training at OM Yoga and was blessed to find opportunities to start teaching right away. Since then, I’ve continued to deepen my studies with a teacher I love named Judith Lasater as well as with some time studying in India (primarily Atma Vikasa Yoga and a little bit in the Swami Rama tradition), and through many other paths as well.

What makes your class unique?
My teaching style is both precise and playful. I like to use rich, evocative language as a teaching tool, blending an encouragement to connect the Inner Wisdom with detailed explorations of anatomy & kinesiology. Paying homage to the breath one moment at a time, my classroom is a non-competitive, non-judgmental arena. Above all, I offer each class as an adventure, a journey back toward that part of ourselves which is already and always has been whole.

What is your favorite pose to teach?
I love to teach so many poses. Hip openers, forward bends, twists. Gosh! Tadasana. Anjeneyasana. Dancer. Eagle. So many poses. But, let us not confuse the poses for the Yoga. That is like confusing the diamond ring for the marriage. That’s my favorite ‘pose’ to teach.

What is you favorite pose to practice?
It changes. Right now, Cow Face and Pigeon.

Best advice for beginners?
There is no such thing as being good at Yoga.
And there is no such thing as being bad at Yoga.
Just show up, exactly as you are.

Best advice for more advanced yogis?
“In the life of the spirit, we are always at the beginning.” – The Book of Runes

What is your biggest yoga pet peeve?
While perhaps different than a peeve (and perhaps not!), I would like to call out to my vast yoga family (teachers and students of all lineages, all styles, all traditions): Let us please remember that we are all One under the great tree of Yoga. May we show grace, humility, love and respect with our words and our actions when we speak of traditions of Yoga or of other Yoga teachers, whose ways we may not understand. May we forge a unity of diversity within the Yoga community, and in doing so light a beacon of possibility for the world!
“Peace is every step.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Reader questions…

Why is a Restorative yoga practice important?
We are, by and large, a culture of compulsive do-ers and think-ers. And this compulsive doing and thinking of ours creates a monstrous stress that impairs the body and squelches the spirit. If we look at many of the faces on the subway and see what you see, I expect we will find a great deal of culturally normalized fear and gripping and hardness. While Restorative Yoga draws us back into the cradle of ease that is our true nature, this is a place from which the body can heal and the spirit can lift. Now, look around at the faces of a roomful of Yogis after they’ve practiced Restorative Yoga, and see what you see. You’ll see openness and ease and beauty.

How does yoga affect your everyday life?
The yoga practice has infused me with a light heart, a healthy body and a resilient spirit. This treasury is there for me every day. Jai!

Passions besides yoga?
The biggest passion in my life is my husband Travis, and celebrating and building our marriage. Also, I have an amazing family and phenomenal group of friends. I love time with family and friends, doing anything or nothing. Also, I love cats. I love all cats. And I especially love the two Zen Master cats with whom I live, Spock & Thor. I love to laugh. I love New York City. I love good food, love veggilicious food. Love to read. Love Yoga. D’oh! It all comes around back to that for me…

1 comment:

  1. I am so thrilled to see that the lovely, generous and always graceful Juliana Mitchell has been chosen as Yoga Teacher of the Month. And I have no doubt: Juliana's classes are always infused with such love and passion which touches each of her students on the deepest level.

    As one of her very fortunate students, she has always inspired me to listen to my body and with the utmost respect and hear it's need in the moment. To that end, her classes allow an ever-glorious unfolding of possibilities designed to meet my body right where it is.

    What a beautiful revelation that began under a tree! A knowing that has touched so many that have come along Juliana's path. I am truly grateful for her.