Women Who Inspire

Women Magazine did feature on area women yoga teachers and studio owners in the area.  What a fabulous group of women improving lives and bringing together the yoga community!

Source: Women Magazine – May 2014 Issue 

YOGA INSTRUCTORS – MAY2014

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Front row: Julie Vosters, Mary Kay Marquart, Jacqueline Stempski, Linda Webster, Kathleen Kelly- Hoffman, Stephanie Duwe.  Middle row: Susan Moran, Bev Glaeser, Deborah Sommerhalder, Amy Xiong, Val Oestreich. Back row: Crystal Hill, Krissy Zegers, Libby Sternig,  Jessica LaVallie, Jennifer Berres, Suzy Weyenberg.
Photo by Kristi Kemp, beau d’art photography, Kimberly, taken at Pura Vida Yoga, Appleton.

altJacqueline Stempski, Yoga Teacher/Owner, Grace Yoga Studio, Green Bay
Why did you choose to be a yoga instructor?
I found yoga, or yoga found me, at the perfect time. It was during my undergrad while at the University of Minnesota. It completely changed my life. Yoga gave me the tools to manage stress, as well as challenged me both physically and mentally. The benefits were so apparent that it became a practice that I maintained every day. After returning back to Green Bay, I lost my practice for a bit and finally came to the realization that I needed this to be a constant in my life. I quite my job and moved to Denver to do my teacher training. Yoga did so much for me that I wanted to share it with others.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
With any job, balance can be challenging to maintain. There is never enough time in the day to get everything done. I think the most challenging part for me is taking time out for myself to spend with my friends and family. My schedule consumes a lot of my time so I have to be a bit choosier with how I spend my time. I have been making a lot of lists and then prioritizing what I need to do the night before and that has helped me find more balance.
Tell me about a memorable experience you had in your career.
To me the most memorable experiences are the day-to-day victories that my students achieve. Maybe it’s finding that “Aha” moment in a certain pose, or maintaining a strong, focused ujjayi breath throughout class, or trying an inversion for the first time—those things are what makes my job so exciting and rewarding. There are a lot of very dedicated yogis that come to Grace, and it is truly an honor to watch them grow their practice.

altKathleen Kelly-Hoffman, Director/Owner, Bay Area Yoga Center, LLC, Green Bay

Why did you choose to be a yoga instructor?
I came to the practice of yoga during a very challenging period in my life. As the years passed, yoga helped me find peace and balance in my life, physically, mentally and spiritually. My friends and colleagues started asking me to share my practice with them. One step led to another and eventually I opened the first yoga studio in Green Bay. That was over 20 years ago and I am still sharing and growing with this beautiful gift of yoga.
Tell me about a memorable experience you had in your career.
I was teaching an introductory breath, meditation and yoga series. One of the members of the group shared her experience with me. Yoga had given her a new outlook and perspective that was making it possible for her to make peace with her cancer diagnosis and enjoy the beauty of each day that she had in front of her. She was using the tools of yoga to control her mental, emotional and physical pain and create a personal sanctuary to assist her in her treatment and recovery. Her story brought tears to my eyes and a renewed fire to my soul! Stories like this are why I keep teaching yoga and always will.
What advice would you give someone interested in trying yoga for the first time?
Come to yoga with an open heart and no expectations. Yoga will change your life if you let it. Find a well-trained teacher who can assist you on your personal journey. There are so many ways to practice yoga. One size does not fit all! Shop around until you find a good fit for you.

altKrissy Zegers, Owner/Teacher, Evolve Yoga and Wellness, Green Bay

Why did you choose to be a yoga instructor?
Being a yoga teacher found me. I found yoga in college as a way to compliment my other work out activities and to de-stress. What began as a class or two per week evolved into me wanting to learn more and more about yoga. I saw the changes in my attitude and flexibility and I wanted more. I took my first training while I was in graduate school; this was my way to practice since there was not a lot of yoga in the area where I was attending college. After graduate school and internships, I knew I wanted to keep on my yoga path. I started teaching, completed a few more trainings and I was hooked. I realized how yoga had impacted my life in such a powerful way; I wanted to share that with others. I love helping people to realize the potential that they have both on and off their mat!
What is the most challenging part of your job?
Finding balance. I am the type of person that likes to keep my hand in a lot of different places, so I am constantly reminding myself to find the balance I need in order to be a successful teacher and person. I think this offers great perspective for my classes since most people seem to be trying to find balance in their lives.
What advice would you give someone interested in trying yoga for the first time?
You don’t have to turn into a pretzel! I know a lot of new students to yoga can be intimidated by what they see on TV or see on magazine covers and there is this perception that you must be flexible in order to do yoga. Yoga can fit any person and any body and you don’t have to turn yourself into a pretzel. You do yoga to gain flexibility.
Be prepared to take a few yoga classes to understand the ins and outs. If you have never stepped into a studio, hearing all the yoga poses and then expecting your body to move into them can be a bit daunting at first. It will take a few classes for you to learn the lingo, understand where your hands and feet should go and then figure out how to breathe during the whole process.
Lastly, just have fun. We have all been beginners!

altVal Oestreich, Group Exercise Coordinator & Mind/Body Program Lead, Greater Green Bay YMCA – Broadview Center, Green Bay
Why did you choose to be a yoga instructor?
I choose to be a yoga instructor because yoga has helped me in so many aspects of my life. I have been a distance runner for the last six years and yoga has helped me to run mile after mile injury-free. I love sharing my love of yoga with my classes and everyone I meet.
What is your typical day like?
Every day in my job is a little different—that is the most wonderful thing about my job. I work for the Green Bay YMCA and we recently added three beautiful new yoga studios to our association! The great thing about my job is I get to teach yoga to all different ages and abilities and see them all succeed and make yoga a part of their daily lives.
What advice would you give someone interested in trying yoga for the first time?
The best advice for somebody trying yoga for the first time would be to just breathe and try every pose! The body is limitless and you will be surprised at all you can do when you approach yoga with a positive attitude and an open mind.

altSusan Moran, owner, InnerSol Yoga and Cycle, Green Bay
What advice would you give someone interested in trying yoga for the first time?

Try several studios and find the yoga instructor you feel a connection with. This is very important in your practice as well as your spiritual growth.
Why did you choose to be a yoga instructor?
I chose to be a yoga instructor after beginning my own personal practice, looking for a “workout.” Yoga became a huge launching pad to an unexpected spiritual experience as well as a physical unfolding. I was convinced I wanted to share this with others.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
Being a yoga instructor is hard work. It is rarely glamorous. You not only need to be physically strong, you need to be mentally tough. It is a tough way to make a living. There is a ton of competition out there and there is really no way to avoid it. But then again, I wouldn’t trade my job as a studio owner for anything!

altLibby Sternig, 200 RYT, owner of Peace, Love and Yoga (PLAY), Green Bay
Why did you choose to be a yoga instructor?

I chose to become a yoga instructor because I loved the practice of yoga so much in my own life!  By teaching yoga to others, I have the opportunity to share something I love with so many. I practice yoga every day and every day I teach yoga it is full of the same rewards: finding gratitude, listening to your body and breathing and bringing the peaceful and mindfulness of your practice out into the world. Each time I teach someone new I learn something new about myself and about my teaching—it’s always rewarding and it’s always a great experience.
Tell me about a memorable experience you had in your career.
My memorable experiences teaching yoga range every day! Sometimes I have a memory of something that might not have had the ebb and flow I wanted in a class, I move on and create a new sequence to better suit the class. Often, though, the memories I have as an instructor come after a yoga class has ended. Seeing people leave looking better than when they came in, feeling a calmness in the air and having someone share with you how much they appreciated a class makes for a great memory. In teaching, though, it truly is the yoga doing the work for the participant. We are important to them in the delivery and sequence of the class as well as how much we can assist and help someone to feel really amazing in a yoga pose.
What advice would you give someone interested in trying yoga for the first time?
Advice to anyone thinking of trying yoga … do it! Yoga teachers want to help you and a yoga class is a safe place to learn about yoga. No one is awesome or sub-par in yoga, this is true. We are all practicing on our mats at the level we are at that day. Tell yourself this: “Where you are today is where you need to be,” and believe in that statement. Then, get yourself in a yoga class and truly find out what it is all about.

altLinda Webster, 200 RYT, Personal Trainer, Aurora BayCare Sports Medicine, Green Bay
Why did you choose to be a yoga instructor?

Yoga is the perfect complement to every other type of exercise and as a personal trainer I teach all types of movement formats. Yoga allows you to “work in” and honor your body’s strengths and restrictions instead of always “working out”. I want to be able to give my clients the yoga tools of self-care instead of always “beating them up!”
What is the most challenging part of your job?
Always balancing … finding the right amount of all physical, nutritional, physiological, mental/emotional and spiritual balance for my clients and for myself. It keeps me on my toes!
What is your typical day like?
Up at 4:15 a.m., to work by 5:30 a.m. During a nine-hour day I teach three to four classes (yoga, strength, spin, core) and personal train four to six clients. I get my own yoga practice in daily, strength train five times per week and get cardio in every day. Eat a lot! Ready for bed by 8:30 p.m. most nights.

altAmy Xiong, 200hr CYT, Xiong Yoga, Western Racquet and Fitness Center,
Green Bay
Why did you choose to be a yoga instructor?

I loved all the benefits of practicing yoga and wanted to share my love for it. Teaching yoga is what brings me so much joy.
Tell me about a memorable experience you had in your career.
I’ve had many. I love making connections and getting to know my participants. I love seeing excitement in their eyes when they’ve had a moment of clarity or healing.
What advice would you give someone interested in trying yoga for the first time?
We are often scared and unsure of what to expect the very first time. Let go of all fear, allow your body to feel what it feels and breathe. You’ll surprise yourself.


altMaryKay Marquart, Every Body’s Yoga, Green Bay
Why did you choose to be a yoga instructor?  

I feel like yoga chose me. Once I started practicing and teaching yoga I wanted to keep learning more and sharing the positive benefits and healing that yoga provides. Yoga is so much more than just the postures. It is about functional healing movement, the breathing, relaxation and meditation techniques that are all so beneficial and life-changing.
What is the most challenging part of your job?  
I love teaching yoga and wish I could provide it free so everybody could truly enjoy the practice; and I would enjoy less paperwork!
Tell me about a memorable experience you had in your career. 
Every day is memorable! I enjoy the smiles of delight when someone discovers they can now balance on one leg, or are strong enough to hold a pose longer or tells me how their back pain is gone, they are feeling more youthful, energetic and sleeping better!

altJennifer Berres, owner/instructor, Jenstar Yoga and Dance, LLC., De Pere
Why did you choose to be a yoga instructor? 

I believe yoga is about more than doing poses—it’s a way of living with love and integrity on and off of the mat. I love the mental and physical practice. If I can share this gift with others, it brings me no greater joy.
Tell me about a memorable experience you had in your career. 
I was running Jenstar Yoga out of other businesses for the first two and a half years until I saved enough money and found my space. On opening day, over 125 people came through the door! It was an unforgettable moment where you realize all the hard work and patience has paid off. I am so grateful I never gave up on this dream!
What advice would you give someone interested in trying yoga for the first time? 
Dive in and go for it! Find the right teacher for your needs and be fearless enough to try. It takes a few times to get out of your head and find the basic body alignment. Don’t be afraid to ask questions!

altJessica LaVallie, studio owner/yoga instructor, Yoga Hut LLC, Howard/Suamico
Tell me about a memorable experience you had in your career.
I have the best job in the world because every day I have a memorable experience. I get to witness students grow in their practice, transform their bodies and minds, overcome injuries and conquer fears. I hear stories on a regular basis on how yoga has touched the lives of so many and greatly improves quality of life.
What advice would you give someone interested in trying yoga for the first time?
I would advise anyone who is thinking of trying yoga for the first time to just go for it! I see students all the time who walk in with fear on their faces but they always leave with a big smile and return for more. Do a little research, ask friends, find a studio/instructor/yoga community that fits your personality, needs and goals.  Jump right in … you won’t regret it!!

altSuzy Weyenberg, Empower Yoga, Appleton
Why did you choose to be a yoga instructor?

Yoga practice improved my health, my relationships and my self-esteem. It changed my life and I wanted to share it with others.
What does your typical day look like?
I usually teach one to two classes five days per week, every other weekend I lead yoga teacher training and once a month I offer a workshop. Since I am co-owner of two studios and the new Empower Kids studio I have emails, calls, reports, payroll, marketing, planning, managerial duties and of course accounting duties. I have lots of support from our team so most days are wonderfully balanced.
What advice would you give someone interested in trying yoga for the first time?
Our first class is free so I tell people come try a class; if you don’t like it you can have your money back. In all seriousness I love yoga not just because I lost 20 pounds my first year practicing, but it has transformed me into being a more flexible person not just in my hamstrings but my personality. I feel amazing, healthy and beautiful when I practice yoga. Maybe you will too!

altJulie C. Vosters, Yoga Therapist and Instructor, Owner, Yoga Circle, LLC,
Fox Cities
Why did you choose to be a yoga instructor?

The impetus for choosing yoga as a profession was my desire to guide individuals toward health and healing via an interlacing of safe and effective movement and mindfulness, yet the decision to become full time came upon invitation from an avant-garde occupational health physician to work collaboratively in a clinic as a yoga therapist with patients. Serving those who wouldn’t otherwise have access to effective integrative care is quite rewarding.
Tell me about a memorable experience you had in your career.
An older gentleman and a middle-aged woman walked into a gentle yoga class one morning. The gentleman was new to the class. As she assisted him getting settled with yoga props, he said, “Thank you, Dr. A___.”  As a hospitalist who cared for him as an inpatient, she was also by his side encouragingly as he took his first yoga class—which she prescribed. Both individuals and their families grew to be close friends and inspirations in my life.
What advice would you give someone interested in trying yoga for the first time?
There are many styles of yoga and to find one that is appropriately paced and guided for one’s particular health and interests is indispensible. Additional integral ingredients for safe and effective assimilation of yoga, on and off the mat, include non-judgment, non-attachment and loving kindness.

altCrystal M. Hill, RYT, CYPT, Nutrition Coach & owner, Pura Vida Yoga, Appleton
Why did you choose to be a yoga instructor?

Once I was introduced to yoga there was no turning back for me! It created a brilliant connection of mind and body that I had not experienced with any other activity … and it helped enhance my life is so many ways! I desired to share the connection with others and pursued my teaching certification.
What is the most challenging part of your job? 
I have so many ideas for classes, events and activities I want to share with our yoga community, but finding time and resources to fit it all in and still maintain a healthy home, life and family can be a struggle at times.
What advice would you give someone interested in trying yoga for the first time?
Yoga is a great activity for any age or ability level. Give it a chance, try a few classes and try different instructors. The array of yoga styles is many, so if you don’t find a style or instructor you connect with right away, keep trying! Remember to honor your body and ease slowly into a new yoga practice … and don’t be afraid to ask questions!

altDeborah Sommerhalder, E-RYT, Founder of Inner Sun Yoga Studio, LLC, Oshkosh
What advice would you give someone interested in trying yoga for the first time? 

It is helpful if they call the studio prior to attending with any concerns so we can direct them to the proper class for their needs. I usually recommend a private or a slower-paced class. They should arrive to their first class early to meet with the teacher, tour the studio and get settled in. I encourage them to let go of expectations, use props, take suitable variations that are offered and rest when needed.
What is your favorite yoga pose?
My favorite pose is tree, vrksasana, in the aerial hammock. It is so calming and freeing to be floating off the ground, fully supported by the silk fabric in this meditative pose.
How have you been able to make yoga fun for your clients?  
I have added aerial yoga to the offerings at my studio. It’s like being a kid again on the playground, bringing up joy and laughter, as you hang and float in the support of the hammock. In aerial yoga you release fears, build trust in your self, feel empowered and free. It is fun to get upside down, defying gravity with inversions and you can do things you never thought possible. The best part is the floating savasana at the end!

altBev Glaeser, yoga instructor, Absolute Therapeutic Spa, Oshkosh
Why did you choose to be a yoga instructor?

I chose to teach yoga to inspire others to connect with their inner spirit as well as enhance their health.
What advice would you give someone interested in trying yoga for the first time?
For first-time yoga students, choose a class specifically geared toward beginners—slow- paced with detailed instruction of the poses, terminology and modifications. Don’t be afraid to ask about class content.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
Most challenging part of teaching yoga is helping students find modifications to keep them encouraged to keep doing yoga in spite of physical limitations.

altStephanie Duwe, RYT 200, owner, Simply Yoga, Oshkosh
Why did you choose to be a yoga instructor?

I chose to be a yoga instructor because I absolutely love how wonderful I feel when I practice. I wanted others to feel that freedom of body, mind and spirit. I use my love for health and fitness to motivate others to live a healthy lifestyle.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
The most challenging part of my day is helping yogis get out of their heads when they practice. Helping people to remember that there is no perfect in yoga. Helping them honor their bodies by listening to what their body can do on any particular day.
What does your typical day look like?
A typical day for me starts at 4 a.m. I love the early mornings. I do a personal practice to get my mind ready for the day to come. I teach group classes as well as do personal one-on-one practice.

 

 

 

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