Cultivating Balance in Austin, Texas
“Yoga doesn’t meet all of our needs,” admits Amanda Green.
This is a bit surprising to hear, considering that Amanda is a yoga therapist with over 2,000 hours of teaching experience and more than 1,200 hours of training. But just like a yoga pose made difficult for a beginner, the young yogi has come to find that it’s all about balance. And this includes being open to modern technology in order to spread her knowledge of the ancient practice and to offer mentoring as well as private classes.
“Thanks to the internet, my yoga community includes teachers, colleagues and students here in Austin and coast to coast,” she comments. “I have a private studio and meet in-person with many of my students here in Austin, but I meet with over a third of my students online for our individual sessions.”
Though yoga has become a popular group class offered globally in local gyms, health centers, and even workplaces, it can be a very personal practice, pushing one to tap into themselves and confront the positive and negative. Amanda works with private students on a personalized schedule, whether it be bi-weekly or monthly. Whether it’s having gone through a difficult life event or looking to change behavior patterns, her therapeutic yoga sessions are geared towards students looking to gain self-empowerment and overcome whatever may be holding them back. She’s building a stronger community, one member at a time.
While her work can seem selfless to an outsider, this instructor has learned valuable lessons herself along the way…
What initially captivated you about yoga? Did you instantly realize all the benefits it could provide?
I’ve never been a particularly athletic person, but I’ve always been very flexible. When I started yoga, I was really good at the flexibility part. I could do poses that no on else in the room could do. It’s not such an enlightened start, but I have to say, my ego got me hooked. Fortunately, I had good teachers that taught me that I needed to pay attention to the cues my body was giving me and to cultivate strength. Yoga got a lot harder and more rewarding at that point. It’s a practice that has a way of meeting each of us where we are, no matter our starting point.
What had you thought about yoga before actually giving it a try?
I started yoga at the YMCA and joined my first class because it was popular and full and I could hide in the back and sneak out if I didn’t like it.
The teacher at the Y was great. He talked mostly about the postures but every now and again he’d drop these subtle clues that what we were doing went deeper than the physical aspect of ourselves. I hadn’t given much thought to yoga before that, but it did reach me at a level I could feel even if I didn’t understand it at the time. I felt better at the end of every class.
It’s great that yoga is available at the Y, senior centers, city parks, prisons, and sometimes even schools. It’s becoming more accessible and available and making it easy to give it a try.
Do you feel that there is a community for yoga enthusiasts in Austin? How are you personally helping to develop this?
Austin is a great city for yoga. I’ve heard that there are more yoga teachers here, per capita, than any other city! That means that there is a significant number of very devoted students and teachers, a variety of yoga traditions and styles, and yoga classes offered in every corner of town.
I’m not a community event organizer or even particularly visible in the yoga community at large, but I see the work that my students are doing as integral to healthy, thriving communities. When someone can come out of suffering, cultivate balance in their life, and act from that place, then he is better able to show up for his kids in the way he wants to. She can respond to a stressful situation with clarity and steadiness. He can see when a friend is being a jerk because he is really hurting. She can show up for work with attention and integrity. And when individuals can do that, then communities bloom.
You’ve made yoga your career, and you go through poses and exercises everyday with clients. Is it easy for you to practice yoga on your own time and feel disconnected from work?
There was a time when practice was about preparing for classes or thinking about students, but it isn’t that way these days. I practice in the early morning when the house is quiet, before I check my email or read the news. It’s a focused time that gives me a way of noticing how I’m doing and it sets the direction for my day. Practicing yoga is largely about spending time connected to what your true center and to act from that place.
What’s one of the best lessons that yoga has taught you about happiness?
Happiness isn’t an ecstatic state, it’s balanced, centered and calm. There’s a lot I can do to cultivate a balanced mind, body, and complete lifestyle. When I do those things that help and let go of the stuff that gets in the way, then the happiness is there waiting.
There are plenty of excuses people can make for not practicing yoga (i.e. I don’t have the time, I’d get bored, Not even stretchy pants can handle this jelly). What simple tips can you share that can easily be incorporated into our daily lives?
Learning a breathing practice that is appropriate for you and doing it for a few minutes every day is a game changer. It’s a simple thing that you can do anywhere and it doesn’t take any special equipment or ability. We all breathe. The right kind of breathing practice can help someone manage stress, increase alertness or attention, address neck/jaw tension, or find focused relaxation. Find a good teacher, experienced with breathing practice, and ask for help. It’s a wonderful way to get started with a daily practice!
To learn more about her practice and to contact Amanda Green, visit her site and blog here.