By Meghan Foley
My yoga journey started at the tender age of 11. My former football-playing dad brought me along to his Hatha yoga class led by a renowned Swami in the area. I was captivated by this grandpa figure with perfect posture who wore only orange and spoke in hushed tones. I had no idea at the time that I was hooked for life. The Hatha classes were gentle and simple, yet profound. My 11-year old self had no idea what was going on, but I knew that I wanted to go back every week for savasana (final resting pose), and the cheesecake after class at Café Latte that my dad and I always enjoyed.
Fast forward to my first year out of college; I was working an extremely stressful job in Milwaukee Public Schools for AmeriCorps. Yoga came flooding back into my life as an antidote and mental survival tool that got me through easily one of the most stressful years of my life. I jumped in headfirst and immersed myself in a 200-hour teacher training steeped in creative sequencing (hence why I love [Firefly Executive Director] Annie Kiel’s classes so much) and yoga philosophy. I fell prey to the rookie yoga teacher mistake of saying “yes” to every opportunity that came my way and soon experienced burnout and a repetitive stress injury. It was a pivotal time in my life where I learned a painful, yet profound lesson. I had to redefine what yoga meant to me. I began to seek out teachers, friends, and colleagues living and teaching sustainable yoga that did no harm.
That’s when I found yoga therapy. I spent five years traveling back and forth to Kripalu, in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, studying how to tailor yoga to each individual, regardless of ability, background, injury, health history, etc. I was filled with purpose once again and knew I was on an important path. I shed the identity of “yoga teacher” and began to learn how to wear a new hat that had absolutely nothing to do with me. I asked myself over and over, “how can I best serve the human in front of me in this present moment?”
I had been taking Annie’s weekly classes (in Minneapolis, MN) for a few months when I learned about Firefly’s trauma-informed yoga teacher training. Because of the work that I do in the yoga therapy field, it seemed like a no-brainer to sign up for the training. I attended a Firefly Training in Minneapolis in January 2019. I thoroughly enjoyed and respected the approach that Firefly embodies as it mirrors the lessons I learned so many years ago. How do we truly show up for those in need? How can we take ourselves as the teacher out of the equation and create a safe container for healing, while doing no harm? I appreciate the scientific approach that Firefly takes in explaining trauma, as well as offering practical tools of how to create physical, emotional, and spiritual safety for students.
I am beyond excited to be working more closely with Firefly in the coming months. I’ll be assisting the upcoming Firefly Training in Woodbury, MN, July 19-21 and look forward to merging the fields of yoga therapy and trauma-informed yoga to better serve the community. I believe that my expertise working one-on-one with clients and understanding the different manifestations that stress can take in the body, mind, and spirit will complement the teachings of Firefly.
I look forward to this next step on my yoga path. This work is incredibly important to the community at large, as well as to my own growth. I truly believe that we are all on a journey, and you never know the impact that the smallest act of kindness and compassion can have on another soul. Bringing this sensitivity to the yoga practice can literally change the world around us and I am glad to be a part of this movement. The beauty of yoga is that it can be taught anywhere and to anyone. With a compassionate, insightful, and well-trained teacher, the practice can truly be accessible for every body.