Stephanie Meyer Chapman — studio owner, teacher

Mind, body, spirit — yoga is a holistic experience for many. But did one element or another first draw you to the practice? That is, were you seeking to settle your mind? Have greater physical flexibility? Explore your true, spiritual nature?

settle my mind — I found yoga at a time in my life when all my thoughts seemed ridiculously loud

How about now: does yoga feed your mind or your body or your spirit more, or are those elements more in balance than when you started?

yoga feeds all three — yoga is responsible for keeping those elements balanced, obviously on different days, different elements take precedence

How long have you been practicing yoga?

almost 15 years

How frequently do you practice now?

4-5 times a week

How long did you practice yoga before you started teaching it?

five years

Do you have a preferred yoga style?

every time I practice Ashtanga, it feels like coming home — over the years, as my body has changed, through pregnancy or injuries, my practice has changed — I have a deep respect for Yin and look forward to Kundalini — I believe it’s important integrate all of the styles of yoga into your practice, because each style serves a unique purpose

When you first took up yoga, what came easiest and what was more challenging?

the reason I was immediately drawn to yoga was the fact that it forced me to focus — I wasn’t capable of holding a posture or balancing and entertaining the distractions of the mind — I had to release the “citta” — the relief of letting that go, even for 60-75 minutes a day, kept me coming back — breathing was a challenge — it took years of practice for me to realize I wasn’t breathing correctly — once I surrendered to the breath, rather than fighting with it, my practice transformed

From your experience sharing yoga with children, can you generalize about what comes easiest for young people and what is more challenging?

for children, I think getting the pose correct comes easiest because kids yoga is less focused on correct alignment — I think it is challenging for them to settle their minds and block out distractions, they are still trying to learn how to do that in all aspects of their lives

What have been the greatest benefits of yoga for you?

less anxiety, less depression, less overthinking, more peace and acceptance towards myself, others, and life in general

Apart from yoga, do you practice other techniques of mindfulness or meditation?

I am also a high school business teacher and the mother of a 5-year-old — practicing mindfulness is a part of my daily life because I need to set an example to those around me (practice what I preach) — I teach breathing exercises to my yoga students (while practicing), high school students (before tests) and daughter (to recognize and process feelings or control emotional responses)

Outside of a yoga session, do you ever just strike a pose and stretch? If so, which poses and where?

almost always when seated (coloring or playing a game with my daughter) I love a good double pigeon (Agnistambhasana) — tree pose (Vrikshasana) when stirring food at the stove or in my classroom when trying to keep my high schoolers awake (I make them do it with me)

You have a choice: lead a yoga class (1) outdoors on a beautiful day, overlooking the ocean, or (2) in a well-designed, very comfortable minimalist indoor space. Which do you pick?

without a doubt, outdoors on a beautiful day — everything outside makes me feel alive, overlooking an ocean means hearing the waves crash during practice, using an occurrence in nature to pace the breath, heat from outside and within the body — no hesitation at all when considering my response to this question — practicing yoga outdoors provides me with a sense of wholeness within and unity with the world

—interview © Marshal Zeringue