Teacher Interview #11: Sarah H
Meet Sarah H. From the up north, the power of the team. When Alex was a brand new teacher in Canada back before she moved abroad, Sarah would always come to take her Monday morning classes. Jumping to a few years later, 2020 to be exact, and the world having to close down for them to relive those wonderful memories again. After the Covid-19 lockdown, Alex started offering classes online and that’s when Sarah attended one of them. Alex was fascinated and proud to learn that one of her earliest students became a yoga teacher and as soon as she started to bring in teachers to teach here on the MLPC, Sarah was one of the first to join the team.
Sarah teaches more of an intermediate to advanced classes of Vinyasa and Power yoga. Her class is always well orchestrated, with perfect fluidity and amazing build up to all those “fancy looking” yoga poses. But don’t you fear, she’ll take you one step at a time and the best thing about zoom is that you wouldn’t have to compare yourself to all those around you :) plus the pose is really not the goal here on the MLPC.
I had the chance to ask Sarah the teacher blog questions to know more about her, her yoga practice and her cosy way of winter yoga teaching. Here’s what the power teacher said...
Where in the world are you? Tell us more about yourself?
Sarah: I'm in a city called Barrie, an hour north of Toronto in Canada. It snows a lot here, way more than in Toronto, which is ok because I love the snow. I lived for two years in Sweden but I hated the constant rain and missed the snow in the winter (snowboarding, snowshoeing, skating, catching snowflakes on your tongue, getting warm and cozy by the fire with a book... these are a few of my winter favourites!). I also love playing tennis, working out at the gym, baking/cooking, and of course doing YOGA!
How long have you been teaching yoga and what pushed you to become an instructor?
Sarah: I've been teaching for about five years now, although I wasn't actually planning on teaching- I originally did my 200hr teacher training in Bali to learn more and deepen my own practice, but I ended up teaching when I got back to university and really fell in love with it and found it was a great way to meet and connect with awesome yogis!
When did you start practicing yoga (before you started teaching) and how did yoga change your life?
Sarah: I started practicing in my first year of university to help with the stress and I found it helped a lot with my anxiety around getting good grades. Over the years it has helped me immensely from little things (like getting cut off in traffic) to the big stuff (like death, illness). Yoga has given me the tools so that even when things are really hard I know that if I move my body, if I breathe, and come back to the present moment I can get through it.
If you had to describe your teaching style, how would you?
Sarah: I would describe my teaching style as tough but in a fun way- I'll challenge you in difficult poses, so that when you come up against difficult things outside of your yoga mat you have the blueprints and you will know how to breathe and create space between stimulus and response- so that instead of just blindly reacting when things are hard you can take the space to respond in a way that aligns with your values and who you are trying to be.
What is the intention you try to instill in your students?
Sarah: The pose is not the goal. There is no trophy for doing a perfect handstand (unless you are into yoga competitions then you do you!). What I teach is that the asana/pose is a tool for us to develop our mind and our focus, to see how we react to things we dislike, and to help us strengthen our ability to move past our fear response and push past our comfort zone (important abilities that we can take off the mat).
What is your favorite posture? Your least favorite posture?
Sarah: My favourite (#sorrynotsorry Canadian spelling) posture is pigeon because it hurts so good (my hips are always tight so this one is a must for me!), and my least favourite would probably be lotus because of the aforementioned reason 😋 I also find it difficult to be in savasana, because I always find it challenging to try and still my mind (I sometimes think my brain is like a computer with 47 tabs open and where are those sounds coming from??).
What is your favorite Mat? And why?
Sarah: I have two mats that I love, I have a manduka that is basically indestructible- I've had it since I first started practicing and it's still in amazing shape. Last year I bought a tall bMat and I love it because it is super grippy (although it's showing a bit more wear), and also the fact that its super long which gives me more space to play with!
“I would describe my teaching style as tough but in a fun way- I'll challenge you in difficult poses, so that when you come up against difficult things outside of your yoga mat you have the blueprints and you will know how to breathe and create space between stimulus and response- so that instead of just blindly reacting when things are hard you can take the space to respond in a way that aligns with your values and who you are trying to be.”
Set the scene for your perfect practice - paint us a picture!
Sarah: I think I would be inside somewhere in the alps with a nice big window looking at the mountains and the snow falling, but nice and cozy inside with a big fireplace.
There would be enough space for my mat in front of the fireplace, and some of my favourite music playing in the background.
What’s the biggest myth about yoga instructors? Set the record straight!
Sarah: That we are all super flexible? I think some people think that yoga instructors are just born super flexy, but for me I was probably the least flexible person you've ever seen before I started yoga (I couldn't touch my toes, I wasn't even CLOSE to touching my toes).
What was one of your most heartfelt moments in teaching?
Sarah: I once had a student cry at the end of class and that really reminded me how powerful it can be when we breathe and move through whatever sh*t we are going through. I'm just here to help others on their journey but each of us has to go through their own process of learning and everyone will get something different out of every class.
“The pose is not the goal. There is no trophy for doing a perfect handstand (unless you are into yoga competitions then you do you!).”
Any advice to newbies teachers/students? (And oldies?)
Sarah: Just get on your mat. Some days might be fancy handstands and some days might be crying your eyes out on your mat and trying to get a breath. But it's all yoga, you just have to do the work, show up for yourself and you will grow.
Where do you see yoga in the next five years?
Sarah: I think the practice of yoga will continue to develop and change (just look at all the variations that have been developed in the past 100 years!), and I think it will continue to grow in popularity as we continue to live in an increasingly high stress society that breeds anxiety and depression.
Thanks a lot to Sarah for taking the time to chat with the MLPC Teachers Interview Blog! You can take a look at our schedule for Sarah’s amazing classes here!
Gratitude to you the reader, for reading this interview! Leave a comment or question in the comments section below.
Until next time, may you all be safe, happy, healthy, and free.