Meet Shavon. One of the latest additions to the MLPC team. Shavon and Alex met through a Facebook group. Alex was trying to add on more teachers to her team. As she incubated teachers like Leslie and Sara A, she saw something in Shavon that spoke to her and trusted her to teach for the first time here on the MLPC platform.
Sure enough, Shavon was well to be within that trust. She gave her first ever class during the MLPC yoga party on International Yoga Day June 21st, 2020. Since then, she has grown significantly as a teacher. No surprise as she puts so much effort on enhancing herself as a teacher by practicing constantly with her family and friends
I happened to interview Shavon and she was generous enough to answer the blog questions. So, let’s dive in and get to know her more....
Where in the world are you? Tell us more about yourself?
Shavon: I am in Maryland, a state in the U.S., which is less than an hour away from Washington D.C. I have lived in the states for most of my life (A LOT of them), but I also lived in the Philippines for a couple years, when I was a child.
I spend most of my time working as an educator, teaching secondary school Spanish, as well as various teacher preparation or professional development courses at the college level. When I'm not doing that, I may be helping someone to buy a house (I'm a real estate agent, also) or I may be doing things like lifting weights, playing co-ed football, hanging out with my family (which includes my husband, two sons, my dog, Charlie Brown and my cat, Zoey), reading or watching a good movie. You might even find me riding my motorcycle! Oh! And of course, doing YOGA!
One of my favorite past times is traveling the world! My favorite travel destination is Costa Rica. I have been there three times, so far (once leading a tour for a group of students and twice for yoga retreats). I was supposed to head back there this summer, but Covid-19 happened, so I've had to discover the beauty of nature in my own community!
How long have you been teaching yoga and what pushed you to become an instructor?
Shavon: I have been teaching yoga for ONE month!! I got my certification in May of 2020, and Alex decided to give me an opportunity to teach for the MLPC during a Yoga Party in June. Although I was really nervous about getting started, I was so excited to be able to share something that I love so much! I originally enrolled in Yoga Teacher Training to develop a more consistent practice for myself, after participating in two Yoga Retreats in Costa Rica, and then not keeping up with it when I came home. After that, I realized how many people around me had never had the courage or desire to try yoga, who were suddenly willing to because they knew that I was getting certified. That awoke the teacher in me...and I started practicing to teach! Now, I have a better understanding of what draws people to me as a teacher, and that has just re-ignited my passion to share yoga with everybody!
When did you start practicing yoga (before you started teaching) and how did yoga change your life?
Shavon: I started practicing yoga many years ago, but not consistently, for various reasons. Then, approximately 5 years ago, I discovered a yoga studio in my community that changed my outlook on yoga, forever! Yoga has helped me to recover from mental and physical pain (and avoid surgery!), and it has connected me to a community of people that I never would have met outside of it. Additionally, yoga teaches me how to process the day to day things that come up in life...one moment, and one breath at a time.
If you had to describe your teaching style, how would you?
Shavon: I would describe my teaching style as "evolving." :-) Each week, I try to get feedback on the sequences that I write, and adapt them accordingly. I try to design sequences that are accessible for everyone, regardless of whether it is their first day on the mat or their 1000th, and I hope to provide instruction in such a way that the participants are able to take something with them off the mat when they leave.
I have been teaching a "Gentle Flow" class which combines various elements of Vinyasa Flow, and some restorative postures. The classes are totally accessible to anyone who wants to practice with me! I try to provide options that create a challenge, as well as options that are accessible to total beginners...and lots of things in between!
What is the intention you try to instill in your students?
Shavon: To embrace who and where they are when they step onto the mat. And to pay attention to how the messages that they send themselves during practice may be applicable to their lives when they walk off their mat. I, personally, am working on being as compassionate with myself as I am with others-- and it is my hope that the work that I am doing, on and off the mat, will translate into how I facilitate my classes. One of my favorite quotes is, "Don't do yoga to get better at yoga. Do yoga to get better at living." I try to instruct my classes with that idea in mind.
What is your favorite posture? Your least favorite posture?
Shavon: My favorite posture is "Sirsasana" or "Headstand." I have no idea why! lol Maybe it's the benefit of gaining a new perspective (being upside down) or it is said that a benefit of that pose is "decreased stress and increased focus." I need both of those! My least favorite pose? I think that would be "hanumanasana" or "splits" right now. Honestly...it's my least favorite because I can't do them anymore...but practicing them teaches me a lot about myself, so I'm learning to view them compassionately and to accept the lessons that they teach me.
Shavon displaying a handstand
What is your favorite Mat? And why?
Shavon: I actually collect mats, and I just bought a new one...which I think is going to be my favorite. It's super soft (made of natural hemp, linen and rubber), it's a light color (cream, which is one of my favorites) and has the chakras on it. I purchased it online from My Yoga Essentials. I can't say for sure that it's my favorite, because I haven't practiced on it yet, and it's hanging on my wall waiting for me to try it out. But one of the reasons that I haven't practiced on it yet, is because I like it so much, that I don't want to mess it up!
Set the scene for your perfect practice - paint us a picture!
Shavon: I don't know that I have a scene for my "perfect practice," because a perfect practice just happens at the right time and the right space for wherever we are (mentally, physically and emotionally) in that moment. Now...with that said...if I had to pick a scene, I would definitely say a wooden platform in a jungle in Uvita, Costa Rica. It is shielded, perfectly, from the sun, so as to provide shade, but not so much so that the sun can't light the practice. There is a light breeze in the air, and the sound of birds and other animals playing can be heard in the silence between the instruction of the poses. The practice itself provides moments of calm and challenge-- and the opportunity for me to walk away from the mat having accomplished or contemplated something new. Oh! And an added bonus if the practice includes asanas that can help me open my hips! Those are the best!
What’s the biggest myth about yoga instructors? Set the record straight!
Shavon: I think that the biggest myths about yoga instructors are that 1) they can do all of the poses! Or that 2) they want to teach someone who can do all of the poses! That couldn't be further from the truth. Yoga isn't just about the movement or the poses. Yoga is about the mindset, the intention and the PERSON who is coming to the mat to practice...for the student AND the instructor. I have had some great yoga instructors along the way, and I have just became one, myself, so any other myths (at least for me) have already been dispelled.
What was one of your most heartfelt moments in teaching?
Shavon: I'm still new to teaching yoga, so right now, everything is heartfelt! In particular, whenever I find out that someone enjoyed something about my class, I feel like a little kid who just received a great surprise on her birthday! Although I've taught children and adults for over 20 years, teaching yoga is something that is deeply personal for me, so it means a lot when "it works" for someone else. I come to the mat, not as an expert, but as a human, who is vulnerable, and still learning the lessons that I am to teach. At the end of each class, I sit and marvel at the fact that "I'm really a yoga teacher!" That entire experience is heartfelt for me.
Any advice to newbies teachers/students? (And oldies?)
Shavon: My advice to newbies (and oldies!)...whether they are teachers or students is... "challenge yourself to quiet the mind chatter that is telling you that you can't do something...or that what you have to offer, on or off your mat... isn't enough. It is. Be compassionate with where you are. Accept each experience for the lessons that it offers and move on to the next moment or experience. Take it one day, one movement, one thought, one breath at a time. That's yoga. And that's enough."
Where do you see yoga in the next five years?
Shavon: The practice of Yoga has just exploded! The world having to shut down due to Covid-19 has expanded Yoga's reach into spaces (homes, communities, etc.) around the world where people may not have been able to access it before. Now, if you have a device and the internet, you can attend classes ANYWHERE in the world...with instructors from EVERYWHERE! The MLPC is an amazing example of that. Five years from now? My brain can't even process the number of people who will have welcomed/embraced yogic principles and/or movement into their lives simply because they have the ability to access it...at any time. Additionally, the diversity of the people who have been inspired to study yoga for the purpose of TEACHING it looks vastly different than it has in previous times.
I hope you all enjoyed this interview and gained some valuable info about the lovely Shavon. Please leave a comment below if you have any thoughts or questions!
You can practice with Shavon by click on the link below.
Until next time, may you all be safe, happy, healthy, and free.