What I learned from teaching Dharma Yoga at a Crossfit Gym
When I moved to Phoenix, AZ in 2016 I set a goal to complete my 800 hour yoga training through the Dharma Yoga Life of Yogi Teacher Training Program. Most of the required items were relatively easy for me - the self-practice, essays, karma yoga, etc. Those were already complete or would be done shortly. The one I put off till the end was teaching the Level IV asana sequence for twelve classes.
After a few stops and starts teaching the sequence at different locations, I reached out to fellow Dharma Yoga teacher Dawn Baumgartner. She along with her husband Justin recently opened a Crossfit Gym in Scottsdale called Crossfit Back on the Bar. Making use of a loft space within the building - Dawn created a yoga room and named it Ascension Yoga. If I had any preconceived notions about teaching yoga to Cross-fitters, they didn't match the real experience. Here's what I learned or reaffirmed:
1. If you are grounded in the teachings you are offering in a class, the students who are receptive will find you and stay. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Dawn had a cultivated a sangha who came not just for the asanas but also for pranayama, meditation, and yoga philosophy.
2. Cross-fitters and yogis have many traits in common: perseverance, determination, and community. When I arrive to teach on Thursday evenings there is a Crossfit workout going on - pull-ups, heavy weights being lifted overhead and all kinds of intense exercises. What impresses me further is that some of these folks finish a grueling workout, then come upstairs and give it their all to a 90 minute Dharma Yoga class!
3. As Sri Dharma Mittra often says - the key to success is constant practice. People who are attracted to Crossfit know the value of making a committment to practice and seeing it through.
I asked Dawn for her thoughts on what she has learned. She says "the teachings offered by Dharma Yoga transcend all stereotypes and touch everyone who is receptive. I notice Crossfit yogis in particular work with determination and commitment." I couldn't agree more Dawn. I've been inspired and energized by this great community I've met.
I'm happy to report I've completed teaching the twelve required classes and plan to continue offering Dharma Yoga classes at Crossfit Back on the Bar.
Resources for finding Dharma Yoga in Arizona and beyond: