I began taking yoga classes at the recommendation of my father in the second half of 2016 to help with body and muscle pain from my usual workout routine of lifting weights, and to help with a newly burgeoning anxiety that came on hard following getting sober. The muscle pain was normal but compounded by my work it made me stress further and hurt more. The anxiety that had always been with me since before I became a teenager became even worse, also because of my work environment and no longer having my senses and emotions dulled with alcohol. I took a few classes here and there but never did anything on a regular basis. I found ways to cope with anxiety using breathing exercises and continuing my workouts. I would deal with the muscle pain with some stretching, which I would later learn had a lot of yoga poses in its core. For whatever reason, it didn’t stick, but the core of my resolve to become a better “me” did. My first encounter with Ann as a teacher of yoga was in late 2016 when she agreed to teach me in a one-on-one session. Although it would take two years, this would not be my last time learning with Ann.
In late 2018 when Ann moved to Tucson and began teaching Tuesday classes at Mindful Yoga. Ann’s classes work really well for me because her teaching techniques allow me to follow along with ease. I have had many teachers throughout my life, but the best teachers speak to you as a student and not at you. Ann does this extremely well. Other things that help her stand out to me include asking her students how their bodies are doing before and during classes. She is quick to remind students (while not making it as if she is singling anyone out) that we can modify our poses or come out of them completely if needed. After taking weekly classes with Ann for many months now, there are other things that show her high level of ability and understanding. Her cadence of speech makes going from pose to pose, or while reading passages during Savasana helps with balancing breath with relaxation. Two other things that give her strength in teaching are her ability to adapt and her willingness to be silly. These are important things to me, as when she notices a student during one of her classes or during a class she is taking use a different technique, modify a pose or use a prop to assist with a pose, she will point this out to student in order to let us know that there are variations to every technique and that yoga is about not perfect, perfect for your body right now. I routinely modify my poses based on how I am feeling in that moment or to ease into something I am unfamiliar with. The second point of Ann being able to be silly makes class more fun to me. It also teaches without preaching. If I can be loose and free while learning, I tend to retain more information. If I’m not preached to, I tend to want to learn more. With that being said, how Ann greets her students, teaches and then sends a class back out into the world I know she is passionate about her practice as both a teacher and student of yoga.
Things I know that have improved since practicing yoga on a regular basis with Ann are my flexibility, my breathing, my self-control in a given situation and having more tools to continue to cope with life. Thank you for helping me see the benefits to regular a yoga practice and working to better understanding my own balance and ability.
~John Anthony Chihak
I had never really done yoga until I met Ann. Right from the start, she went out of her way to introduce herself and make sure I felt comfortable. I was looking for something to help balance out my hectic life, trips to the gym and soccer. I wanted something with balance, stretching and more inward inflection. I never owned a pair of yoga pants in my life. Ann shattered all preconceived notions I had about what it meant to be a student of yoga. Although her classes were always filled, I felt that she always went out of her way to make an individual connection with each person. She was able to tailor poses/positions and tempo to meet everyone’s need. When I wanted to try something more challenging, I mentioned it to her in passing and and a little bit later it was worked into a theme for the entire month! I have been lucky enough to do yoga with her in several settings–studio, yurt, urban winery. She brings light and laughter to all of these experiences.
Because of my experiences with her over the past two years, I feel stronger, more balanced and more comfortable in my own body and sense of self than I have in a long time. I will greatly miss her as she goes onto her next adventure. Anyone would be lucky to have the chance to work along side her and learn from her.
Ann is a thoughtful and inspired yoga teacher. She works with you to modify poses to fit your body, and designs the classes over time to support the improvement of her students. In the three years that I’ve had Ann as a teacher, she has been an amazing teacher, and she’s made complex poses accessible, and helped all of her students understand how to safely try the pose. I’m impressed by her all the time.
I’ve never been a yoga guy, but attended one when Ann invited me to one of her final “training classes.” I’m not flexible. Not sure I did any of the poses correctly, but Ann is a very comforting and encouraging teacher. She helped me make adjustments and provided me accessories to help me get into the various poses. She is a very caring person and I know she wants everyone to get as much out of her classes as they can.
~Dan – over 50, Corvallis, Ore.
I would like to share how much Ann has meant to me as a student of yoga, I am in my late 70s and have practiced yoga off and on for years. I first met her when she was giving classes at a studio in Beaverton. At that time I had only been doing yoga occasionally. I immediately felt comfortable in her classes. I never felt intimidated in her class, as my body wouldn’t go into the poses as they did when I was younger she would always tell me to honor my body and give me modifications for that pose. She brought humor and a wonderful sense of peace to her classes as well. I will always be grateful that I had the chance to be a part of her classes.
~Namaste Sandy McBride
Ann brings humor and precision to her classes, which makes her teaching a combination of fun with proper alignment to the poses. This allows one to feel safe in knowing that the poses they are doing in the classes are correct for their body and their level. Ann makes sure to accommodate to our needs and is always willing to learn more so that her classes are ever evolving.
~Vanessa Couto – PDX
Ann is a wonder! I started yoga later in life, and so have been grateful for her skill, her humor and her thoughtful approach to this practice. I’ve had ongoing minor hip pain for about a year. Attending Ann’s classes routinely for the last few months, though, has resulted in relief from my discomfort that I hadn’t found through other interventions. Learning the practice under the guidance of this wonderful teacher is a gift! I highly recommend her classes.
YOGA: A PORT IN THE STORM
In September 2015, the office manager at my place of work decided to arrange for weekly yoga classes to be held within the office. I’d tried yoga before with home videos and even a class in college, but it had never been all that interesting to me. As someone who started ballet at 3, all the yoga I’d been exposed to focused on cardio-oriented flow instead of the things I missed most about dancing – slow movement that required all my attention to be focused on my breathing, my body position, and growing slowly but steadily stronger through repetitive movement.
Enter Ann. Thanks to her, I came to see yoga in a whole new light. Everything I’d missed for almost 15 years was part of her practice, along with one additional key ingredient sorely missing from my life. Not only was Hatha Align what I wanted in an athletic outlet, but Ann combined it with restorative practices that made me feel calmer and more balanced than I ever had. I started taking classes outside of work with Ann, and my happiness continued to grow.
Then, due to a series of unexpected events in a little over a year into my practice with Ann, I began experiencing something I thought I’d left behind me after nine years of intensive therapy. I had, simply put, a breakdown. As a survivor of many years of physical, emotional, mental abuse as a child, I’d struggled with Chronic Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) most of my adult life.
When my C-PTSD came roaring back, I worked with doctors, with psychologists, and with a social worker. I had to stop working for several weeks. I had C-PTSD episodes that made it difficult to function when they were triggered – adrenaline dumps forcing my fight or flight impulse, hyperventilation, sobbing, and begging for help. Despite all the medical and psychological help I was receiving, support from my friends and coworkers, and multiple medications, I still couldn’t get through a day without an episode.
It took me four weeks to get back to yoga. And when I did, Ann was there to welcome me with a gentle practice that allowed me to work toward finding that sense of peace and calm again. My first day back in a yoga class lead by Ann was the first day in almost two months without a C-PTSD episode. Yoga, and Ann, was the missing piece in my treatment on my road back to finding peace.
It’s been several months since then, and I am happy to report that yoga continues to help me greatly. Being able to take classes on days that I knew would be especially difficult – Christmas, my birthday – made it easier to get through difficult times, and it made me stronger on the whole. I truly don’t know where I would be today without Ann or without our yoga practice. Through Ann’s classes, I’ve found a practice where I can grow physically, emotionally, and spiritually happier for the rest of my life.
I had fun (in my first yoga class with you). You are a fun and funny teacher.
Ann is very supportive of a senior beginner. Her weekly yoga classes help me feel better!
We are a retired couple living in Alameda, Calif. Ann has really helped us with her systematic approach to yoga so that we can achieve our goals. Many of us are aware of the bad experiences that people have had with yoga, and the misery and pain that have resulted. Not to worry with Ann’s gentle approach, which is adaptable to all levels. Her concentration on yoga’s application to specific body parts is extremely beneficial and helpful in everyday living. Ann, keep up the great work.
~Janice and Mike L.
Being a long distance runner I have found cross-training activities demonstrably enhance my endurance, pace, and well-being while reducing [even avoiding] skeleton and musculature injuries. Over the past year, I have regularly been attending Ann’s yoga and indoor cycling classes, which I know have improved my running. Ann makes her yoga class fun by never letting her students feel anxiety or pressure to do poses that are [in my case] far from textbook perfect form, and she creates a wonderful learning environment – I especially enjoyed the balance poses and focus her classes; such as for the feet and running stretches. With indoor cycling classes, Ann reminds us of the importance of posture and body positioning. Doing so has helped me not only with my outdoor cycling, but with lifting my thighs a bit more on trail runs, which is a huge benefit to avoid tripping on roots and rocks, besides strengthening one’s quads and calf muscles. I also enjoy Ann’s pleasant demeanor and encouraging words [to all] during cycle classes. And, how she concludes every yoga class by saying ‘Keep peace in your mind; strength in your body; and, love in your heart. Namaste. Thank you for practicing with me.’ Thank you Ann!
~Jerry N. Mark