Teacher of the Month: Jeannine Bishop

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Q: What originally inspired you to be a yoga teacher?
A: Some years ago I found myself at an overwhelming point in my life,
and I began to re-evaluate my priorities and values. Yoga taught me to
let go of negative external conditions affecting my life, and I
discovered the serenity and clarity that yoga granted my heart-mind
and body.  The change yoga made in my personal life inspired me to
study and pursue teacher training so I could share this amazing gift
with others.

Q: What inspired you to teach yoga for cancer survivors?
A: After witnessing the physical and emotional tolls taken by cancer
with both close family members and dear friends, I knew first-hand of
the great need for calmness in dealing with these life-changing
issues. I never had any doubt of this calling, so I began my y4c
teacher’s training with Tari Prinster at Kripula in 2011 immediately
after graduating with my initial Hatha Yoga Teacher Certificate.

Q: Have you found there is a high need for your services in the Chicago area?
A: There are so many people of all ages dealing with cancer and the
permanent impact on their lives here, and sadly, many of them struggle
to find teachers with the proper training and understanding of the
specialized requirements of cancer survivors, so there is certainly a
demand for more y4c teachers equipped to deal with these exceptional
students. In Chicago, there are not many private studios with classes
dedicated to cancer survivors, so the majority of available classes
are hosted by hospitals or wellness centers.

Q: Would you recommend y4c training to others? If so, why?
A: I not only recommend y4c training to every yoga teacher with the
passion to teach cancer survivors, but I think it is an absolute
requirement. Cancer survivors have very special needs depending upon
the stage of their recovery, and I never fully understood or
appreciated the dangers & implications of not taking these needs into
account before my specialized y4c training; it is an outstanding
teacher’s training program that not only prepares you to understand
the limits and specialized approaches needed to teach survivors, but
it also brings you closer to a survivor’s needs in order to support
them physically, mentally and spiritually during their time of
recovery and beyond.

Q: How do you bring your own teaching elements into the y4c classroom?
A: I love to bring a balanced harmony of meditation, pranayama, and
asanas into my y4c classes.  I really stress the importance of breath
work and the sacred marriage between breath and movement.  When you
relax, silence your mind, and achieve a sense of peace and well being
the healing process starts.  I always have a short quote or poem to
share and the beginning of each class, and I constantly remind myself
that this is not ‘my’ yoga class but rather, it is ‘theirs’. I also
encourage the communal gathering, socializing, and sharing of stories,
treatments, etc., before & after class as this is an important part of
their healing process.  I strongly remember Tari expressing in my y4c
training that our classes should reflect a sense of community,
courage, calmness, healing, and strength, and I’ve found the
application of these principles to be amazing and beautiful in my y4c
classes.

Q: Has y4c training/teaching impacted you in any unexpected ways?
A: Training was a pivotal point in my life and a confirmation that I
definitely wanted/needed to teach cancer survivors.  Teaching y4c
classes has created such joy in my life, and I truly feel blessed that
I am able to teach and share the benefits of yoga as well as have such
a positive influence in the lives of my students.  And I am constantly
surprised at the lessons my students teach me: they have an endless
amount of courage, love, and support for each other, as well as a
sense of calmness and inner strength when they leave the class which I
greatly admire.

Q: What is your favorite asana and why?
A: Warrior 2. It is a pose that allows my feet to feel fully grounded,
my body strong, and my breath move through my entire being.  I
definitely become aware of the natural pause of my breath after every
inhalation and exhalation, allowing my heart-mind to focus inward.

Q: What are you working on now?
A: I currently teach y4c yoga at The Wellness Place
(http://www.wellnessplace.org) in Palatine, IL. This center provides
cancer-related counseling, education and support programs at no charge
to cancer survivors and their family, friends, and caregivers.  We are
now working on opening a third class for survivors which I will teach
starting in July, 2013 as it is my passion to continue to bring the
y4c mission into these classes for these exceptional students.  I also
teach yoga and meditation to residents at a Brookdale Senior Living
facility utilizing additional focused training in Therapeutic Yoga For
Seniors I received at Duke Integrative Medicine in Durham, NC. Like
cancer survivors, seniors have very specialized physical challenges
that require extra attention, and their need of the benefits provided
by yoga and meditation are all the greater for it. I am so grateful to
have gained the knowledge from both y4c and Seniors training; the
rewards of teaching both groups are beyond measure.

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yoga4cancer participants at the Wellness Place, Inverness, Illinois