Meet Joanna

What brought you to yoga?

I was 20 years old and a little untethered. I had taken a year off of college, was planning to transfer to a

different college but didn’t know yet where I was going, and I was living back at home with my parents

after a few joyful months in Berkeley, CA.

I stopped eating meat when I was 12, was very interested in alternative medicine and healing, and it

wasn’t a far leap for my interest in yoga to arise. I saw a yoga class advertised through the local

community center and signed up. I remember that series of classes very vividly, even though it was 22

years ago. I didn’t practice yoga regularly again for a number of years after that (I guess I was too busy

skateboarding, wandering around Europe, and writing poems….ah, my early 20’s!).

In what way has yoga had an effect on your life?

Yoga has been very healing for me in all aspects of my being, and I credit the physical asana practice and

the meditative qualities equally. It has absolutely helped with anxiety and my tendency to worry, and I

use pranayama and meditation practice to keep my mind in check. On a physical level, yoga has helped

with some SI issues I’ve had post pregnancy and childbirth (eight years ago). I count on yoga to move

stuck-ness from my mind, body, and life, and to make some new space.

Favorite posture?

Balasana, Child’s Pose! It’s how I start most of my mornings, and even if I can’t get to a full practice

(which is often the case), it helps me feel grounded on the Earth and open through my body.

What do you love about Breathing Room?

I moved to Maine three years ago and checked out a lot of studios in the area when I arrived. Breathing

Room quickly became my home, and I enrolled in my teacher training program here a year later.

Breathing Room is such a lovely community- it is unpretentious, non-competitive, welcoming, and has a

great deal of integrity. The teachers at Breathing Room constantly inspire me, and I trust their expertise

to keep students at the studio safe.

What inspires you?

My teachers; my family (including my son Elijah); my incredible community of friends; nature; and the

many people I know who are doing amazing work to make the world safer, more equitable, and more


Favorite playlist?

This is an interesting question for me. I spent many years practicing in Iyengar and studios of other

lineages where there was no music. So music during class is actually a newish phenomenon for me, and I

am still getting used to it! I think my favorite playlist would be either silence or the natural, ambient

sounds that happen in and out of a room. If you happen to be practicing somewhere glorious like the

beach or the in the woods, those sounds are the best!

What advice would you give yourself if you could travel back to your first time on your mat?

Start meditating!

How do you fill your time outside of teaching?

My life outside of teaching yoga is very full! I am a mother, a school administrator in Gray, the co-chair

of the PTO at my son’s school, take part in local politics in Portland (especially as they relate to the

public school system), and in my spare time I make lots of calls to senators to tell them what I think!

I also read as many books as I can, go to the beach, take at least one or two yoga classes a week with my

teachers, and I am active in a Portland-based sangha in the Kadampa Buddhist tradition.

Personal mantra?

This year I’ve had this above my desk at work: I am attempting something difficult and I appreciate

myself for trying.

Also, maitri, my favorite translation of which is: unconditional friendliness towards oneself.