Dear Yoga Place Community,

Rope backbend

A LETTER FROM CHRIS SAUDEK – written last week after embarking on our first week of online yoga…

During this last week of on line classes I took class from Francie, Pam, Rachel, and Hallie. Saturday morning I took both Hallie and Rachel’s class and saw many of the students I also see in my classes. After Hallie’s class I received this message from a long-time student which really brought tears to my eyes – in fact it was a full-fledged all-out cry!!

Good morning, Chris!

I hope you and yours are safe and at peace in these uncertain times. it was good to see your face during the class this morning.

It occurred to me several times during this class that your commitment to the community and disciplines of yoga has spread health and presence like a healthy native plant community, bit by bit, steadily over time. Whether or not that’s what you intended in the beginning, it’s a powerful thing to see and reflect on.

Thank you for your fierceness, the core of strength and perseverance that is responsible for this widespread good will and learning, and for showing us all how to transition.

So I just wanted to tell you why this made me so emotional! Actually, I started teaching Iyengar yoga in 1981 and why I started teaching was a bit of an accident. I had just returned from two months at the Iyengar Institute in Pune, India but was teaching a math class at UWL when the head of extended education was asked to offer yoga in that program. I had no yoga teacher training but I had really taken to Iyengar yoga and thought it would be fun! As with all new teachers, I soon found out that teaching yoga was harder than I thought it would be. But, I really enjoyed the subject and found it enhanced my own practice as I had to really think about how to put into words what I was practicing.

When the students kept coming and more signed up, one yoga class turned into three classes at the university. Meanwhile I went back to India in 1982, 1983, got married, had a baby, took the baby and husband to India in 1987 for 5 months and came back in 1988. It was in 1988 that a friend, who had been my student, and I decided to start The Yoga Place. Spreading yoga may have been a little on my mind since it had certainly changed my life for the better, but I always tell students that I started The Yoga Place to support my hobby! That’s how I remember it so I don’t remember having any great thoughts of spreading yoga, I must admit.

What has happened over the years is that I have had some extremely dedicated students who have worked hard and become excellent teachers. Though I’ve been glad to have taught them what I can, they have taught me many times more about my world and myself than I’m sure they can imagine. I have often said that I was teaching them so that they could teach me as I age and that is one of the things that made me feel quite emotional on receiving this email. I am also their student; in fact, in many ways we are all each other’s students. Also, the emotions came up because I feel like the teachers at The Yoga Place have developed such a great community.

Pam, our fearless leader, was one of my students before she became the owner of The Yoga Place and she never had any idea of becoming a yoga teacher! She has not only become an excellent teacher but she has been working very hard to keep The Yoga Place alive and well. And this past week she has worked many, many long hours to bring yoga to our community while we all are at home. Francie has always been a colleague as we have spent times in India together and she came to teach here in 1993 when I needed another teacher. Sam, Jenelle, Rachel, Jarad are all long-time students, Hallie has been a student for several years now. And what a blessing Jennie, who came from the Madison group I have taught for over a decade, has been. I am so honored and blessed to know all these great teachers, to have had the opportunity to teach most of them and to have learned so much from all of them.

And then there are all of our incredibly dedicated, lovely students. Contrary to a popular belief that a good student has to do great poses, we have good students because they care about yoga and put the effort into learning about the subject. So it is really all of YOUR commitment – the teachers of The Yoga Place as well as the students – to the community and discipline of yoga, that has made it grow. I appreciate you all more than you can ever imagine. I thank you all for the efforts you have made to support this community and for all you have given me personally, all you have taught me, and how you have enriched my life.

Thank you from the bottom of my Tadasana feet through to the crown of my head! See you online next week!

Tagged as

Jennie Williford CIYT

Jennie Williford (CIYT Level 3) is a transplant to LaCrosse via Montana, Illinois, and originally Texas. Throughout her life moves and 5 trips to India, Jennie has acquired a well-rounded and multi-faceted approach to Iyengar Yoga since her start in 1998. Jennie loves the experimental and explorative nature of yoga in accessing deeper knowledge of the Self on every level. The practice of yoga can be intense and introspective, however as practitioners we can be light-hearted and open-minded in our discipline. Jennie is intrigued by the philosophy of yoga and hopes to share this depth of subject while teaching the physical and mental benefits that come from the practice of posture.