Practicing Authenticity & Compassion
Yoga by Susan Meymand
Practicing Authenticity & Compassion
Dallas Yoga Magazine is elated to have our readers get to know Susan Meymand. She was our cover model last month and we knew it was time for everyone to get to know her better. Susan has taught yoga for many years and is also a Reiki Level II Master. Her life long love for yoga and learning motivates her to bring her knowledge to her students and help them expand their practices.
DYM: How long have you lived in the DFW area? Where are you originally from?
Susan: I have lived in the Dallas area for 24 years, though I never would’ve guessed that, especially if you had asked me while in college at UT Austin back in the early 90’s! I am originally from Oklahoma, though I lived a good chunk of my childhood in Illinois and Ohio.
DYM: Hook’em Horns! Tell us something about yourself most people wouldn’t know.
Susan: Something that most people probably don’t know about me is that I am a Level II Reiki Master. I studied under Linda Ball about 20 years ago and still practice today.
DYM: That’s wonderful! What was your first yoga experience like?
Susan: My first yoga experience was actually not that exciting- I took a ‘run of the mill’ class at UT. But at least it peaked my interest, and once I moved to Dallas I started taking the free yoga classes at Cosmic Café that were taught by Corey Smith. I fit into that scene like a hand in a glove, and the Cosmic Café is actually where I started teaching, without any formal training, over 20 years ago.
DYM: We love that place. Great food, wonderful classes. That’s where we started doing Kundalini yoga with Adriane Wolf. When did you decide to become a yoga instructor?
Susan: I decided to become a yoga teacher once I became a ‘stay-at-home-mom’. I quickly realized that I needed to apply myself in some way besides playing peek-a-boo or I would go nuts. I honestly really labored over figuring out what career I would choose. But then one day it hit me like a ton of bricks- an ‘oh duh! OF COURSE… I should become a yoga teacher!’
DYM: What kind of training have you had?
Susan: Well, informally I have been training for over 20 years. After I started those Cosmic Café classes, I got a paperback book from Half Price Book Store and would train on my own in my bedroom in front of my record player. A true Yoga Nerd! But my formal 200 hour Teacher Training was at Sunstone Academy in Addison. I have done lots of online training and workshops as well, on everything from yin yoga to koshas to pranayama. I love learning, so I am pretty much always in the middle of learning something within the sphere of yoga and meditation.
DYM: Are you a yoga teacher full time or do you have another occupation?
Susan: I am a full time yoga teacher! But I am also a mom of a seven year old and help my husband with some of the aspects of his business as a chiropractor, Graston provider, and acupuncturist.
DYM: So, you have a holistic family. That’s great for your child! Where do you practice and teach?
Susan: I honestly practice mostly in my home studio. Partly because I am usually teaching during the time slots when classes are offered, but partly because there is always something that I am de-constructing, asana-wise, in order to be able to teach it better to different people and different bodies. And that takes homework.
I teach mostly private sessions, a few corporate classes, and am very grateful to have taught at The Yoga Factory for years. I am really excited to be on board with the up-and-coming Eastside Karmany Yoga. The most accurate listing of my classes is on my website. www.susanmeymand.com
DYM: Other than yoga, what do you enjoy in your spare time?
Susan: When I am not teaching yoga, I love to read, write, listen to music, be outdoors, hug my dogs, and hang out with my friends and family. One of my favorite things to do with my son is ‘creeking’, which is walking along a shallow creek bed, looking for interesting creatures and objects. And honestly, one of my favorite things to ‘do’ is to ‘not do’, as in meditating.
DYM: What qualities do you feel are important for a wonderful yoga teacher?
Susan: The top three qualities that I feel are the most important for a yoga teacher are the same qualities that I feel are important for every human being: humbleness, compassion, and authenticity. Humbleness in the sense that we are all still students, no matter how much mastery we have gained, and always have much to learn; compassion because every body is different and we all blossom best in a loving environment; and authenticity because we are all nourished by connecting with real people, not with plastic people who pretend to be something that they are not.
DYM: Perfect answer. Explain to everyone what your classes are like?
Susan: My classes are usually a flow style, which I love because it has such a rhythmic quality, almost like a dance or an embodied prayer. I do focus on alignment because I believe that in order to capture the benefits of each pose, one must intelligently create the structure of the pose, much like if you want to be able to sail the open sea, you best have a really solidly built boat. I try to be sure to have everyone laughing at some point, or at several points during class, though, just to keep us lighthearted and joyful as we practice.
DYM: What makes your class unique compared to other teachers?
Susan: What makes my class unique is that I do my very best to know everyone’s name, and I actually go around the room to state everyone’s name before class! I want to make each person feel welcomed as an integral part of the group, and to feel acknowledged, since just getting yourself to your mat is sometimes the hardest thing that you do all day.
DYM: What has surprised you the most about being a yoga instructor?
Susan: What has surprised me most about being a yoga teacher is that something that feels so amazing to my body can feel so absolutely horrible to someone else’s body.
DYM: That is an excellent point. We have to know ourselves and our own bodies and what they need and don’t need. What do you find most challenging about what you do?
Susan: The thing that I find most challenging about what I do is that sometimes I feel totally sick of yoga! It’s so strange to love something so much, yet have days when the last thing I want to do is a dang downward facing dog, let alone inspire someone else to do it!
DYM: Love the honesty! What do you find most rewarding?
Susan: What I find most rewarding is when someone is able to really shift into a different experience of their own self through the practice. The ultimate for me is sensing an openness and newly-found freedom in someone as they exit class, from having gone deep into their own inner realms. That’s where the magic is!
DYM: Yogis need a sense of humor, are there any humorous situations that stand out to you in class?
Susan: A sense of humor is so important in every area of life, and definitely within our yoga practice! I like to use ridiculous real life stories, often about my seven year old son, to not only make people laugh, but to be able to illustrate some of the timeless wisdom that yoga philosophy offers. And I’m prone to compose impromptu Dr. Seuss-ish rhymes out of my cues in order to keep people smiling.
DYM: There has been a lot of controversy about yoga in the news lately, what do you wish other people knew about yoga?
Susan: There is always controversy, no matter what subject. One ‘expert’ tells you to do one thing, and another ‘expert’ tells you to do the polar opposite. I believe the most timeless and highest guidance is to do all things with balance as the goal. Doing anything to an extreme will logically create imbalance.
DYM: Tell us about someone who has influenced you on your path?
Susan: Someone who has been a big influence on me is Ram Dass. When I read his book ‘Be Here Now’, I felt like I had finally come across someone who really understood the true nature of human beings and knew how to intelligently yet simplistically explain it. I have been on a path seeking higher truth and understanding for so long, and that can be kind of isolating because not that many people are into that type of thing. I mean, who else sits around reading books on yoga philosophy? It felt wonderful to feel like there was someone else out there who was like me, and that could actually guide me!
DYM: There are so many places offering yoga teacher training including online. What suggestions do you have for those trying to make a decision where to take their training?
Susan: Maybe I am old-school, but I can’t imagine becoming adequately trained to teach yoga asana via a screen and a keyboard. Sure, some aspects of yoga training could be solely online, but at some point you need a live teacher to guide you in the physical components of the practice.
That said, when looking into a training program, I think its important to have some clarity regarding what you want to do with the training. If you really just want to deepen your understanding of yoga, then pick a program that is not highly focused on teaching the registrants how to teach a class. Rather, find a training that is more focused on a deeper understanding and experience of yogic knowledge, history, and applied practice. In the end, taking a training in the style of yoga that you personally like to practice is a good rule of thumb.
DYM: What advise do you have for a person who has been practicing yoga for a long time but seems to need a little more extra something to their practice?
Susan: If someone has reached a plateau in their practice, I highly recommend taking a private lesson from an experienced instructor. There is nothing like a one-on-one session to bring loads of things to your awareness about your practice that you may never have noticed before, and this will then send you into your next chapter. Or sometimes a retreat, or trying a class of a different type of yoga than you normally choose. Plateaus are a part of every aspect of life, so sometimes just being willing to experience your apparent lack of progress is a progression in itself.
DYM: We couldn’t agree more. What advice would you share with a person who is just starting yoga?
Susan: My advice for a person who is just starting yoga is: be patient and don’t rush the process, avoid comparing yourself to others, and above all enjoy the ride!
DYM: Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
Susan: I simply want to thank you for what you are doing with Dallas Yoga Magazine and the Cosmic Yogi Festival: bringing yogis together, sharing the love of yoga, and dissolving the illusion of competition. You are doing wonderful work that benefits us all!
DYM: Thank you so much for your interview and your kind words. If it wasn’t for teachers like you who truly love yoga and their students, the Festival couldn’t come to together and bring positive energy to the community.
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