Name: Stephanie McCartt
Schools: Clarkston High School, Fugees Academy, Mary Lin Elementary, Oak Grove Elementary
Yoga: Certified Grounded Teacher
What led you to practice yoga? A desire to explore my body and mind through physical practice, breathwork and learning to be present. I’ve always been physically active but yoga brought my into the equation and opened up completely new experiences.
When do you teach yoga with children? I teach Monday-Thursday mornings at Fugee Academy; Wednesday afternoons at Oak Grove Elementary; Friday afternoons at Mary Lin Elementary; twice a week at Clarkston High School (based on their schedules) and I share yoga with my nieces, nephews and neighborhood kids whenever the opportunity presents (they love Laughter Hero and Oopa Loompa!)
Who do you teach? You could say that I teach anyone that I come in contact with as I try to live a life of authenticity, exploration and creativity that aligns with yogic teachings. As far as formal teaching: High school and elementary students, high school athletes (track, basketball, volleyball), immigrants and refugees.
Where in the school is the practice held? Gyms, cafeterias, classrooms, football field, outdoors and auditoriums.
Why do you teach yoga in your school? In a world that moves so fast in all directions, one of the hardest things we can do is to be still. It’s too easy to lose touch with who we are and recognize the beauty and power each of us has. Teaching yoga is my way to help students connect with their being, radiate their inner light/truth, gain power through their breath and in all of that, find acceptance, joy and gratitude.
What suggestions do you have for teachers who find it difficult to fit yoga into their day? Take 5 deep breaths and notice every inhale, every exhale. Then take 5 more. Start there. If you can find the time to take a few purposeful breaths, then add movement next time. It doesn’t have to be all at once — being mindful in the moment is the first step. If you can schedule just 10 minutes for a solid ground flow to get your body moving, you’re on your way. Build up from there.
How does yoga integrate into your day? I work in a high-stress industry and when things start moving fast or feel out of control, I come back to my breath. To me. That’s where it starts. Yoga has taught me that connection which in turn opens the door to mindfulness. I try to be purposeful in my actions and come from a place of love and kindness. Even when it’s stressful or uncomfortable, I try to stay true to who I am in thoughts, actions, words…if I can do those things, I’m living my practice.
I crave the physical practice of yoga and wake up looking forward to it. I try to work it into my days based on a fluctuating schedule, even if it’s only a few minutes or an online session at home.
How does yoga contribute to your role in your Community? Through yoga I’ve become more aware on a more personal level. I stop and listen. I look for ways where I can contribute, even if only on a very small level. Sometimes that just means listening without judgement. Other times it’s sharing my voice.
What has been the most challenging part of your teaching? The most challenging part of teaching? Having patience with myself and not trying to do too much…remembering that you can’t make others embrace yoga. You share the practice with them and allow them the space to take what they need from it. My tendency is to want to do everything in one session so I have to remember to slow down an be patient — that’s where the magic is!