Shervon Laurice wants us to slow down our yoga practice. We asked her to share her thoughts on all things yoga, from inspirations to pet peeves, plus a few fun facts that might surprise you:
I’ve been here for 20 years.
How did you get into yoga?
When I was about 15 or 16 years old in New York City. We had to go home with a permission slip for our parents, and my mom, bless her heart, she is a minister, she actually signed off so I could take yoga classes instead of gym. I didn’t think about yoga much after I went off to college, but in my mid twenties I got back into it briefly. I fell off track when I moved, and then came back to it again in my 30s. And the last time I came back to yoga, I said to myself, “okay, if I can stay consistent with this for a year, I’ll take yoga teacher training.” I took yoga teacher training in 2012 so that, if I moved away from wherever I was taking yoga again, I could still practice at home and feel competent. About halfway into my training, I realized, “oh, I could actually teach this!”
What do you look for in a yoga instructor?
I like classes taught by folks who have a keen sense of alignment in how they teach as well as really pay attention to the breath and how the breath affects movement and energy. Usually those classes are a little slower-paced.
What do you wish clients knew about your classes?
That everyone can come! My preference is to teach beginners and people who don’t feel like they can do yoga. Or who have no athletic ability or any desire to move, but they know they need to do something. All bodies are accepted, even if someone is completely de-conditioned, or lives in a body that has chronic pain on a regular basis. I experience fibromyalgia symptoms, so I’ve had to learn to do yoga even in pain, which means modification. The joy of being able to move, which we all want to do, and actively breathe in your body, can be done.
What’s your biggest yoga etiquette pet peeve?
The people that take the yoga mat and come in and, “whoosh!” While everyone else has been settling in and getting their zen on, this person comes rushing in and snaps the rubber mat on the floor. That one is quite disturbing.
What do you say to folks who say yoga is not for them?
I say give it a try, because you never know. If they are looking at one of those fast moving vinyasa classes, then maybe not. But they could take a slow-paced beginners class, or a class that’s a yin class instead of a yang class, or maybe a restorative class, where you don’t need any skills. You get into the pose with all the cushy props and then you just relax. There are so many different kinds of classes to take, so I always recommend that people take a myriad of classes and see which one sticks.
What’s your favorite pose?
The legs up the wall pose. For me, yoga has been a way to manage anxiety, manage stress, and manage depression. Legs up the wall activates the parasympathetic nervous system which relaxes the body and mind.
How does your therapeutic work connect to your yoga?
For me, connecting the breath to each pose has a calming effect. Often times when we are feeling anxious or stressed, our shoulders are up, our fists are clenched, you can feel the tightness in the back of your neck, our facial muscles are fully engaged, and you can feel it running down the lower back, everything is tight and tense. But when you can get someone to a pose that is more relaxing, more restorative, and allow them to breath in that pose, they start to release all of that tension. If they start to release the tension, they can release the anxiety.
What’s your preferred superpower?
Invisibility. As a woman, walking down the street is harder than being a guy walking down the street. So if I could have invisibility, that would be awesome.
What was your first concert?
It was Luther Vandross in 1980 something, and I think I went with my mom!
What’s something that might surprise people to learn about you?
I’m a big fan of cartoons and I have no kids. I’ve been known to go to animated movies with no children in tow. I don’t even front. I go.
What is your life motto?
Live life authentically. My own journey of becoming comfortable in my own skin, the work I do with my counseling clients, as well the work I do with students on the mat, is about becoming comfortable with who you are, living your own truth, and not letting anyone else tell you this is the way you should do it. Even as a yoga teacher, I’m telling folks what pose we’re about to do, how to get into that pose, but I’m also giving options, because not everybody can do the pose the exact same way. Giving people a sense of autonomy over their own experience is important.
***Sign up for a class with Shervon!***