Teacher Feature

Shannon Elliott - November 2019

1. Where are you originally from? How long did you live there?

I was born in Southfield, Michigan and was there until I was 4 years old.  I have lived in Upstate New York, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Colorado, and of course New Jersey.

2. What activities do you enjoy besides yoga?

Honestly, yoga asana is my core form of movement.  Beyond that, I love pretty much anything outdoors.  Hiking, rock climbing, and recently even some mountain biking. I really love a great book.  I also have been playing around with singing, mostly in the shower for now haha. Oh, and I freakin love to dance.

3.Who or what inspires you the most lately?

Presence inspires me the most lately.  Onyx inspires me the most lately.  Trust in the Universe, expanding perspectives. I have this secret mission (although not so secret now) to help make others dreams come true.  Onyx is a place which started with a small number of absolute angels creating the base of our family.  And now we get to continue to grow that.  Over the last 10 years my heart continues to overflow as I look around at our incredible platform.  I believe we exist to individually enrich ourselves and here at Onyx we also get to create lifelong relationships. I believe in our humanness above all.  I am continually inspired by the many who live their lives in deeply authentic ways.  With each passing year, I become more and more comfortable with being verses doing.  I was reminded by Pema Chodron recently:  (paraphrasing) Letting go sounds like a doing and can be quite hard, intimidating, and self judging.  So instead, the invitation becomes:  Letting Be. The more I repeat Letting Be, not only do I better know what to walk away from, I also have the courage to go big and take actions trusting in myself and the Divine.  I envision the Divine now as a partnership, God and me are united and on the same team.   Additionally, when I can feel that God exists in all, separation begins to dissolve.  I have also learned to forgive myself, others, and to release the internal violence towards myself which can be anything from negative self talk to straight up inappropriate behavior.  Healing is my focus, and that comes with a bunch of honesty, integrity, and self love right alongside loving others more fully.

4. What is your favorite aspect of teaching/being a teacher?

Authentically sharing the teachings, I feel a great responsibility to put my Shannon-ness aside and share the ancient teachings of yoga related to present day times.  But the most exciting piece, is watching others when yoga begins to heal people’s insides and they get to experience who they really are.  It in indescribable, and a gift to watch individuals living their own truths and dharma and then coming together collectively to raise the vibration of this planet.  And this circle then continues because as our students evolve, I am continually inspired to do the same.

5. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

Dominica!  (kindly must say it is not the Dominican Republic.) I have been to Dominica once before and there is no place higher on my bucket list at the moment to return to.  It is the most magical place, lush jungles, volcanic terrain, boiling lakes, the most incredible people, living off of and within nature. Truly what I imagine the Garden of Eden to be. Onyx is going in February, and this time I get to go with old and new friends alike.  Lucky me!

Tina Malone - October 2019

1. Where are you originally from? How long did you live there?

I am originally from Hamilton Twp, NJ about an hour south of Warren, NJ. Besides two years in Europe and my college years, I’ve lived in NJ my entire life. I may need to move somewhere soon. That’s a long time in Jersey.

2. What activities do you enjoy besides yoga?

I’d have to say my favorite activity would be swimming in the ocean when there are huge waves. It’s exhilarating and makes you feel like you are one tiny speck but still a part of the whole ocean. I have a new comfort bike that I love riding. I also like to read. I’m currently reading Educated by Tara Westover, which I highly recommend and my next book will be Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman.

3. Who or what inspires you the most lately?

I’ve never been able to pick a single person who inspires me. It’s more little bits here and there of stories I’ve heard or news articles about people. However, if I had to pick someone it would be Greta Thunberg, the 16 year old Swedish environmental activist.

4. What is your favorite aspect of teaching/being a teacher?

Taking the time to plan out a class that makes sense from a physical perspective with transitions that are smooth and poses that build on each other and flow naturally and then tying the physical movements to the mind so that when the students leave class they feel a sense of well being in the mind and body.

5. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

I have a large bucket list of places to visit from Morocco to Alaska to Thailand. I really enjoy new and different experiences. Lately I’ve been thinking I’d like to go someplace and just wander around without a plan, no reservations made. I think that goes with the yoga experience of living in the moment, staying present. Usually I’m a planner, enjoying planning the trip just as much as taking the trip.

Jane Lindemann — September 2019

1. Where are you originally from? How long did you live there?

I am a Jersey girl through and through. Born and raised right here in Bridgewater, NJ.

2. What activities do you enjoy besides yoga?

I enjoy hiking with my husband and our dog Jack. Playing fetch with Jack but I’m the one doing all the fetching. I love to cook but mostly bake. I enjoy gardening around the house and being outside. Not sure if you would call sitting on the beach with a cocktail in my hand an activity but for today lets call it one.

3. Who or what inspires you the most lately?

I don’t know if I have anything or anyone who inspire me right now but what I do like right now is being quiet and still, preferably outside.

4. What is your favorite aspect of teaching/being a teacher?

Seeing students grow and progress in their practice, physically, mentally, emotionally. When a student has been trying to do a certain “pose” and they finally get it. Those little successes fill me with joy. Teaching alignment so students understand what will work for them and that it’s ok if it doesn’t look like the person next to them. Teaching the teachings of Yoga. Teaching makes me happy, it gives me a purpose, keeps me accountable, it gives me joy to be of service to others and it makes me stop thinking about me and forces me to be present. And if you are one of my students reading this you know sometimes that is not always true, lol. Making those personal connections and cultivating those relationships. I want to share everything I love about yoga.

5. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

I would like to go to Africa to see the natural beauty of Tanzania, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Cape Town, Seychelles to name only a few. Experience the wildlife while during the migration season the diversity of cultures, explore the natural terrains and while I’m there I would also go to Mauritius. A small island off the coast of Africa that has the Chamarel Waterfall and the seven colored earth. Visit all the temples and statues. Taste the culinary cuisine. Swim the in turquoise waters walk on the white sands (with that drink in my hand) and explore the coral reefs. So I’m sending this out into the Universe.

Jules Defreitas — August 2019

1. Where are you originally from? How long did you live there?

I was born and raised in Swisher, Iowa (not to be confused with Idaho or Ohio…) I moved to New Jersey right before my 21st birthday for a nanny job. I try to visit my family and friends in Iowa once or twice a year. I have gratitude for my roots even though New Jersey feels like home to me now.

2. What activities do you enjoy besides yoga?

Aside from the usual “I love spending time with my husband and kids” -which I do! I made a promise to myself about 5 years ago that I would travel every season. I’ve been blessed with the ability and means to achieve that and then some!
I really love fitness in general. I do Crossfit a few times a week either at the gym or in my garage. I tolerate running and completed my first half marathon in May. I truly appreciate being in nature and welcome any opportunity for hiking, kayaking, paddle boarding and will make any excuse to go to the beach!

3. Who or what inspires you the most lately?

Honestly… anyone I see following their dreams and achieving massive goals!
I just finished reading MC Yogi’s book, Spiritual Graffiti so I’m pretty pumped up by his story and journey of overcoming delinquency and drugs, finding yoga and totally changing his life with immense positivity (Ps his music is pretty dope and you might hear it in some of my classes).

4. What is your favorite aspect of teaching/being a teacher?

What I truly LOVE is being able to share yoga philosophy and teachings with my students. The real reason I chose YTT was because I wanted to expand my knowledge for personal reasons. I didn’t expect (actually I was terrified) to teach the physical aspect… but here I am! I’m over the moon grateful for and humbled by the push and opportunity.

5. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

Since I love traveling, this is a hard question! Seeing new places and different cultures gives me a deeper appreciation for the world. As much as I love laying on the beach and swimming in clear oceans, I think traveling with a purpose feels more well-rounded. India was incredible to say the least, and I want to see more of the globe. I’d like to find a mission trip and volunteer while still having time to relax and recharge. Suggestions are welcome!

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