TUESDAY TEACHER TALK: ELIZABETH HENRICHSEN

We sat down with our awesome teacher Elizabeth Henrichsen to get her take on yoga, teaching and the power of change.

1. When did you start working for Yoga 4 Change?

My first teaching job with Yoga 4 Change was in July 2014 at a 3 week summer camp for foster teens who were not able to be left home on their own.

2. What inspired to become a yoga teacher? 

My yoga teacher told me for many years that I would be a teacher one day. I always disagreed, telling her that I practiced for my own knowledge and benefit. Eventually I came to see I was living yoga more fully. I saw clarity in that it might be my duty to teach. After attending numerous classes, workshops and devouring anything I could get my hands on regarding yoga, I later went through some major life challenges and changes. In 2014 I decided to follow my passion and calling and attend yoga teacher training in Rishikesh, India, which I chose due to the curriculum, teachers and spiritual energy of this sacred site on the Ganges River.

3. Why did you choose to work with Yoga 4 Change?

About mid-way through my teacher training I knew I wanted to work with at risk populations. When I returned to Jacksonville from India, I started making calls to schools and other programs that might consider integrating yoga. One morning, my husband was reading the Florida Times-Union and showed me an article about a new organization called Yoga 4 Change. I immediately contacted Kathryn Thomas, the Executive Director, who invited me to attend their first informational summit. I knew it was where I needed to be. I started teaching for Yoga 4 Change soon after and am inspired and honored to be a part of this organization. I currently work mostly with children and would love to teach other populations Yoga 4 Change focuses on such as veterans, inmates and those suffering from substance abuse.

4. Share with us a funny, sad, interesting, or memorable story about your teaching?

I have two stories: First, when I took on my first teaching job with Yoga 4 Change, I went to teach the foster teens at camp with an detailed, heavily planned lesson plan. The kids did NOT want to be there and were not listening to me at all, texting, drinking coffee and cross talking during class. After trying everything I could think of that first week, the kids were offered a choice of taking a martial arts class or staying in yoga. I figured they all wanted out of yoga. Every one of them chose to stay in yoga, (although the camp told some of the kids they needed to go to Martial Arts). Once they were given a choice, and they decided on their own terms, everything shifted. I became more relaxed and we went on to have a wonderful rest of the session.
Second, I always tell the school children to whom I teach yoga that if they learn nothing else from me, to remember to be aware of their breath, to use it when they are about to get angry or take a test. Several weeks ago, after class, one of my students called me over and told me she had her FCATs the next day. She looked at me and said, “I will remember to breathe.”

5. What is your favorite drink?

My favorite drink is called “I Love Rishikesh”. It is a juice made of grapes, pineapple, pomegranate, mint, cardamom and cinnamon. I discovered this at a little place called “The Juice House” when I did my yoga teacher training. I make it at home often and sometimes add some greens to it as well. Mmmm.

6. Can you name one thing Yoga has helped you get through?

Yoga is my life and helps me in every aspect. My own life was transformed by becoming a yoga teacher after a very difficult personal time.

7. What’s your favorite yoga pose and why?

Lately, I am enjoying vashistasana, (pose of the sage or side plank) with the top leg extended, because it challenges my strength and flexibility. It is grounding, yet uplifting and gives me a feeling of expansion.

8. Cat or Cow?

I meow some days and moo on others.

9. How can yoga help people change their lives?

Yoga provides us with so many tools for transformation on multiple levels. It teaches us to be authentic, see what is inside ourselves so we can be present and connected with others. It is a true gift that has been passed down for thousands of years. Yoga teaches a 4th grade boy to breathe and be aware of what happens in his body before he gets into a fight. Yoga teaches a group of 6th graders that they can hold each other up in tree pose and trust one another. Yoga teaches those foster teens that they have a light that shines brightly inside them and it is a connection with the world. Yoga teaches us all that focusing on the present moment is a powerful gift.

10. Why should people support Yoga 4 Change?

Yoga 4 Change is what its name says. We teach yoga with the intent of transforming lives of underserved populations who would not typically have access to yoga. It is a gift to each individual to whom we bring yoga. As a result, our community and society benefit by a possible decrease in recidivism rates, empowered youth and veterans realizing they matter. Supporting Yoga 4 Change validates our mission and encourages us all to enjoy each fearless breath and that good already exists inside each of us. Sometimes you have to dig a little deeper.

Elizabeth enjoys teaching a variety of forms of yoga to students of all ages, levels and conditions. She has been practicing yoga since 2004. Her study, practice, life experience and yoga masters have guided her toward teaching. Elizabeth received her Advanced Yoga Teacher Certification 240 hours with Highest Distinction from Himalayan Yoga Academy, Rishikesh, India. Through workshops and master classes, she has studied and continues to explore Hatha, Iyengar, Ashtanga Vinyasa, Power, Kundalini, Acro and Yin yoga. Elizabeth’s classes are energetically balanced, allowing students to develop physically while focusing on breath awareness, meditation, vibrational energy and creating happiness in our daily lives. Elizabeth lives in Jacksonville with her husband, two children and sweet dog. In addition to yoga, she is passionate about travel. Elizabeth believes yoga can be accessible to all. She honors her teachers and appreciates the teacher in every student. Elizabeth is inspired by Yoga 4 Change’s mission and believes yoga can be accessible to all, providing positivity and balance. Teaching for Yoga 4 Change is most true to Elizabeth’s heart and is her dharma. She has joyfully been a teacher with Yoga 4 Change since July 2014, working in numerous facilities.

2 Replies to "TUESDAY TEACHER TALK: ELIZABETH HENRICHSEN"

  • Aliefraph
    August 28, 2015 (5:06 am)
    Reply

    Hanna Monika and Slavomir we would like to thank you from the bottom of our harets for making us feel and look so special this evening. We could not have asked for more It was fun working with you. You both have a truly professional attitude, warmth in coming close to us and discreet presence. You made the best out of us. Thank you for all your love and support! Wish you all the best!! Mary Aristofanis

  • Kristyn Endito
    November 20, 2015 (11:23 pm)
    Reply

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