Tuesday Teacher Talk: Dawn Clapp
We sat down with one of our wisest teachers Dawn Clapp for our weekly Tuesday Teacher Talk to get her take on yoga, teaching and life.
When did you started working for Yoga 4 Change?
I began working with Yoga 4 Change in the spring of 2014. Kathryn Thomas, the executive director, had just founded the organization and was teaching all the classes. She was preparing for surgery on her feet and asked if I would teach for her at the Community Transition Center while she was recovering. I jumped at the chance. I have wanted to teach in correctional facilities since I first started teaching yoga 10 years ago. By the time Kathryn was ready to return to teaching it was obvious that Yoga 4 Change was catching on in the community. I officially took over the class in July of 2014.
What inspired to become a yoga teacher?
I was recently divorced and the mother of two small children when I took my first class with my teacher, Mark White. I was so sad and scared about how I was going to be able to provide for them and felt like nobody would ever want me. That class changed everything for me. I felt strong in my body and a great sense of calm. After months of practicing I became to realize the strength I experienced on my mat is within me all the time. I learned that I don’t need anyone or anything to be happy; my happiness is a choice. I was empowered to create the life I wanted and I wanted to share that with others.
Share with us a funny, sad, interesting, or memorable story about your teaching?
I have had several experiences where women come in for their first class in a bad mood because they did not want to be there. I always smile and promise them if they need to rest they can and if they don’t like it they will never have to come back. 9 out of 10 times those women thank me at the end of class. They are always telling me how calm and peaceful they feel afterwards. It is the whole reason I show up every week.
What is your favorite drink?
Coffee with soy.
Can you name one thing Yoga has helped you get through?
In December of 2010 I lost my house to a fire. My family and I went to stay with my parents while we were awaiting temporary housing and on the morning I was to move into a condo my father unexpectedly passed away. I was devastated. My father was always by biggest support. Two days after his passing I got on my mat. It was my space to feel everything I was feeling and to let go so that I could be strong for my family and have the clarity to make the decisions I needed to make. There were some days I would stay in child’s pose and cry the whole time and that was okay. It was my time and I took it.
What’s your favorite yoga pose and why?
I LOVE wheel. Wheel is a backbend where your hands and feet are on the ground and you lift your hips up to the sky. It strengthens the back, legs and arms and opens the chest and throat. I love that I feel strong and vulnerable!
Cat or Cow?
Cow. It opens my chest and brings vitality into my body.
How can yoga help people change their lives?
Yoga brings awareness to oneself. It is not the postures that transform people but the learning that occurs while in practice. When I am focusing on my breath and where my vision is set, I am in the present moment. When I am in the present moment I can recognize what is right for me and what I need to let go of.
Why should people support Yoga 4 Change?
People should support Yoga 4 Change because the work we are doing is relevant to our community. We are helping our students build self-confidence and discipline and to forgive themselves for things in the past. These are our brothers, sisters, children, neighbors and future leaders. Help us give them tools to stand in their own greatness. We all win by doing so.
Dawn Clapp is the Director of Operations and a teacher for Yoga 4 Change. She is an E-RYT 500 teacher and a certified Baptiste Power Yoga Instructor and is the Studio Manager of MBody Yoga. Dawn started teaching yoga in 2006, shortly after taking her first class with Mark White, owner of MBody Yoga. After her first practice she knew that she wanted to teach yoga because she felt empowered and calm; she wanted to share this practice with others. She is passionate about making yoga accessible to everyone, which is what drew her to be a part of Yoga 4 Change. It is an opportunity to share the practice of yoga with those that need it most and who may never have the opportunity to be exposed to it otherwise. Dawn brings her experience of leading and developing a team to our organization allowing our participants to receive superior instruction in each and every class.