Teacher Tuesday Talk: Aidee
This Tuesday we sat down with our amazing Director of Marketing, Aidee Douglas, to get her take on yoga, teaching for Y4C, and life.
When did you start working for Yoga 4 Change?
I started working for Yoga 4 Change at the end of the summer of 2014. After coming back from my teacher training in India I decided to teach to women inmates. Since I was a little girl I had always had a special connection with those dealing with trauma. From a very young age I have always volunteered either at nursing homes, addiction facilities, or simply with the nuns helping them in the kitchen at a Catholic charity. Initially I thought I was just going to offer my yoga classes and the local institutions in Jacksonville were they were going to welcome me with open arms. But that was not the case. Then I found Yoga 4 Change! And they were already in the institutions that I wanted to work with and had a great mission, so it was a no brainer that I became part of their team.
What inspired to become a yoga teacher?
Through my whole life I had struggled with having too much energy. I am not sure where it came from because my parents are so calm. LOL! So I initially started doing yoga to find some peace in my fast world and to slow down per my mother’s request. But where I truly found the benefits of yoga was during my “ED intervention” in Minnesota 10 years ago. That was life altering. I am not sure why I became a yoga teacher. I didn’t have that as a goal and I never thought it was going to be part of my career path. I literally had the inspiration to do it and three weeks later I was flying to India.
Why did you choose to work with Yoga 4 Change?
It was a no brainer for me. Like how many organizations in Jacksonville are teaching yoga to veterans, inmates, children at risk, and those suffering from addictions? I feel lucky and honored to be part of such an amazing organization. All of the teachers have beautiful and moving yoga stories from their students about how the practice has changed their life. Yoga 4 Change is truly doing wonderful things in the community. I am so proud to be part of Yoga 4 Change.
Share with us a funny, sad, interesting, or memorable story about your teaching?
I have so many stories. A lot of of my students are not the typical mainstream yogis. You will never find them on Instagram doing back bends, or drinking wheat grass shots at Whole Foods. We are all yogis that understand the practice and its benefits at the same time we understand where we are in life so there is no pushing, no rushing, not going for the complicated poses. There is a lot of patience and meeting our body where our body is. This is hard to do, especially for veterans, they are used to pushing their bodies to the limit. And they want to do the same in my class. But we don’t. So the majority of the stories that I have happened in that particular moment where the student let go of the past, perceptions, and expectations and the student finally gets to truly enjoy what it is without judgment. You can see it in their eyes. As if the light bulb just went on and they finally got it. They look at me and their eyes are shinning, for a moment they are free. There is no particular pose that makes that happen. It’s just yoga.
My funny stories usually involve me mispronouncing a word, or even better me inventing a word. I was in a class one time and I asked the students to make “fisk” with their hands, nobody laughed and everybody was doing it, lol! The next class one of them finally told me the right word was fist. .
What is your favorite drink?
I love Kombucha, but recently I was introduced to switchel and I am in love!
Can you name one thing Yoga has helped you get through?
Yoga has helped me with so many things in my life. Gosh, seriously, I am like a different person after yoga. I am more patient, more aware of my surroundings, more loving towards myself, less worried about the past or the future, and over all a better human being. I feel like yoga has helped me become who I was meant to be. Thanks to yoga I was able to stop the chatter in my mind and indulge in my true will. My life is just so much easier because of yoga. And every time I stop practicing I go back to my old negative ways. Yoga is like my way to connect to the goodness in me.
What’s your favorite yoga pose and why?
My right hip hurts all the time, I am even a little shorter in the right side. But Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana not only helps me release the pain it also gives me the sensation that both hips are even. I love the pose also because it’s a reminder of what it is now, I could reminisce on how good I used to do the pose or how I should be doing it, or how I am not near what I used to be. But every time my mind brings those thoughts it’s a beautiful opportunity to let go, and bring love to my body. Just like in life when I am want to reminisce about the past or how much better my life could be, I let go and enjoy the present.
Cat or Cow?
I love animals so much so both of course!
How can yoga help people change their lives?
I know the power of yoga. I know it can change lives, because it changed mine. I believe that if we want to make real change in our communities we need to stop offering the same solutions and try what science is now recommending. But we can’t do this without the support of our community.
Why should people support Yoga 4 Change?
Our community should support yoga 4 Change because it is bringing true change to the people who call this community home. I know a lot of people want to help those that we are helping but they don’t have time, so making a monetary donation gives them the opportunity to be part of the change, to help their community directly, to help their own! Everybody that I know would help their neighbors if they need to. What we are doing is the same thing. We are helping our neighbors.
What’s your Ellen story?
I suffered from depression for a long time, but during the dark days Ellen gave me happy moments when nothing could. I remember playing her YouTube videos early in the morning and laughing and thinking “today could be a good day”. Ellen gave me hope.