June Teacher of the Month – Dashawn Peterson

How did you start practicing Yoga? Tell us about your early yoga experiences?

I began practicing yoga 4 years ago. I began when I was 19yrs old. I was first introduced in my dance & movement class my junior year of college , in which we practiced yoga as a warm up. At that time in my life I was a big weight lifter. When I was in my dance and movement class a downward dog was one of the hardest poses to maintain myself in.  It was the physical practice of yoga that really pulled me towards the practice of yoga. My early journey was filled with taking as many different classes and as many different styles of yoga as possible in order to broaden my perspective. Eventually that downward facing dog got easier and I began feeling the mental and emotional benefits of the practice and philosophy that I began hearing and reading.

How did you know you wanted to start teaching yoga – what was your journey to becoming a teacher?

My journey to teaching was interesting. I knew I wanted to teach after about a year of practicing yoga. I volunteered to teach a group of students one summer at a farming immersion trip I went to. In the application they asked if we had any skills that we would like to bring to the community and I felt pulled to volunteer teaching yoga. I remember the moment I sat in front of everyone, though I was nervous I felt tingles up my spine and in that moment that was my indicator that this is something to pursue further. So I did.

What is your favorite and least favorite yoga move and why?

My least favorite is double pigeon. Mainly because my hips are not yet open to the point to sustain that posture comfortably. My favorite post is forearm stand. I feel very strong when I kick up into it. It feels like time almost freezes when I’m able to sustain the shape for some time. The post brings me to the present moment because any slight movement can send me down in different ways.

Other than yoga, what practices do you use to feel more energized, connected, and centered?

Dance is my main practice at the moment, other than yoga that I use to feel more centered. My dance takes many different forms, sometimes it is taking a dance class and sometimes I am just in my room or in the park with some music. From there I just allow my body to move in whichever way feels most organic! Without a goal most of the time and without judgement of myself.

What does  the idea of rebirth mean to you, and how do you practice it in your life?

Rebirth means an end to one and a beginning to something new. Rebirth for me throughout my life has always bought some anxiety initially. To know that something is coming to a close gives me mixed feelings. However, when I acknowledge that all things are happening for a purpose , on purpose and in perfect time. While also arming myself with the wisdom to know , when one door closes another is opening. I step into the continual process of rebirthing over and over again each time growing less afraid of the process. So how I practice rebirth is by the practice of allowance. Allowing the seasons to change in my life. And I use journaling to keep track of these subtle and sometimes large shifts that are occurring in my life.

Tell us something about teaching at Harlem Yoga Studio

I feel free when I am teaching at Harlem Yoga. I also feel valued as a teacher and valued by my students who come to my class. Harlem yoga feels good, to say the least. The aura feels comfortable and I feel I can tap into my creativity in the space when I am teaching. Harlem yoga feels authentic and that’s what I love about it!