The breaths and movements fill the studio in a rhythmic steadiness as Bob Dylan sings “It’s a restless hungry feeling that don’t mean no one no good.”
The students’ movements are accented by the forced inhales and exhales.
Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. Feet swish. Hands slice. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. Dylan’s harmonica fades to a new song.
The students’ bodies are fluid whether they are simply finding the route of least resistance or moving smoothly in practiced motions. Then they are still, and the breathing continues.
Bodies shake, some fall. Erin Rauscher walks between them adding a slight touch here and there to guide a student into better form. She is their confidence at times.
Between instructions on the next move, Erin jokes, encourages and reacts to the environment created by the class.
“Giggles are good too,” she responds as a certain slip-up elicits a quick laugh. “You can’t bottle that up and sell it as a pill.”
Some slip or shake leading to a moment of centering or maybe a modification.
“Isn’t that life,” she asks referring to the setbacks and successes in the class.
“I love being upside down,” she tells them as heads drop and wobbly legs stretch towards the ceiling, “have since I was three years old.”
When a student’s relief at leaving an especially difficult pose elicits an exhortation to the powers that be, Erin responds, “Thank God!” she echoes laughing. “That good. Prayer helps.”
Erin’s confident banter keeps the flow of the vinyasa power yoga continuously moving forward through move after move each coming back to chaturanga — a low plank with your arms bent at 90 degrees. It continues for 75 minutes and Erin never misses a beat, unlike the first class she led in 2010.
“I don’t think I saw a single person,” she explains about that moment in Washington D.C. when she led 40 people through the moves. “Like, I had blinders on the whole time. I just wanted to get it right and not skip a part.”
Erin was introduced to yoga while teaching at an inner-city middle school in D.C. The social dynamics and economic demographics of the area made the job stressful so the school principal incorporated the practice into the school’s staff meetings to help teachers cope.
She found that she enjoyed yoga and when the school closed, Erin decided to become a yoga instructor. She trained under Baron Baptise and after returning to Dubois County in 2013, she opened Yes Power Yoga on Fourth Street in 2014.
Classes took off and she also began bringing up new instructors. That first class of seven has now expanded to 37, many of whom are now teaching around Southern Indiana.
It is an extension of her teaching background and a refinement of what she does daily with her exercise classes. “It gives me an outlet since education is my background,” she says about training new trainers. “It is so fun. It is something I love doing.”
Along with bringing up new trainers and leading classes in her studio, Erin also works with many local businesses, employers, organizations, schools and churches teaching the health benefits of yoga. As an extension of teaching, seminars are a great outlet for Erin’s enthusiasm for the health benefits of yoga.
Starting a studio on Fourth Street came with some trepidation though. Erin worried about how well a somewhat new concept would fit and grow in a town of 6,000ish residents.
“You know there were some naysayers,” she explains.
And, as any new business owner does, Erin wondered if she could or should keep going. When those thoughts surfaced or things were hard, Erin, a Christian, turned to prayer and invariably, she would receive some encouragement.
“I would get a text from a student saying how much their life had changed. Not just because they could complete a forward fold, but that they didn’t have to ask someone to trim their toenails anymore,” Erin says. “That can create such a self-esteem boost for someone.”
That one message would remind Erin of her the reason for her passion for teaching yoga. Enough for her to say let’s see what happens next month or next year.
Between Erin’s natural teaching ability and encouragement, her classes continued to grow and she was forced to move to a larger building three years after opening. On January 4, she hosted a grand opening in her new studio located above the upcoming Yard Goat Ales brewpub.
“There is a little bit of me that’s surprised,” she said about the success she’s experienced since opening.
Yoga is breath linked to movement. “It’s about making your body feel better, right,” Erin says. But it’s more than just feeling physically better Erin points out. There is plenty of data supporting the health benefits of breathing linked to movement, but the key is something that seems to be falling away for many people in today’s disconnected society.
It’s something that has to be watered and nurtured to grow; community.
“You can totally do yoga at home,” Erin says. “But there is a social aspect to it. Humans need to be in a community. We thrive in a group. So, even if people are just coming together to just sit around and breathe, and if that (yoga) is their social outing for the day, hurray.”
Classes feel like groups of friends coming together. Nurtured by Erin’s own encouragement, the comfort at simply being where you are at in your own skill level is enough. There is no judgment.
Being in the breath, as Erin calls it, is also important because it pulls you into that moment in space and time. While we spend so much of our time worrying about our past mistakes or our future actions, intentional breathing places you in the present moment. “It teaches you to be with it (the moment) rather than ignore it or suppress it,” she says.
Achieving those moments of clarity is where the physical, spiritual and emotional healing occurs. Healing — at whatever level — that students carry out into the world.
“We are a power yoga studio, but we also want to empower people,” Erin explains. “You start to see people’s smiles after class and you know that they’re carrying that wherever they go the rest of the day.”
This content was originally published here.