Seattle Yoga News is on a mission to find and highlight all of the hidden, and maybe not so hidden, gems in the Seattle yoga community and beyond. We want you to learn about their experiences and perspectives, but also a bit more about their personalities, so we have a few fun questions for them. All spotlights are based on your peer’s personal recommendation. This week’s spotlight is turned towards Shaw-Jiun Wang, owner of Seattle Iyengar Yoga Studio in Ballard.
SYN: What inspired you to become a yoga teacher?
Wang: I embarked on my yoga journey in 1996 with Bikram yoga. Soon, I discovered Iyengar Yoga and have been teaching it for more than 17 years. I have studied with the Iyengars in Pune, India, and assisted at the medical classes there as well. I regularly study with senior Iyengar teachers including Lois Steinberg, Laurie Blakeney, Mary Reilly and Dean Lerner. While in Urbana, Illinois, I trained in Iyengar yoga therapeutics under the close guidance of Lois Steinberg. I also have taught a variety of therapeutic classes and continue to explore the creative and pragmatic approaches of using props for different physical, physiological, and psychological needs, including my own healing from an ACL surgery.
SYN: What is one piece of advice you always give to your students?
Wang: The path of teaching yoga was an accidental one. I began teaching as a substitute teacher for my Bikram teachers in a community church and in corporations. Because of this and the fact I was not offered a class of my own until a few years later, I developed a strong sense of “service” to my teachers. After I began studying Iyengar Yoga, I continued with substitute teaching and eventually decided to go for Iyengar Yoga Certification to officially become a yoga teacher. Looking back, I was and still am drawn to the problem-solving and interpersonal interaction of teaching yoga. It is a lot like cooking a meal together with other like-minded people. The joy is clearly the process rather than the end product.
SYN: How would you describe your yoga philosophy?
Wang: Sage Patanjali defines yoga as a process to still the “citta,” or the consciousness. As a result of my study in yoga philosophy and my own practice, I have become a firm believer in the profound realm of benefits other than the physical ones. Yoga asanas are not an end, but the means to that end. As yoga is a science and art in refining one’s awareness during the journey inwards, Iyengar Yoga has transformed my being from the sum of external vibrations to a consolidation of internal clarity.
SYN: If you could practice with anyone dead or alive, who would that be and why?
Wang: I feel very lucky to have studied and practiced in person with the late B.K.S. Iyengar and I would love to do so in my next lifetime.
SYN: If you could be an animal, a plant or an ingredient, which one would you be and why?
Wang: As yoga is for many lifetimes and if I can choose to be reincarnated, I would like to be a sea turtle for its wisdom and stability.
SYN: What is your latest favorite thing about humanity?
Wang: Latest favorite thing about humanity? Creativity! I am an avid amateur of piano and cello and have begun studying Beethoven’s music during the recent months. In a letter dated in 1802, Beethoven expressed his desire to end his life but decided not to in order to allow the creativity in him to flow through his music. This innate ability to get in touch with and nurture creativity inevitably saved genial Beethoven and allows us to enjoy our emotional and spiritual realms through his art.
SYN: Who would you like to nominate next for the yoga teacher spotlight?
Wang: I would like to nominate another teacher at Seattle Iyengar Yoga studio: Susan Vennerholm.
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