Hatha Yoga Teacher Training Interview with Laurie Howe
Caroline Ishii recently had the opportunity to have a cup of tea and a conversation with PranaShanti Yoga Centre Teacher Laurie Howe. Laurie is the Lead Trainer for the centre’s 200-hour Hatha Yoga Teacher Training programs.
Where were you born?
I was born in Ottawa, Ontario.
How did you start out in yoga?
I was one of those reluctant yogis. I was dragged by a friend back in 1988. It was really different then. There were no yoga centres back then. It took me about three times until I fully came to yoga, it would start to work and then I got busy.
How did you come to do your yoga teacher training?
I wanted to do something different. I came to a crossroads in my life and I realized how much the yoga asana practice had changed my life and I wanted to be able to bring that to other people. So, I took a year off from work and did the Hatha Yoga Teacher Training at Kripalu and Ashtanga with David Swenson.
What is your teaching style for yoga classes?
I try to create a safe environment for people to be able to accept their bodies and any physical limitations. It’s calming our gerbil mind in a fun way so that you can challenge yourself. To find a balance to challenge and to laugh and not take yourself too seriously.
Why do you teach yoga?
It gives me joy, sense of freedom, and I see the effect of yoga on people after a class. After class, the faces of people are stunning, and to be a witness to the power we all have to change how we are in this crazy world. Wow, just to see that glimpse of peace or accomplishment or strength that is inside us all! It is and always will be a privilege and honour to be able to guide people in this practice of yoga.
What is your approach to yoga teacher training?
My approach is to create the safe space for people to explore their potential and unlimited possibilities – and accepting that each person has their own journey.
What brings you the greatest pleasure in being the Lead Trainer for the 200 hour Hatha Teacher Training as PranaShanti?
I feel like I come home. It’s like when you come home and walk in the door and everything in you sighs “ah.” It’s that feeling I get every time I do yoga teacher training. Each time, I learn more about myself, I take a journey with these amazing people.
People blow me away with their openness. Yoga is more than learning a pose. To teach, it’s learning about ourselves.
What would to say to someone thinking about doing yoga teacher training?
People will come to it when the time is right. There is no way to prepare for it. Step into the unknown and trust the process!
What is the biggest misconception about yoga teacher training?
Lots of people think that they have to be an advanced yogi and able to do every pose like Yoga Journal magazine or in videos. The science of yoga is more than a pose. In the end, it’s getting the person’s authentic self and personality to come through. It’s a discipline and commitment, but it’s not about whether you can do a perfect Wheel or Triangle pose. How someone teaches it and who they are in class when they teach it is most important.
What kind of people come to yoga teacher training?
It’s a very broad spectrum. From early 20 to 70s and from all walks of life. There is no certain type of person.
What has amazed you most about yoga teacher training?
It’s amazing the communities and strong bonds that are built through the teacher training programs. It’s so much more than teaching a yoga class. In our busy lives today, there is so much isolation and this brings people back to seeing other people.
What is the most asked question when people come to the teacher training info sessions?
Often people want to know exactly what’s going to happen. I tell them it’s stepping into the unknown. There is a lot of experiential stuff that happens. It’s taking a courageous step without even knowing it. Also, many people worry that they are not a good enough yogi, and as I said earlier, it’s not about the perfect pose.
What kind of things do people do after the teacher training?
There is an amazing diversity of things people are doing and bringing yoga in the smallest and biggest ways to their communities. From teaching for the UN and bringing yoga to different countries, to studios, and for their own personal growth. Even if they do the training for their own personal growth, they are still teaching yoga because it ripples out. Yoga is not just on the mat.
What can we expect from the next Hatha Yoga Teacher Training at PranaShanti?
It’s going to be awesome! There’s a weekend with Todd Norian who I’ve done a lot of training with. He’s had a huge impact on me. His focus on and knowledge of alignment is incredible and his compassion shines so bright you come away from doing something with him so open-hearted. I feel blown away and wide open when I’ve done training with him.
There’s also a weekend with Joe Barnett who is a leading yoga teacher, particularly in Yin Yoga. His knowledge of the body, range of motion, and his humour is a real pleasure to learn from.
Dr. Blaise Ryan is a doctor of Chinese Medicine who will be teaching anatomy and sharing his knowledge of Chinese medicine.
I’m excited about my two assistants Philippe Landel and Katherine Marr who teach at PranaShanti. I don’t remember saying this in years, but I am looking forward to winter!
I asked two recent graduates of the PranaShanti Hatha Yoga Teacher Training Summer program for their comments about the training and Laurie.
“I cannot find the words to express what Laurie means to me nor can I quantify the gratitude I feel for having her in my life. At first I was struggling to do many poses the way I had learned them before my accident, and I just could not do them. Laurie gave me hope every time she came around and showed me modifications. Each day now I feel a little more able to excel at being ‘differently able’. Thank you Laurie.” Anne Hotta Klein
“Laurie Howe is an incredible yoga teacher. She brings humour, compassion, and playfulness to the mat. Laurie possesses a true gift to provide healing assists and support to each of her students. As a teacher trainer, she transmits authentic passion, wisdom and dedication to the practice to all future yoga teachers under her guidance. The Hatha Yoga Teacher Training at PranaShanti was a remarkable experience, offering me a more profound appreciation and understanding of the art and philosophy of yoga. The training took me through an unexpected personal journey and connected me with an amazing community along the way.” Angela Regnier
Byline: Caroline Ishii was the creator and executive chef of ZenKitchen, an award winning gourmet vegan wholefoods restaurant with a TV show that aired on the W Network, Asia Food Channel and OWN. She is now a chef and consultant on healthy food and lifestyle, and recently completed her Hatha Yoga Teacher Training with PranaShanti Yoga Centre.