Teacher Spotlight : Pam Gaither
What was your first yoga experience?
My mother introduced me to yoga when I was 13. She'd had two back surgeries due to herniated discs. Her doctor recommended she take yoga classes to keep her aligned and supple. I came with her to Rae Kline's class in tiny space with big windows. It was my first introduction to meditation, therapeutic yoga, basic poses, and the art of stillness. Here I learned about the sacred healing power of yoga. This knowledge remains a cornerstone of my teaching.
What made you become a yoga teacher?
Part serendipity, part self-motivation, part divine intervention. I lived in San Francisco when I started taking yoga classes regularly. Blessed with talented right-minded teachers, I was hooked. When I moved back to Boston my next-door-neighbor Marie Dacey, a fitness instructor, asked me to start teaching yoga to her students. Having no experience and three small children, I balked and said no. Marie persisted. I relented and off we went to a teacher training with Beryl Bender Birch on the tiny island of Culebra. I came back to Boston and behold! I was teaching full classes at the United Methodist Church in Winchester. Then a friend invited me to a class at Baptiste Power Yoga (BPY) studio in Cambridge. The hot intense classes were challenging and gratifying. Within a year I completed the BPY teacher training and started teaching at the Baptiste studios. Looking back it appears I was led to this profession by benevolent people, a greater power, and circumstances that transpired in my favor.
What is your favorite pose and why?
My favorite pose is Pigeon, Rajakapotasana. It's a fabulous hip opener, glute and piriformis stretch, and preparation for more advanced backbends. It is also superbly grounding and settling. Pigeon reawakens my awareness of the breath and invites stillness as I expand and open.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your classes?
I find inspiration everywhere! TEDTalks, Huffington Post, favorite blogs, news feeds, WebMD. Everyday life, my family, fellow yoga instructors and yoga therapists, my students, friends and anyone I meet. Eavesdropping. Precious moments, current events, the weather. My dog Tyson. My fears, worries, joys and celebrations.
I am passionate about yoga philosophy. I gain insight from Tantric philosophy, the Yoga Sutras, "The Splendor of Recognition, an Exploration of the Pratyabhijna-hrdayam."
I share quotes from Rumi, Einstein, Maya Angelou, Mother Theresa, Thomas Moore, the Beatles. The Bible. "A Course in Miracles".
I could go on and on...
What are the most important elements of your own yoga practice?
The most important element of my practice today is about balance: effort and surrender, challenge vs. ease. I spent the early years on my mat in performance mode, muscling through advanced poses and challenging sequences. This led to injury, self-judgement, and dis-ease. Now I take better care. I still love advanced poses but I approach them with a refined sense of awareness, alignment and self-care. I share this approach with my students as I guide them toward self-compassion coupled with a playful willingness to explore new poses.
What do you cherish the most?
This answer is easy. I cherish my family. My husband is one in a million: patient, kind, supportive, and creative. My three children have provided me with a constant source of laughter, fear, pride, astonishment, and love. I am blessed to have their hugs, smiles, and wry sense of humor.
"Be a best friend, tell the truth
And overuse "I love you"
Go to work, do your best
Don't outsmart your common sense
Never let your prayin' knees get lazy
And love like crazy..."
-Lee Brice, American country music singer
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr