The following is an interview with 2011 Perri Institute graduate Christen Sewell Weimer and her student Kitty Graham, a student at the Ballet Institute of Atlanta. Christen and Kitty are based in Atlanta, Georgia.
Instructor: Christen Sewell Weimer
Could you tell us a little about where and who you teach?
Currently, I teach yoga to young ballerinas at the Ballet Institute of Atlanta. The dancers range from ages 6–16 years old.
What have been your biggest challenges as a yoga teacher? Your biggest accomplishments?
My biggest challenge as a yoga instructor has been giving corrections to each student in a large class.
Which lessons or skills from your teacher training do you call on most often?
The most important lesson that I have learned from my yoga training is how to cultivate the ability to accept impermanence. Life is constantly changing and shifting, and there is a beauty in the chaos. I meditate on this lesson every day.
How does teaching yoga connect to your other professional activities?
Since completing my yoga training with TaraMarie, I have thought much more about mindfulness, and I do my best to be present with each person I meet. In addition to teaching yoga at the Ballet Institute of Atlanta, I am also a professor at two different universities in the Atlanta area: Spelman College and Clayton State University. I often teach according to the energy in the room on that particular day. Sometimes the movement has more flow, sometimes more grounding floorwork, and other days faster, more intricate footwork.
What else have you been up to since graduation?
Post graduation, I performed professionally for a year in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with Bodiography Contemporary Ballet; created work for Bodiography, Kennesaw State University, Clayton State University, Goleta Ballet Theatre, and the Ballet Institute of Atlanta; and I have also served on faculty in the dance departments at Kennesaw State University, Clayton State University, and Spelman College and as an instructor at the Ballet Institute of Atlanta. I have also listened to a lot of live music and spent time adventuring in new cities post graduation.
What have you been thinking about in your own practice lately?
Lately, in my own practice, I have been concentrating on finding peace and rest in the midst of transitions. This idea relates to life off of the mat as well.
Student: Kitty Graham
Why do you practice yoga?
Kitty began practicing yoga because her mom, sister, and grandmother practiced yoga every day, and she was inspired by the calming affect that yoga had on each of them. She has also found that yoga helps her with flexibility and focus and is a great form of cross training for dance.
What initially attracted you to yoga? What about Christen's classes keeps you coming back?
Kitty enjoys my classes because of the emphasis on transitions and flow. She finds that my class also helps her dancing with regards to improving her flexibility and focus.
What is your favorite asana/posture and why?
Her favorite posture is Utthita Hasta Padangustasana, extended hand to big toe pose. This pose is her favorite because she is able to feel more stable in the posture each time that she practices it.
Do you feel that your practice extends into life off the mat? How?
Kitty feels that yoga impacts her life off the mat in many ways. Firstly, she mentioned that yogahas helped her focus more easily. Yoga has also allowed her to find an inner sense of peace and tranquility. And lastly, Kitty expressed that she has become a more mindful person thanks to her yoga practice.