Meet Twyla Gingrich! Twyla is a RYT-500 yoga teacher and Mental Health Counselor, who received her training while living in Mumbai, India for two years. She trained in classical, Hatha yoga with her teacher, Prasad Rangnekar. Twyla has been practicing different styles of yoga for over 17 years, such as Anusara, Ashtanga, and Vinyasana. When she began Hatha yoga, she found her practice deepened quickly and it helped significantly to reduce depression issues she had struggled with for years. Twyla is also a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and works as a counselor for children, adolescents and adults at Colorado West Mental Health. Our Creative Manager Julia Clarke sat down with Twyla to discuss yoga, living in Mumbai and playing in the mountains!
JC: Your class Embracing Your Fears comes at a time when many of us don’t necessarily associate yoga with discomfort or fear, and yet transcending fear was an original intention of yoga. How do you use the vehicle of yoga to help students recognize and embrace their fears in this class?
TG: We are going to get friendly with fear! Fear can create some of our biggest limitations without us even realizing it. Keeping us from living in our heart. Our fears can be amazing teachers and can help us gain clarity in who we really are and what we need. Getting to know our limited mind helps us get closer to a more peaceful center. I hope everyone will leave this class feeling empowered by awareness and choice. It is our choice to ‘Fear everything and run’ or ‘Face everything and rise.’
JC: Speaking of fears, you spent two years living in Mumbai with 12 million other people! Tell us a little about that experience.
TG: Yes, two years in Mumbai with a day population of almost 23 million people. It’s the sensory experience of a lifetime. Every sense is inundated with color, sound, smell, skin sensations. The reality of life is abundant. There were days I could fully embrace and participate and days that I couldn’t leave my apartment. The people I met and friendships that were created were what made the experience wonderful. As soon as you start talking to an an Indian, you are brought into their fold. They take you on as part of their responsibility, almost as family. The kindness and generosity is inspiring. India gives daily lessons in letting go and going with the flow. For example, in the US, I can get 5 to 10 things done in a day. In India, I quickly learned to let that go or drive myself crazy. Getting one thing done was cause for celebration! It also brings perspectives to the forefront as the culture is so different from here. Our world is created by the perspective we take. That perspective is one of an infinite possibility of perspectives out there. We have a choice in what perspective we take. I encourage anyone who has an opportunity to go to India to jump on it!
JC: In addition to teaching yoga, you are also a mental health/substance abuse counselor. How do you incorporate yoga into this work?
TG: I’ve come to a point as a mental health/ substance counselor that the practice of yoga as a lifestyle influences directly how I work with people. To me, yoga is more than being bendy or getting strength. It’s a platform for self-transformation, whether learning to breath (pranayama ), creating awareness through meditation, or slowing down with savasana. Yoga techniques are a good fit to address imbalances in our mind body system, which is where issues with mental health and substance abuse live.
JC: Can you share with us a little of what you are focusing on in your own yoga prctice these days?
TG: Slowing down. Incorporating more focus on exhalation and meditation. Bringing this concept into my entire day, not just when I’m on the mat. It’s helped me feel more content, gain clarity, and enjoy all parts of the day, even when it’s challenging.
JC: Where can we find you when you’re not on your yoga mat?
TG: Working at Mind Springs Health, teaching yoga at Yoga Off Broadway and Breathe – Eagle (formerly Jhana Center), and this summer I’ve been on my bike, out for a walk or hike, or just enjoying quiet time at home.