Joan Dobbie — yoga teacher, poet

Yoga is a holistic experience for many — mind, body, spirit — but did one element or another first draw you to the practice? That is, were you seeking to settle your mind? Have greater physical flexibility? Explore your true, spiritual nature?

I was interested in learning more bodily control

How about now: does yoga feed your mind or your body or your spirit more, or are those elements more in balance than when you started?

everything about me is in better balance now: mind/body/spirit

As a yoga professional, what aspects — mind, body, spirit — do you pitch to someone who has never done yoga but is open to the possibility?

I try not to proselytize, but I share concepts

How long did you practice yoga before becoming a teacher?

six years

Do you have a preferred yoga style? Do you teach others?

I blend styles

Do you have a particularly strong tie to any teachings or texts?

my roots were with Swami Muktananda and Swami Vishnudevananda — I pattern my classes around the teachings of Patanjali

From your experience as a teacher, can you generalize about what comes easiest for younger beginners and what is more challenging?

younger beginners have shorter attention spans, prefer movement

How about for students coming to yoga later in life?

seniors often need to modify poses

Apart from yoga, do you recommend other techniques of mindfulness or meditation?

I consider all mindfulness, whether sitting, walking, breathing and/or movement to be yoga

Say you have a beginning student who has come to yoga for help with a bad back. They are already pretty chill, and you intuit they are only looking for the physical benefits from yoga. Do you leave it at that, or do you look for opportunities to promote the non-physical benefits?

I mention, but do not “promote,” yoga philosophy — I believe that physical power without a philosophy of unselfishness can be dangerous

I know you are a poet as well as a yoga teacher. Is there a poem or two that reflects the influence of yoga on your writing?

my own poems “Yoga Class, the Teacher Speaks” and “Solstice Poem” both available on blogger (google title, my name, and blogger) are directly connected to my practice of yoga — (as are all my poems, but less obviously)

You have a choice: lead a yoga class (1) outdoors on a beautiful day, overlooking the ocean, or (2) in a well-designed, very comfortable minimalist indoor space. Which do you pick?

I would absolutely choose an outdoor space on a beautiful day to a comfortable minimalist indoor space

—interview © Marshal Zeringue