8 Limbs is pleased to publish monthly Teacher Profiles to help you to know and learn from the amazing group of 8 Limbs Yoga Teachers. This month we profile Tracy Hodgeman, who teaches at 8 Limbs Phinney Ridge and 8 Limbs West Seattle and is a lead teacher for the 8 Limbs 200-hour Teacher Training Summer Intensive.
Teacher Name: Tracy Hodgeman
Practicing Yoga Since: I’ve been around yoga since I was little and I started practicing regularly in 1992.
Tell us about the first yoga class you took. I can’t remember the first yoga class I ever took, however I distinctly remember trying a kundalini class one time in Tucson in the 1980s. There was a lot of loud chanting and unfamiliar arm positions that we were asked to hold for a painfully long time. I remember long stints of rapid breathing that made me feel lightheaded. It was all rather surreal and the teacher had on a white turban that at one point flew off and shot across the room while she was executing some rapid and energetic head movements. She also said we should take only cold showers… I did not go back. I hope I would experience it differently now, but at the time I was completely sure that yoga was not for me.
Teaching Yoga Since: I’ve been teaching yoga since 1995.
What do you remember of the first yoga class you taught. The first class I ever taught on my own was an Ashtanga vinyasa class in Ballard at the Ballard Firehouse. I didn’t set out to be a teacher of yoga– I was a carpenter–yet when my teachers encouraged me to teach, I thought maybe they knew something I didn’t, so I tried it. The people that showed up for my beginning Ashtanga class were all much older than me and very stiff and really out of shape. They came for an easy, relaxing class… My teacher training up to that point consisted of my own quite athletic Ashtanga practice and the cryptic advice of my teachers, which was only to “teach what you know.” I did NOT know what to do with these bodies in front of me that seemed so different from mine. It was terrifying! They couldn’t even do a simple sun salutation! That was to be our warm up! Of course now I understand how difficult sun salutations are, and need a little warm up to do them myself. 😊
Who/what are your teachers? Why? My number one teachers have been bodies–my body and also those of the people who come to my classes. I love to learn by hearing about other people’s experiences in their bodies and watching people move and breathe. My number two teachers are the souls who live in these bodies. People never cease to amaze me with their unique perspectives and wisdom and life stories. I learn about unconditional love from my animal friends. I also learn a lot from reading, I love reading about bodies and yoga philosophy and other people’s journeys along their paths.
Currently inspired by: I am really excited about breath. I am so amazed by the power of breath, and the intricacies of it. It’s one of those “the more you know the more you know you don’t know” sort of situations (as is life, as is yoga). I am also excited about words, and the power of words, and this year I’m working on refining my use of words.
Tell us about a time in your life that yoga really supported/helped you. Yoga has helped me so much over the years in dealing with stress and strong emotions like grief. When my best friend Marta Kellogg was killed in a car crash 5 years ago, I felt so broken, so shocked, so bereft. The thing that really helped me to survive was slow and gentle breathing into the back of my heart. Learning to stay relaxed and grounded and to just let the grief roar through me like a tidal wave was so healing.
What does your current yoga practice include/involve and why? Is there a practice you do daily? If so, explain why. My current daily yoga practice consists of neti followed by pranayama followed by meditation followed by a few slow asana. I really like supported down dog, supported standing forward bend, Agni Sara, also anything that strengthens the back body and strengthens and lengthens the core. I choose these practices because they help me to be clearheaded, steady, strong and calm, and so I can hold clear safe space for others.
Hobbies/interests: I love to walk outside, especially near water and trees. I love music, I sing and play a few instruments. I’m currently having a long term love affair with my ukulele that’s making my guitar a little jealous and dusty… I like to make things with my hands, especially things like wool hats. I like to write. I like to travel, and I try to get away for at least one extended trip a year with my sweetheart to explore somewhere new, step outside of my usual routine and refresh my marriage (which has recently moved into the 20+ year bracket, just like 8 Limbs)!
What book(s) are you currently reading/did you recently read? I like to escape into fiction, and my dear friend Kari Asadorian keeps me steadily supplied with the latest books. I recently finished reading “A Tale for the Time Being” by Ruth Ozeki that was quite good. I also love “Daring Greatly” by Brene Brown, and I can’t wait to dive into “Meditations on Intention and Being” by Rolf Gates that I just got as a present from 8 Limbs!!!
One secret that helps you stay healthy: One secret that helps me stay healthy is getting 8 hours or more of sleep a night. Sleep is fabulous! Also drink plenty of water. Breathe deep. Laugh a lot. Exercise… I also recently stopped drinking alcohol, to wonderful effect (how does one pick just one?).
Favorite recipe? I don’t use many recipes anymore. My favorite recipe is grabbing something fresh that calls to me from the produce department (or from the garden, even better) and building a delicious something around it. I love turmeric, ginger, garlic, onions, cardamom, cumin… I eat primarily fresh vegetables and fruit, whole grains, and carefully chosen protein sources. I try to eat in season and local as much as possible (not counting coffee and chocolate, shhhhhhhh).
Anything you want to share with our community? I am so honored to be on this journey with all of you, and that whole “namaste” thing– it’s really working! I really DO see the light in you and you show me the light in myself over and over again. I am so inspired and uplifted through our yoga community. Thank you all for being your fabulous selves.
Posted by: 8 Limbs
Join Tracy for her I Heart Savasana Workshop on Saturday, February 20, 1:30-3:30pm at 8 Limbs West Seattle.