I began practicing Bikram method yoga in Pasadena CA in 1998. During a very transient time in my life, where nothing felt cohesive, the yoga was my anchor. It made sense to my body, which at 24 had been through some rough times for such a young age. After several years of dedicated practice I transformed my health and well being. I graduated from Bikram’s yoga teacher training in the spring of 2001 and have been teaching ever since. I taught throughout Vermont until July of 2002, at which point I opened my own studio in Portland. My decision to open a studio stemmed from the increasing compassion I felt for those who suffered with health issues. I chose Maine because I was homegrown here, and have a fierce passion for my roots! My other fierce passion is for teaching this yoga. Yoga is like life. It is dynamic and evolving. I continue to learn and evolve though my practice. I furthered my studies of Hatha Yoga by training with Tony Sanchez throughout 2013. This included completing a comprehensive anatomy course directed by Leslie Kaminoff, author of “Yoga Anatomy.”
I teach the therapeutic benefits that stem from proper alignment, intentional breathing and acceptance. Asana practice requires patience so that correct technique and alignment is developed before range of motion. It is important to me that students are safe and able to sustain their practice in a nurturing and fulfilling manner throughout their lives. To that end I emphasize developing and maintaining core integrity and muscular strength in each posture. This allows the student to safely develop range of motion without overstretching or collapsing into their joints and ligaments. Breathing is a bridge between the mind and the body; Intentional breathing promotes awareness and control over both. This mindfulness is a form of moving meditation that enhances the student’s awareness of themselves physically, mentally and emotionally. This is enhanced with the use of a mirror so that we are forced to recognize ourselves as we are.
Ultimately this leads to a choice: accept or deny. Those that deny, give up. Those that accept begin the healing and transformational journey of a yoga practice. As we learn to accept ourselves as we are we open ourselves to compassion, to love, to understanding and forgiveness. This is a huge stress relief. Stress is a precursor of many illnesses. Personally, I have suffered from anxiety issues most of my life and I know the damage that stress can do. I experienced severe post partum onset anxiety and depression after my first baby. I struggled for 4 years to overcome this and once again, my Yoga became my anchor. The hot room somehow allows me to crack open my shell of anxiety and become a conduit for transformation both in my practice as well as my teaching. I see reflected in my students the physical, emotional, or mental pain that I and so many others have gone through, and I respond from a place of empathy. I know how powerfully this Yoga can change lives; I have witnessed it for 16 years. It is the greatest gift that I can give to my community. Reciprocally, to share the healing power of yoga and to see the joy and transformation of my students is the greatest gift I can receive.
“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples” Mother Teresa
I graduated Bikram’s Teacher Training in November 2002. I have taught at Maine Hatha Yoga since then. My teaching style evolves over the years. Recently I am emphasizing the benefits of conscious breathing. I use many metaphors that dance around the relationship between Ha, the Sun energies, and Tha, the Moon energies. I find that the dance of Ha and Tha is the dance of life. This original duality has many mirrors that can be used to gain insight into the wholeness of ourselves and our context within life. The dynamics of structure (Tha) and energy (Ha) are particularly relevant to the Hatha practice. Understanding and bearing witness to these personal and dynamic relationships within and throughout ourselves is a path that unleashes the potential of our practice. I teach with the intention to facilitate understanding rather than stressing exertion or effort.
I have been teaching Bikram yoga since 2004. To me yoga is everything, it’s like my religion. It is the foundation of what my life is built upon. It has been the stepping stone towards the path of all of the good things that I have been blessed with. It has given me the clarity and honesty to see myself for who I truly am and what i am capable of and in that knowledge a new world starts to unfold where anything seems possible. And all of those gifts have been returned to me thousands of times since I’ve become a teacher. I know that when i am teaching I am my most compassionate, most selﬂess self; it truly is when I am the happiest.
I am partial to hot yoga but I believe there is a yoga out there for everyone and to ﬁnd the one that works for you is to give yourself the best gift; that if you let it will improve every facet of your life not to mention the lives of all of the people you come into contact with. I know from my own experiences as a student that a big part of one’s class experience is the teacher, I strive with every class and with every student to make connections, to make them all feel challenged and included as part of the group energy. I love that about yoga, the synergy of it; it’s such an individual experience, each person on their own mat, in their own body and mind but also a part of the group … and each person’s individual experience of the class contributing to the group energy. As a teacher you are at the helm of that energetic experience, it is a great and wonderful responsibility.
I started practicing Bikram Yoga in January 2011. I had no idea when I stepped into that room in baggy sweatpants and a t-shirt that my life would be forever changed. The years before that I was on a self-destructive path- my life was controlled by fear and uncertainty. I had no self love and was close to being hopeless. For me, the most important quality this practice has blessed me with is self-love and compassion, because without that how could I truly have compassion and love for others. I have let so much go in the hot room; past traumas, years of substance abuse and medications, judgments of self and others. The list goes on and on.
I encourage students to always look in the mirror, not only at the structure and alignment of body in asana, but to look deep into their eyes and see the fire within. The light, the strength, and the energy each soul brings into that room is amazingly powerful. We all go in for the same reason; to be better – to improve the quality of our lives. Whether it be spiritually, physically, or mentally, if you go in for one reason the other two will follow and show you the way to something so beautiful you never knew possible. So blessed to have this opportunity.
I went to my first Bikram Yoga class on a snowy night in January 2006. I wouldn’t say I loved it from the first class, or even the second, but I’m a person who doesn’t shy away from a good challenge and I found it absolutely thrilling. You see, I had not been taking very good care of myself and I suffered. After I began practicing regularly that all changed. I wanted to take responsibility for my well being by eating better and drinking more water. By Spring, I realized it was the first winter in many I wasn’t depressed. I had lost weight and gained clarity on the direction of my life. My first of many breakthrough moments came during a particularly intense class a couple months later when I finally looked into my own eyes in the mirror and saw someone who was trying their best. Someone who was strong and deserving of love. I chose to love myself in that moment and every moment after. I am honored to be able to share that love as a teacher with a focus on compassion and self acceptance. I attended Bikram Teacher Training in Spring 2007. I enjoy teaching both new and advanced students. I find fresh perspective in each class I take and I am open to the possibilities of growth in each new day. As a teacher, my inspiration comes from the students and a desire to help others. At the end of the day, I’m sure attending class has made a difference in their lives and all the lives they touch.
Robin Ivy Payton
As a kid I was always doing headstands and backbends just to entertain myself. Even then it was a form of meditation for me. I experienced life through a series of cartwheels, studied ballet, modern dance, and practiced various styles of yoga here and there. In 2003 I landed in this very studio for my first hot class and I was hooked. Whatever had been missing in yoga for me before, I found here. The people, the heat, divine timing? I am not sure but for whatever reason I became a dedicated student in the Maine Bikram studio.
Within weeks the healing benefits became evident as an elbow injury and a sacroiliac joint issue resolved! My skin looked and felt great and my metabolism increased. Stress levels were easier to manage during challenging times and I had more energy. I used to boast that coming to class was like a chiropractic adjustment, massage, and my exercise all in one place, the yoga studio!
I did yoga teacher training with Sacred Seeds Yoga School and followed up with advanced education in Functional Anatomy and Therapeutic Yoga, Yoga Nidra Meditation certification and Prenatal Yoga. I see yoga as beneficial for every body, at every stage of life and state of mind. I consciously chose each training so I would be able to able to teach you as an individual every time you get on your mat. Some times you’re at your peak and some days life is a physical, mental or spiritual challenge, and I like to meet you right where you are to help you get the maximum benefit from your practice, safely and joyfully, every time.
Astrology is my other passion and tuning into how you practice yoga each day and week is like becoming attuned to the phases of the Moon. In 2013, I designed a yoga sequence called RoZoYo® and began leading workshops based on the relationship between our physical and emotional bodies and the cycles of Moon, Sun and planets. I believe the power of yoga, breath and movement, and knowing yourself well are the most effective combination for dealing with stress, moving through life transitions, and developing resilience. Yoga just makes life better all around!
I lead class with a strong focus on the details of alignment and breath, as well as how we carry ourselves through the process. With attention to these aspects, the benefits of yoga are amplified. I first found yoga at my gym in 2004, after one class I was hooked. At first I was excited about the movement, and the aesthetic benefit my body received. Within a few months I realized many deeper meanings my yoga practice offered. It is my exercise, my therapy, and a major support in all aspects of my life. I began teaching in 2007, and, honestly, I benefit as much from leading class as I do in my own practice. I have a background in dance, as well as art. These elements are a strong influence in my style of leading class. I strive to give support, guidance, and clear instruction to each person that has the courage to take on this challenging work.
Yoga has been the single most healing agent in my life. For years, I struggled with physical and emotional pain. Like so many, I was subjected to years of trauma as a child which left me physically and mentally broken. Tired of feeling less, and not enough, I tried my first Hot Hatha Yoga class. I was kind of gobsmacked when I was done, but knew big change was going to happen for me if I continued this practice. I did continue and I let the heat melt away layers and layers of pain, low self esteem and anger. The pain left and my heart opened and healed. It didn’t always look pretty but it worked. One of my favorite sayings is “ Salt water is good for the soul, be it the ocean, sweat or tears.” I couldn’t agree more. This practice is healing physically, mentally and it is just a great workout.
In my class I focus on breath, conscious movement through breath and conscious releasing through breath. Prana in sanskrit means Life Force or Vital Principle. We activate Prana through intentional breathing. To become intimate with our Life Force energy we need to become one with our movement within conscious breathing. Once we become aware of our breath in movement we become aware of who we really are. The advanced yogi is not one who can do the challenging posture. It is the yogi who shows up, has full awareness of self on and off the mat and moves towards peace and stillness, even when the world is throwing storms.
My journey in this practice began one chilly winter evening at our beloved studio here in Portland, Maine back in 2009. I went in with one of my sisters (I think she was even the one who picked out the studio!) and told me that we were going to a yoga class that would be heated. I was in, I wanted a place to warm my bones. I had no idea what to expect when I walked in or what would transpire in the months and years to come. The first class, I remember I laid down most of the practice, out of breath, sweating out of every pore. When I returned home that evening, something inside urged me to get back into the studio, and so, I continued to practice often in those first 30 days. The studio evolved into a place that felt safe to me, my sanctuary. I began to notice even in the first 30 days, that some of the postures became less difficult the more I went in and the heat wasn’t as jarring.
I had just gone through a pretty major health transformation not too long before I entered the studio. I had lost 60 pounds through learning about nutrition, changing my eating habits and starting to run. What I began to realize, however, was that I still lacked the confidence in both my perceived abilities, as well as, my sense of beauty and love for myself. I don’t think I looked at my own image directly in the mirror for the first 6 months at least. As time went on though, I began to take a peek here and there, which introduced the idea to become invested in my alignment. Now, as my practice continues to develop, I feel more beautiful standing in that studio, with no make-up on, hair all over the place, and all the sweat falling off of me than I do anywhere else in the world.
This studio holds a very special place in my heart and I am incredibly honored and overjoyed to be a part of sharing this practice, one that has served such a valuable purpose in my life, with my friends, family, and community in Portland. I hope to ignite the senses outwardly and inspire awareness inwardly within my students.
~Love and peace~