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Meet Joan Hyman

Today we’d like to introduce you to Joan Hyman.

Hi Joan, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
I was introduced to yoga in the nineties in my hometown of Philadelphia in a basement of a book store. It was integral yoga, which is classical hatha yoga. I was twenty-one and didn’t vibe with the slowness of this style and actually left feeling like yoga wasn’t for me! A year later, I moved to New York City and a friend told me about Jiva Mulkti in the East Village. After one class, I was hooked! This style was a flow and linked postures together, which created an intensity that I was looking for. I was a dancer at the time and practiced yoga to complement my dance training and considered yoga more of a workout. After a few months I began taking classes at Cyndi Lee’s OM in the West Village of NYC. She began to teach me more about the postures and helped me recognize how new I was to this very big path of yoga.

Many years later, I relocated to Santa Monica, California where I found Yogaworks and Maty Ezraty became my main teacher and introduced me to the Ashtanga Method, which was a very vigorous style of athletic yoga that left an extremely transformational impact. This style and her teachings blew my mind and I was hooked! I enrolled in the Yogaworks Teacher Training with Maty and Lisa Walford, a certified Iyengar Teacher, in 2002. A year later, I began teaching at Yogaworks and Maty became my mentor and ashtanga yoga became my main practice. Looking back, I was very fortunate to have had the opportunity to mentor under Maty and also study with world-renowned teachers like Annie Carpenter, Chuck Miller, and Marla Apt. I loved the combination of blending the lineages of the Iyengar and the Asthanga Method together and this became the style of yoga I began to offer. I started teaching yoga full time in Los Angeles and my classes quickly grew! Yogaworks certified me and I began teaching their teacher trainings. I found my niche here as a teacher and loved teaching other inspiring teachers!

Being an avid traveler and a passionate yogi, I began traveling to Mysore, India to study with Pattibhi Jois and his grandson Sharath. I made two trips to Mysore, India studying for two months each time before branching out and exploring other parts of this incredible country. In 2010, I traveled extensively from the northern parts of Rishikesh, down to the most southern tip of India, Kerala. Traveling through India gave me an opportunity to let go of the structure of the West and immerse myself in these ancient studies that began to transform my inner being. Because of this, I began to lead retreats to India, Nepal, and Bhutan and take people to these unique places that teach deep spirituality, that I felt couldn’t be accessed through the western style of teaching. India gave me an opportunity to learn to surrender to what life was presenting and taught me to trust the unknown.

Till this day, I still lead teacher trainings in Goa, India, which offers an easier entrance way into the Motherland of India. Students can get a taste of the intensity of India and can enjoy a more relaxed vibe the beaches of Goa offer.

After teaching at Yogaworks in Los Angeles for fifteen years, it was time to go and grow as a teacher. My travels in India have always taught me to stay curious and soon as life became too predictable, it was time for a change. Wanderlust came knocking on more door and was a traveling yoga festival company, and opened a huge yoga studio in Hollywood, California. Schuyler Grant asked me to direct their teacher training program and teach at their festivals. It was a big decision to leave a very dedicated student body I had formed at Yogaworks over the years. Knowing I was ready for a change and feeling like this opportunity that was being presented was a higher calling, I took the leap. I became a small fish in a huge pond at Wanderlust AND was exposed to inspiring yoga teachers and speakers that were authentic to their craft. This inpsired me and I was motivated to create what was authentic to me and being in this envrionment gave me the confidence to begin to produce my own teacher trainings. During that time my traveling picked up and I was leading teacher trainings, workshops, and retreats around the world on a regular basis. I was visiting about fifteen countries a year and helping other schools develop their own teacher training program. This is also when I created my own two hundred hour foundational training called Elements of Yoga. I began running it in Goa, Geneva, Los Angeles and soon Vienna!  It was becoming an international training and eventually I developed my own three hundred hour called The School Of Yoga and included a stellar line up of yoga teachers who I consider are modern day yogis living their most authentic path.

When covid hit, like most of us, my world stopped and a year of work was canceled and postponed. Thankful I had a big network of yogis I had created throughout the years and I was fortunate to move my teaching and trainings to an online platform. I had to help to create an online platform and move my schools to a virtual platform. Since we went into lockdown, I have taught almost a thousand zoom classes, two two hundred hour teacher trainings, and have run numerous modules for The School of Yoga which includes outstanding teachers such as Annie Carpenter, Marla Apt, Jeanne Heilemen, Jp Cox (prenatal), and Cristina Holopainen, who runs the business side of the school. I know deep down teaching yoga is my dharma and I am deeply fulfilled when I am teaching and practicing yoga. I am grateful to have found a path that inspires me daily and where I am deeply connected to my soul’s journey.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Struggles create the good stuff that help us transform and if we use them wisely, they can help us uplevel our lives. Without resistance, we wouldn’t have the drive and desire to purify and cleanse old energies that hold us back. When I look at the obstacles on my path, I have to say my biggest challenge was when I was twenty-one years old and starting out in New York City as a dancer. My mother died at the age of forty-three in a very unexpected and quick way. I was devasted. I stopped believing there was a higher power that was guiding me and I lost hope. I was young, on my own, and I turned to the New York City nightlife as a way to distract me from my grief. Drugs buried the pain I was carrying and for many years, I struggled to stay straight and lost focus in my life. During those years is when I was introduced to yoga. I remember my first class at Jiva Multki, I was able to feel the toxins being wrung out of my body from all of the partying. When I came out of savasana, the message was clear, I needed to change my lifestyle and take care of my body. That was the seed that kept me coming back to yoga. When I look back, even though it took years to clean up my lifestyle, the practice of yoga kept me coming back and connecting to my body and eventually helped me feel the grief that had kept me running. This helped me live life in a more conscious way and I began to make much needed changes that later brought me to the west coast and into the yoga world.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I think what sets me apart from the other yoga teachers in the industry has been my time spent in India and up in The Himalayas. As a devoted practitioner, I spent a lot of time studying and immersing myself in the eastern world. I found a deep peace there and was able to let go of distractions and a sense of rigidity that was apart of the western world. Yoga teaches us that everything we think we are, we’re not. Meaning, there is always a new aspect of ourselves that is waiting to be learned. I think my travels have assisted in my ability to continue to explore the many facets of my personality. Traveling helped me to learn to let go and live in the unknown. The ultimate practice of yoga is to surrender and this is something I learned from traveling in the eastern world. We don’t know what is next and the present moment is all we have. I found letting go of what comes next, helped m to live from my heart and step into an authentic place. This is the place I love to teach from and part of the reason why I became inspired to lead retreats and trainings to far off places. In the western world, there is a tendency to rush off our mats and into the next thing and our insight from our practice can get lost. However, when you are traveling, you are removed from distractions and you only have one direction to turn, and that is within. This is why I teach and why I continue to study. The more I explore and transform my being, I can offer the same to others.

If you had to, what characteristic of yours would you give the most credit to?
I believe good self-esteem is the key to everlasting success. When you feel good about yourself, you will attract more people to you. If you feel positive and uplifted, you will create stable relationships which are key to building a business and network. We can’t do it alone and having a good team where everyone feels supported is important for expansion! When you feel good about yourself and have a strong network of people supporting you, you will have more confidence to go after what you want and also the resilience to stay the course even when things get hard. I work on my self-esteem by doing things that uplift me and at the same time have learned to take contructive feedback and let go of what doesn’t serve me. I try to support others, even if they have more and try to learn from them. Staying in a positive place is a practice and even when things feel challenging I try to see the lessons in the challenges. This helps me to stay accountable and reminds me that I am incharge and have the power to design my own life. The more I stay positive and uplifted I can show up each day in an open place which helps me to live from my heart.

Contact Info:

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Image Credits:

Elisabeth Granli

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