Meet Your Teacher: Erin Clark

Erin Clark may be one of the newest instructors at Sadhana Yoga – she just started teaching this year – but her classes have double the number of students. How so, you ask? Well, Erin teaches a postnatal yoga class called Baby and Me, and new moms do, in fact, bring their baby to class—effectively doubling the headcount! And as you might imagine, Erin’s classes also include a high volume of giggles, cuddles, and precious bonding moments.

Erin first started practicing yoga in an effort to relieve aches and pains, and to help with the stress she felt as she struggled to conceive. Yoga helped her deal with those original challenges and gave back even more. Yoga has become a touchpoint in her life—something she’s learned to turn to when she needs to find her center.  

Feeling overwhelmed and off-center are common emotions for new moms, and Erin enjoys teaching the classes that address this remarkable time in a woman’s life head-on. Erin’s caring, easygoing style is a comfort to her moms, but she is also persistent, and that guarantees her students a true yoga class.   

Erin completed her training with Laura Spalding at Yoga East, and she credits Laura – along with Karen Price and our own Nerissa Sparkman – for guiding her as her yoga mentors. She’s currently reading a book on the yoga sutras and is planning new classes—another one for babies and one for women experiencing infertility. 

Evening is Erin’s favorite time of day, and when we asked her if she had a favorite comfort food, she had many responses. “I love to eat!” said Erin enthusiastically as listed off Indian dishes, burgers, French fries, and shrimp and grits. We don’t know if there’s a correlation between her favorite time of day and her love of food, but we’d love to be hanging out with Erin around dinner time. 

Just because you’re a new mom doesn’t mean you should stop caring for you. Come meet Erin for yourself and see how her class can nourish and revitalize both you and your baby.

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Meet Your Teacher: Meghan Bektasevic

Meghan loves ice cream. Not just any ice cream, mind you. She loves “freakin’ ice cream!” And that was just one of the laugh out loud moments we had when we got to know Sadhana Yoga instructor, Meghan Bektasevic. 

Megan started practicing yoga as a way to help reduce anxiety and depression; and now, she teaches the practice to others. She’s been an instructor for two years; and while she specializes in hatha, yin, and yoga nidra, yin is her favorite. 

What does Megan like best about teaching yoga? “The best thing is the community—hands down. I have learned so much from the students and teachers.” Megan learned how to teach yoga, in part, from her mentor, Shala Worsley. Worsley is an instructor at the Asheville Yoga Center (in Asheville, North Carolina), and this is where Megan is currently working to complete her 300-hour training.  

Megan loves working with students who come to the mat with an open heart and mind. One of her favorite experiences as a teacher is seeing the positive transformation students can make through yoga. “One of my students started yoga just a few months ago to distract herself from a difficult breakup. She consistently showed up and soon realized the practice was more than just a distraction. She told me how calm she felt in situations that would normally send her over the edge and how her breathing had improved. Now comes to yoga weekly, and I can see it in her movement, and through her energy, that she benefits a great deal from the practice--physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.”

When we asked Meghan to describe her personality in three words, her unconventional answer charmed us. She gave us “calm,” “spontaneous,” and “yes.” And when we asked her what her favorite time of day was, we got another laugh out moment when she responded simply, “Nap time.”

If you’re wondering if Meghan might have a book lying next to her while she snoozes, the answer is yes. She’s currently reading Women Who Run with the Wolves,by Clarissa Pinkola Estés. And her favorite quote is from an author too--this time, Becca Lee. Meghan’s favorite quote is, “If you seek peace, be still. If you seek wisdom, be silent. If you seek love, be yourself.

Wise words.

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Meet Your Teacher: Lee Schardein

Lee Schardein has been practicing yoga since college, but after a life-changing event 7 ½ years ago – a car accident that left her with back issues and anxiety – yoga became less of a practice and more of a way of life. Lee says that yoga helped her “heal physically and emotionally” after that trauma.

Grounded, bubbly, kind-hearted, and determined, Lee brings opposites into crative flows in her classes. She’s been teaching yoga for 3 ½ years, and her favorite parts of the practice seem to oppose each other—inversion and arm balance poses opposite savasana (relaxation). “I love any pose that gives me the opportunity to take flight. Forearm balance (pincha mayurasana) used to be one of my least favorite poses, but over the past year it has become one of my favorites.”  But, “I’m also not going to lie, I sometimes go to class for a good savasana.  Give me a chance to chill with nothing to do and no dogs crawling on me, and I’m a happy girl.” 

Lee teaches  Lotus Flow-inspired Vinyasa yoga (with a nice long savasana at the end!). “In these classes, I create a creative flow that allows students to feel like they are dancing to choreography with their breath. While I do love the freedom, I am still a big stickler for alignment.” Lee likes the shared energy that’s felt in large classes, but she also likes the hands-on personal approach that can be achieved in smaller classes.   

Studying and practicing yoga in New York, New Orleans, India, and with her mentor from Australia (Lee has several mentors from multiple locales and considers herself a lifelong learner), yoga has opened the world to Lee. But her favorite part of the day is actually going home. She loves getting home from work and seeing her pugs. “Their excitement at seeing me never gets old! I love putting on my yoga gear, burning some incense, listening to tunes, watering my plants, and then pulling out my yoga mat to practice.”

With her 200-hour training behind her, Lee is now working on her 300-hour training. She only has 25 hours left to go, and she plans to wrap that up in September. Teaching yoga is truly a passion for her. “The best part of teaching is the results. I love it when my students tell me they can sleep more soundly, that they have improved their golf swing, they feel stronger, or that something I said spoke to them personally.” 

We asked Lee for a quote that speaks to her, and she shared this one that we now want to share with you: “Even after all this time, the sun never says to the Earth, “You owe me.” Look what happens with a love like that, it lights the whole sky.”  –Hafiz

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Meet Your Teacher: Emily

Energy, determination, and compassion… these are things you’ll find when you join Emily Stalmack in one of her yoga classes. Now in her third year of teaching, her specialty is power vinyasa yoga with an added “flow on your own” component. 

Emily says she enjoys teaching challenging vinyasa classes, “those that push students to new edges, allowing them to truly get out of their heads and into their bodies.” She likes teaching classes that encourage students to explore new depths from a peak pose or inversion.

Exploring the relationship between what’s happening internally vs. what can be achieved physically has been an integral part of Emily’s experience. 

“I spent the majority of my life as a competitive diver.  I’m an anxious person and nerves often got in the way during competition. In swim club, I had a coach whose wife taught yoga and raved about its benefits for calming the mind and increasing flexibility and strength. In my senior year, I attended a yoga class before my NCAA qualifier meet and it made all the difference,” says Emily. “I knew when I completed my 4 years of collegiate eligibility, I would start yoga. I’ve never looked back.”

Emily’s journey has included the completion of two separate 200-hour yoga training courses. Her first was at Breathe for Change in Austin, Texas.  There, she learned basic community and school-based sequencing, social-emotional well-being lessons, and basic alignment and cueing. She completed her second training in Ann Arbor, Michigan with Risa Gotlib of Tiny Buddha Yoga. That experience focused on Ashtanga and vinyasa yoga with the “flow on your own component” she practices today.

Whether its diving, yoga, or rock climbing, Emily likes to be in motion. But that internal work is still a motivator for her. She credits one of her students for helping her view the moving meditation aspect of yoga as a “work in” rather than a “work out.” 

Emily’s favorite poses are pidgin pose and half-moon. Her go to comfort food is macaroni and cheese. And she’s a reader too; she’s just finished Girl Meets Change by Kristen Strong.

Come meet Emily Stalmack at Sadhana Yoga. Call 502-309-9642 (502-309-YOGA) and visit us online at https://sadhanayogalouisville.com/.

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Meet Your Teacher: Nerissa

Nerissa Sparkman, the owner of Sadhana Yoga, has been teaching yoga for five years and practicing it for 21. Her specialty is Skanda Yoga, which uses 20 different flows to mirror the 20 days of the Dreamspell calendar. The flows are divided into three levels, each flow corresponding with the energy of the day.

Nerissa found yoga as a young adult when she began studying Eastern religions and philosophies to help combat her insomnia. Her books mentioned yoga, and the more she read, the more interested she became. She had a natural route at the time that took her from Old Louisville to the Highlands and went past Yoga East. She said that one day, she “finally just stopped in and grabbed a schedule.” That led her to Laura Spaulding, the head of Yoga East, who became one of Nerissa’s first teachers and remains a mentor to her to this day.

 Nerissa did her teacher training in Miami, Florida with two other people she names as mentors, Sadhana and Anand. But she says it is her students who have probably taught her the most about herself. She also credits her students with holding her accountable. “I’ve seen my students grow and learn and blossom. Some show up day in and day out to practice again and again with me—on their bad days, and on their good ones. They have enriched my life more than I could ever really express. They are the reason I have a studio. They hold me accountable, and for that, I am forever in their service.”

What can you expect in one of Nerissa’s Skanda Yoga classes? Well, for one thing… “I tend to teach classes that incorporate a lot of arm balances and inversions. I love to teach them simply because so many teachers shy away from them. It’s nice to break them down for students that have never been able to really practice them before.” 

You can also expect strength, honesty, and support. Nerissa loves the journey of practicing and learning and growing. The poses she’s still trying to master – after practicing them for most of her life – have become her most favorite. And she loves seeing the positive effects that yoga has in the lives of her students, “I love seeing the difference a consistent practice can make in a student’s headspace and decision making. I love watching their confidence grow—in not only themselves, but in their belief of magic in the world.”

Come meet Nerissa Sparkman at Sadhana Yoga.

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