This month’s instructor profile is Natalie Dunbar. Her passion for teaching and helping others is apparent in her practice. She is an inspirational teacher that has enjoyed has given her students hope through her compassion and yoga teaching. Thank you Natalie, for sharing your story with us.
I’m a yoga teacher who focuses on sharing the benefits of Hatha Yoga as a peaceful yet powerful way to reconnect mind, body and spirit. Whether one on one in private sessions, or by request for classes, teams and other small groups, I teach body positive, all inclusive yoga, for all shapes, sizes and abilities.
In addition to helping to bring a sense of balance to those who are dealing with the stressors of day-to-day life, I am also quite passionate about sharing the benefits of engaging in a regular asana practice with those who have experienced trauma of any kind, using yoga as a vehicle on the road to healing.
I started practicing yoga just before being diagnosed with a restrictive lung disorder I’d contracted after having Swine Flu back in 2009. In my mind, I had no idea how much I needed yoga, but somehow, in the midst of marathoning (training, racing and coaching), taking dance classes and other activities, my body knew. I practice Asana yoga 2-3 times a week. The more I practice the more I feel that I am living yoga on a daily basis, especially when my day job gets stressful. As seems to be the case with many teachers, my personal practice sometimes suffers as I pour all my energy into teaching, but I do strive to get on my mat most days for at least 15 quality minutes.
I stumbled across an interview with Anna Guest Jelley, founder of Curvy Yoga, sometime in 2014. I’d just started working again after being laid off. I took that time off, nearly a full year, to think about what I wanted to do with my life. I considered what I call “passion work” to fall back on and eventually to retire on. I’d taught dance, coached marathoners, and had done some lay counseling work. A dear friend suggested that I should think about combining some of these experiences to create a life coaching practice. As I was mulling it over, I continued building my personal yoga practice via Anna’s online offerings. Then one day I received an email from Anna announcing a teacher training opportunity. It was as though the Universe tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Do this.” Once I said, “YES” to the opportunity, everything I needed to make it happened presented itself.
Following my 200-hr training (Hatha and Curvy Yoga), I completed “Yoga for All” training with Dianne Bondy and Amber Karnes; Accessible Yoga training with Jivana Heyman; and Trauma Informed Training with Hala Kouri. I’m also a member of the Yoga and Body Image Coalition Community, and I’m an Accessible Yoga Ambassador. As a freelance writer, I have a platform and skill that I can lend to advocacy, and I’m excited to do so via both of these organizations.
After completing my 200-hr. training, I tried – unsuccessfully – for several months to find a local studio that would be open to offering an all inclusive, body positive class. Again, the Universe knows what’s best. Rather than be defeated by doors (literally) closing, I created a home studio where I offer private, one-on-one instruction. I have a full time “day job,” and teach yoga nights and weekends.
Within six months, I went from having zero clients, to just over a dozen – six who practice with me in weekly private sessions, and others who pop in when they want one-on-one instruction. I work with a diverse clientele: from beginners to advanced, all body types including curvy, as well as those with chronic pain, diabetes and Parkinson’s.
One of my students has diabetes, is full-bodied, and has a unique range of motion abilities. After three private sessions where we practiced a seated version of Pigeon pose with a strap, they’re able to put their socks on again for the first time in a very long while.
I want to help people embrace what “healthy” looks like in their bodies – not what the media says it should look like. I encourage others to stop spending so much time working against the beauty of nature and embrace how they are wonderfully made. I am passionate about helping others feel whole and allow to healing after suffering trauma of any kind, whether physical or emotional. I know first hand how yoga can facilitate healing, and I want to help others reconnect with their bodies through Asana, breath work and meditation.
I approach teaching yoga the same way I coach marathoners: I meet them wherever they are and help them see, with their own eyes, through their own practice what is possible.
Then I get out of the way and watch them flourish!
Do you have a yoga teacher that inspires you? Reach out and let us know. We would love to send some love to instructors all over the world.