We’re so excited to have Desiree Rumbaugh stopping by our conference this year as one of our featured faculty! We had the chance to share a conversation over email about Desiree’s yoga journey from the beginning up to this week’s Toronto Yoga Show and Conference.
How did you first start yoga? What led you to it?
I was teaching aerobics in the LA area in 1987 and I attended an aerobics conference. There was only one yoga class and I took it simply out of curiosity. From that moment, I was hooked.
What inspired you to take your first yoga teacher training?
Prior to discovering yoga, I was a dance instructor. Within a year from my first yoga class, I was inspired to become a yoga teacher. Even though I loved teaching dance to students of all ages, I saw that I would be able to reach more people with yoga than with dance.
Why was continuing your yoga education important to you?
Continuing my yoga education has always been important to me and I have always sought out the very best teachers. To this day, I continue to investigate the latest discoveries in yoga, fitness and physical therapy so that my practice and my teaching can be up to date and helpful to myself and to my students.
Can you tell us a little about your Wisdom Warriors workshop?
Wisdom Warriors combines traditional hatha yoga with Physical therapy and functional movement exercises. The main message I wish to share with yogis in mid-life and beyond is the power of faith, hope and love. As our bodies begin to change and we notice that we are stiffer or more prone to injury, we often experience feelings of fear. By the time we are 50 years of age, most of us will have experienced loss in many forms. Yoga offers us a way to re-train our mind and body to be stronger and more flexible which is physically and psychologically helpful. Rather than experience the aging process as a downhill event, we can literally climb upward again. This requires us to develop the curiosity and optimism of a child tempered by the patience we have learned over the decades we have already lived. I have seen that this combination of qualities can be nurtured through a carefully constructed thoughtful yoga practice. This is Wisdom Warriors™.
Can you share what led you to start the Wisdom Warriors program?
When I was 53, I longed for a like-minded similar age group yoga community of people who wanted to develop a practice or keep their yoga practice strong for the next 50 years of their life. The owner of a local studio in Del Mar, CA was also in her fifties and together we decided to give it a try. Our weekly classes were very successful and in a short time, younger people were also joining in the fun. When people asked for training, I joined with my friend Karen Church, a Physical Therapist from Colorado and we began to offer 12 hour Wisdom Warriors Training programs to help teachers build their skills and confidence to work with this population. Over time, we decided to expand Wisdom Warriors to include all ages as many younger people reported the same issues of stiffness, injury or fear that those over 50 were experiencing.
What special adjustments and cues do people need to make for people over 50?
The adjustments and cues may be similar for everyone, it is the speed at which the instruction is delivered, the attitude of the teacher and the way the words are spoken that makes the teaching most effective.
What advantages does yoga have for people over 50?
A regular yoga practice helps people develop a deeper relationship with their bodies and minds. It keeps us challenged in a good way and inspires us to inquire and learn more rather than sitting back and just allowing time to take it’s toll.
What do some yoga teachers not consider or miss when teaching older students?
When I was a younger yoga teacher, although I had extensive training in alignment based yoga, I didn’t have the confidence to help or challenge older students that I now have. I was afraid that I might hurt them so I would tend to leave them alone. This type of fear in me may have led them to feel a bit unsafe and hold back or sit out when a pose seemed too difficult or painful. At that time, I had my youthful flexibility and I couldn’t relate to stiffness, injury or conditions such as arthritis as I had not yet felt those in my body. I had experienced injury, and I had worked to heal my body, but generally speaking, my body was always strong and flexible. Some younger teachers might feel the fear and doubt of the older students and pick it up. Aging gracefully is not for sissies, I have also learned that I need to encourage more strength in myself and others which requires work. People tell me that although I like to say that my classes are “work smarter, not harder” the truth is that I require people to “work harder and smarter”.
What new types of yoga have you tried recently? Anything new you want to try?
I am always open to learning new things and will be checking out the other classes at the conference.
Can you tell us a little about other workshops you are you offering at the conference?
I will be using all of my latest “technology” in my other workshops and breaking it down into more specialized offerings in greater detail. My classes are intended to inspire people with a simple user-friendly way of understanding their own body so they can strengthen the parts that are weak and soften the stiffer parts. Teachers and students will walk away with many very helpful ideas for their own practice as well as their teaching. After 30 continuous years of working with students all over the world, I have much to offer people of all ages and all ranges of ability and it is my joy to share.
Thanks to Desiree for sharing her Wisdom with us! You can still register for her Wisdom Warriors workshop this Friday, and more workshops all weekend long. You can also use this FREE Toronto Yoga Show floor pass to attend her half hour Wisdom Warriors in the Yoga Garden – 4:30 PM to 5:00 PM Saturday April 1.