Practice, Reach Meet Denise Hopkins: Forrest Yoga Guardian Teacher “My Forrest Yoga practice helped me to begin speaking up and standing up.” By Wanderlust Photo by @MattPetricone Get to know the fresh faces on the Wanderlust TV platform, like Denise Hopkins, an extraordinary teacher who has been named a Guardian Teacher in the Forrest Yoga tradition. Find her classes on Wanderlust TV here. When was the first time you tried the practice? Photo by @MattPetricone The first time I practiced was a month after 911 occurred in NYC. A friend recruited me to check out a teacher at Sal Anthony’s Movement Salon (a pilates, gyrotonic studio with a smattering of yoga classes). This was before the days of countless studios opening all over the city. At the time, I did not have the skills to process the devastation of the tragedy and was in the midst of mending a broken heart and feeling dispassionate about my career in fashion. From the first class, I was hooked. The poses were foreign but yet familiar to my body. It was like I had practiced them before. It felt right and natural. Before long, I became a regular to many of the stellar teachers at that studio and eventually followed my heart and left my fashion job for a life of teaching yoga. What changes have you noticed in yourself since you began a steady practice? I was in my mid-20s when I began a steady practice. The changes were profound but gradual. It started with diet. Being more in tune with my body, brought clarity around what foods that were nourishing me versus foods that zapped my energy. Probably the greatest shift was aligning with my heart and realizing that I was in a career that was depleting me and not aligning with my truth. I suddenly has a burning desire to learn, study and share wisdom. Every evening, I was running out the office door (literally) to make the evening class at Kula in downtown NYC. Year later, when I found Forrest Yoga, is when more blinders came off and I finally saw myself as a people pleaser. My Forrest Yoga practice helped me to begin speaking up and standing up. I was done with going on high alert when I thought someone was upset with me! Today, when I am not maintaining a steady practice, self-doubt and overwhelm set in like a wake-up call. What is the intention you carry as you share these sessions online with Wanderlust TV? What essence are you hoping is transmitted through the practice that goes beyond just watching someone on a screen? My intention is to truly hold space for who ever shows up on the other end. We are navigating a whole new level of stress- juggling work, home schooling, jobs, and strained conversations with family. At this point in our long pandemic journey, “screen fatigue” is a real thing. People deserve a moment to unplug and feel like they are coming home to themselves. My hope is to cue poses in a clear and direct way so students can take a step back, get into their bodies and relax into the space that is being held for them. Through this, my wish is that they find skills for moving through fear, uncertainty and see clearly the behavior patterns that need to change. ~~ Denise (E-RYT500) is a Forrest Yoga Guardian teacher and certified Yoga Tune Up® teacher and has taught since 2005. She is based in New York City and more recently the Hudson Valley. She has taught at New York University and teaches annually at Omega Institute. Denise travels nationally to teach Forrest Yoga workshops, teacher trainings and hands-on assisting. She is known for her clear and direct teaching style and is passionate about working with students with specific injuries, both physical and emotional. She encourages students to become more empowered so they can heal themselves. Through yoga, Denise worked to shed old belief patterns that kept her a “small people pleaser”. Find her on Instagram at @denisehopkinsyoga, on her website www.denisehopkinsyoga.com and on Wanderlust TV.