Our Weekend with Desiree Rumbaugh

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Desiree Rumbaugh recently spent a weekend at Pulsation Yoga, leading four workshops on hip openers, backbends, arm balances, and therapeutic poses for the neck and shoulders. Desiree is an internationally recognized yoga instructor, and it was wonderful to have her share her extensive knowledge and to help students strengthen their yoga practice. Check out some pictures from our weekend!

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Photo credit: Katherine Okon

Q&A: Desiree Rumbaugh

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Desiree Rumbaugh is leading four workshops at Pulsation Yoga from Jan. 23-25. Each workshop focuses on a different aspect of yoga practice, and includes hip openers, backbends, therapeutic poses for the neck and shoulders, and arm balances. Check out all the details here, and call 847-989-7792 to register for one or all four sessions before space fills up. 

How long have you been teaching yoga?

I have been practicing and teaching yoga since 1987. I owned a yoga studio in Scottsdale called Arizona Yoga from 1992 until 2007 when I sold it to my business partner so I could continue traveling and teaching workshops worldwide full-time.

Why did you become a yoga teacher? 

The moment I began practicing yoga, I fell in love with it and since I was already a dance teacher, it was a natural shift for me to begin teaching yoga. I was in my late twenties and was performing in a small dance company at the time. Though I loved dancing, the strain of rehearsing and performing was causing me to have occasional pain or injury while yoga was always healing my body and making me feel better. Even though dancing is fun, I knew I would ultimately be able to help many more people in my lifetime through teaching yoga than through teaching dance.

How has yoga helped you to be a better person?

The study of yoga was just one of the modalities I have used to get to know and understand myself better. Combined with reading, one-on-one therapy, and many personal development courses, yoga has been a great place to tie it all together on a regular basis. I feel that I have learned to confront my fears and to embrace my shadow side as well as celebrate my power. This self-understanding has also helped me to understand others, which is a large part of my becoming a better person.

What is your personal mission statement as a yoga teacher?

I teach the message “Love is Stronger than Fear” because it is what I am always learning. I aim to inspire others to integrate self-love and self-care into their daily lives no matter what challenges they are facing, and to learn to identify behaviors that are coming from a place of fear before they cause suffering. Once we identify these fear based thoughts, we can choose to think and act differently. That is freedom. That is power.

What do you think constitutes an excellent yoga instructor?

An excellent yoga instructor is one who is also a perpetual student. One who is always open to learning and growing and knowing more because the ocean of awareness is vast and we can never know it all.

What do you recommend to the beginner student? To the seasoned student?

I have similar advice for all students. Stay open, try a variety of teachers and styles so you are well-informed about possibilities and learn to discern. Listen to your own body, ask a lot of questions, and be true to yourself. Follow your own intuition.

How do you take your yoga off the mat?

I take my practice off the mat by being aware and paying attention as much as I can every day, every moment. Life is very short and I don’t want to miss anything. The funny thing about learning and practicing non-attachment is that it becomes complicated to make decisions. No longer being under the spell of materialism or consumerism can lead me to feel a bit wishy-washy or apathetic when confronted with choices, but in the end it is not such a bad thing. And one of the best perks of my yoga practice is any time I realize that I succeeded at not taking rude or critical comment personally. When I can learn from feedback rather than get my feelings hurt, I know I am doing yoga.

What is the one pose you are most proud of getting into?

I was extraordinarily proud of my first handstand balanced in the middle of the room at age 40. I had been working on that for twelve years and it frightened me not to have the support of a wall. That was a courageous step.

What is your favorite time of day to practice yoga?

I love practicing at any time of day: In the morning, to get a more energized workout with strength challenges, and in the evening, to soothe and calm my body and mind.

Where is the best place you have ever practiced yoga?

I did Natarajasana (Standing dancer pose) in a red one-piece bathing suit on top of Macchu Picchu in 2004 and we got a photo of it right before the guards told me to put my clothes back on.

What is your favorite music to listen to while practicing yoga?

I like all types of music, but especially soulful instrumental background music; it encourages my creativity. Sometimes I play music from the seventies because it makes me feel like I am back in college and then I think I can do anything.

What else do you want students to know about you?

I want people to know that it is safe to come to a workshop with me. I know what fear and intimidation feel like because I have been there, done that. I have felt afraid in my body and I have felt weak. Because of that, I can see and feel the fear and self-doubt in others, and I have developed a teaching style that puts those fears to rest.
I have also learned not to take myself too seriously, so I encourage others to do the same. In my 56 years, I have seen and experienced many of life’s big lessons, including deep tragedy and exhilarating joy. I love working with all levels and shapes and sizes of students and after all these years of practice and teaching, I now realize that I am just beginning to understand the way that asana fits into the larger scheme of things.

What is the best part of traveling to different studios and leading workshops?

Meeting all kinds of people, experiencing different cultures, and making new friends! Traveling all over the world has made my life incredibly interesting and I am forever grateful.