Profile of a Yogi: Anne-Marie Blaire

This is third in a series of features on YOHI Teacher Training Institute graduates and students. Stay tuned each week to learn more about how Teacher Training (TT) has helped these yogis learn, grow and blossom in our community and elsewhere!

Where can YOHI’s Teacher Training take its students and graduates? If you’re Anne-Marie Blaire, it’s all around the world! Currently residing in Paris, Anne-Marie is a retail strategy consultant who has taught yoga in Ohio, Italy and France. After completing her 500-hour certification in Ashtanga and Hatha in 2011, Anne-Marie taught both classes and privates at YOHI. Since then, however, she spent a summer teaching at an organic farm and winery in Tuscany. Now, in Paris, “I just teach my friends for fun and to share my knowledge,” Anne-Marie said. She finds that most of the work she does now “involves teaching pranayama as a tool for reducing anxiety and stress, and helping people find tools to make living in a crazy world a little easier.”

Anne-Marie completed her 200-hour training in 2005, initially joining Teacher Training to deepen her knowledge of philosophy and anatomy. A yogi for nearly 18 years now, Anne-Marie wanted a deeper knowledge of the asana in her own practice. But her teachers had other plans for her: “Martha got a hold of me and guided me to a class working with teen girls. It was the perfect entree to seeing how I could use my experiences to help these girls find a strong center and place of confidence to operate from.”  As a teacher, Anne-Marie said one of her favorite things is giving “students a practice they can have as their very own, to come to the mat and accept what their body gives them on any particular day and to cherish it.”

"Me with Nils, the dog who taught me about life and loving unconditionally." Anne-Marie Blaire

Anne-Marie found it hard to give just one favorite thing about YOHI’s Teacher Training. First, she said, “Being exposed to students in New Beginners classes and watching their bodies, confidence and attitude change over the years, calling many of them friends.” Further, her actual Teacher Training class was large and filled with diverse personalities, something she cherishes. And last, but certainly not least, Anne-Marie said Teacher Training blessed her with “the wisdom of my yoga moms (aka the founding partners: Martha, Marcia and Linda) and the opportunity to study with amazing teachers from around the world.”

Anne-Marie’s advice for current Teacher Traineess? First, take the time to really watch bodies when you assist in class! “Watching bodies move is the greatest way to learn. See curves in spines, a shoulder or hip that drops or is held higher—figure out if it’s a pattern of tension in the body and how what you see translates into the asana for the student?” she said. Also, practice teaching yoga to non-yogis. “When you work with your peers, you all know what you’re supposed to do, so clarity of language seems less important. When you’re working with new students, you learn how crucial the clarity of language is in your ability to guide and help someone.” That said, there is also value in practice teaching on fellow Teacher Trainees or experienced teachers at the studio. “A new student may not feel as confident pointing out that a particular adjustment doesn’t feel right, because they don’t know the difference,” Anne-Marie said. “Be patient!”

An ashtangi at heart, Anne-Marie doesn’t really have a favorite pose, except, she said, “Perhaps the one that opens or allows the place most in need of softening to soften or feel strong that day.” When asked who inspires her, Anne-Marie replied that she’s not much for “role models or inspiring people” (a trait that used to annoy her teachers!), but she does find a deep sense of gratitude for her students while watching them practice.  And though not of the human variety, Anne-Marie is also inspired by her flat-coated retriever, Nils, and “his boundless passion for food and joy to be around people, dogs or his stuffies. He sees only good in the world and his sole purpose on earth is to make people smile.”

When she’s not practicing or teaching yoga, Anne-Marie loves to travel. One of her favorite travel experiences was a Sunday in Aix en Provence with a group of friends “We shared a simple meal of tartes and salad for lunch with rose wine. There were two gay couples, the 75+ year old mother of one of the men, his sister and my other friends. English and French were both spoken and not fully understood by everyone. “When my friend looked at me and asked why I had tears in my eyes, I just replied, ‘Look at how beautiful this is, multiple generations, every one accepts, not every one can communicate but it doesn’t matter because the simple meal was made with love and it’s beautiful here. I’m HAPPY, that’s why I’m crying!’”

written by Kristy McCray