About Shanna: "Shanna Follansbee is a 200-Hour Registered Yoga Teacher (200 RYT) with Yoga Alliance and is currently pursuing her 500 RYT through Bala Vinyasa Yoga (300 RYT program) and just completed her M.A.T. (Muscle Activation Techniques) Jumpstart Program this past spring. Shanna teaches private yoga to clients in their home or office through her small business Eleven Sequences and a is group class yoga instructor at several Sport & Healthclubs in the DC area. Most influenced by Baron Baptiste’s Journey into Power sequence and Larry Schultz’s Ashtanga-based Rocket, a regular yoga practice has brought Shanna significant physical and mental success to all her various pursuits (marathons, weight training, crossfit, surfing, roller derby, etc.)"
Shanna was kind enough to answer questions for us in the latest edition of our Featured Yogi series.
How did you begin practicing yoga?
I’d been cooking professionally for about 5 years and hours on the line in restaurants meant weak wrists and more than a few extra pounds. I read online that this thing called “downward facing dog” can build wrist strength. I googled “downward dog, DC” and a local yoga studio came up, so I signed up for a class.
Why is yoga important to you?
Yoga is the only practice that will regularly reveal all your strengths AND all your weaknesses. No matter where my training goals have gone over the years, be it bulking up for roller derby, running a marathon or simply having the stamina to stand in the kitchen for 10 hours a day – the practice reveals (whether I want to know or not) my physical and mental “edge”.
What made you want to teach yoga?
The practice of yoga has given me direct access to anything I want to create in my life: a path to wellness and self-care; an outlet for limitless vitality and creativity; an awareness and the tools to regain control of my Hell’s Kitchen-style approach to my life. It all begins by paying attention to ‘what is’ actually happening on your mat, not what you ‘think may be’ happening on your mat.
Do you have a preferred type of yoga to teach/practice?
I teach and practice mostly Ashtanga Vinyasa lineages like Baptiste, Prana Flow and Rocket. A very physical practice can be a lightning bolt which quiets my mind and from there the journey begins. I was practicing for about a year before I had my first “bolt”. Sweat running off me like a waterfall, focusing just one breath at a time….and then boom! An immediate sensation of clarity, lightness and the experience of how limitless I really am.
Describe a yoga class with Shanna Follansbee. What makes the experience unique?
I teach Vinyasa from the MAT (muscle activation techniques) perspective. The physical cues are very different from your traditional yoga cues. You’ll never hear me say “let go of your hamstrings to touch your toes”.
Considering that the strength and stability of our muscles depends on their ability to contract at our end range of motion – I would speak to the opposing muscles that make the hamstring “release” action possible, like the hip flexors, quads or abs. Those muscles will be taking the load of our forward fold, not only holding up the weight of the torso, but keeping us from falling onto our head!
Therefore, if yoga is the alignment of the body and the mind-via the breath, we need to build a heightened sense of mental awareness to our physical movements. This process will bridge the gap between what we “think” is happening and what is actually happening. Only when we have complete awareness can we create actionable goals for growth.
Who is your favorite Washington D.C. area yoga teacher?
Jonathan Ewing at Kali Yoga