Get to know Shaun Harris, one of our Abundant Yoga teachers! Shaun currently teaches Be Gentle on Tuesdays from 5:45 – 6:45PM and on Saturdays from 10:00 – 11:00AM. He is also teaching an upcoming “Men on the Mat: Yoga Workshop for Men” on Saturday, January 20 from 11:30AM – 1:00PM.
Here are a few questions to get to know Shaun a little better!
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Hi Shaun! Tell us a little bit about yourself (where you’re from, family, etc.)
I grew up in Erwin, TN which is a small town nestled in the mountains of Tennessee and North Carolina. I grew up loving the mountains, and that has never changed. Being active in many team sports was exciting growing up, but I fell in love with the martial arts as a freshman in high school and got my black belt four years later.
I attended Tennessee Tech University and received my BS in Mechanical Engineering in 2001. I’ve been doing engineering as my profession since that time, but in my free time I love yoga, hiking, kettlebells/lifting, and of course…playing with our dog, Captain!
When did you start practicing yoga? Tell us a little bit about your yoga journey.
I’ve been teaching yoga for two and half years. My yoga background is through Holy Yoga. I went through instructor training in 2011 and then through a Masters Training in 2012. I then went through the Masters Training again in 2017. The part that I love about teaching is seeing people feel comfortable with their bodies and, in the process, surrendering to the Lord. I’ve seen people have their bodies and hearts changed on their mats. I love teaching, and it’s a privilege that I “get to” teach.
What made you decide to go through teacher training and ultimately decide to pursue teaching?
I went through training and ultimately started teaching because, during that time in my life, I was having a difficult time connecting with Christ. When I came across Holy Yoga’s website, I resisted considering it, because I realized the training was to help people become teachers, but after I started doing further research, I realized there was community there…and I needed that as well! Once I was in the training, it was clear I was where I needed to be. After completing my training though, I really wrestled with teaching or attending a secular yoga studio. For years, my heart’s desire was to teach but I knew that it would need to be a place where Christ was first. I am so thankful for Abundant Yoga and the opportunities and blessings I have received. It has truly been my “get to” to serve other yogi’s.
What have you found to be the most exciting or motivating aspect of teaching?
The most exciting thing about teaching for me is seeing people who attend the studio grow in their practice and in their relationship with the Lord. I also enjoy simple things, like seeing people do a pose for the first time that they never thought they could do. That is amazing! But what is even more humbling is that people attending these classes really want to hear from the Lord. It is a privilege to get to think about how people may get to relax into an experience with the Lord on the mat in each class.
What could we expect in one of your classes?
I get to teach the Be Gentle and occasionally a Be Still class at Abundant Yoga. My favorite type of class is a class that has a slow breakdown of postures for beginners and all levels. I think that there isn’t such a thing as doing “the basics” enough. So when I think through a class, I am usually pulling from Ashtanga and Hatha Yoga postures to put a fusion of the two together. Maybe the reality of the class is Be Gentle Fusion, but it has seemed to be working for many people and it’s not necessarily easy. I’ve always thought of “gentle” meaning that the student cares for their body in their practice, but it doesn’t necessarily mean “easy”. I honestly hope that people will come to my class and have fun and check their ego at the door! I remember the first time I tried Downdog. I literally was laughing so hard because it made no sense to me at all. It was hard!!! I could benchpress 315 at the time, and I really thought that was much easier. Today, there is no way I can bench press that weight, but Downdog is a little easier for me and yet still challenging. The tension of yoga is why I love it so much. Our bodies aren’t on repeat. We wake up each morning needing new morning mercies from the Lord. We need those new morning mercies for our bodies too.
What is your favorite class to take?
So this is a funny one, because I used to stay away from online classes. But my favorite classes these days are online classes that are from Dylan Werner. They are hard, and I can’t do a lot of it, but they challenge me and force me to think differently about how sequencing works!
What is your favorite class to teach?
I really enjoy teaching a power class that puts a great deal of attention on breathwork. I believe that if you don’t know exactly where your breath is in a posture, you should stop the pose, get your breath, and then decide if you should re-enter the posture. I enjoy watching people when the intentionality is on building strength in each posture from the inside out.
Do you have any plans to pursue any specialty certifications or courses?
This year I am pursuing my certification as a fitness instructor through Revelation Wellness.
What is your favorite pose? And what is your least favorite pose?
Choosing only one favorite is so difficult, but it would probably be Wheel. I really enjoy Wheel, because you have to engage so many muscle groups and use the breath. For my least favorite pose, I would say Mountain (just kidding!) I think my least favorite would have to be Bird of Paradise. It will happen for me.in Heaven!
What’s on your playlist lately?
I enjoy Josh Garrels, Need to Breathe, and Aradhna. And if you come to the Men on the Mat Workshop, you will probably hear some Led Zeppelin!
What is your favorite way to spend a day off?
Since Abbey and I have a nine month old puppy (named Captain) at home, my days off usually involve playing with him in some regard. He will be old enough to start hiking soon, so if you see a big, fluffy, black goldendoodle at Percy Warner with me…say hello!
Anything else you want to share about yourself?
I would only like to add that…yoga is for men as well! If men would like to try yoga, I hope that I can make it less intimidating for them, because I truly understand how it feels to start out not understanding what is going on around you in a class. One thing is for certain from my experience with yoga is that the experience of all other activity only gets better with yoga as a foundation!
Shaun currently teaches Be Gentle on Tuesdays from 5:45 – 6:45PM and on Saturdays from 10:00 – 11:00AM. He is also teaching an upcoming “Men on the Mat: Yoga Workshop for Men” on Saturday, January 20 from 11:30AM – 1:00PM.