An Inspiring Women and co-founder of Yoga Teachers Of Colorado

Inspiring Profiles: Meet Joanne (Meints) Murphy, Renaissance Woman,

“I tell my three children and six grandchildren I went to a one room school with no electricity. I must seem ancient,” she said with a laugh.

 

Her story begins in rural Iowa.  Joanne is the third of three daughters born to an English mother and a German father.  She remembers taking lunch to her father and hired men in the fields of the family farm, located outside Grand Mound, Iowa.  “Looking back, it was a good childhood,” she said.

Education was important to her father like agriculture was important to the economy of Iowa.  That is why generations of the Meints family attended Iowa State University, in Ames.  Joanne broke family tradition, by attending Colorado College in Colorado Springs her freshman year.  She returned to Iowa State, for a degree in Home Economics and Early Childhood Development.

With diploma in hand, Joanne Meints accepted a position with the Denver Public Schools.  “I came out here to teach, and met Bill Murphy, my husband of 50 years, she said.

“After my third child, someone asked, if I knew how to get back in shape.  It was always important to be in shape, physically, mentally, and to look good too,” she said with a smile.

Bill and Joanne with children (L-R): Jody, Lisa, David

A suggestion to try yoga, prompted Jo to take a class.  It was the beginning of a 40-year teaching career.  “I started at Beck recreation Center, and over the years, taught at all the recreation centers, including the Aurora Center for Active Adults (ACAA),” she said.

Her husband knew she was helping people, but suggested she should do something in television to reach a wider audience.  “I approached the City of Aurora, Channel 8, and asked if they were interested in a show where I would interview local celebrities, and end with a yoga demonstration.”  They agreed to give it a try.

Jo Murphy interviews a guest on the More Alive show in 1986.

 

 

 

 

Her show, More Alive, aired locally, and across the country in 1986.  “We did a total of 26 shows, interviewing politicians, local TV personalities and a host of Denver’s elite.  The show’s logo, a butterfly, was chosen because it is a symbol of happiness, spring, and renewal.

The New York News and U. S. A. Today, published articles on Jo Murphy, providing her national exposure.  The ‘you can do it at home’ approach to yoga featured Murphy in yet another medium, a video, and later, a DVD.

Teaching the elements of good balance.

“It turned out really well,” she said with pride.  “It paved the way for me to work with the famous TV fitness guru in California, Kathy Smith.”

Careers in education, television, plus raising a family would be enough for many women.  Not Joanne Murphy.  In Colorado, dozens of women followed her example and became certified yoga instructors.  Then, in 1982, a milestone of sorts, for Murphy.  As one of twelve founding members of the Yoga Teachers of Colorado (YTOC) organization, Jo Murphy once again broke new ground.  Today there are about 150 members.

Producing her video: Starts with stretching exercises.

The New York connection prompted a call from Barrons Publishing, opening yet another door for her.  The result was “Keys to fitness over 50” and “Keys to nutrition over 50,” both books published in 1991.  Plus Blockbuster obtained the rights to distribute her video titled “More Alive” same as her TV show. The adventurous side of Jo Murphy was then unleashed when she became a teacher/lecturer on board cruise ships.  These were busy and exciting years for a farm girl from Iowa.

 

Now, more than four decades after Jo Murphy took that first yoga class, what is she doing?  We caught up with this renaissance woman at ACAA recently, teaching yoga.  Still in shape, Murphy went from the sun salutation to the warrior pose and then relaxation with ease.  It was nothing short of inspiring to watch her.

At 76, Jo Murphy is motivated by her desire to teach.  “Like I tell my students, you must be productive and a benefit to society and mankind.  You must be healthy physically, mentally, and emotionally, yourself.  The older you get the more you need to prioritize staying fit.”

Jo at right with friend and fellow “High Country Hiker” in the Rockies.

 

Yoga is similar to hiking because “It is all about the journey,” she told us, then added, “You can do it at any age.  It’s an individual activity and you can do it at your own pace.”

About her legacy, Murphy said, “Lead a productive life and start with your self.  Make your self happy by being fit and work within your limitations.  I was a senior citizen when I went back to school to get my masters in special education.”  Jo retired from Montbello High School in 2003.

In summer, Jo still teaches yoga at the YMCA of the Rockies woman’s fitness camp.  There, as with all classes, she closes with her philosophy of life.  “Let all things be healthy, let all things be happy, let all things be peaceful, and be sure to count your blessings at least once each day.  Self-control, self-knowledge, self-respect, be tranquil and the light of intelligence will shine.

”Joanne acknowledges, there is a great deal of attention, responsibility, and expectation, of a woman who has been successful at virtually everything she tried in life.  She also maintains “My spiritual life and my family” keep me grounded.

The Murphy clan, 2008.

We cannot be certain how long the list of accomplishments will be for this woman on the fast track,  If being a wife, mother, grandmother, author, business woman, teacher, TV personality, lecture, cruise ship instructor, and outdoor enthusiast (hike, cycle, snowshoe) is only the beginning, who knows.

Similar to the butterfly, the metamorphosis of Jo Murphy has been nothing short of extraordinary.