Teaching Yoga for People with Disabilities – Guided by Humanity with Mary Sims

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Teaching yoga for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities can be an extremely rewarding yoga career. Today, we are chatting with Mary Sims, the Executive Director and Founder of the non-profit, Guided By Humanity. 

👉 How and why Guided by Humanity was started

👉 The mission and vision of Guided by Humanity

👉 The challenges, struggles and serious rewards of teaching yoga for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

👉 How you can get involved with Guided by Humanity

About Mary

Guided By Humanity is a non-profit organization that offers accessible, inclusive, and compassionate mindfulness programming to Colorado residents that traditionally lack access to health and wellness resources. We are dedicated to providing health and wellness opportunities to all underserved communities that are accessible to everyone, regardless of ability or background.

How To Get Involved

Stay up-to-date on all of their events here!

September 13 – Yoga for All – GBH Fundraiser!

Key Takeaways

[00:06] Who is Mary Simms and Guided by Humanity

[03:08] The mission and vision of Guided by Humanity

[05:14] The biggest challenges and struggles of teaching people with intellectual disabilities

[07:52] Challenges and struggles of teaching people with physical disabilities

[10:41] The Mindfulness Bus Program

[12:08] Mary’s biggest rewards from teaching people with disabilities

[15:31] How to get involved with Guided by Humanity

Quotes from this episode

I know the therapeutic benefits of yoga just for myself personally. And I did not see anyone with a physical disability in our classes or, anyone with an intellectual disability.  So I wanted to create a space and classes where people feel safe, they feel like they belong and also they feel that they are included in the practice. And that’s why Guided By Humanity started.

Our mission is to provide inclusive, accessible, compassionate yoga and mindfulness to underserved communities. And our vision is to create those safe spaces where people feel like they belong.

If you want to teach people with disabilities, you want to understand and to recognize that there might be some things unexpected in your classroom. And as a teacher you must be really grounded. We have a specific method that is very repetitious for our new students and anyone that comes into the classroom. It’s very safe and grounded.

I don’t teach a pose if I do not know three variations of that pose. That way, I feel assured that people are included.

And I think with our Accessible Yoga Training, it’s been very helpful to empower teachers to feel like they can give a quality classroom experience. 

I would say first of all, a huge reward is the joy in the classroom. It’s always light and easy. 

There’s always laughing and there’s no competition, no judging. It’s just a really open and joyful space to be in.

Our data shows an increase in leadership skills and the voices in the room become louder and more confident.

They’re using their yoga breathing, different poses and relaxation techniques outside of the classroom. 

The Role of the Yoga Guru with Allison Rissel

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I recently read an article about the Role of the Yoga Guru in our modern yoga culture and it inspired me to think about the role of the Yoga Guru specific to yoga teachers.

Please join in the conversation and share your experiences and opinions so we can create a dialogue.

👉 Definition of the yoga guru

👉 The difference between a guru, a teacher and a mentor

👉 The Guru within

Tune in every Wednesday at 2PM for our FREE FB LIVE series with Yoga Teachers of Colorado.

RSVP receive a reminder FB message: https://www.facebook.com/events/371137380168968/

About Allison:

Allison Rissel believes one good yoga teacher can change a life and create a community.

She believes in the power of community and has dedicated her life to helping build yoga communities. She is the co-founder of the North Dakota Yoga Conference, the president of Yoga Teachers of Colorado and she trains 200 & 300 hour yoga teachers in CO, ND, SD & MT.

Learn from Allison at her upcoming 300-hour yoga teacher training in Longmont!


Key Takeaways

[01:07] What is a guru?

[02:38] The difference between a guru, a teacher and a mentor.

[03:59] Why people often seek a guru

[06:56] The role of the guru

[07:51] Is the role of the guru dead?

[09:27] The guru within

Quotes from this episode

I think people actually come to yoga and most religions because they feel a lack or a void within themselves. We feel like something is missing in our lives or within our hearts and we seek guidance and advice. This is very normal.

BUT you cannot fill a void with another person. You must fill the void within your own heart. 

What is that guru teaching? Are we accepting what they say without question? 

Or are they inspiring and empowering us to live a better life and to work on ourselves to fill the hole within ourselves?

We need to question everything. Do not take someone else’s word for it because that’s what they told you to do.

Speak from your own experience. Have a why behind every action that you do. Examine yourself in deep self-study, reflection and meditation. 

Whenever you come from this place of deep self-knowing- that is the guru within.

If you ever find a teacher who does not allow you to question. Or who is unable to give you a “why” behind their actions, then you need to find a new teacher.

The most authentic teachers teach from experience and are able to provide a reason and their own experience within their teaching. 

You are a complete full and amazing human being. You already have everything that you need within you.

I believe the role of the yoga guru, or any spiritual leader, is to empower and inspire the greatness that already lives within you.

Astrology & Yoga with Sirena Dudgeon

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Yoga is not only the connection of body, mind, and spirit, but also to the cosmos and planets around us.

Sirena Dudgeon connects the cosmos and planets into her yoga classes to create a truly unique class experience for her students.

She’s going to share with us some examples of how you can start to bring astrology into your classes and help your students connect more with body, mind, spirit and the cosmos around us.

Tune in every Wednesday at 2PM for our FREE FB LIVE series with Yoga Teachers of Colorado.

RSVP receive a reminder FB message: https://www.facebook.com/events/371137380168968/

About Sirena:

I am a 200 RYT for about 3 years now, I teach in Longmont, Boulder and Lyons. My love of yoga is coupled with my love of Astrology. I design my classes around moon and sun phases of the zodiac – and which part(s) of the body are associated with those signs. I also place a lot of emphasis on the spiritual side of yoga (versus it just being exercise and a workout) in my classes with pranayama, meditation, japa, yoga sutras, etc. I hold workshops on astrology/yoga and also Yoga in the “Church” with a dear reverend friend of mine. We explore spirituality amongst all beliefs and combine them with vinyasa yoga flows in a beautiful sacred space.

Find Sirena online: https://sirenanow.wordpress.com

Key Takeaways:

Allison’s personal takeaways: I don’t have much experience with Astrology and it was fascinating to get my chart read by Sirena. I HIGHLY recommend her for an astrology reading or an astrology workshop. She recently did an astrology workshop for her co-workers- how cool is that?!?

[00:24] About Sirena

[01:56] What is astrology and they type of astrology that Sirena practices

[04:06] The different elements of the signs, cardinal signs, and how Sirena brings these into her class theme

[05:16] Horoscoping

[06:26] Is horoscoping and astrology trying to predict the future?

[10:19] How Sirena brings astrology into her yoga classes – new & full moons, body parts, energies, all the good stuff!!!

[15:02] How yoga teachers can bring in 

[18:08] Mercury Retrograde- what is it and how does it really affect us???

[22:25] How to work with Sirena- workshops, chart readings & yoga classes.

Quotes from this episode

“Astrology is just a huge snapshot of a person’s life. So when you’re born- it’s a snapshot of the sky, the cosmos, and that’s your chart.”

“You have to just work with the energies and it takes time to learn that.”

“Astrology kind of gives you that deeper level of understanding of the “Why” this is happening in your life. It helps fill in the blanks sometimes.”

“Astrology is similar to yoga. It’s a journey.”

“Mercury is a planet of learning and sharing ideas, sharing information, learning information, connecting and communicating. It’s not just technology.”

“If you want to start learning astrology, attend some classes or workshops. That’s really the best way to get started.”

Get More Butts on Mats with Amanda McKinney

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“How do I get more students in my classes?” This is the most common question among yoga teachers and in this FB live we will address this. Amanda McKinney is a Marketing Coach for Yoga Teachers who’s passion is to help yoga teachers earn more money and this often is getting more butts on mats. She will be sharing the 3 questions you have to answer to fill your classes with your dreams students on a consistent basis.

Tune in every Wednesday at 2PM for our FREE FB LIVE series with Yoga Teachers of Colorado.

RSVP to receive a reminder FB message: https://www.facebook.com/events/371137380168968/

About Amanda:

Amanda McKinney is a marketing coach who is fueled by coffee, sunrises, smiles and of course, YOGA. Her mission is to help you earn a living sharing yoga with others…without the burn out of driving to 5+ studios a day.  She loves to share with her students that creating a brand is simply taking the unique, authentic self that is already within you and sharing it with the world in a consistent way that resonates with your audience. The missing link is only a little time to get clear on the messaging and then sharing it with others.

Follow Amanda on IG: @amandamckinneyyoga

Check out Amanda online: https://www.ammarketing.co/guide

Key Takeaways

[00:01] About Amanda McKinney

Amanda is answering 3 questions for us about How to Get More Butts in Your Yoga Class

[01:58] Question 1 and How to Answer It

[04:54] Question 2 and How to Answer It

[06:49] Words you should NOT use to market

[13:19] Question 3 and How to Answer It

[14:04] Places to Market

[17:57] Are you doing your students a disservice???

[20:34] Why Amanda thinks yoga teachers should make ALL the money

[23:56] Budgeting to take a vacation

[26:44] How to get the word out about your yoga classes and events

Grab Amanda’s FREE guide to getting more butts in your yoga classes! https://www.ammarketing.co/guide

Quotes from this episode

“So my thing is why not earn money doing something that you love and it helps other people, which is teaching yoga. If you don’t earn money doing that, you have to earn it another way, which takes from teaching yoga. And the super awesome thing is the more money you make teaching yoga, the more you can give for free or give to foundations. All of that. I want yoga teachers to make all the money in the world because they just want to help people. So they want to give to foundations, they want to have free yoga classes, all of this. So I want yoga teachers to make all the money.”

“I actually think it’s a disservice if you, the yoga teacher, does not share your passion and your gift with your students, especially your dream student who could transform their life with your yoga class.”

“{Marketing} is just inviting people to the party. You can be the best yoga teacher in the world. You can have the best sequence planned for your class and you just know it is going to change lives. But if you don’t invite anyone, no one is showing up and you are all alone in the studio or in the room. You have to invite people to the party.”

Raising the Bar of Yoga Teacher Professionalism

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Let’s become the change in the industry we want to see!

Kristen recognizes that yoga teachers have a significant impact on others’ lives, and because of that, we have a responsibility to raise the bar of professionalism.

Join us as we talk about her journey and what she believes makes a professional yoga teacher in Colorado.

And make sure to check out Kristen’s FB Group- The Business of Yoga – a place where teachers connect, share and inspire each other without feeling they are competing against each other. https://www.facebook.com/groups/1367265346656157/

Tune in every Wednesday at 2PM for our FREE FB LIVE series with Yoga Teachers of Colorado. RSVP to receive a reminder FB message: https://www.facebook.com/events/371137380168968/

About Kristen:

Kristen is a Denver-based Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapist, Embodiment Coach, Yoga Teacher, Teacher Trainer and Mentor.

She supports her students in their own transformation so they can Live. Life. Better. Whether this means creating space around old wounds, healing from a relationship, discovering what it is that is blocking your movement forward, dealing with a life transition, or the essential emotions of anxiety, fear, sadness, or pain.

She works with clients in-person or online. You can schedule a yoga therapy session, couples session, life mentoring, or check out the upcoming Course in Transformation, as well as other group events by clicking this link: https://square.site/appointments/book/0S13J02SMQD0M/kristen-boyle-yoga-therapy

Check out Kristen online: http://www.kristenboyleyoga.com

Key Takeaways

[00:00] We are chatting and finishing up a conversation. 😉

[02:01] Live interview starts

[03:39] Kristen’s Yoga Journey

[06:25] How can we express our professionalism to our students?

[09:56] Does the competitiveness between teachers and studios need to be there? Why? And if not, what can we do?

[16:14] Yoga is just a practice.

[17:38] There’s continued room for growth and we are all uplifted and inspired by the increasing professionalism in the yoga industry. 

[21:23] Qualities to help us raise the bar of professionalism. 

[22:31] Holding the values of yoga as a yoga teacher.

[27:48] To raise the bar of professionalism……. 

[28:36] Thoughts on the yoga journey (this is a good one!!!)

Quotes from this episode

“I feel like yoga teachers are incredibly wise and insightful people……they really have a lot to offer.” – Kristen Boyle

“Let’s work together as teachers and professionals. Let’s support each other instead of this raging competition of “these are my students and this is my studio.” Rather it needs to be a little bit more fluid and open.”  – Kristen Boyle

“To strive towards a more non-competitive attitude…..I think a deeper understanding and studying of Yoga means a paradigm shift in your thinking. Rather than a contractive way of thinking we need an expansive way of thinking.  When I make a choice, I’m not only making a choice for myself, but I’m also holding that in perspective of the greater whole.”  – Kristen Boyle

“If I were to define yoga into one word that word is awareness, just awareness.”  – Kristen Boyle

“We can talk about the rival yoga studios and all the friction and the negativity that’s out there. We also need to acknowledge the hope and where it’s going and all the good things that we see happening. There are teachers that are stepping up to that level of professionalism and I really want to appreciate, value, and acknowledge them in this conversation as well.”  – Kristen Boyle

“We need to hold ourselves accountable to the ethics of yoga as much as we hold others accountable.”  -Allison Rissel

“The yoga journey – the bad news. It never ends. The good news is I think you learn to journey better.”  – Kristen Boyle

“I think through the practice we become process oriented rather than goal oriented or aim oriented. And we learn to be in that process which is mindfulness. Being in the moment means I’m not at the end, it means I’m in the moment in my process moving towards that.”   – Kristen Boyle

Teach Yoga at Festivals and Events

About Heather Hottovy

Heather Hottovy, who also goes by Feather, started yoga when she was only 10 years old at the YMCA. She’s been practicing for a long time and finally decided, she wanted to dedicate her life to helping others through yoga. She relocated to Colorado in 2013, and took her first yoga teacher training at Full Circle Yoga in Longmont, CO. Heather is able to impact many lives by teaching at festivals and conferences. She’s taught many studio classes, private sessions, and at festivals like Arise, Sonic Bloom and Rocky Grass. Today she has a wide range of knowledge and experience and a passion to share it with the world. We’re excited to have Heather on today so she can share some of her knowledge of how we can teach at yoga festivals and conferences.

You can learn more about Heather at http://www.heatherhottovy.com.

Let’s get into the interview!

Allison: Thank you so much for joining us today. I think conferences and festivals are a great way to reach a lot of people all at once. Would you like to tell us a little bit about your yoga journey or how you really got into teaching at festivals and conferences?

Heather: Thank you so much for having me. It’s a pleasure to hopefully help some other people spread this awesome teaching of yoga in a bigger, more impactful way.

I’ve always been a little bit of a hippie at my heart. I’ve been going to festivals since 16 or 17 years old, and just really enjoyed them. I noticed that there was a big community in every single festival that I went to. And there’s usually yoga, workshops, music and everything. And as soon as I started to dive into the world of Yoga a little bit more and get my certification, I realized it opened up something that I’d been wanting to do without even knowing that I wanted to do it for a long time.

So I put my feelers out and started to contact people. I realized that one of the people that I knew through being a nanny, which I do on the side, was the manager and producer of Arise music festival’s, personal assistant. So I definitely had an in.

I went to Arise and taught children’s yoga at my first festival and that was a lot of fun. I taught children’s Yoga at a few more of those festivals before graduating to “grown up” yoga at different festivals.

If you’re interested in doing something like this and becoming a familiar name with the community that you’re trying to teach to then get your foot in the door any way that you can.

I was very lucky and I’m very, very grateful that it all fell into place the way it did. And it’s just been a self propelled thing since then. People now come to me and ask, “Hey, can you do this?” And that feels really amazing.

Allison: Yes. I find our personal network is so valuable. I often think that to find more clients I need to reach out on social media and Instagram and be in all these places online and turns out, I know a lot of people around me, why am I always trying to go and search out new people when there are people around me who are teaching at conferences and festivals? Why not network with them?

Heather: Yes, communication is key and I believe in the fake it until you make it saying. Just keep putting yourself out there and already be grateful when you put in those applications. Say to yourself, “I’m so grateful that I’m able to apply to this right now. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to perhaps share my gifts, my lessons that I’ve learned with this audience.”

Shauna: What specific skills have you learned from your experience working at these festivals? Is there any specific way that you organize your sequences for the large audience? What are some tips that you can share with those of us that have never had that kind of a teaching experience?

Heather: I think it’s really, really important to have a base flow. At a yoga festival, they could be anyone from the age of 1 to 101 and within a various range of fitness levels and experience levels. It’s hard to accommodate everyone. So I think that the most important things to come prepared with are that base flow and a willingness to change. Be able to see when something’s not working. When half of your class is going the wrong way you see that, make sure that everyone’s balanced on both sides, stop that flow and do something else that’s more attainable for everyone.

Yoga should be all inclusive. It shouldn’t be exclusive. And if you’re putting together a flow, if you have one in your mind and you’re thinking, ‘okay, today we’re going to do warrior three at the festival.’ And then you see someone doing something dangerous, you have to change your game plan and say, “okay, we’re going to hold this for one breath, not the 10 that I was planning on.”

You just have to be really flexible and teach to who is there.

I actually had an experience teaching 75 plus people. We weren’t expecting that many people to show up for the morning yoga so I didn’t have a microphone. Yelling the cues while trying to maintain this container of calm while sound check is happening was really, really difficult. I saw all of these things happening and I was like, ‘okay, and now we’re in our downdog shake your hips to the jam that’s coming on because it’s sound check now.” 🙂

So I think having a playful spirit when you’re in these situations is necessary too. You’re not in a yoga studio. You don’t have four walls surrounding you. You don’t have a roof. I mean I’ve even had a student running around being chased by a bee and that was a really a humorous little thing to experience halfway in a yoga class. But we all learned from it. As soon as that person calmed down the bee left. I’m pretty sure I even said something like, “See, calm is the key. “

Shauna: Can teachers expect to be paid for something like this, are you working for free or are you working for a trade for tickets to the show? How has that worked in your experience?

Heather: That is a great question. And something I really wanted to talk about today because I have been in a situation where it was strictly volunteer and I paid for my own travel, food expenses, everything to go out there. It was more of a passion project. It was something that I felt very, very deep about doing. And I’m actually going to be going back to the same festival to volunteer even more this year. So that is one side of the coin.

Another side of the same coin, you can get paid along with festival tickets along with free food, drinks, along with VIP sometimes depending where you are. I’ve been on one end of it and the other end.

And then there’s also times where it is just strict ticket trade.

And honestly figuring out whether or not this specific event that you’re being offered is worth what they’re going to offer you to come and perform there. It really has to resonate with you. It’s a give and receive and if it doesn’t feel like it’s balancing out for you and you have this gut feeling usually the answer should be no.

I have one time said yes when I wasn’t really jiving with the event. And it was the most difficult one that I’ve taught at because I wasn’t happy with what I was getting paid and I didn’t really enjoy it. So it was a very good educational experience for me. And now I know that I need to be getting paid what I’m worth. And I think every single yoga instructor, whether you teach at a studio, private clients, festivals, conferences, you need to be getting paid what you’re worth. Either that or it’s something you’re feeling super passionate about.

Shauna: Do you have any tips for teachers who want to get a little bit more noticed? Any tips for filling out those applications that might give us a little edge above others?

Heather: Great question. I definitely think there is an art to filling out applications.

First, have a good yoga teacher bio. You’ve been teaching for a while, you should have one written up. If you teach at a studio, you’re not going to use that same exact bio. The bio that I have for studios is a completely different bio than the one that I send out to festivals because it’s very similar to a cover letter. It’s going to be super specific to that event. You’re also going to want to have a more fun bio. If you’re trying to be out in the festival community, you can’t be boring. You need to be someone that’s attention grabbing. Perhaps your bio turns into more of a story then an actual biography format.

Also, be active in the community that you’re trying to teach to. Usually on social media you can find festival communities, such as Sonic Bloom Community. Be a social butterfly with the people that you’re trying to teach to. Not only will this make your classes more applicable to them when you do get the gig, but it’ll make people want to go to them. You’re not going to be teaching to just five people that just so happened to know that you’re going to be teaching at a certain time at a festival. You’re going to have a whole community so excited that you are there and you get to offer something that they perhaps have never had before.

Networking is super duper important. Also fun pictures. I know that everyone’s all about their yoga Instagram pictures these days but it’s not even about who’s got the best hand stand picture.

It’s who embodies the personality and the vibes that the crowd would jive with.

Allison: I love that you brought in the networking again because I think it’s important. Just because you have an Instagram and you have a yoga class doesn’t mean that people actually know who you are. You have to network, online and in person. Working that network is important. There’s no better way to really get your name out there.

Shauna: This is a great time to mention our Yoga Teacher Talk events, since we’re talking about networking. One of the best networks to utilize is other yoga teachers. Sharing this kind of knowledge that we’re talking about today, this experience, this wide diversity of backgrounds, experience and passion we can really support and utilize all of this knowledge when we come together. We’re starting monthly gatherings at rotating studios around Longmont and looking to happily expand. It just so happens that Allison, I and Heather live in Longmont. We have our first meetup on April 19th at 7:15 at Shri Studios in the Longmont Climbing Collective. We also have another date set for May at Verve Movement Studio in Longmont. This is a nice opportunity to get teachers together in one place, maybe see people you haven’t seen in a while, or meet new people. We will be talking about all things related to being a yoga teacher and supporting each other and having a nice Friday evening together.

Shauna: Heather, what’s been your favorite experience so far? Out of all the festivals and all the events that you’ve done what would be your top experience?

Heather: I have to say it’s a tie between that ridiculously awesome 75+ person class at Planet Bluegrass right here in Lyons, Colorado. Because that was the best energy that I have ever felt from a group of Yogis. Everyone was there to have fun. It’s one of the most happening festivals in this area that we all are located in. And there were so many people, it was amazing. I felt so ecstatic when I left that place.

But this one also is tied with Aloha, which I mean traveling across the sea, having the honor to teach in Hawaii with my friend TLooP a yoga musician. I believe that has given me a little bit of a niche to teaching with live music at these festivals.

I mean teaching yoga on the beach at a festival- it doesn’t get much better than that.

Shauna: Thank you so much Heather for sharing with us today. How can people find you and connect with you?

Heather: I am super happy to make myself available to any questions. I know that this is a really niche area to get yourself into and there may be a lot of questions that we didn’t go over today. So if you want to reach out and have some questions feel free to reach out on Facebook. Also, I teach Monday nights at Full Circle Yoga where I did my teacher training. And I do have a very awesome set of clients that I see every week, sometimes more than once a week. So I’m always taking new clients and always happy to work with someone.

Thank you so much Heather! Until next time,

Allison Rissel & Shauna Hylenski
Yoga Teachers of Colorado – President & Membership Manager

Connect with Heather on FB: https://www.facebook.com/heather.hottovy
Connect with Heather online: http://www.heatherhottovy.com

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.