Joann Burnham, Founder of the Nantucket Yoga Festival, teaches and practices on Nantucket Island. She’s soft-spoken, graceful and elegant, with an ethereal beauty that reminds me of Uma Thurman. We recently sat down for a cup of coffee to discuss our deep passions for a healthy, beautiful, delicious lifestyle.
Drawn to Nantucket by the lack of distraction, natural beauty, clean air and the sunsets, Joann teaches year-round at a number of places on island. You can find her public classes at the hayloft at Bartlett’s Farm and private instruction in the Yoga Barn studio. Joann also teaches year-round at The Westmoor Club and in the summer at Sankaty Golf Club.
Joann, why do you practice yoga?
To settle the mind, take care of the body and nourish the spirit.
When you need to shift your mood, what techniques do you use?
I pause, close my eyes and take a few deep breaths.
On a busy day, what choices would you make for your health if you only had:
10 minutes: Sit down for a mantra based meditation.
30 minutes: A short Asana practice.
60 minutes: Prepare a healthy delicious meal to share with loved ones.
Do you have any “Go To” Health Tips?
Stress is the number one cause of disease and unhappiness. Look at your lifestyle and choose 2 things you can do for yourself that would reduce stress in your life, then commit to incorporating those small changes into your daily life… Eliminate the phrase “I don’t have time for that” from your vocabulary. Eat more greens. Get more sleep.
What are the benefits of a regular Yoga Practice?
Simply put it just makes you feel better. There are far too many specific benefits to list here.
The most important overall benefit is that the practice brings into harmony the sensitive awareness of the body, the intelligence of the brain and connection to the heart.
Who would you like to study with and why?
I would have loved to spend time in India with BKS Iyengar. He was one of the foremost yoga teachers in the world and a living inspiration through the end of this life at 96 years old. I have been following Anand Mehrotra. I am overjoyed that he will be coming from India this summer to teach at the Nantucket Yoga Festival this summer.
What does a “Healthy Lifestyle” mean to you?
A healthy lifestyle to me has always meant moderation and balance.
How do you continue to maintain a Healthy Lifestyle even when you don’t feel like it?
By not stressing out about it. Sometimes we need rest, sometimes we need activity and sometimes we just need that chocolate chip cookie!
Teaching can be exhausting; how do you recharge?
Daily meditation is essential for me.
Nantucket Yoga Festival
The Nantucket Yoga Festival is such a great idea. What led you to start it and where would you like to see it go?
The idea just came to me in a moment of clarity. While driving to Bartlett’s Farm one day I saw a big tent going up, I came home and declared to my husband, “we are going to put a yoga festival in that tent”. And that was it. It wasn’t a question it just was. He said “Okay”. And that was it. I am lucky to have a supportive husband. Bringing people together with the common intention of practicing happier, healthier, and more peaceful ways of living benefits everyone, even those not in attendance. Time will tell how it will grow and evolve. I look forward to it revealing itself to me. For more information on the Nantucket Yoga Festival: http://nantucketyogafestival.com/
I’ve taken a few of your classes, and you led us deeper into Savasana than I’ve ever been. Each time. They say that is the most important pose. What do you think?
Savasana is by far one of the most important postures. Being in a state of conscious relaxation is one of the best ways to detoxify the body and settle the mind.
It is helps to repair tissues and cells and aids in releasing stored stress.
I’ve been practicing a lot of yoga this fall/winter. And I find myself crying in almost every class. I’ve heard of the ‘releases”, but it’s never happened to me before. Strangely, I’m not sad because of any particular thing. It’s almost like something is being flushed out of me. Any thoughts on why this happens?
In Savasana you are no longer bound by the actions of the body, your awareness turns inwards and you are free of distractions. Savasana is the beginning of deeper, more meditative yogic practices. You are in a state of sensory withdrawal and here it becomes easier to be aware. In this state of awareness, you connect with your true self. As you connect, it is easier to let go of sub-conscious attachments and the things we think are important. As we let these attachments go, emotions can come up. Tears or laughter are common ways we release emotion. It doesn’t necessarily mean we are sad or happy it is just a sign of the release.
To learn more about Joann, please view her PROFILE.
*Profile photograph, credit Kit Noble
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