Teacher Spotlight – Sherry Brourman
1. How did you come to Yoga?
I sheepishly admit that in 1970 I found the Richard Hittleman yoga book and taught myself. It gets worse—in 1973 at my PT office in New Mexico, based on my one book ed, (and a fascination for the beauty of movement and how it interfaces with super efficient body mechanics) I had the audacity to teach evening yoga classes to my patients. And in fairness, something about that teaching felt more effective than the straight physical therapy I had been doing previously. It was yoga therapy—I just didn’t know the name of it at the time.
I left there in 74’ to come to Los Angeles and it was merely, yoga seed planted. I didn’t consider myself a yogi. I applied the yoga postures to my work but still had no name for it. Plus, It was then that I dove into the mechanics of walking as a template for all movement. Page forward 20 years, my son grown, a published book, (Walk Yourself Well, Hyperion, 1998) and a thriving practice. I was invited to join an old friend for a yoga class. I had no idea what I was in for, and I teared gratefully throughout that whole first class. After that, I think I went to class 6-9 times a week for three solid years. And I was asked to and became the anatomy teacher for my first teacher training and about 10 teacher trainings following that one over the course of my early years. Yoga anatomy books were few and far between, and so I was writing my yoga teacher training manual from scratch and using fundamentals from what was then around a 25 year career as a physical therapist. I became a crazed cricket taking workshops and teacher trainings gratefully living and teaching in one of the great yoga meccas right here on the westside of Los Angeles. I was so fortunate to study and teach with my dear friend Saul David Raye, with Shiva Ray, and Max Strom. I studied with Sarah Powers and Tias Little, and took countless magical workshops, each one transforming my work. To this day, given a free Saturday afternoon ( of which there are few due to a very slow write on my second book— Using Yoga Therapeutically) I can be found taking workshops and reading yoga books. Still starved. Still love every minute of it all.
2. What is a teaching or practice that has changed your life?
I was raised by wonderful but terribly impatient parents. I myself was often horribly impatient before yoga– before bhakti yoga settled in and on a tough day, I can feel remnants of those obstacalizing feelings. You can’t learn things that are deeply challenging unless you learn to trust process. Yoga has given me not just a trust of process but a love of process. I love the beginnings and middles and perhaps less so, the ends of most anything I get to do or learn. Gratefully, it turns out that very few teachings ever end, and yoga has given me a precious appreciation for that. Truly transformative learning takes a lot of self talk, alot of inner quiet, and for me, a lot of time— and patience! I remember when first learning ujjhai, I would get a sore throat from being desperate to push the air through to get to the next half breath. I was so invested in getting it “right”! Now, the pause in between is my favorite part, like a river ride, quiet, surrendered, easy, nothing to do.
3. Why do you love teaching yoga
I love seeing people drop into their bodies when they suddenly realize they can honestly feel them! And I so love being a guide to people’s self empowerment knowing, that I’m just passing a football, and they are going to run with it, and learn more and stretch into themselves and use it all to become something I could never have imagined. It’s their yoga now.
4. What book would you recommend, why?
Well, I need to do two. My favorite book is only for serious nerds. It’s called The Thinking Body, and it was written in 1937 by a brilliant lady named Mabel Todd. She was such a yogini, if you read it you will recognize that right away, but she had no idea. At least, not as far as I know. I ordered the book by a fluke one day and it literally was a page turner for me. So my other favorite book is by Phillip Moffitt, and calle, Dancing With Life. Albeit yet another book on the four noble truths, this book keeps so close to your heart while you read it, you want to savor, read just a little at a time, to make it last longer. haha——the opposite of impatience
5. What is your current favorite pose or practice and why?
I’ve always loved balance work and am enthralled with using every freeze frame of every transition as balance work. I recently broke my arm and my asana practice became almost entirely this work with finding new ways to arrive in postures and new ways to draw into others. I love to do a long still breathing practice first, rest on the river raft, cumulate the power of my central line (Sashumna Nadi is as close as I can get to a description of how I feel central line) and then use it in a delicious balance sequence.
A gifted physical therapist, author, (Walk Yourself Well ), Sherry Brourman is also a yoga teacher, teacher trainer and yoga therapist. As a PT, it began with understanding injury, pain and structural rehabilitation and there has always been a total infatuation with graceful movement and it’s roots. She is excited by the collaboration of her two fields in her upcoming book, Using Yoga Therapeutically, Sherry teaches yoga, teacher trainings, yoga therapy certification programs and physical therapy seminars internationally. http://sherrybrourman.com/