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  • Jim Townsend

Portland Native Offering Yoga Classes at City Hall

While attending Portland High School, Sarah Johnson, now Sarah Thormeier, was a standout athlete. She lettered in basketball twice, and softball four times.

After graduating from PHS in 2006, she went on to Alma College where she studied Business Administration and played four years of NCAA Division III softball.

While at Alma, Sarah got her first taste of yoga. She explained, “Taking a theater/dance course was a requirement for graduation. I decided to take yoga my sophomore year to fill that requirement. After that first semester of yoga I was hooked. I took the class every semester for the rest of my college career. The class was very focused on relaxation stretching, and meditation. As a college athlete it was a fantastic addition to my hectic schedule. I was seeing physical benefits that complimented softball, and a lower stress level in regards to balancing my life as a college athlete.”

While at Alma, she met and began dating her future husband Noah. She graduated from Alma in 2012. Soon after they got married, and had their daughter Phoebe.

This is when Sarah began to expand her knowledge of yoga. She said, “After college I attended yoga classes sporadically at different studios in the Detroit area. I knew keeping yoga a priority was important to me, so I thought, why not become an instructor?” She decided to pursue a 200-hour certification in yoga instruction at Namaste, a yoga studio in downtown Royal Oak.

“I happened to be 20 weeks pregnant with our son Cooper and so I had begged the studio to accept me into the program. The studio owner agreed, and I became their first pregnant yoga instructor student,” Sarah explained. “During my certification we had our son, Cooper.”

It took a year to complete the 200-hour program. Six months of weekend classes and six months of mentorship with a certified instructor. “Completing that gave me the title 200h CYI (200-hour certified yoga instructor). Immediately after my mentorship I was hired as an instructor at the Livonia Yoga Center. I also taught as a substitute at Namaste and the Northville Yoga Center. I taught basic hatha mostly, but also taught slow flow, vinyasa, gentle, and baby and mommy yoga.”

In the Spring of 2015, after a year of teaching yoga, the young family moved to Portland.

“I taught a few classes a week at Miller in Motion before I ventured out on my own. I then began offering classes at the Portland City Hall as well as teaching classes for youth ice skating students at the Suburban Ice Arena in Okemos. After having our daughter Lucy in December 2016, I decided to cut down and currently remain only teaching at the City Hall on Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 9:30 – 10:30am,” Sarah explained.

Sarah describes her classes as basic hatha style. “For those people that have no idea what that means it’s essentially a class that hits all of the basics of yoga: increasing strength and flexibility, and improving balance. Hatha style allows us time to break down the poses piece by piece and body part by boy part, work on alignment, and most importantly understand how and why the pose is beneficial.”

She calls each class unique, but all have the same structure, including:

  • Centering (pranayama/breath work)

  • Warm up (stretches)

  • Sun salutations (faster paced warm-up)

  • Unique Sequence (hatha style - slow, breakdown of each pose)

  • Repeat Sequence (vinyasa style - quick, poses flow into each other, each pose changing with an inhale or exhale).

  • Cool down (hip openers and stretches)

  • Shortened savasana (silent meditation)”

If you are interested in trying yoga out, but are worried about not having any experience, you need not worry. Sarah said, “Most of the students that currently practice with me had little to no experience in yoga when they started coming to class. There are modifications for most poses. Many students have conditions, injuries, and past surgeries and are still able to participate in the class because they have altered the poses with modifications. With that said, there are also students who come that have an established practice and can deepen poses to keep the class challenging for them.”

For new comers, the first class is free, then classes cost $8 each. Sarah added, “And to promote a consistent practice I’ve been running a promotion, which is $8 on Tuesday, $5 Thursday. That price is only available when attending both Tuesday and Thursday. Because I have a lot of newly retired students, many of them want the flexibility to travel when they want without commitment. I don’t expire punch cards or require any sort of pre-register for classes.”

For more information, you can visit the “Yoga- Portland City Hall” Facebook page. Contact info is on that page.

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