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Off the Mat with Trish Ireland:

We caught up with yoga teacher Trish Ireland off the yoga mat for a little interview to get to know this very special, Phish-and-life-loving yoga teacher.

TYS: What are your yoga specialties or areas of interest? What are your yoga classes like? What do you love teaching?

TI: I was originally trained in the Ashtanga Vinyasa style. I have strayed from the traditional series for a number of reasons, but I still incorporate the sun salutations, standing poses and many of the seated poses into my classes. I have strong focus on balance, in the Hatha tradition. Each individual must learn to be balanced in his/her own right before that individual can be a part of a balanced relationship, or team. I feel that yoga is the personal practice in which we learn about the outside world.

TYS: What kind of students would you recommend taking your class? What kinds of people can you help?

TI: Anyone can take one of my classes. I just ask that my students me open to learning, both from me and their own practice. I can only help people who want to be helped and are willing to listen. I love the curious student who isn’t afraid to ask questions and speak up. I really enjoy teaching people who “don’t do yoga” because of the image that so many yogis have put out there. You don’t have to be flexible in the body, only the mind. You don’t have to be strong in the physical sense, but willing to challenge yourself.

TYS: What have you learned personally through your own yoga and meditation over the years? Have you overcome certain obstacles, healed certain injuries or emotional wounds, and grown as a person in specific ways?

TI: I’m learning something new every day. Thanks to yoga I know that letting go of toxic people and circumstances is not only okay, but healthy. I’m a classic people pleaser so I’ve always had a hard time sticking to ME. Mostly because I haven’t always been sure what ME really is. Yoga is helping me figure that out a little more each day.

TYS: What’s your current favorite asana?

TI: I will always have a deep and profound love for Ahdo Mukha Svanasana–Downward Dog. It seems cliche, but it really does feel like home to me within my practice. I enjoy feeling all four limbs firmly planted into the earth. I feel strong and supported and also venerable because my gaze is inward and the world around me is not in my sight (which we can equate to control) I enjoy feeling the upward and downward pulls of energy simultaneously, and there’s just so much to tweak and adjust and feel! I could stay there for hours–but usually only last about ten minutes.

TYS: What is your yoga soundtrack comprised of?

TI: My teaching soundtrack is very different from my home practice soundtrack. At home I listen to my favorite band, Phish, a lot because I find their lyrics quite yogic. The musical composition can be chaotic and finding the stability in chaos is what yoga is teaching us, so I like to throw myself into the fire and test it out. I find it hard to hold a pose and not dance to my favorite songs, so it’s teaching me steadfastness; to not get distracted by the things I love nor the things I hate, to stay true to myself through it all.

When I’m teaching, however, I play a lot of orchestral and instrumental songs as I want the music to enhance the experience of breath and movement, not take a way from it. You might get a Phish song snuck in from time to time… .

TYS: What would you do if you weren’t a yoga teacher OR what’s your other job?

TI: I have recently closed a decade long chapter of my life spent in the service industry. I used to manage the ultimate ski-bum bar at the base of the tram, and have just put my notice in at the ultimate cowboy bar in Wilson. I feel my time spent as bartender has given me the tools to become a really good teacher. I’ve had a space to discover and learn to speak so many different languages in which to translate yoga. Now I have decided to take the leap and focus on teaching while I open myself up to new opportunities.

TYS: What’s your favorite place in Jackson Hole?

TI: My home. I spent many years in a very transient environment, living #vanlife, having multiple roommates, moving every six months, living in a hotel room, you name it. A year ago I found a rental in Wilson that has given me a sense of home and belonging. I feel secure and at ease in my cabin, allowing me to grow and change. It’s truly a beautiful thing to have been blessed with when I needed it the most.

What other activities do you partake in besides yoga?

TI: I am a jack of all trades and a master of none. I enjoy it all! Backpacking is probably my favorite as I am naturally a slower-paced person. I don’t need adrenaline like so many of my peers and loved ones. I’m happy to just walk and take it all in, for days at a time, with everything I need strapped to my back. I also very much enjoy climbing and road biking, though I don’t get out as much as I’d like to (call me if you want to go!). I’m learning how to kayak this year, which is very exciting because I love rivers and really respect and admire water, I can’t wait to let it teach me some things!

I heard you were a dancer…

TI: Oh yes! I was raised in the ballet studio! I started dancing at age of two and continued through college. I currently teach a kids ballet class on the Westbank and am trying to gather interest for an adult class, too. I love dancing. It is my favorite form of self expression and connection. Music is universal, you don’t have to speak the same language to feel music. We don’t have to speak at all to dance with another person. Where the breath is our own rhythm it can be matched to others’ rhythm through music. If you can dance fluidly with another human, chances are you can have a fluid conversation with them as well.

What’s your favorite ski run/hike/walk/run, etc. in Jackson Hole?

TI: My favorite thing to do is ride my bike from Wilson to the Phelps Lake trail head, run to the rock and jump in, then run back to my bike and pedal as fast as I can to Teton Thai.

Can you recall a special yoga class or workshop that you’ve attended that stands out to you and why?

TI: My teacher training at the Shala! I took my first training abroad and while I learned a lot, the training with Adi and the other ladies here at the studio took my practice and my teaching so much deeper. I began to understand the body more, and how to teach to different bodies. In addition to all the learning about yoga and myself, I made some amazing friends through it.

What three things are you most grateful for?

TI: My dog, she’s taught me how to love wholly and fully without attachment. I know that she doesn’t belong to me, but we are interdependent parts of a household while it lasts. I’m grateful for my friends and support system in this town and otherwise, I have been so blessed with amazing humans who have taught me so much. And I’m grateful for yoga, it’s been the biggest tool in helping my understand myself and put me on the right path to finding my dharma.

What is something surprising about you that someone might not expect?

TI: I’m from the south. I was born and raised in Alabama until I was 26, then I moved here.

What was it that made you fall in love with yoga?

TI: Initially is was the body movement. For my build and stamina levels, I was able to quickly build muscle, lose weight and feel better about myself physically. Then once I achieved that, I began to fall in love with the things the body can teach us about life and relationships. There are just so many metaphors!

Is there a pose that you used to dislike that you now love?

TI: Standing poses- specifically Pvritta Parvakonasana. I found it very challenging to engage my outer hips and stay steady in this twisted posture. I would count my breaths and pray it would be over soon. Now I’m very well aware that I disliked it so much because I NEEDED it so much. So once I embraced the posture, and began focusing on gaining strength where I was weak, I now have an admiration for the pose. But I don’t know that I’ll ever love it as much as I love Savasana.

How has your relationship to yoga changed over the years?

TI: Years? It changes every day! But on a grand-scheme level, I used to use yoga to escape, my home life left things to be desired and my support system was lacking, but now I use yoga to CONNECT- both to myself and to others.

If you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice about your relationship to your yoga practice, what would it be?

TI: I would try and convince myself to have started sooner! This journey is so cool!

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• Yoga Flow by donation Mon. 8-9am
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Photo Credits

Zach Montes
David Bowers
Hannah Hardaway
Rich Goodwin
David J. Swift

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Teton Yoga Shala
3510 N. Lake Creek Dr.
Wilson, Wyoming 83014-0151
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