PYTT Alumni Feature: Phyllis Hartigan + Hannah Gilges
Phyllis Hartigan RYT
Phyllis Hartigan is a graduate of the Spring 2022 Prana Yoga Teacher Training. You can find her teaching Sunrise Vinyasa Yoga at Prana on Mondays at 7:00-8:00am.
When and why did you start practicing Yoga?
I started a regular Yoga practice 22 years ago. I have always been physically active; was a runner, loved aerobic classes, hiking and workouts at the gym. Growing older, I found high impact activities hard on my body. One day I was at the gym and a friend encouraged me to join a Yoga class. The timing was right – and I was hooked. Ironically, the Yoga instructor that day was Rebecca Terriete, who now teaches at Prana.
What motivated you to continue with your practice for so many years?
Like others, I was initially taken in by the physical challenge and benefits of Yoga. I am naturally flexible and, as my husband says, get a lot of “free poses.” Over many years with a dedicated practice, I began to experience and understand the many dimensions and benefits of Yoga beyond the thrill of mastering pincha mayurasana (forearm balance). I learned to integrate breathwork and came to understand the importance of alignment vs. flexibility as well as the connection between mind, body and spirit. I started using a Yoga block, which I had previously resisted and began a daily meditation practice to improve my most challenging pose of all, savasana. Yoga helped me navigate a demanding job, be a present mom and with every other physical and emotional challenge life presented. Yoga calms me and makes me feel strong, balanced and alive.
Why did you decide to get certified as a Yoga teacher?
I always knew one day I would take Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) to deepen my practice. For over two decades, I practiced Bikram, Ashtanga and Vinyasa Yoga in San Diego County and have been a regular at Prana for the past 15 years. Upon completion of a long career in Public Health, I was ready for YTT in 2022. I chose Prana because I know it is the best teacher training program in San Diego, and I wanted to learn from the teachers who were inspiring me every day in my practice.
What was your experience like in the 200hr Prana YTT?
I enjoyed every aspect of YTT. After two years of Covid and remote practice, I was particularly thrilled to be in person with a community of students, learning together and supporting each other. I learned something unique from each student. I love that Prana’s YTT brings in a variety of teachers, allowing for varying points of view and personalities. Learning philosophy, pranayama and practicing teaching/adjustments with my fellow trainees was invaluable. Putting it all together to orchestrate a balanced Yoga sequence with succinct and clear verbal cues (and appropriate adjustments) was challenging – but brought the greatest learning and growth in my own life and practice. This inspired me to complete all of the requirements for certification without delay – including teaching classes. YTT took my practice to a higher level and reinforced my love for Yoga as a framework for how I want to live my life.
How do you see your path now as both a Yoga student and teacher?
My goal is to be the best teacher possible and find my authentic voice and style for teaching. In the words of Ganga White author of Yoga Beyond Belief, I have come to think of my Yoga practice as “learning, gathering, and developing the tools for a lifetime practice of self-therapy, self-healing, and keeping (my) body in balance – remembering that balance is not a fixed place at which you arrive, but a constant adjustment process to the circumstances of each moment.” As a teacher, I hope to plant the seeds of these concepts in my students, enabling each student to make mind-body connections through Yoga.
Hannah Gilges RYT
Hannah Gilges is a graduate of the Spring 2022 Prana Yoga Teacher Training and is currently substitute teaching at Prana.
What brought you to Yoga?
I began practicing Yoga on my own nearing the end of high school because I was always looking for other ways to keep my body in good condition for dance. Yoga helped keep my muscles strong and long. When I attended the University of San Diego, Yoga became both a wholesome social activity to do with friends as well as a way to manage stress on the pre-med track. The more I did it, the more I loved it… so much so that I wanted to pursue my YTT certification so I could work by teaching others what made such a big difference in my life.
What’s your motivation & inspiration to get on the mat?
I love Yoga for the movement of the body, it’s something I crave every day. That said, I wasn’t sure getting into the business of teaching Yoga would work out, and I was almost scared to try to pursue it and fail… but I learned even more than I thought in the training. First off, you can’t really fail at Yoga. And second, I just needed courage to go for something I truly enjoy, perseverance to continue to put myself out there, and resilience to be okay with taking small steps to continue progressing, learning, and improving as a Yogi. Practicing at Prana gave me the value of those qualities.
How was your experience in the YTT?
I was pleasantly surprised by two things. First, I was capable of much more than I thought… maybe I couldn’t fully express the position in the moment, but I had the foundation and understanding of how to work on it. Second, I liked that my previous understanding of some parts of Yoga was challenged and clarified. My relatives used to ask me to lead beach Yoga classes on our family reunion vacations and I would do it even though I had no actually understanding of Yoga… just some basic flows. I didn’t like that I couldn’t actually teach a real Yoga class. One of my favorite parts was the group of yogis becoming close, and even some becoming good lifelong friends.
What are your plans as a newly certified teacher?
I will continue to practice for the longevity of my own mind and body despite whatever is going on in life. I see myself as extremely fortunate if family/finances/life-in-general allows me to continue to teach :) I’ll always love teaching at Prana— there’s no better place! It quickly becomes a second home and a second family.
Learn more about the PRANA 200hr Yoga Teacher Training or contact a program advisor!