What we have learnt from our many interviews with yoga teachers is that yoga is a personal journey. Very rarely will you come across yoga teachers who have not had yoga affect their lives in some significant way. For Donna, it’s no different. Our interview with Donna takes us on a little journey through her very first dabble with yoga to how it plays an important role in her daily life now. Along the way, we got to learn an interesting tidbit too. Her great grandfather and Theodore Roosevelt are lifelong friends! Read on to find out more.
How did your yoga journey begin?
I did a little bit of hatha yoga in college in the 70’s and through audiocassettes in my mid 20’s. It was not until I moved to New York City in 1985 after three years pursuing modeling in Europe that I became serious about yoga; at that time Kundalini Yoga grabbed me from the first class and within in a year my teacher said I should be teaching.Has your personal experience in any way, shape the way you teach yoga?
Absolutely. I had given up a secure and wonderful marriage and career as a nutritionist dietitian with a Masters degree to run off to Europe so the changes and chances I have taken in my life, which has been unconventional, have affected the way I teach yoga as I teach as a tool for handling lives changes and challenges.
Aside from asana practice, how is yoga incorporated into your life?
I have been a vegetarian for nearly 40 years, first for health reasons as a distance runner, then evolving into incorporation of the yamas and niyamas in my life as a yogini, for example ahimsa associated with not killing living beings. I also gave up social alcohol drinking fifteen years ago as it affects my yoga practice and my meditation. I try to live as compassionate loving life as I can and learn from experiences to help me and my students grow. I have become an animal activist, serving on the board of an Animal Rescue in NYC and becoming deeply involved in opposing the destruction of our ecosystem by industrial wind turbines and informing the public about the lies associated with them as green energy, when they are in fact “greed energy".
What are your hopes for Sewall House?
I hope Sewall House will continue to be a place that people who are serious (but also want to have fun) about personal yoga practice and lifestyle can come and feel accepted as part of the family. This house was where Theodore Roosevelt was healed of asthma with my great grandfather as his nature guide. TR was a college student and was so influenced by his time in the healing nature of Maine’s northern woods and lakes that he became lifelong friends and confidant with my great grandfather. I would like to think Sewall House continues the tradition as we meet new people from all walks of life, some return but all have a reason to come here when they do. enjoying the yoga, food, house, lakes and hikes and healing.
As a yoga teacher what are your biggest challenges and your greatest victories?
The biggest challenge is to express myself authentically and that people understand my intentions, whether they resonate with them or not. My greatest victory is creating a lifestyle that I truly live in the moment with contentment and gratitude, even when challenges present themselves, and that I share this through my teachings. When students let me know I have changed their lives I am truly touched.