At Jenny Butcher’s first yoga class at Dancing Dogs, she fell in love.
“I was in a room with 50 other people sweating so hard I couldn’t breathe,” she remembers. “I had done triathlons and half marathons and all these workouts I wasn’t getting enough out of anymore. I started doing power yoga and I found my yoga home.”
Butcher has been teaching yoga at Dancing Dogs for just over two years. It’s a role she was reluctant to fill at first, but after some persuading and being put on the schedule, she eased into the role.
“I taught a lot of classes and learned a lot and am still learning a lot,” says Butcher. “There’s always a next step. I’ll never be done learning about it. That’s my favorite thing—for me, that’s a metaphor for life. You’re never done. If you’re ever completely satisfied with life, then the next thing after that is death.”
Christine Graeber is the studio manager at Dancing Dogs, and she’s [really proud of her students]
“Honestly, I gotta give it up to our teachers,” she says. “Our teachers are really good yoga teachers! Every teacher has a little something different to offer. Some teachers have a little more fire, some are more grounded and earthy, some have stronger arm balance.”
Butcher’s practice is definitely full of fire.
“I like to really push people, because that’s what I like,” says Butcher. “I talk a lot about the joy and frustration, because there are a lot of poses that are really challenging to the point of frustration. For me, that’s the point where the lightbulb goes off and I go, ‘That’s important. Pay attention to that.’ Pay attention to how you feel and what that feels like. It’s hard for us to address as humans. It’s okay that it hurts! It’s okay that you want to cry! You can throw blocks at me, you can swear at me—I don’t mind. I like that.”
As both Butcher and Graeber point out, none of the yoga classes are hard because they’re so easily adaptable.
“You can always modify, and you can always take breaks when you need to,” says Graeber.
“It’s never overwhelming—it’s just exciting,” says Butcher. “You can sit in the room in child’s pose for 60 minute sand you still did a yoga class.”
“What we teach our teachers is to see the students and see your room and teach to that,” says Graeber. “There’s this funny thing when you start teaching yoga; you’re like, ‘I’m going to have a plan, walk in, this is what I’m going to teach.’ Good fucking luck. All that goes out the window because you have no idea what you’re going to get.”
What sets Dancing Dogs Yoga apart from any other yoga studio is the tribe they’ve built there.
“I’m so grateful to have a tribe,” says Butcher.
“We have built such a tight community and people recognize that,” says Graeber. “I genuinely want to get to know my students and what’s going on in their lives on a personal level, because that’s what yoga is about. It’s a connection. There’s so much more to yoga than just physical practice. The literal definition of yoga is a union, a connection of things. That can be interpreted in a hundred different ways, but I think connecting people to people is the best interpretation.” — Rachael Flora
Runner-up: Maggie Hayes