What begins a painting? A blank canvas.
Sarah Oleson likens her yoga teaching practice to art; there should be freedom of expression, creativity, individuality, without judgement or expectation. As a yoga teacher myself, I had never thought of a yoga class in the same way as Sarah: a blank canvas. The more I pondered it though, the more I came to this as truth. The yoga classroom is a vehicle for creation, free movement and exploration; for both students and teachers. However as the teacher, it is your responsibility to create a space where your students can explore their own individual practice; a place for them to find their voice, where they can complete their blank canvas.
I was able to spend time with Sarah recently, learning more about her efforts and perspectives, both in the yoga studio and beyond. She regularly teaches at various local studios and is a leader of yoga and wellness retreats all around the globe. Sarah also works closely with Lucy’s Love Bus, a local charity whose aim is to provide comfort and care to children battling cancer. September is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and 10% of sales from amyvanderels.com this month will be donated to LLB’s Share the Love Campaign.
Sarah, thank you for helping us with our own blank canvas (As Seen On). And thank you for reminding us that we truly cannot waste a day.
Your primary occupation is teaching yoga. How many yoga classes do you typically teach each week?
Anywhere from 7-15, depending on the week and If I am away on a retreat or teaching private clients or outdoor classes.
As a yoga teacher, how do you feel as you step in front of a room full of people at the beginning of class? How do you cultivate confidence for yourself? And for others?
The word authenticity comes to mind. I try to be me. Truthfully, I am always nervous before teaching each class but I see it as though I am just there holding space. Like a blank canvas that I hold up, each person in my class paints a different picture. Similar to art and traditional forms of artwork, not one piece of art would be the same & they are all equally accepted and beautiful. We are all the same. We have hearts and bodies and breath and we use them together.
You also lead yoga retreats all around the world. What has this experience been like for you?
Teaching and leading retreats has truly been a dream job. I get people out of their comfort zone, take them to immaculate and glorious faraway places where they can re-set and get back to a sense of self.
You’ve carved your own path as a local entrepreneur. What do you find most rewarding? Challenging?
I would say the most challenging part is “shutting off the business”. When you work for yourself, you need to know when it is time to not work and have fun. I have my husband, (the most carefree and hilarious human I know) to always keep me in check and make sure I am not working too hard. The most rewarding piece: I have such a lovely community and support system here on the North Shore. It’s all of the connections I have made, seeing other entrepreneurs starting their new businesses, reaching out to them and collaborating in any way we can to hold each other up because that is what it’s all about, right?
How did you and Amy first connect?
Amy and I met at my favorite local coffee shop, the Market Square Bakehouse in Amesbury, Massachusetts. Some of her artwork hangs there and I had noticed customers were wearing her jewelry and it all clicked. Amy also frequents my yoga classes at Yogasmith in Amesbury!
Do you wear Amy’s designs? What piece of Amy’s can you be seen wearing?
The Inuksuk Dangles with light blue amazonite gemstones.
How are you most often seen wearing your Inuksuk Dangles?
With Overalls! Or Yoga pants.
When you dress for the day, do you put on jewelry last? Or is it one of the first things that you think about?
Jewelry is the finishing touch. I usually am moving around, teaching yoga, taking yoga, so a cute pair of earrings can dress up my yoga clothes.
What does style mean to you personally?
You’re also involved with a local organization called Lucy’s Love Bus. Why did you feel a personal connection to the organization initially?
Lucy (And Lucy's Love Bus) is the reason why I do what I do: heal, connect, and support. Lucy’s Love Bus was founded by 11-year-old Lucy Grogan, who was diagnosed with leukemia in July of 2002. I was Lucy’s babysitter. I watched her laugh, cry and fight her way through four years of cancer treatment. During this time, Lucy found relief from intense pain and anxiety through integrative therapies such as massage, Reiki, meditation, acupuncture, music therapy, and therapeutic horseback riding which were not covered by her insurance (as they often aren’t). It was Lucy’s wish to make sure that sick children could have access to free integrative therapies to manage the debilitating side effects of medical treatments. Lucy did not survive cancer, but her legacy of care and compassion live on through Lucy's Love Bus. To date, the organization has helped over 2,500 families and children all over the country with a healing center in Amesbury.
Any thoughts or words for someone who might be looking to support or get involved with a local organization as you have done with LLB?
Giving back keeps us all thriving. I have had the most rewarding moments seeing the families at Lucy’s Love Bus benefit from our programs. We are lucky to have our breath and be able to smile. Reaching out to a local non-profit like Lucy’s Love bus will remind you that each day is a gift, so do not waste it.
More information about Sarah and her yoga practice can be found at saraholesonyoga.com
And one more fun thing : This month’s As Seen On featured, the Inuksuk Dangles, are 20% off at check out
[ a little thank you for letting us share our story with you, and for reading until the end! ]
If you or someone you know wears Amy’s pieces and is interested in being featured, please reach out to us. We’d love to learn more about you and what you wear.