Monica Shannon started practicing Bikram yoga in September of 2001. Her intention was to reclaim movement from a worsening knee injury, emotional stability after big life transitions and, in reality, to lose weight and feel desirable (in hindsight).
Just barely over one year later, she had completed Bikram’s infamous 9 week training in Los Angeles and returned to Raleigh to begin teaching full time.
Through the years she has noticed patterns of dysfunction in the way hot yoga classes, trainings, postures and businesses are practiced. There seemed to be this underlining theme of using the yoga as a way to punish ones self or to validate ones self worth as a teacher. The language, techniques and justifications of potentially dangerous mechanics all silently or not so silently endorse using asana practice as a form of achievement. As if being able to do more, go deeper, hold longer would somehow heal or wipe away the problems of the practitioner. Within these seemingly noble standards, she noticed lots of cognitive dissonance and self denial around the “hows” and “whys”. She could not find answers to simple questions about pain and poses. She could not find a mentor willing to step outside of the box of the dialogue or dogma driven mechanics. As a scientist at heart, tradition was never a good enough reason to continue doing things to herself or her students when they no longer seemed to help or even seemed to be harming.
It was this frustration with the Bikram community that led Monica to step out of the business model in 2005 and finally let go of the umbilical cord in regards to posture practice in order to best serve her students and her self. She began the constant journey towards self education about human movement. Knowing that whether you are running, walking, cooking, swimming or doing a yoga pose, the human body is always under the influence of the same laws of movement. Since then, her focus has been on understanding the foundational functional premise of how the body works and how to move to support that.
It can come as a big surprise to many students the degree to which conventional yoga alignment actually contradicts human engineering. Monica knows that her approach is somewhat radical in comparison to the majority of yoga schools.