Interview: Lisa Helm

An Interview with Lisa Helm

Tell me about your yoga background.

I tried yoga for the first time in the basement of a YMCA when I was fifteen years old. I remember the first time that my mind settled during the meditation – eighteen years later, that moment is still significant to me. I practiced on and off through high school and college, then decided to take a teacher training in 2009 mainly to develop the ability to do my own practice. The first time I taught a class, I was hooked. I have since done hundreds of hours of teacher training and I spent five years teaching full-time. Since becoming a mom, I’ve pulled back on the teaching but my practice has come to be more of a focus again.

What are you working on right now in your practice and/or in your life?

There are a few things I’m always practicing: balance, however that can be found as a working parent, and communication. My day job is in communications, so between teaching and working, I’m always looking to refine how to communicate an idea in a way that transfers understanding, not just words. I want my students to be able to be immersed in their practice and not need to look at me to understand my directions – I believe it makes for a better overall experience.

Are there any experiences that changed your direction in life?

When I was about 23, I was working a retail job and had a conversation with the GM where she mentioned having high expectations for the following year. For some reason, that conversation sent me into a tailspin; I saw my life stretching out before me, and I didn’t like what I saw. I went home and Googled “how to set goals,” and started thinking about what I really wanted in my life in the long term. I ended up traveling in India and Europe the following year before going back to university. That moment set off a process where I regularly think about what I really want and make sure I’m on a path that makes me happy; it also gave me the courage to make big changes and take risks that have paid incredible dividends over the long term.

What is the most important thing that you want students to learn in your classes?

I want students to feel like they have the space to explore their own practice, whatever that means to them. Despite the fact that my classes tend to be physically challenging, it’s extremely important to me that students feel comfortable in learning and moving at their own pace and getting to know their own bodies. We live in these miraculous, intricate machines that change on a daily basis, and to me, yoga offers such a great way to explore ourselves in terms of physicality. I also believe that getting to know our body is a gateway to getting to know ourselves mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, because everything that happens in our brains is reflected in our bodies.

What is your spirit animal?

The sea turtle.

If you had a superpower, what would it be?

The ability to shape-shift into anything. I’d like to have the ability to fly!