December Teacher Feature: Aileen Wong

Posted By Sarah on Nov 30, 2017 in News and Deals | 0 comments


Teaching at O2 Since: 2012

Aileen’s Thoughts on Parivrtta Galavasana: “It takes so much strength, flexibility, especially hip flexibility — it’s a beautiful pose…and a humbling one…”

Aileen’s Current Teaching Schedule:
Cambridge
4pm Sundays – Rajas Hour
6:30pm Mondays – Rajas Hour

 

 

 

Aileen started doing yoga for one of humanity’s most time-honored traditions:  The Buddy System!  She had a friend who was dealing with a hip injury and wanted to try yoga as an alternative form of exercise but didn’t want to go alone, so she asked her friend Aileen!  “We both passed by the O2 Yoga studio in Somerville and thought we’d give it a try.  My first class was with Mimi and I loved her spirit and ability to light up the room and laugh.  I was entering a tough life transition and ran a ton.  Yoga complimented the running and my life in ways I didn’t expect,” Aileen said.  That was back in 2003 — and the rest, as they say, is history.

The longer Aileen practiced at O2, the more involved she got in our incredible community, eventually making the game-changing decision to go on our annual retreat to Maya Tulum in Tulum, Mexico.  It was there that she got to know other students and teachers better — and where the suggestion that she make the leap to do Mimi’s 200-Hour Teacher Training Program first appeared.  One of the years Aileen went on the Tulum retreat is also where she met her now-husband, Mike, but we’ll let her tell you that story another time…

Aileen took that seaside discussion seriously about pushing her practice further by doing TT and folded it in with her own desire to go further with this yoga that she loved.  “I had the strong feeling about giving back to the community and helping others find some peace,” she said, and so she joined the illustrious Teacher Training Class of 2012 (the author of this bio may have also been part of that yoga bubble and, thus, is always thrilled to write about other graduates of that phenomenal crew).  After completing those magical 200-hours, Aileen moved on to our Karma Program, the internship for new teachers (look for new Karma class times to be taught be the soon-to-be-graduating TT Class of 2017 in January!), before moving onto the schedule as a full-fledged O2 Yoga teacher!

But there’s more…  Aileen is a key player in the evolution of the very popular Rajas Hour!  In addition to teaching Karma and then eventually regular O2 classes, Aileen wanted more teaching opportunities and so she rented our Little Studio to lead her own additional classes.  Mimi took note of that and eventually approached Aileen about teaching a new O2-style class inspired by Aileen’s one-hour private classes.  Thus, Aileen became our first Rajas teacher!  And if you’re still asking “Rajas what???” then let’s see if she can break it down for you:  “Rajas is Sanskrit for change, motion, transformation. This class is intended to be vigorous, energizing and heat-building, so I generally focus more on standing postures and dynamic movements. More often than not, we start standing so we can get settled and get going. And like all O2 Yoga classes, the sequences have a variety of postures, inversions, arm balances; compacted into one hour but full of asana-goodness. The very first Rajas class began on Monday evenings, and to this day the Monday evening Rajas Hour has a special place in my heart,” said Aileen.

When Aileen isn’t at the studio, she’s working at her day job as an experience planner for a brand agency and spending time with her husband Mike and their almost-two-year-old Desmond.  The three are often spotted here at the studio together or grabbing a bite down in the cafe.  They are a true O2-family, through and through, and we adore the love, lightness, and constant laughter they bring into our space.  Likewise, Aileen’s classes are delightfully energizing, full of sneakily-hard stuff that she manages to convince her students is just plain fun.  Throw your requests her way and she’ll run with them.  We so appreciate your generous spirit, Aileen, and can’t wait to roll out our mats in your class sometime very soon!

What’s the best lesson you’ve learned from Mimi?

“Not sure I can pick just one. There are so many.

  • It takes a village. Mimi has built a loving, compassionate community at O2. I agree, wholeheartedly, in the philosophy that it takes a village to raise children and support each other through the ups and downs of life. Mimi remembers everyone’s names, uses them throughout her class. She’s inclusive and personable and this sense of belonging is tangible.
  • Give back. One of the lessons in teacher training is volunteering, being a good yogi. This is something I want to do more and try to find even the little things, as time allows, to give back to the community.
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously. Mimi can laugh at herself and she brings that levity to her classes.
  • Most recent Sanskrit pronunciation lesson from Mimi – SvAH-nasana. Ha!”

What’s the best lesson you’ve learned from teaching?

“Slow down. Use less words. Eliminate the pause fillers.  I have occasionally recorded my classes (not for posting the mp3s to the website, but for my own learning experience). I’d listen to the class I taught the night before, on the drive to work the next morning. It’s like eating humble pie. One big lesson I’ve learned is to not say ‘excellent’ like The Simpsons‘ Mr. Burns between postures. Yikes.”

 

What’s the best lesson you’ve learned from one of our other teachers?

“Again, just one? I’ve learned so much for different teachers.  Carly – Sneakily hard basics classes. She’s great at pacing, explaining, and without even knowing it I’ve had a tough practice. Wonderful.  Lynne – Laugh and be creative. Lynne’s personality shines through her teaching and I love her ability to be creative, quirky, and laugh. It’s contagious.  Ann – Love how Ann describes the anatomy while she teaches. She explains why we’re doing certain postures, and makes it all seem effortless.”

What’s your favorite pose to teach?

“Duck pose. Cracks me up. Why? Because most people look at me like ‘what are you doing?!’ but then they try it and are amazed. And yes, your face is extremely close to the ground so you don’t have far to fall if you do!”

What’s your favorite pose to do?

“Savasana? Just kidding. Maybe.  Low rider eagle into side crane. I love this arm balance. It was one of the first arm balances I could do, and continue to see ways to finesse it.”

What’s your “dream pose”?

“Handstand (without the wall).”

Do you have a mantra or a theme song?

“Be gentle with yourself. Like the poem Desiderata: ‘…you are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars…’  As someone that is very hard on herself, my mantra is to be gentle, and find gratitude in everything.”

 

Do you play music in class? Why or why not?

I do. I think music is a wonderful way to escape. I try to keep the music I play to songs without words, that can help lift the mood and keep the energy in the room going, although it’s usually kept to a very low volume so hopefully not distracting.”

 

Any “Fun Facts” you’d care to share?

“I have an art degree and I used to be an oil painter. Painting is something I hope to pick up again when I retire, if not sooner. I love to cook, but more importantly, I love to share my love of cooking with friends and family. I love interior decorating. Creating a homey environment is a basic need. Favorite podcasts are How I Built ThisTED Radio Hour, and Hidden Brain. I ran the New York Marathon in 2009. I’m an ENTJ. Ask me anything and I’ll give you an honest answer.”

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