For over 20 years, Heidi Wuescher has practiced yoga and meditation. In 2012, she became a yoga teacher and quickly joined YogaReach as one of our original team members. Referred to Char by her master yoga teacher, Heidi joined the team because of Char’s reputation for teaching yoga to a variety of populations. “I knew Char would be a doorway to teach yoga to a range of clients.”
Heidi teaches vocational education at Mayfield High School, and also works with teens and children who have special needs. It’s easy to see why Heidi became a yoga teacher. “I wanted to bring yoga and adaptive yoga to different populations, including those with cognitive, physical and emotional challenges. Since then, I have been certified to teach and offer meditation, Reiki, trauma-informed yoga, pranayama (breathing techniques) and iRest® Yoga Nidra to clients."
Heidi is currently working on her 500-hour yoga teacher certification with a focus on therapeutic yoga principles. She’ll use this training to meet the wide range of needs she encounters daily. For Heidi, there is no “typical client.”
“I teach with a trauma-sensitive yoga perspective, from teens in the foster care system, to power vinyasa and yin yoga in a yoga studio. I also work with teens in a vocational school setting, and adults diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. People of all ages and walks of life seem to find yoga when they need it, and they come to yoga for a variety of reasons. The practice speaks for itself, and offers something for anyone open to the process.”
While the types of clients and their reasons to take yoga vary, so do the trainings that many of our YogaReach staff have taken. In addition, YogaReach staff are extensively trained in Char’s methods.
“Char teaches a therapeutic-based yoga class in a supportive environment. Her knowledge and experience as a yoga practitioner, educator, school psychologist, and someone who has taught a variety of populations is unparalleled. I am not sure she has a single 'technique,' and that is what makes her unique. She sees people as individuals, and offers options for those individuals to access the practice in ways that support their needs. Her program offers a deep base of knowledge; that knowledge informs the teaching of yoga and makes it accessible to everyone in the room. Moreover, Char has personal experience with the healing aspects of the practice. An experienced practitioner, Char can speak to its power.”
That power uniquely meets the physical and emotional challenges experienced by people with Parkinson’s disease, especially with the YogaReach approach.
“I think the Mindful Movement program addresses those needs while relying on the ancient practice of yoga that has supported people for millennia. Current fMRI studies offer scientific proof of the value of yoga and meditation that the ancient yogis already knew. Mindful Movement merges the ancient practice of yoga with modern medical information like emotional resilience training, neuroplasticity, and informed movement that supports the unique manifestations of this disease and supports our everyday lives off the mat.”
Every day, we see our clients slowly change from the benefits of yoga. We wonder how our YogaReach teaching methods have changed our staff. Heidi fervently believes there is an awareness in the room on a level she’s not received from other yoga trainings. In a YogaReach class, instruction is lead by a team of teachers, unlike the traditional setting of single teacher instruction.
“I have learned the value of working in tandem with other yoga teachers to support the unique needs of everyone in the room, as well as the value of props and ways to use them. Most importantly, YogaReachmis about holding space for practitioners to explore their practice safely in their bodies. All of this is done with a sense of ease and lightness that makes the practice challenging and fun for those participating.”
When she’s not teaching for YogaReach, Heidi finds she often instills these teachings with her high school students and other populations she serves through yoga:
“Teaching with compassion, knowledge and the ability to think “outside the box” informs my daily work and my life ‘off the mat’. In the end, yoga is about community and connection. That informs all aspects of my life.”
Which other aspects?
“I have learned from clients that there is always a way to access a yoga pose, and that, in turn accesses parts of us that open doors to physical, emotional and spiritual resilience. YogaReach clients have inspired me to never give up, and to access those deep teachings of yoga that are organic and true and reveal the truth of who we are and how we connect with others in meaningful ways that are bigger than ourselves.”
We often have clients ask us if what we teach is “really yoga.” Heidi has no doubts.
“Yes, of course we teach yoga! Yoga is Mindful Movement and so much more. All of our teaching at YogaReach is informed by yoga and mindfulness. We are trusting a practice that has served people in many forms for thousands of years. As yoga has evolved, it has served people in a variety of ways and developed many different labels and forms. Overall, the yoga practice offers our clients ways to strengthen, support and align their subtle, emotional and physical bodies. It is a healing practice for body, mind and spirit.”