Alexa Mergen, MA, RYT-500


I teach yoga privately and to small groups at my Simple, Joyful Yoga studio in Harpers Ferry, a tiny studio with a ton of heart.

I’m also a published writer and poet. This spring, I’m pleased to be the long-distance guest writer for Women Writing for (a) Change in Jacksonville, Florida.

I’ve been practicing yoga for more than 20 years. Here’s how I got started.

Being on the road feeds my soul. In the short story Learning to Swim, I imagine my way into the lives of a family I met that was living at a KOA. I travel to lead workshops in all sorts of settings and to teach other yoga teachers at studios across the U.S. I learn so much from people I meet.

A co-founder of The Rural Yoga Forum, I seek to connect yoga teachers and residents in rural places with resources. I’m also a member of the Yoga Service Council.

Highlights of teaching in natural settings include yoga at the American River Conservancy in Coloma, Calif., at the North American Mycological Association Shenandoah Foray and in parks, and leading mindfulness meditation at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. Highlights of teaching in urban settings include teaching noontime yoga at the National Gallery of Art and at the World Bank in Washington, D.C.

Rural and urban settings provide opportunities to connect with the birds, reptiles, mammals, amphibians, fish, rocks, rivers, ponds and trees. In the article Stay Calm and Keep Still, I talk with a birder and a Buddhist about finding stillness in places. In the poem American River, I describe encountering a fish.

An amateur naturalist, I investigate how yoga’s breath, philosophy, asana (postures) and meditation reinvigorate our connection with the natural world of which we are.

Interacting with trees is as simple as walking beneath them with full attention, a form of forest bathing I describe in this article. My chapbook Three Weeks Before Summer provides a model for writing observational poems.

Observation of the natural world combines with poetry and yoga in my workshops, featured in Yoga Activist. I believe art and yoga can happen anywhere, as I say in this letter to the New York Times and that, as this letter to Orion shows, artists and naturalists  are kin. This poem, The Discipline of Love, sums it up. We have to ready our hearts to receive love, listen for it, notice it, and welcome it.

Wandering is my native state of being and in exploring new places a practice of yoga, journaling, walking and meditation forms a mobile foundation. Early on, I found how a journal can be a portable studio, as described in this essay Cells Of Solitude.

Students sometimes ask me to continue teaching their yoga or poetry lessons when we’re in different locations. The intimacy and accuracy possible one-on-one through FaceTime and Skype has surprised me. A quality of simple, focused attention carries across miles.

Simplicity grounds me.

I’m curious about the art of daily living. I’ve experimented with owning and renting houses, living in apartments and shared apartments and in a trailer, couch surfing, and care-taking a hobby farm. One Night is a poem about acceptance and contentment that arose after reading long after the rest of the household had gone to bed. Ultimately, I’m most myself when underway.

The way occasional big waves sweep the shore clean, changes in my life wipe my shelves of books and belongings.  More accrues, scattering the beach with treasures, until the next breaker.

This rhythm works for me.

And, wherever I go, when asked, I teach.

Where does joy come in?

Through long years of writing poetry and stories, I practiced empathy and deepened my listening skills. As a teaching artist, I brought poetry to people in schools, community centers, senior centers and prison.

I realized how compassion is a hearth. I learned to offer its warmth to myself and others.

Imagistic language, such as metaphor, offers an effective though imperfect bridge for communication. Sound makes language music. In silence discoveries occur.

An intensive period of sitting Zen meditation unlocked a sense of joy. Joyful, full attention infuses my lessons and everything I do.

Teaching yoga is my way of loving the world.

Imagery, as well as instruction, guides my students to an awareness of their own truths and questions, toward finding a home in their own bodies and in their settings.

If you’d like me to bring a yoga or writing workshop to your community or work with me one-on-one or have any other queries I might be able to help with, please reach out. (202) 763-2351

Owl Stream



Places you’ll find my writing include:




Click here for a full list of published poems.

Here for a full list of published essays, opinion pieces and articles.

Here for a list of published fiction.





What’s my yoga training?

I completed my initial 200 hours of yoga teacher training at Sacramento’s It’s All Yoga. I completed 300 more with Cyndi Lee of NYC’s OM and Lynchburg’s Yoga Goodness. I hold the RYT-500 designation with Yoga Alliance.

Front and center as the lead, Athena, in an elementary school modern dance performance circa a long time ago! I’ve always been fascinated by language, myth, stories, the elements (earth, air, fire, metal, water) and movement.

Additional yoga and related training:

  • Weekend intensive with Angela Farmer, Yellow Springs, Ohio, 2016
  • Hinduism: World Religions through their Scripture, edX, Harvard University, 2016
  • What Yoga Teaches Us about Death and Dying with Gael Chiarella Alba, webinar, 2016
  • Retreat with Zen master Dairyu Michael Wenger, Woodburn Hill Farm, 2016
  • American Heart Association certification in First Aid/CPR/AED, 2016
  • Fascia-The Hidden Key to Body-Mind Transformation webinar with Tom Myers, 2016
  • Sanskrit Level 1 with Ellen Cull, American Sanskrit Institute, 2016
  • The Vagus Nerve, somatic workshop with Lauren Wadsworth, 2015
  • Very Special Yoga Teachers’ Retreat with Cyndi Lee, 2015
  • Serve, Lead, Succeed the Yogic Way with Manju Joshi and Panjat Joshi, Yoga Alliance webinar, 2015
  • Yoga to Break Free from Pain with Nancy McPartland, Institute for Integrative Health, 2015
  • Teaching Yoga to People with Disabilities with JoAnn Lyons, 2015
  • Yoga for Scoliosis with Kim Wagaman, 2015
  • Neuroscience of Yoga and Addiction Recovery with Kristine Kaoverii Weber and Sarahjoy Marsh, webinar, 2014
  • Yoga for Trauma and Grief with Yoga Activist, 2014
  • Certification in Yoga for Seniors with Kimberly Carson of Duke University Integrative Medicine, 2014
  • Sunday Session with Mary Paffard, It’s All Yoga, 2014
  • Sunday Session with Richard Rosen, It’s All Yoga, 2014
  • Intention setting with meditation instructor Caverly Morgan, It’s All Yoga, 2013
  • Vipassana Meditation Series, Sacramento Insight Meditation, 2010
  • Anatomy with Baxter Bell, It’s All Yoga, 2009
  • Yoga Outreach Training with Tamara Standard, Asha, 2009
  • South Asian studies coursework with Professor George Hart, UC-Berkeley, 1985-1986

Full c.v.




Leave a Reply