Alexa Mergen

Call of text (202) 763-2351
Call or text (202) 763-2351

Hello!

I teach yoga privately and to small groups at my Simple, Joyful Yoga studio at 1703 West Washington Street in Harpers Ferry, WV, a tiny studio with a ton of heart. I also travel to lead workshops in all sorts of settings and to teach other yoga teachers at studios across the U.S.

Yoga practice creates a feeling of being at home in the body and in the world.

Yoga engenders physical qualities of strength and flexibility and mental and emotional qualities of equanimity and compassion. These have helped me to engage with my relationships, my passions and my work fully and joyfully.

Yoga is good stuff. 

Before teaching yoga, I taught literature, reading, writing and journalism to people of all ages, preschool through adult. I’m a fourth-generation teacher (my great-grandmother was an elementary principal in Delta, Utah back in the day) who believes education is a process of drawing out what a student already knows.

In small, intense and gentle yoga lessons, I create the causes and conditions for you to experience insights, make connections and express yourself with movement, laughter, words and, since it’s yoga, sometimes inexplicable tears. There can be a deep release of old griefs through relaxation. We don’t ask why so much as just say, oh! There can be a profound acceptance of what is through single-pointed attention.

Yoga is paradoxically simple and complex.

I show you how breath and movement happen in your body so, in time, you recognize an inner teacher. I guide you in developing a home practice, whether that’s a few poses to move through while the morning coffee brews, or a program of study that includes philosophy and tricky poses like those you may see on TV (and aren’t that tricky at all). We learn how to say “yes,” or at least “okay,” to life’s invitation.

Where does the joy come in?

Like anyone who lives long enough, I’ve had my share of loss and sorrow. In my early 40s,  I withdrew for a year to write poems and stories and to deepen my listening skills.

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

An intensive period of 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.

I look forward to seeing my students–you!–and welcome your discoveries. 

Owl Stream

In college at UC-Berkeley and in graduate school at UC-Irvine, I studied literature and writing. I’ve also completed coursework in counseling psychology, poetry and journal therapy, pedagogy and developmental psychology. I speak Spanish and remember a few phrases of German from a high school semester abroad.

This essay in elephant journal tells the story of how I got started with yoga.

This one in Passages North reveals how I started to move away from writing. As my commitment to yoga deepened, I became more interested in the present than the past.

My emphasis is on home practice: my students learn practical ways to bring movement and breath awareness into their daily lives.

This article has tips on self-talk during home practice. Turns out just humming is soothing, too. Learn more here. And, whether you’re formally practicing yoga or not, it’s a good idea to get down on the ground, or close to.

Find tips for home practice on the Simple, Joyful Yoga Facebook page.

I believe daily life can be harmonious and beautiful.

Here are tips for creating a sense of retreat. Here are ways to stay calm and enjoy life. And here are ways to start the day mindfully. If you’re traveling, you can meditate just about anywhere with these suggestions. Interacting with the trees is as simple as walking beneath them with full attention, a form of forest bathing.

In 2007, I was fortunate to travel to Myanmar to visit a friend. That was the beginning of realizing how to put love into practice, which is at the heart of yoga. I wrote about this for Lion’s Roar. Bringing poetry to the students at Yangon International School was a delight.

Pets, and all animals, teach me so much.

This essay for Lion’s Roar looks at ahimsa, non-harming and kindness, with my old dog. For My Little Bird, I interviewed animal rescuers and pet sitters for this piece on keeping pets happy in small spaces. To understand how poetry shines a light on our relationship with the natural world, I interviewed some amazing poets for this Her Circle article. As a humane educator, I developed a reading program for children that uses factual story books to foster empathy. There’s a write-up in this magazine. My chapbook “Three Weeks Before Summer” provides a model for writing your own observational poems.

Observation of the natural world combines with poetry and yoga in my workshops, featured here 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, train to listen for it, notice it, and welcome it in with joy.

Yoga has made me a keener observer and listener of others, including trees, rocks, people, animals, water and wind.

Walking beside water makes my heart sing. In this poem, “American River,” I recall finding a salmon. Through drawing, I investigate shapes and movement that I see in the bodies I work with, the animals I observe, and that I feel in myself.

Yoga provides a framework for reflecting on how we make a loving home in the world, including the natural world of which we are a part.

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

Wandering is my native state of being and in exploring new places, yoga, journaling and meditation practices provide an anchor.

In “Cells Of Solitude,” I reflect on how a journal can be a portable artist’s studio. In “Travel by Train,” I record a journey. Stories draw from life. “Stoop” is a short story set in D.C. In “Learning to Swim,” I imagine my way into the lives of a family I met living at a KOA. “Rolls” is a story I wrote very early on, a mostly true account of a road trip to visit my Nevada family. “One Night” is a poem about acceptance and contentment that arose after reading long after the rest of the household had gone to bed.

It’s not all yoga, meditation, nature and writing for me. I have a soft spot for romance novels, which I reveal in this essay, and for fashion, which I have fun with here. I love Dolly Parton to whom I wrote a poem shared at a reading (below).

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.

 

 RYT500  

   

 

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. I’m especially inspired by Richard Rosen for his attention to the breath and Angela Farmer for her celebration of movement.

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.

Authors I refer to include: B.K.S. Iyengar, Georg Feuerstein, Michael Stone, I.K. Taimni, Barbara Stoler Miller, Donna Farhi, Geeta Iyengar, Martha Graham, Twyla Tharp, Doris Humphrey, Judith Lasater, Charlotte Bell, Blandine Calais-Germain, Mabel E. Todd, T.K.V. Desikachar, Vanda Scaravelli, Maya Fiennes, Cat de Rham and Michele Gill, Rebecca Pacheco and Richard Rosen. Include Dogen, Shunryu Suzuki, and many, many poets and writers.

 

 

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