Q&A with Yoga Teacher Barbara Germershausen

Barbara Germershausen has been teaching yoga since 1984. She founded Yoga House in Austin, Texas, operating from 1989 through 1996. During that time, she developed and directed a 300-hour teacher training program and taught yoga to inmates at a nearby Federal prison. After moving to Charlottesville in 1996, Barb taught at Living Yoga before opening her own studio, simplyYOGA on the downtown mall. Her classes offer a meditative approach to hatha yoga sprinkled with a sense of humor. These days, she is particularly fond of teaching yoga to the boomer generation.Recently Barb answered a few of our questions – ranging from favorite music to how she would encourage someone to try yoga for the first time – and we so enjoyed hearing her responses. Thank you for contributions to Common Ground, and for sharing your thoughts with us, Barb!

Q. How did you initially get interested in yoga? 

A. As a teenager, I was interested in Eastern philosophy. I read what I could get my hands on and that led me to meditation & yoga. I was around 19 years old when I convinced my mother to take a yoga class with me. I loved it immediately, especially as I’d always considered myself clumsy; but this way of moving my body seemed so graceful & natural. An added bonus was the relief I got from chronic back pain due to scoliosis. Ten years and numerous teachers later, I found my “home” in Integral Yoga. The rest, as they say, is history.Q. What would you say to someone who’s never tried yoga to encourage them to try it?

A. I would suggest they begin with a gentle class, encourage them to contact the teacher in advance to allay any fears or concerns, and perhaps take a friend for support. I tell brand new students that I would not expect them to remember much of the postures practiced in their first class, but if they leave the room with heightened body awareness and a sense of spirit that is a huge accomplishment. I would also encourage them to try several different teachers, studios & styles to find what suits them.Q. Why are you choosing to be involved with Common Ground?

A. In my 30 years of teaching yoga, I have always made clear to students that they would never be turned away from my classes due to an inability to pay. I have bartered, discounted & given classes for free when needed. I don’t allow students to skip class for financial reasons; they have to come up with a better excuse! I don’t operate as a non-profit, so teaching for Common Ground allows me to reach a broader audience of deserving students in need without cutting into my income in a big way.Q. What is your all-time favorite song?

A. Well, I’ve been deeply influenced by music my entire life and I could not fairly choose one all-time favorite song. It depends on my mood. I’m moved by poetry, so wordsmiths like Jackson Browne, Bob Dylan, Neil Young & Joni Mitchell touch my soul. I also appreciate and play African drums & I love dancing to a reggae beat. So this is the most difficult question of all. I guess my song du jour is “Your Bright Baby Blues” by Jackson Browne & I’m really taken by Sara Watkins’ cover of the song. Ask me the same question tomorrow & I’ll have a different answer.Q. If you could spend a day as anyone besides yourself, who would it be and why?

A. My second cousin, Paul, lives in India and works for an organization called Made By Survivors. They work to provide education, housing, support and marketable skills to survivors of human trafficking. Women & children who have been exploited in various ways are rescued from these atrocities, taught the art & craft of jewelry-making and given the opportunity to market their wares. MBS has also recently launched a new project called Animal People Alliance, which provides “high quality care to animals in need while also providing high quality employment to survivors of human rights abuses and other vulnerable populations.” It would be an honor for me to walk in Paul’s shoes for a day. See http://madebysurvivors.com/ for more information.Barbara’s Gentle Chair Yoga happens at Common Ground on Thursdays from 10:30-11:15am. For more information on the class please call 434-218-7677 or drop-by and see us at the Jefferson School City Center with any questions.