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Frances Houlahan

Classical Yoga
 
Finding yoga changed her life
 
Frances Houlahan holds several Danceworks records. She has been here the longest of all our teachers - 21 years, since we opened.  She has taught dance (ballet), fitness (aerobics) and yoga classes, possibly the broadest range of anyone at Danceworks.  She has also taken classes here.
What sets her apart even more, however, is the transformation she underwent her first year at Danceworks. At that time she was a ballet soloist, working with a defector from the Bolshoi Ballet named Madame Messerer.  She was teaching for Madame's baby ballet school at Danceworks - two-year-olds taught to stand on their bare toetips in the Russian style - taking daily ballet classes and also leading eight or more Jane Fonda-style aerobics classes per week.

One day she walked into her first yoga class.  It changed her life."At the end of that class, I was lying on the floor, thinking I could just stay there forever.  When I opened my eyes, the teacher was leaning over me.  'I don't  unlike ballet, so easy.  "Suddenly I was being asked to breathe, to relax.  It was a totally different universe."  She began slipping yoga moves into her aerobics classes.  Eventually, she quit ballet and aerobics altogether 
Days at Danceworks
Monday  Wednesday and Thursday
to become a full-time classical yoga teacher.  In yoga she also found a lifestyle, a philosophy and a way of being in the world that she says has sustained her ever since.

"Nature is perfect and she doesn't make mistakes," Frances explains.  "A real yoga class puts us back in touch with natural rhythms above and beyond personality.  As my guru used to say, 'Anyone can be peaceful on top of a mountain - but can you be peaceful in the midst of the creative chaos of a metropolitan city?  "Yoga helps us find the point of perfect pitch".
 
In addition to teaching seven yoga classes a week, Frances is the author of The Beginner's Guide to Classical Yoga (7.99 - available from Frances or from her web site www.franceshoulahan.com).  In her spare time, she sculpts, paints, writes and is learning to play the piano - in short, acquiring the classical education she missed while training to become a professional dancer.  She also is about to buy her first car - a London taxi that she says will run on vegetable oil.
 
"Nature is perfect and she doesn't make mistakes."