I am Grateful for the Life I Live: An Interview with Stephanie Freudenberger

Stephanie is such a sharp, quick student. She quickly grasps new concepts, and always provides such intuitive and interesting perspectives. She has a quiet demeanor, but once you dig a little deeper, you discover she is one of the funniest people I have ever met! 

When and how did you first come to yoga?

My very first yoga class was at mang’Oh about 5 years ago. I lived in the area, and was looking to try something new. I had always felt intimidated about trying yoga, but when I walked by mang’Oh I felt like this was the place I wanted to try it in. I was immediately attracted to the studio as it was warm, inviting and peaceful. From the first class I took, I immediately felt both the physical and mental benefits and wanted to continue.

When and why did you decide to do the mang’Oh Teacher Training?

I decided on doing the mang’Oh Teacher Training for my own personal journey within yoga.  My intention was to further my own leisure practice, rather than actually become a “teacher” of yoga. I was interested in ensuring good form during poses, learning the secrets of sequencing, and seeing how I could incorporate things I was less familiar with into my own practice (like pranayama).

Describe your Teacher Training experience at mang’Oh:

The Teacher Training experience lived up to and exceeded my personal expectations in that it pushed me outside of my comfort zone. Rather than being a passive participant, I was engaged in actually teaching! The perspective of a teacher is entirely different than I could have imagined, and requires mindfulness of themes, adjustments, sequences and presence all at once. I felt challenged in a way that led me to feel humbled- which eventually gave way to a feeling of pride and accomplishment once I completed the certification.

Tell us about your journey post-mang’Oh TT…

Post-mang’Oh Teacher Training, I have been on a journey incorporating new learned techniques within my career as an occupational therapist. I work in a hospital, where I help individuals recover physically so they can regain their independence in basic self-care tasks, like dressing, grooming and toileting. Inflection of voice and empathetic touch are now vehicles of expressing intention with patients. Pranayama and pratyahara can help patients who are in pain,nauseous, distraught, or in need of withdrawal from the chaotic hospital environment. Post-mang’Oh Teacher Training, I am able to better incorporate these tools for both the physical and emotional healing of my patients.

Who has influenced you, both in and out of the yoga world?

One of the things I value most about my mang’Oh Teacher Training are the connections that I have made with other trainees and how we have cultivated and maintained our friendship. On a monthly basis we get together for yoga and dinner, where we recount our experiences in Teacher Training and exchange advice and laughs about life. These friendships influence me to critically examine myself both in and out of the yoga world from the unique standpoint of a shared experience.

When you are not a working or at yoga, where can we find you and what are you doing?

In my leisure time, I am most likely doing something related to food- whether it’s exploring cook books, planning a meal, shopping at a market or store, or cooking. As a real treat, I would take a cooking class in a new cuisine or technique that I’m not familiar with.

Describe your perfect day in NYC:

A perfect day in NYC would involve a visit to Union Square Greenmarket in the morning to shop for flowers and produce. In the afternoon I would walk down The High Line with my camera to The Whitney Museum, and then grab some food at the Gansevoort Market.

What is something that has surprised you in the last year?

Something that will never fail to surprise me is the resiliency of the human spirit. Even when people are struggling through the worst times in their lives, humor, love and positivity can still shine through. I see this everyday working in a hospital, and yet it always amazes me. It is the best quality of humans I can think of.

What advice would you give to someone looking to do what they love?

Figure out a way to incorporate what you love into what you do on a daily basis. Then your career or purpose will never feel like work.

What are you most grateful for today?

I am grateful for the life I live, and the people I have in it to share experiences and laughter with.