Q&A: Desiree Rumbaugh

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Desiree Rumbaugh is leading four workshops at Pulsation Yoga from Jan. 23-25. Each workshop focuses on a different aspect of yoga practice, and includes hip openers, backbends, therapeutic poses for the neck and shoulders, and arm balances. Check out all the details here, and call 847-989-7792 to register for one or all four sessions before space fills up. 

How long have you been teaching yoga?

I have been practicing and teaching yoga since 1987. I owned a yoga studio in Scottsdale called Arizona Yoga from 1992 until 2007 when I sold it to my business partner so I could continue traveling and teaching workshops worldwide full-time.

Why did you become a yoga teacher? 

The moment I began practicing yoga, I fell in love with it and since I was already a dance teacher, it was a natural shift for me to begin teaching yoga. I was in my late twenties and was performing in a small dance company at the time. Though I loved dancing, the strain of rehearsing and performing was causing me to have occasional pain or injury while yoga was always healing my body and making me feel better. Even though dancing is fun, I knew I would ultimately be able to help many more people in my lifetime through teaching yoga than through teaching dance.

How has yoga helped you to be a better person?

The study of yoga was just one of the modalities I have used to get to know and understand myself better. Combined with reading, one-on-one therapy, and many personal development courses, yoga has been a great place to tie it all together on a regular basis. I feel that I have learned to confront my fears and to embrace my shadow side as well as celebrate my power. This self-understanding has also helped me to understand others, which is a large part of my becoming a better person.

What is your personal mission statement as a yoga teacher?

I teach the message “Love is Stronger than Fear” because it is what I am always learning. I aim to inspire others to integrate self-love and self-care into their daily lives no matter what challenges they are facing, and to learn to identify behaviors that are coming from a place of fear before they cause suffering. Once we identify these fear based thoughts, we can choose to think and act differently. That is freedom. That is power.

What do you think constitutes an excellent yoga instructor?

An excellent yoga instructor is one who is also a perpetual student. One who is always open to learning and growing and knowing more because the ocean of awareness is vast and we can never know it all.

What do you recommend to the beginner student? To the seasoned student?

I have similar advice for all students. Stay open, try a variety of teachers and styles so you are well-informed about possibilities and learn to discern. Listen to your own body, ask a lot of questions, and be true to yourself. Follow your own intuition.

How do you take your yoga off the mat?

I take my practice off the mat by being aware and paying attention as much as I can every day, every moment. Life is very short and I don’t want to miss anything. The funny thing about learning and practicing non-attachment is that it becomes complicated to make decisions. No longer being under the spell of materialism or consumerism can lead me to feel a bit wishy-washy or apathetic when confronted with choices, but in the end it is not such a bad thing. And one of the best perks of my yoga practice is any time I realize that I succeeded at not taking rude or critical comment personally. When I can learn from feedback rather than get my feelings hurt, I know I am doing yoga.

What is the one pose you are most proud of getting into?

I was extraordinarily proud of my first handstand balanced in the middle of the room at age 40. I had been working on that for twelve years and it frightened me not to have the support of a wall. That was a courageous step.

What is your favorite time of day to practice yoga?

I love practicing at any time of day: In the morning, to get a more energized workout with strength challenges, and in the evening, to soothe and calm my body and mind.

Where is the best place you have ever practiced yoga?

I did Natarajasana (Standing dancer pose) in a red one-piece bathing suit on top of Macchu Picchu in 2004 and we got a photo of it right before the guards told me to put my clothes back on.

What is your favorite music to listen to while practicing yoga?

I like all types of music, but especially soulful instrumental background music; it encourages my creativity. Sometimes I play music from the seventies because it makes me feel like I am back in college and then I think I can do anything.

What else do you want students to know about you?

I want people to know that it is safe to come to a workshop with me. I know what fear and intimidation feel like because I have been there, done that. I have felt afraid in my body and I have felt weak. Because of that, I can see and feel the fear and self-doubt in others, and I have developed a teaching style that puts those fears to rest.
I have also learned not to take myself too seriously, so I encourage others to do the same. In my 56 years, I have seen and experienced many of life’s big lessons, including deep tragedy and exhilarating joy. I love working with all levels and shapes and sizes of students and after all these years of practice and teaching, I now realize that I am just beginning to understand the way that asana fits into the larger scheme of things.

What is the best part of traveling to different studios and leading workshops?

Meeting all kinds of people, experiencing different cultures, and making new friends! Traveling all over the world has made my life incredibly interesting and I am forever grateful.

Co-Owner Jim Simonik


How long have you been teaching yoga?  

Nine years. I have been practicing almost 11 years.

Why did you become a yoga teacher? Who and/or what are your biggest influences?jimportrait

I didn’t have any burning desire to teach. [Co-owner and wife] Kathy and our first teacher were up in Wisconsin at a workshop and they called me on a Sunday around noon and said they were not going to be able to make it back in time for Kathy’s class at 4:30 that same afternoon. They both convinced me I could teach the class. Anywhere from seven to 17 students could show up, so they discussed the class with me, and I took lots of notes. As it turned out, 17 students did show up, but I had my notes. I ended up doing the whole class from my mat and never looked at the notes, because I had everything memorized! From that day forward, I taught and subbed every chance I could get to gain experience. The hardest thing was to start teaching off the mat—to walk around and truly start to notice foundation and alignment with the students. I tell any new teacher to get out and help the student. That is one of the things that separates us from our competition: We don’t teach from our mat.

My biggest influences are the masters; the ones who started teaching yoga 30 or 40 years ago. They are not going to be around forever. We are going to slip into their shoes someday, and we better know what we’re talking about. That is why I encourage my teachers and our students to take it all in and continue to expand their education. Go to the workshops. Invest in yourself.

How has yoga helped you to be a better person?

I find when I am of service to the student or to others outside the studio, it not only makes them feel better, but it makes me feel better. When I can inspire an individual, it not only inspires them, but it inspires others around the individual. If we are all inspired and motivated, then collectively, we can change positively and continue to pay it forward.

What is your personal mission statement as a yoga teacher?

The mission of Pulsation Yoga is to bring some of the finest instructors together under one roof, creating a cohesive community that works toward common goals.

These goals are to:
• Create a safe and inspiring environment where a diverse student clientele can experience yoga and grow at their own rate.

• Teach alignment so people can take charge of their well-being and heal from injuries.

• Help guide the students to experience transformation and shifts in a way that opens their hearts to bring them closer to their authentic selves.

We frequently start class with the chant. It helps center the class and brings the energy together. The chant reminds student to honor the light within themselves and others. The physical yoga practice helps the student to connect to something deeper and bring more meaning to their lives.

What do you think constitutes an excellent yoga instructor?

Take it off the mat. Just get off the mat. A good yoga teacher should be able to teach from a wheelchair if that is the case. I heard a comment one time from a student: “I will never go to a yoga class if the teacher can’t do all of the poses.” I feel sorry for that student; she is missing out, especially with the bigger picture. It is not just about the asana practice, but also an exploration into the other limbs of yoga. The asana practice starts the process, and from there you begin to change. All of a sudden you might start taking a closer look at the yamas and the niyamas and start doing something positive with your family and job setting.

What was your most challenging teaching experience?

We just opened Pulsation Yoga in Lake Zurich. It is our second location (with Arlington Heights) and so some students have never heard of us and what we are capable of with teaching. They hear language they have never heard before. I look at their faces and they are not quite sure what to do with it. They go through the motions trusting I know what I’m talking about, but with some skepticism. By the time they get to the middle of the class, they love it. I love at the end of class when they say, “What was that?” And when they keep coming back, to me as a teacher, it is cool how they are getting it and are literally changing in front of my eyes—physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

What do you recommend to the beginner student? To the seasoned student?

To the beginner student: Any Basic class or the Yoga 101 series. Some students figure it out quite quickly, while others take a little longer, but it doesn’t matter. I try to tell them to not get caught up with whatever everybody else is doing.

To the seasoned student: Go to as many workshops as possible to find what the masters we invite to the studio are doing. Learn from them first-hand. We call it continuing education, even if the workshop is restorative, like a lot of the workshops Gabriel Halpern teaches at our studio. This can be just as satisfying as an arm-balancing and inversion workshop I might teach. Attending workshops are especially important to help you become a more well-rounded teacher if you plan to teach someday.

How do you take your yoga off the mat?

I try to set an example by not having any attachment. I try to quickly let things go. I’ve seen just about everything imaginable. If I see an opportunity, I will talk to whomever for however long it takes until they are inspired and motivated enough to change their own lives by coming to us to try a class. It always seems to start with the practice and then shifts to a student’s internal challenges.

What is the one pose you are most proud of getting into?

Handstand, unassisted in the middle of the room. Handstand took me nine years, but once you learn how to fall out of pose softly, it isn’t so scary. I also learned a lot from some of the masters we have invited to the studio. Some of these teachers have been on the cover of Yoga Journal. Betsey Downing, Desiree Rumbaugh, and Ross Rayburn are probably some of the most inspiring teachers to help me with handstand.

What is your favorite time of day to practice yoga?

In the morning and evening. I don’t know why; I guess I’ve gotten into a routine that works for me with my schedule.

Where is the best place you have ever practiced yoga?

The best place was in St. John, U.S. Virgins Islands, by myself on the beach with no tourists around. The sand was deep and the water was beautiful. It was a hard practice.

What is your favorite music to listen to while practicing yoga?

I love Arcade Fire, Coldplay, Pearl Jam, Beck, The Black Keys, Benjy and Heather, Wah!, and Cat Stevens. Kathy and I have seen so many groups perform live. We made a list one time and it was about five pages long. I love the energy.

What else do you want students to know about you?

I have this stigma I’m too hard for students to try my classes. But I adapt my teaching to reach all levels. I teach the Yoga 101 series and I’ve been teaching senior citizens at a private club for five years. I have become a detailed, biomechanical type of teacher, and my style of teaching has naturally evolved with my education and personal experience. To be a good teacher, you have to have an imagination; you have to envision you are doing the pose. I imagine what I would be experiencing if I were doing a pose, and then I relate it to what I have learned from the masters.

Why do you love teaching at Pulsation Yoga?

It is our baby. We will do what is necessary to keep it fresh. We love our students. We love our teachers. When our students show up, it’s like, “Thank you for coming to our party!” We want everyone to get to know each other, because the Pulsation Yoga community is an excellent support system. We are friendly, and still get the work done.


Jim Simonik owns and teaches at the Pulsation Yoga studios in Arlington Heights and Lake Zurich. Check out the class schedules to attend his classes at either location.

Arm Balance Workshop with Co-Owner Jim Simonik

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The arm balance workshop is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 1 from 1 p.m.-3 p.m. at the Lake Zurich studio. Pulsation Yoga co-owner Jim Simonik guides students step-by-step into poses most people incorrectly assume are too difficult to do. The workshop is open to students of all levels, and costs $33 per person. Please call (847) 989-7792 or register in person at the studio prior to the workshop. Check out all the details here and join us for a great afternoon! 

Why are you offering this workshop?

Jim Simonik: [Co-owner and wife] Kathy and I grew our practice so quickly by going to every workshop possible. At times, we even traveled out of state to learn as much as we could. As a studio, we are big advocates on continuing education for the student and for our teachers. This separates us as truly being unique and as experts in our field. When I teach any of these workshops at Pulsation Yoga and any other studio, I teach from a beginner’s point of view. And while some students might feel they are not ready, participating in a workshop is a good way to boost one’s practice, and may be what one needs to take it to the next level.

We are offering this workshop to students who have a regular practice, preferably two times per week—although we do not discourage any student if they do not have this type of regularity. They may be in good physical health from running, working out at the gym, Pilates, etc… If this is the case, the student’s core and motivation is where it should be and they should be able to do some—if not all—of the poses.

How can arm balances benefit people?

JS: It builds confidence, it feels good trying to do it, and most of all, the more you do it, the fear starts to go away. I can remember trying to come into handstand in the middle of the room the first time. It was very scary, but I knew if I was going to fall out of it, I had an exit plan. Know in advance where you’re going to fall and learn to fall softly—sort of like doing a cartwheel.

What can people expect at the workshop?

JS: The main focus at the workshop will be arm balancing poses. I will do one inversion—and one only—and that will be handstand. I will spend about 30-45 minutes breaking handstand down, and teaching all types of modifications so everyone will feel comfortable getting into one—whether it is their first or 100th time doing handstand. We’ll have a 15-20 minute warm-up with a short talk at the beginning. The total length of this workshop is 2 hours.

The overall atmosphere will be structured, open-minded, fun, and enthusiastic. Too often, I see students over-effort in a pose. If you relax a little bit rather than muscling into the pose, and try and find the sweet spot or the balance, you will probably come into the pose.

Can people with injuries still benefit from the workshop?

JS: Of course! Many students, like my wife Kathy, have limitations. Kathy has two rods in her back. In handstand, I help her by guiding her up and holding her one ankle with my two hands. This is a very safe way for bringing someone up into handstand. As a teacher, I regularly help students get into the pose. Students do have to understand that I am not doing the work for them, but merely helping. It has to be an equal partnership, and there has to be trust with both parties to successfully get into the pose.


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