Connie Bowman has lived most of her life in Maryland where she grew up. She has been married 36 years to her husband Rob, the same great guy she met Freshman year of college. They have two grown children, Caroline who works on Broadway (Wicked, Kinky Boots) and Bobby, who works in their family business and a sweet chocolate lab named Sophie. Carrie completed RYT in 2015 at Lifepower Yoga. In addition to teaching, she has been a professional actress and voiceover talent. Carrie is also an author and host of a podcast called Happy Healthy You! about living a whole life in mind, body and spirit.
How long have you been practicing yoga?
I have been practicing consistently for fifteen years.
How did you get started?
I started practicing in college back in 1980 in theatre classes. Our theatre professor introduced us to yoga and meditation as preparation for acting class.
What type of yoga do you teach? (Please Explain)
I primarily teach gentle (Hatha) classes and chair classes. After teacher training, I started subbing for a friend at a Senior Center and quickly realized I had found my niche. I went to Sivananda in 2016 and completed a training in Chair Yoga after being asked to take over a class. I teach Mindful Mondays, a combination of gentle yoga and meditation, Nightcap Yoga, also a gentle late evening practice to ease students into their evening transition them to sleep and chair yoga for students ages 75 to 93 (my oldest to date!).
What do you prefer/enjoy about this particular form of yoga?
I love teaching a slower paced class that allows students to really pay attention to their body, mind and spirit. I love that every week, seniors with a variety of mobility and cognitive issues show up, sit together in a circle and practice together. Often they will balance in tree pose, supporting one another by holding hands. Sometimes I am moved to tears when I witness their tenacity and dedication to their wellness and spirituality. And their care for and support of one another - that’s the most beautiful thing.
Do you feel anyone can enjoy and gain from yoga?
I really do. Obviously. I have witnessed a 90 year old regain confidence in her balance after surgery and women near my age, almost 60, heal from both emotional and physical injury. I know a teacher in Baltimore who works with children who is changing lives with her classes. So, yes yoga is absolutely for everyone!
What has yoga done for you as person?
The most profound thing I credit yoga with is helping me overcome grief after the loss of my six year old daughter Meghan. Asana helped me move grief through my physical body. Pranayama helped calm my nervous system. After trauma we often have a sense of disconnection from our bodies. I like to say yoga gave my spirit a soft place to land after the trauma of loss. I wrote a book about the experience called Back to Happy and also created a course on Insight Timer, the free meditation app, called The Process of Sacred Grieving. Yoga plays an important role in both the book and the course.
Do you feel yoga is more mental or physical?
Yoga is both mental and physical. Slowing down the mind helps us get in touch with our true self, warts and all. The poses and breath work provide focus for the mind and creates new healthy neural pathways. A lot of us in the West have bought into yoga as purely fitness. Certainly asana can be strength building and a way to lengthen the muscles and create a leaner look. But the physical benefits of yoga are far more important than popular culture would have us believe because it’s not sexy to be peaceful, spiritual and kind. Yet.
Do you believe it is an alternative form of healing and medicine?
I would like to think that yoga has become mainstream. I do believe the consistent practice of yoga can be healing for body, mind and spirit. I am proof of it!
Do you associate yoga with Hinduism? If yes, in what ways?
I was raised in the Episcopal church and have had a few people ask me if I am converting to Hinduism since I have started teaching yoga. I have to laugh when people think that. Sure, the roots of yoga go back thousands of years and are probably linked to the Hindu religion, (as far as we know anyway). Truth is, yoga has only deepened my faith. The discipline of slowing down enough to hear what God is calling me to do has been a positive thing for me and could be for practitioners of any faith. Puja (Hindu version of mass) has many of the same tenets as any Catholic or Protestant service. Yoga is a gift regardless of religious affiliation. We all know the word yoga means to link or to bind, or union. Any healthy religion will also inspire us to an experience of union with the divine. I am pretty sure God doesn’t give a fig if we practice yoga, especially if it makes us nicer people. She just wants us to love one another.
Is yoga a way of life or a way to exercise or meditate?
I think yoga is whatever you need it to be on any given day. Some days it’s a fiery vinyasa practice and some days it’s more meditative and yinny. (Not sure that’s a word.) It should be whatever we need that day on our mat (or chair).
What is your dharma, your life mission?
While I am constantly evolving, for now, I believe my dharma or mission is to be a role model and teacher to help people reclaim inner peace and joy.
Where can our readers find you? (Instagram, Website, etc)
When and where do you currently teach?
Mondays: Mindful Mondays at 9:00 AM at the North Laurel Fifty Plus Center, Tuesdays: Nightcap Yoga at 7:15 PM in Maple Lawn Fulton, MD Fridays at 9:30 AM Chair Yoga at the Florence Bain Center in Columbia, MD