200CYT from Shoals Yoga in Florence, Alabama.
200 RYT Yoga Center of Jackson in Jackson, TN.
Group Exercise Instructor from the YMCA.
Silver Sneakers Instructor in Classic, Yoga, and Circuit.
Precision Nutrition Level 2 Master Coach.
Tell us about your journey.
I began a journey that led me to become a health coach starting in 2012 at the age of 43. At that time, I was morbidly obese, unhappy in my marriage and, dissatisfied with life in general. I always say that before you can change, the pain of staying the same must be greater than the fear and the pain of change. Well, one day, I hit that point. I started out prioritizing eating more fibrous vegetables and lean protein sources in my meals and began walking. A short time later, I came to realize that I had to quit smoking if I wanted to both save my marriage and get healthier. The day I came to this realization, I smoked the last cigarette in my pack and have not picked up another one since. I was a 30+ years, 2 pack a day smoker. Over the next couple of years, I incorporated strength training and some cardio into my daily behaviors and had a dramatic transformation. I went from a tight size 28 to an 8 and even got down to a size 6 for a while. I have been able to maintain the over 170lb weight loss since then. At that time, I was in the best shape of my life, but you know what? I still was not happy. The most significant transformation in my life began when I began attending yoga classes at the YMCA in Trenton, TN, during the fall of 2013. Yoga gave me the tools what I needed to create the balance in my life for which I had always longed.
After moving to the Shoals area of North Alabama in July of 2015, I soon found a home at Shoals Yoga. In January of 2016, I joined the 2016 Shoals Yoga Teacher Training class and received my first 200-hour yoga teacher certification. After completing my training at Shoals Yoga, I continued my education to include an alignment based 200-Hour Registered Yoga Teacher Training at the Yoga Center of Jackson and am currently simultaneously finishing up my 500-Hour RYT and Yoga Therapist Certification.
I am also a Certified Group Exercise Instructor with several specialty certifications in Senior Fitness and Active Aging as well as a Lifeguard and an Elite Level Master Nutrition Coach. I offer my services both in person and in the online space through my business Empowering Life with Suanna.
How long have you been practicing yoga?
How did you get started?
I was becoming extremely stiff from lifting heavy weights and wanted more flexibility, so I decided to attend a yoga class at the YMCA.
What type of yoga do you teach?
I generally teach an Iyengar based class. Iyengar yoga is about alignment and focuses on the tiny little shifts you make in body positioning for each asana, so you are in proper alignment as you move into and hold the pose. Iyengar yoga also incorporates the use of yoga tools such as straps, blankets, bolsters, blocks, and chairs so that every asana or at least a variation of it can be accessible to anyone. The use of the yoga tools is especially beneficial to assist those who may have an injury, new students, students who are incredibly tight or for those who may have some anatomical challenge. Most Iyengar classes move slowly, and asanas are held for more extended periods than in many other types of yoga so that the student can properly shift into a pose using the breath and then focus on breathing and relaxing into a pose.
What do you prefer/enjoy about this particular form of yoga?
I prefer Iyengar based yoga because, at my age (50) and activity level, (very active) I need to make sure that I am as aware and mindful as possible of my body and move it in ways that are beneficial and help me feel good instead of causing pain or injury due to having moved wrong.
Do you feel anyone can enjoy and gain from yoga?
There is no doubt in my mind that everyone can learn something beneficial from yoga.
What has yoga done for you as a person?
Yoga helped me find the balance in both my mind and body that had been lacking almost my entire life.
Do you feel yoga is more mental or physical?
I believe that you cannot have one without the other. Yoga can and will meet you wherever you are at any particular moment. The choice is yours as to where you want to take your practice.
Do you believe it is an alternative form of healing and medicine?
I believe yoga is medicine in the sense that it helps treat and can even prevent some types of dis-ease that if not treated, can move to disease. I also believe that when practiced intentionally and regularly, a well-choreographed yoga practice can help heal many ailments along with other forms of healing and medicinedepending on the situation.
Do you associate yoga with Hinduism? If yes, in what ways?
Since my 200-hour trainings were Sivananda and Iyengar, and both styles came from India, many of the things I learned about yoga have a Hindi background. And yet, there are many different styles of yoga that have very little to no association with Hinduism.
Is yoga a way of life or a way to exercise or meditate?
For myself, yoga is a philosophy, a way of life, but for other people, yoga is a form of exercise or a way to calm their mind for a while. Yoga will meet you wherever you are on your life journey.
What is your dharma, your life mission?
My mission in life has three components
- To love
- To learn
- To share what I have learned with others
How important is living a healthy lifestyle (clean eating/eating healthy, for example) important to the yogi lifestyle?
Living a healthy lifestyle is essential. Period. Not just for the yogi lifestyle but for anyone wanting to be able to move and enjoy life to the best of their ability.
Any natural ingredients and/or vitamins that you recommend? And why?
As a health and nutrition coach, I recommend eating mostly a wide variety of whole foods. Eating a rainbow of colorful food is one of the best ways to get as many nutrients as possible. Focusing nutrition on mostly leafy green and fibrous vegetables, adding in appropriate amounts of lean protein sources and sprinkling in just enough carbohydrates and fat to satiate and satisfy you without triggering cravings or overeating. And yet, with that being said, depending on many factors, such as availability, cost-effectiveness, and other factors beyond a consumer's control, I understand that this type of nutrition is not something everyone can achieve all of the time. I recommend seeing your health practitioner and getting your blood work done at least annually so that you can supplement properly for any deficiencies.
How important is hydrating/drinking water to the yoga lifestyle/your practice?
Hydrating is vital to any lifestyle, whether it be a yoga lifestyle or not. The adult body is approximately 60% water, and water is an essential of life. While we can survive without food for prolonged periods, without water, we will perish in a few days. I have written a couple of blogs about water. One is specifically about hydration and is named, Are you a Drinker? The most recent is 12 common myths and truths about water.
When and where do you currently teach?
I teach Yoga
- 6:30 am Tuesdays, 5:45 pm on Wednesdays at Shoals Yoga in Florence, Alabama.
- 8:30 am on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Family Fitness of Killen in Killen, Alabama
- 8:30 am Wednesdays at Family Fitness of Killen in Killen Alabama I also coach my signature hybrid class. The first half is a quick 15-20 minute Metabolic Conditioning Circuit followed by 20 minutes of yoga. This particular format is my very favorite format to teach since it incorporates cardio, strength training, AND yoga all in one 50 minute class.
I teach Silver Sneakers
- 8:30 and 9:30 am Monday at Family Fitness of Killen in Killen, Alabama
- 9:30 am Wednesday at Family Fitness of Killen in Killen, Alabama
Where can our readers find you? (Instagram, Website, etc.)
Facebook Personal Page: Suanna Markham Geater
Facebook Business Page: Empowering Life with Suanna
Facebook Public Group: Empowering Life Accountability Club