Welcome to the first installment of Meet the Teacher! With this segment of On the Road, my aim is to introduce you to the many diverse, incredibly talented yoga teachers out there who passionately share their journey every day.
This month, say hello to Monique Dauphin! I first met Monique last fall when I moved to Poughkeepsie, NY, and was on the hunt for a local studio. Monique’s Warm Vinyasa sounded just my style, so I took a chance on Hudson River Yoga — a hidden gem tucked in the corner of a strip mall. In that first class we were twisting, balancing, and moving smoothly and deeply at just the right pace. Her instruction was clear and precise, with just enough rhythm to get whisked into a vinyasa trance; She was also funny, reminding us to keep a light heart and not take it all so seriously. The class was rigorous and we worked hard, but there were two luscious breaks with heavenly child’s pose adjustments. But what really catapulted the whole experience was the music — Monique makes her own playlists and artist mixes, and there’s nothing quite like a forward fold with Radiohead swarming at your ears, or warrior II to U2’s I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For — goosebumps!
I was an instant fan of her authenticity and creativity, and thought it appropriate to introduce Monique as our first teacher profile. Enjoy, and be sure to take a class for some rockin’, soothing, transformational vinyasa!
- Teaches at:
- Hudson River Yoga, Poughkeepsie, NY
- Teaching Style:
- Vinyasa, Trauma-Sensitive Yoga
- Certified by:
- Liz Mandarano, Yoga Effects in Manhattan, NY (200-hr Vinyasa Certification)
- David Emerson, The Trauma Center in Brookline, MA (40-hr Trauma-Sensitive Yoga Certification)
- Creative sequencing
- Music-themed classes
- Teaching to populations that have experienced trauma
When did you fall in love with yoga?
I took my first class when I was about 14 at a local gym. I can’t remember the teacher’s name but I remember feeling many sensations for the first time. It was the first time I connected with my sitting bones and experienced a true deep breath. I remember being in Baddha Konasana and feeling my hips sort of gently pop open. It felt amazing. Afterward, I said to myself, this yoga thing is where it’s at.
What prompted you to teach? Did a teacher inspire you? Was there a revelatory moment?
Around 2002, I had an amazing teacher at SUNY Stonybrook named Janine. She was a Kripalu teacher and she had their characteristic attention to detail and subtle use of music and vocal tone. She would do these great visualizations during Savasana that I found really inspiring. One night, she did this one where she had us imagine we were floating down a stream on our backs. It was such an intense experience and everyone left feeling elated and blissed out. I left that class thinking I wanted to be a yoga teacher. I really wanted to be able to give that feeling to others.
What can students expect from your classes?
Depending on the class, they can expect different levels of intensity. I teach a lot of fairly vigorous vinyasa classes, but I also do gentler classes like Mindful Yoga. I like to do fun things with music in the more challenging classes. I find that playing Erykah Badu or Led Zeppelin can help people tap into the more dynamic side of their practice while simultaneously lightening the mood. I’m really against taking yoga or oneself too seriously. I like the idea of being playful and free in my practice. It liberates me to go exploring, and I try to give that message to my students. I regularly say things like, “Remember that you are not here to impress anyone.” Your practice should be about deepening your relationship with your body.
I’m really against taking yoga or oneself too seriously… I regularly say things like, “Remember that you are not here to impress anyone.”
Along that same vein, one thing that students should not expect from my classes is a drill sergeant. I am not interested in “pushing” you. I will encourage you and help you if you express interest in say, trying an inversion or an arm balance. But ultimately, it’s up to you; where you take your practice isn’t really any of my business. I’m a big proponent of “the self as the guru.” Your body will tell you when it has reached its limit in a pose or when it needs to skip a vinyasa. It’s your job to listen and my job not to get in the way of that process.
What’s your favorite yoga memory?
Every yoga teacher has had the experience of incorrectly interpreting students’ facial expressions in class. My favorite memories are the times when I was sure a new student hated me, the class, the music, etc., only to have that student come up to me afterward and give me some outrageous compliment that made my week. It’s happened so many times that I have learned to refrain from guessing at what students are thinking.
Do you have a mat/prop you cannot live without?
I love my Manduka Lite. I have never found a mat that compares.
When you’re not on your mat, where can you be found?
I can typically be found on the campus of SUNY New Paltz where I’m pursuing a Master’s in Mental Health Counseling. I’m about 80% finished (yay!). One day, I hope to have a private practice in which I can integrate psychotherapy and yoga. I want to specialize in treating sufferers of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
What would we be surprised to know about you?
I write a snarky online humor column entitled, “Allow Me to Retort.” No one is happy and centered all the time, not even yoga teachers and therapists! I get frustrated just like everyone else and I need a healthy, creative way to discharge that energy. My column is on a humor website called The Yellow Ham and I write it under a pen name. I like to keep my humorist persona separate from my helping professional persona.
If you could summarize your teaching message in a sentence, what would it would be?
Everything in moderation ☆
Anything else you’d like to share?
People should check out my Live Music Vinyasa class on Saturday, June 9th at 11:30 a.m. at Hudson River Yoga in Poughkeepsie. I will be leading an intermediate vinyasa while my esteemed associate, Miguel Yannuzzi, plays guitar. Miguel is the lead vocalist and guitarist of the band FM Blanket. We’ve done these live music classes a few times and they are always a blast! Find out more and register for Live Music Vinyasa on HRY’s website.
Also, I love this website, thanks for having me on!