A look at a New College yoga instructor

photo courtesy of Joy Murphy

First-year transfer student Joy Murphy is vivacious, wears Toms, gives hugs and is a yoga instructor at New College. Murphy transfered from Hillsborough Community College in Tampa, but, for her, there is no comparison to going to school at New College. She decided on the college because she thought that it would prepare her for graduate school and saw that it was the best school for her money. “Also, I came here and I felt that I fit,” Murphy said.

During her free time Murphy likes to meditate, run and hang out. “People here are super cool and have very detailed discussions about subjects that I never knew existed before I got here,” she said. “I’m constantly being a student as well as a teacher and that’s what’s awesome about New College. Everyone is a teacher and student simultaneously and you never know what you’re going to learn.”

Murphy started practicing yoga four years ago. At first it just started out as an exercise, but she then began to participate more regularly and become absorbed it’s spiritual aspects. From there, she decided to share with others the meditative and health benefits she found in yoga. Last summer Murphy went to Radiant Transition, a yoga teacher training program in Tampa, to be certified in a 200 hour process. The certification included learning anatomy and poses and deciding which form of Hatha yoga to teach.

Murphy specializes in Ashtanga yoga, a division of Hatha. She tries to constantly vary her classes. “I go into the class and I sit there and I watch the students, their energies and their feedback,” she explained. “I can’t explain it. They have certain energies. This week was more of a stressful week so I didn’t stress their bodies. I felt that they needed to focus more on slow, easy poses with deep inhalations.”

When she was younger, Murphy wanted to be a writer and teacher. With yoga, she hopes to accomplish both. She would like to eventually create her own type of yoga. “I’d love to create something that’s my own thing,” Murphy said.

First though, she wants to become well-versed in all types of yoga. “I want to be able to say, ‘Hey this doesn’t work for you, try this,’ and have that knowledge,” she said. “I also want to study under teachers who are still alive and are considered reincarnated from previous older teachers. I would like to study under these people before they pass on.”

Murphy can easily see where a person is hurting or holding a lot of tension. According to her, yoga is really about the steadiness of breath. She tries to tell people that it is great to have a beautiful pose, but it is more important to steadily breathe. For Murphy, yoga is a healing process.

During class Murphy likes to play a variety of music, but sometimes she lets breathing be the only noise. “The inhalation especially solely through the nose, makes this sound that causes relaxation automatically,” she explained. “It’s definitely a different experience to practice with and without music.”

Murphy hopes that her students learn how to effectively breathe in any situation. She aims for them to be able to handle stressful situations by remembering what yoga taught them in the harder poses. “In those hard poses, when your body is screaming to let go of that pose and you just hold on for a couple more breathes and you can breathe deep into your body that’s crying,” she detailed. “I really think it prepares you for life in general where those situations occur and you want to a) panic and b) get frustrated, but instead you breathe through the obstacle of life. I really want people to get that.”

Murphy loves the way yoga makes her body feel. “I love the fact that my blood pressure is lowered and all the ramifications of having the knowledge to work or stretch my body,” she said. “I really have this great passion and love to teach people and give back to society this gift that I’ve found. It’s also very spiritual.”

Sometimes she will go to the Bay and perform sun salutations for an hour and a half. According to Murphy, this pays her respect to previous generations and shows her appreciation for the 4,000 year old tradition.

Even with the amount of time Murphy has spends practicing yoga, there are still aspects that she finds difficult. The hardest part of teaching yoga for Murphy is verbally explaining complicated poses. “There are some poses where I’m tongue tied,” she explained.  Also she often grows tired after teaching yoga because of the amount of energy that she gives.

“I really want people to see what yoga is like and see what it isn’t,” she concluded. “It’s not this crazy have to be extremely flexible thing. It’s your practice. People should come to this being open and okay with not knowing what they’re doing.”

Murphy teaches all levels of yoga in the aerobics room on Wednesdays from ___ and Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9-10:30 a.m.

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