There is Beauty in Motion; Embrace the Shake: Dawnelle Arthur

Dawnelle in pose at her former studio in Denver, Colorado.

“My story might take the direction that at first you don’t embrace to tell you the honest truth.

After college I moved to from Denver to Alaska to be a director of fitness for a lot of their major health clubs. When I experienced my first Alaskan winter, I thought I was dying. It was the first time ever, that I felt stripped from who I was. Back then, there was no such thing as Googling, “How to survive an Alaskan winter”.

Over the course of my time there I put on 20 pounds. I felt so heavy in mind, body, and soul. I remember fearing that nobody would respond to me because I was an out-of-shape fitness instructor. When I went to the doctor she told me it was normal because I was living in a new climate and my body was simply protecting itself.

I ended up staying there for another three years because of a promotion, yet I really didn’t want to stay another second. I desperately wanted to move home to Denver and get back to the four seasons, but I felt I couldn’t say no. But, you only know how the dots connect until you look back…if I never stayed in Alaska I wouldn’t have been prepared for what was about to hit me when I did eventually move home.

If I didn’t stay in Alaska, I probably wouldn’t have gotten so deeply invested in yoga. In an attempt to survive the winter, I decided to try a Rodney Yee yoga video- he was this old school, back-in-the-day yogi. I would do his video every day in my house, and eventually I was doing it morning, noon, and night. I got addicted to the practice; the movements, and it gave me something else to do other than feel sorry for myself. I started noticing the weight coming off, and that’s when it really clicked for me. I thought to myself, if this is really helping me, I want to share this with my community and my health clubs. So, I decided that I would bring yoga to the Alaska clubs.

There was a company called Yoga Fit, and the whole idea behind it was training gym instructors, to teach yoga to other gym people. I was like, YES! That’s it. I hired one of their consultants to fly into Alaska to train myself and all my instructors for a weekend. Then, I decided to put Yoga Fit in all of the clubs because people LOVED it! It was exactly what Alaskans needed: something more than the stair climber or spin class.

If I didn’t stay in Alaska and manage those 5 gyms, I never would of had the experience, courage, or confidence to accept a position at Core Power, which I joined first as a practitioner, and second as an instructor…yet, after putting my resume in to teach, I was approached not become a yoga teacher, but to help develop a program that incorporated yoga with weights. At that point, I didn’t understand the huge potential of the role offered, because all I wanted was to teach yoga! But, I said yes.

At first, the class: ‘Yoga Sculpt’ wasn’t getting much traction with merely one to three students attending. I really felt discouraged, separate from the other teachers and was told that my class simply wasn’t working. They wanted to cut the program, but I begged for a few more months, because I knew I could do it. And I did.

Gradually, 20 people came. A few weeks later, 25 people came. I didn’t even have enough weights for everyone! Eventually the owners reached out to affirm that I’d done an amazing job, and got me enough weights for 50 people. After a few more months, we had 70 people attending and within two years 120 people were coming every Saturday morning. I grew as a person with the natural progression of Core Power.

Dawnelle on her spin bike at her former studio in Denver, Colorado.
Dawnelle on her spin bike at her former studio in Denver, Colorado.

Over time, our visions went in different ways and six months after turning down an opportunity to help launch a new Core Power, I opened up my own spin yoga studio.

From that point on, my studio and practice has evolved and morphed into something I never could have imagined. I had felt uninspired both physically and mentally with yoga. My body was so conditioned to the poses- it didn’t do for me what I needed it to do. I decided to test out new ways to move, like adult gymnastics and dance; anything with spontaneous movements to challenge my body.

After taking a choreography workshop, I felt so enthralled by all of it that I thought, what about doing yoga choreography instead of a yoga sequence? This initial idea is how my movement method, QiFlow was born. It combines movements from dance, gymnastics, Crossfit, and more, to create a feeling of freedom within the body.

I truly believe that movement reveals all, but I don’t believe in a ‘one movement fits all’. Yoga culture today is about waiting for your teacher to tell you exactly what to do, and then doing it.

What I’m suggesting in the QiFlow methodology and my practice, is

wait until your body tells you where to go, and then go.

It puts you in a very vulnerable position, when you’re not being instructed verbally, but rather being instructed by your body. No matter what class I’m teaching, I believe in one underlying principle: new movements, new results.

Dawnelle reflecting on her yoga story in Denver, Colorado.

It gives me goosebumps when I think about how close I was to giving up on yoga: my practice, my business, and really myself. Today, my space is what fuels me, it’s my life, it’s everything to me. Coming full circle, it was all of the things that I didn’t want to, or didn’t think I could do, that put me in the position I’m in today. I definitely wouldn’t of known how to open my own business, if I never accepted that promotion in Alaska. If I didn’t leave Core Power, I wouldn’t have as strong of will or voice. If I didn’t open up my own studio, I wouldn’t have stayed true to what I believe in. I wouldn’t have created my movement therapy program if I didn’t suffer a chronic hip injury and be told by five different doctors I’ll need it replaced in five years…

I learned that, we don’t go through the pain. We make our way around it, we get in front of it and then we keep going.

One Ted Talk in particular that really resonated with me, is called “Embrace the Shake”. You are your biggest limitation; embrace the shake, the pain, the hardship, the obstacles, and keep pushing towards your dreams.” – Dawnelle Arthur

Dawnelle outside her former studio in Denver, Colorado.

UPDATE April, 2019

“I lost my studio due to financial hardships and failed lease negotiations in October of 2018 after 12 years and 7 months of being in business. The loss of my studio broke my heart and left me stranded, but I regrouped and went full throttle into Movement Therapy for Injured Movers and the Aging Body called AgeDEFY. I no longer have a brick and mortar studio, but I’m still moving and grooving with my online members! The business side of yoga is hard but the real gift is having the ability to make adjustments and keep going no matter what happens to you. I lost but I gained. This, to me, is yoga. It’s the yoga of life and I am a forever a student.” – Dawnelle Arthur

Here’s my new studio

Check out our other inspiring stories of everyday yoga practitioners and please, #ShareToEmpowerALL ! We strive to empower others to get vulnerable, and be inspired to start a yoga practice of their own to bring in hope & possibility.

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