Today we welcome Cheryl Crawford as our Atlanta FACE. Cheryl is a yoga teacher known throughout Atlanta not only for her energizing and reflective adult yoga classes, but also for her dedication to teaching yoga to the youth of Atlanta through her program, Grounded. Welcome, Cheryl!

Where did you grow up and how did you find your way to Atlanta?

I grew up in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.  I interviewed with Fulton County Schools at the University of Maryland, took a chance to get out of my comfort zone and drove south to a beautiful new city where the kids called me ma’am. It was love at first sight, so I totally relate to the Indigo Girls Song “when God made me born a Yankee, he was teasing.” I love Atlanta.

When and how did you begin your yoga practice?

My shoulders were hunched and my spine was almost diagonal after bed rest and caring for triplets. I  began a few months after giving birth and loved feeling centered, strong and calm. It’s almost impossible to breathe deeply and be uptight at the same time.

What led you to begin Grounded?

I’d been teaching yoga to kids for years (and training others to do the same) when 3 of my 4th grade elementary students asked me to train them to teach yoga. One of them suggested we call it Grounded. My business partner, Amy, loved the concept. I started the next week with 30 eager fourth graders at Fernbank. Amy and I led a  Grounded Yoga Camp, and shortly after that where we began refining our method. We infused it with our love of alignment, laughter and giving kids ownership.

What is your definition of being “grounded”?

Being grounded brings us back to balanced working order, the way nature intended us to be. When grounded, we know where we belong in ourselves, the earth and in relation to others. Though there are multiple meanings for the word “grounded,” they all in one way or another are in alignment and relative to the goals of our Grounded program. Ground is home. It’s familiar, safe and secure. It has a power of it’s own.

Why did you decide to bring yoga into Atlanta schools?

I was a school teacher for 11 years, and I saw the need for my students to focus and concentrate. I soon realized that yoga and schools are like chocolate and kale. At first it sounds weird, but it turns out to be perfect. I introduced yoga as “Reading Comes Alive” when my kids were in first grade. The principal asked me to start a yoga club. We wrote a “Tools for Schools” program for YogaKids International and tested it out in all the grade levels the next year.

What brings you the greatest joy in your teaching?

Witnessing the potency of kids and teens finding the calmness yoga brings to them, chanting and meditating, observing children teaching yoga to their teachers, and bringing together different groups of people through partner and group poses and watching them connect.

What is your favorite yoga pose?

Triangle and it’s twisted sister Revolved Triangle, pretty much fix everything for me. I really love all the poses equally and don’t want to play favorites. <smile>

What is your favorite fitness activity besides yoga?

I love walking with my three dogs, biking and I have been considering running since the majority of my family does.

What is your favorite peaceful spot in Atlanta?

Lullwater Park by Emory University is my refuge.

What is your favorite way to begin your day?

Meditation, a pot of tea and a huge breakfast.

What books can be found on your bedside table or Kindle?

A Wrinkle in Time, Triadic Heart of Shiva, and Portrait of a Lady.

What are you most looking forward to in 2013?

Traveling to New York City during spring break with my family, meditation retreats and creative collaboration with my colleagues.

Did you set any New Years resolutions?

100% Self Responsibility Plan: cutting out blame, criticism and defensiveness.

What is the greatest piece of advice you have been given?

“Don’t assume…”

Name three things you can’t live without (besides God, Family and Friends):

Fresh Greens, Bubble Gum and Tea.

Thanks so much Cheryl! For more information about Cheryl and the Grounded program click on this website: http://gogrounded.com/home-page 

And thank you to our FACES of Atlanta photographer Amy Lesesne!