Teenager proves there is no age limit to being able to motivate and inspire
Los Angeles, CA, April 23, 2014
Imagine a room heated to 105-degrees Fahrenheit with a 40% humidity factor, filled with three dozen men and women all looking to be guided through one of the most intense physical and mental workouts they will ever do – hot yoga.
Now picture a 14-year-old girl with long straight hair, big blue eyes and a smile that will warm your heart leading this dedicated group of adults twice her age through a challenging 60-minute class, and you’ll realize that Skyler Dearen is not your typical teenager. In fact, on December 15, 2013, at the age of just 14, Skyler became the youngest known certified hot yoga instructor in the United States.
Over the past 5 years, yoga, an ancient practice from India, has grown in popularity in the United States. A 2012 “Yoga in America” study by Yoga Journal showed that 20.4 million Americans practice yoga, compared to 15.8 million in 2008, an increase of 29 percent. At the same time, the style of yoga has changed dramatically.Today, the most popular yoga classes are being offered in heated studios, where people move through a set series of postures and a flow that systematically stimulates the muscles, organs, and nervous system, moving freshly-oxygenated blood throughout the body while leaving puddles of sweat behind.
Due to the extreme heat and humidity, hot yoga is considered to be one of the most vigorous, aerobic, and effective practices in the world. Devotees say this type of yoga leaves them feeling energized, strong, more flexible yet also surprisingly relaxed and calm.
But in order to achieve these benefits, however, a person practicing hot yoga needs an instructor who is able to almost magically instruct, motivate and make them believe that “yes, you can really do this!” A hot yoga instructor needs to have a presence and a voice that is confident, empowering and gentle, all at the same time. And yet, despite the fact that she isn’t old enough to drive a car, Skyler can steer a packed class of stressed adults through one of the most challenging series of poses, all without breaking a sweat herself.
An 8th grader at Corona Del Mar High School in Newport Beach, California, Skyler has been practicing regular yoga since she was six and hot yoga since she was eleven. In January of 2013, her mother Darlene, who has been studying, practicing and teaching yoga for over ten years, opened Radiant Hot Yoga in Newport Beach. Skyler started taking hot yoga classes regularly and helping out at the studio after school, and then one day she decided that she wanted to do more. She told her mother that she wanted to become a teacher.
Her mother wasn’t surprised. “Skyler is different than other 14-year-old girls. When I first introduced her to hot yoga, she responded and embraced the practice the way people twice her age do – adults with years of physical, mental and emotional stress that find amazing benefits in hot yoga.” Darlene adds, “She has the focus, patience and maturity of a much older soul and truly understands the transformational power of hot yoga. Watching her share this with others as an instructor is the greatest gift a mother could ever receive.”
On October 4, 2013, Skyler started the Teacher Training Program at Radiant Hot Yoga with eighteen other students all at least twice her age. For 8 weeks, she spent 25 hours every weekend in training while most girls her age were at the beach or shopping at Fashion Island. After completing 200 hours of teacher training, she received her certification from the Yoga Alliance and became the youngest known certified female hot yoga instructor in the United States.
When asked why she wanted to become an instructor, Skyler’s face instantly lights up. “I wanted to get certified not only to teach but also to deepen my own yoga practice and find out more about myself,” she says. “I used to think that hot yoga would make me perfect and over time, what I realized is that it doesn’t. What it does do is make me content with who I am, imperfections and all,” Skyler says with confidence. “But I also love being able to help heal and inspire others. I get such a warm feeling in my heart when I watch people go from being stressed, depressed and anxious to feeling calm, strong and able to deal with everyday life,” she adds with a smile.
As if going to school for 8 hours a day, participating in extracurricular activities such as the Drama club, and practicing, teaching and helping out at her mother’s studio wasn’t enough, Skyler also volunteers as the teacher’s assistant for Corona Del Mar Yoga and teaches two classes a week, and she loves every minute of it.
But what do her friends think, after all, peer pressure for a teenager can be very powerful. The good news is Skyler doesn’t have to sweat it. “My friends have a lot of respect for me because it takes a lot of courage to teach adults,” she says. “I also think that because I am hardworking, ambitious and strong willed by nature, my friends see my teaching as an extension of who I am,” she adds.
So what’s next for Skyler?
They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. After watching her mother heal and inspire so many people by creating a sanctuary from the ground up at Radiant, Skyler says that she will continue to teach and plans on owning her own Radiant Hot Yoga franchise one day. But first she has to finish high school.