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Interview with a Yogini: Shauna Gilsdorf and a Life of Intention

Shauna Gilsdorf at Yogaja Yoga Toledo by Mary Wyar Photography

Shauna Gilsdorf is exactly what you would imagine when you think of a yoga teacher. She exudes calmness, her smile stretches from ear to ear, she’s easy to laugh--including at herself--and she’s also stunningly beautiful.

If you were to say any of those things to her, she would blush, smile embarrassingly, and likely say, “Oh, stop.” Then she’d remind herself to take a compliment, adding, “But thank you.”

While Shauna has always been a loving, empathetic soul, she is where she is today thanks to yoga and a life of intention. From a very young age, she was surrounded by those who practiced mindfulness, listened to the body, and saw the importance of the natural world.

“Growing up, my paternal family was very into mindfulness, reflexology, reiki, connecting to the earth and listening to your body [and] I spent a lot of time with my paternal family. They were super organic and clean...everything in moderation. My grandma always told me, ‘Stand up straight, engage your core, and be mindful of what you put into your body.’”

“My grandpa used to practice reflexology on me. Like, all the time,” she chuckles. “He didn’t do time-outs; he would say, ‘Give me your foot and we’ll work that out.’ He was always studying something.”

“What I see now as ‘earthing,’ my grandpa had me doing that as a kid. He’d pour a pitcher of water into the earth and massage my feet and ground them down into the earth.” She adds, “My grandpa was also really big into rolling feet on tennis balls.”

“My father actually wanted to be a priest,” she shares. “I wouldn’t say he was religious, but he always dropped those seeds and was very spiritual.”

Shauna’s nurturing environment had her meditating on her own, without prompting, at the young age of 6. She describes her meditation sessions: “I’d sit on the floor and meditate in the mirror. I’d go so deep inside, staring into the mirror, that I’d actually leave my body and see myself sitting on the floor in front of the mirror. I remember getting scared, like, ‘Holy sh*t I hope I can get back into that little vessel!’”

Shauna Gilsdorf visiting her grandparents at the cemetery

While Shauna carried the knowledge of meditation and mindfulness with her into adulthood, she didn’t begin her yoga teacher training until her fourth and youngest child was more independent. Shauna laughs, saying, “When I become a [yoga] teacher, my grandpa said, ‘What took you so long?’”

Shauna took about 5 years to complete her 200-hour yoga teacher training through YogaFit, and she explains that she went slow because she was “raising up a family.” During those years, she taught and practiced yoga regularly, incorporating the lessons she learned from her trainings into her classes.

“I became a yoga teacher, honestly, because I was looking for something more. I really felt that there was something missing,” she confesses. “Yoga is my pathway to something bigger.”

“As my kids started to get older, it was the most appropriate time to do it,” Shauna continues. “I had the space to be a little more selfish, if you will. It wasn’t ever a question; it was a matter of when.”

“As a yoga teacher, I want people to really remember that we are spiritual beings; we’re simply having a human experience.” Shauna emphasizes, “People forget that. You just have to pause and remember.”

For Shauna, giving birth to her first child, Paris, and entering motherhood reminded her that she is a spiritual being capable of great things. She says, “That experience cracked pieces of me wide open and showed me how infinite my love is. Motherhood propelled me to be more intentional, mindful, and present.”

Gilsdorf kids

“I felt more connected to the wisdom and guidance of my body, especially during pregnancy and childbirth,” she continues. “I began to take care of the place in my body and spirit where healing was needed so I could pave the way for my kids.”

“Motherhood opened doors to infinite possibilities and helped clear out the the voice of my samskaras that told me I wasn’t good enough. We carry things until we don’t, and motherhood helped me to decide to be whole...because I already was,” she explains, tearing up.

“The best thing that I can do is remember that I’m a resident of my internal world first and my external world second,” Shauna concludes. “In my 40s...I’m learning to let go of things that no longer serve me. I’ve gotten good at being more intentional and more mindful. I know now, don’t take it on in the first place so I don’t have to let it go later.”

Shauna teaches Power Flow at 9 a.m. on Wednesdays at Yogaja Yoga in Cricket West (West Toledo location).


Shauna Gilsdorf in side angle at the beach
  1. What do you love about Yogaja?

“The community feel for sure. Students are awesome and teachers are so freaking welcoming. It’s like stepping into home each time I teach.”

  1. Tell us about a class you teach and your methodology?

“I teach vinyasa flow. My classes are definitely heavily sprinkled with yoga philosophy.”

  1. Favorite yoga pose?

“Half moon pose: ardha chandrasana.”

  1. Least favorite yoga pose?

“Warrior 1. I can never square my hips!”

  1. Describe yoga in 5 words or less.

“Yoga is a discipline.”

  1. Family?

Husband, Thad (married 18 years). Kids, Paris (24), Maicie (21), Brodie (17), and Xander (14).

  1. Job?

“Mental health professional. I work inpatient psychiatry at Toledo Children's’ Hospital with ages 6-18.”

#shaunagilsdorf #yogajayogatoledo #yogajayoga #yogajayogateachers #intention #meditation #vinyasaflow #yogamom

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