Aspire to Inspire: Educating Yourself to Elevate Others in Yoga

Aspire to Inspire: Educating Yourself to Elevate Others in Yoga

Testimonial Yoga Therapy

In today’s guest blog, Yoga teacher and student Carolyn Volk tells her story about taking classes with Julie Watson in Boise. Through this experience, she has walked away with new and fresh yoga therapy techniques to incorporate into her own classes. Read below to find out more about her journey and see how it can inspire you in your practice as well. 

Most of us have had those teachers – the ones that struck a chord, made a special connection, nudged us in just the right way and really made a difference. Julie is one of those rare teachers and this was apparent to me in my first class with her. Part of this is her calm and accessible manner, but as I learned more about her training, it made even more sense. 

Julie is a trained yoga therapist- a demanding certification that requires thousands of hours of training. She has worked with students and patients in both clinical and studio settings, in groups as well as one-on one. As a result, she has so many more tools in her yoga toolbox and a creative, intuitive and playful way of combining these tools to enhance and improve both movement and her students’ understanding and awareness of their movement. You can literally feel the difference in her classes. 

“Julie’s classes are a creative and effective blend of yoga and therapy informed by her training and her years of experience working with patients and students dealing with a wide range of health issues.” – Carolyn Volk

Julie’s classes are a creative and effective blend of yoga and therapy informed by her training and her years of experience working with patients and students dealing with a wide range of health issues. Small and sometimes quirky adjustments to poses, a different way of using a prop, focusing on targeted and seemingly unrelated areas to create new openings in your mind and your body..this is what makes the difference. She will do things you have never done in a yoga class before and sequence traditional poses in effective and unusual ways. 

Yoga teacher testimonial quote

Every class I take from Julie leaves me with new perspectives and fresh ideas to use in my own classes. So I was thrilled to hear that she is interested in more formally sharing her experience and knowledge with area teachers here in Boise. We are lucky to have her here and luckier still for the opportunity to learn with and from her. In the process, you are sure to come away with new information, fresh ideas and likely a few aha moments to inspire your own practice and become a better and more effective teacher.  

Julie has a depth of knowledge and also the gift of being a great teacher. If you are looking to deepen your understanding of particular movement challenges and add some new tools to your toolbox, Julie has much to offer us as teachers and as students of our own bodies. 

This guest blog was written by Carolyn Volk, yoga student since 1980; 200 hr yoga teacher training 2007; practicing teacher since 2016.

About Julie:
Julie Watson is professional Yoga Therapist, educator and an experienced yoga and movement teacher in Boise, Idaho, offering classes both in person and virtually. Contact her to learn more about how she can help you elevate your yoga practice today with new techniques and perspectives.

Vibrant Quinoa Salad

Vibrant Quinoa Salad


This is a tasty Summer/Spring salad; however, it’s great for during any warm weather spell or when you may need a mental pick-me-up. I love the the blend of fresh herbs, and the color and flavor brings simply makes me smile inside and out. Did you know that according to color psychology, the color green is considered beneficial to the mind and body? It also represents connection, connection to nature and connection to ourselves.

Combine the following chopped herbs in food processor with 1/3 cup or more olive oil. Add lemon or vinegar if desired.

  • 1 bunch cilantro
, packed
  • 1/2 cup parsley
, loose
  • 1/4 cup each dill, mint & tarragon

Mix with the following:

  • 2 cups (more/less as desired) cooked quinoa
  • small sautéed onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1/2 to 1 serrano pepper, deseeded and chopped
  • 3-4 green onions, sliced
  • generous handful of arugula, chopped
  • salt & pepper to taste; I also added cumin
  • feta, optional

If you don’t like the taste of tarragon, you could skip it or experiment with another herb…basil, sorrel, lemon thyme.



Yoga Therapy can be a highly effective treatment for mental health disorders

This article from from Psychology Today discussing how Yoga Therapy can help mood disorders. It references a recent 2023 study of Yoga Therapy and it’s beneficial role in reducing the effects of functional dyspepsia and chronic stress for those in high-stress jobs.

“Yoga therapy can play a bidirectional role in the regulation of gut-brain axis, i.e., from top-down as well as bottom-up pathway. ”

Adults increasingly used complementary health approaches for pain over past 20 years

Researchers have found that the overall use of several complementary health approaches, and their use for pain management specifically, rose substantially over the last couple of decades, researchers found. Published by JAMA, they reported:

  • The overall use of CHAs increased from 19.2% in 2002 to 36.7% in 2022. Their use for pain increased from 42.3% to 49.2%.
  • Yoga saw the highest rise in overall use from 2002 to 2022 from 5% to 15.8%.
  • Meditation has the highest prevalence of any CHA in 2022, at 17.3%.
  • Researchers said the increases could be due to several factors, such as the need to replace potentially harmful opioids.

Yoga breathing and meditation-based program improves physician well-being, lowers burnout

Healthcare systems worldwide are recognizing the importance of addressing physician burnout to ensure the sustainability and effectiveness of delivering quality health care. A randomized clinical trial  showed that those physicians who practiced Sudarshan Kriya Yoga reported significantly reduced stress, less depression and a decrease in insomnia, as well as a “significant improvement in professional fulfillment and significant  decreases in exhaustion, interpersonal disengagement and burnout.”

Spiced Carrot Soup with Pistachios and Rosemary

Spiced Carrot Soup with Pistachios and Rosemary


Great for a windy and rainy day, this comforting soup warms the body. Seasoned with harissa, a blend of pepper, caraway, coriander and cumin, enhance the flavor of the soup, while the pistachios and rosemary add a little texture and color.

  • 2 Tbs olive oil, divided
  • 2 lbs carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 4 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 2-3 tsp harissa paste*
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 2 Tbs rosemary, chopped
  • ½ cup raw pistachios

Lightly sauté carrots in 1 Tbs of olive oil. Add water and stock and bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Add butter and harissa and blend well using an immersion blender or transfer to a blender. Add salt to taste. Return to low heat until ready to serve. In a separate pan, heat remaining olive oil on medium heat. Sauté rosemary until it sizzles, then add pistachios and cook until they just start to lightly brown. Remove from heat.  Top soup with pistachios and rosemary.

*Harissa Paste

You can buy harissa paste already made or make it yourself with red peppers or dried chiles. I use a dry (mild heat) blend that’s made with guajillo peppers, caraway, coriander, sweet and smoked paprika, cumin, cinnamon and salt. If using a dry blend, whisk together 3 Tbs of the spice with 3 Tbs of olive oil, 1-2 minced garlic cloves and the juice of one lemon. Let sit for an hour before using and store in an airtight container. It keeps in the refrigerator for up to a month.

Serves 6-8.

5 Ways to Support Mental Wellness This Winter Season

5 Ways to Support Mental Wellness This Winter Season

Wellness Article Wellness Tip

As the year winds down and the weather gets cooler, it can create a change in our physical and mental space. Before you say yes to more invitations and holiday to-dos, it’s important to check in with yourself first and make sure you have the capacity to take on additional tasks, to prevent burnout and over committing yourself. 

If you’re feeling like you want to end the year with more peace and calm in your life, here’s a few ways that you can support your mental wellness this winter season. 

1. Bring Your Attention to the Present Moment

Stay in tune with what you’re doing now. 

When you feel overwhelmed by all that needs to be completed, just focus on what needs to be done in the moment and how this moment connects to the spirit of the season. If you find that what you are doing doesn’t contribute to your true intentions or desires for the season, consider changing directions.

If you need a moment of pause to check in with yourself, try this grounding exercise: Pause while standing and curl your toes, alternating feet a few times, as if you’re a squirrel gathering acorns for winter. Next, spread your toes for a second and relax them. Feel your feet touching the earth. Then, close your eyes and take 3 feather-light breaths, equal parts inhale and exhale. 

Another way to stay present in the moment: Try leaving your phone in another room for an hour and practice being present with those around you or the task at hand. Pay attention to how you feel. Are you able to complete your task with more focus? Are you more present with the people around you? 

2. Have a Centering Routine

When your schedule gets full this time of year, it’s easy to put self-care on the back burner and get caught up in a frenzy of endless tasks. 

One way to make time for yourself is to set a time to do your routine every day and prioritize it no matter what else is going on. This could be journaling, meditation, yoga, or saying a daily mantra. 

Studies show that journaling reduces anxiety, depression, and improves all over mental well-being. The great thing is, you don’t need anything special to get started. Journaling is an accessible practice that anyone can do from home using a notebook or your phone. It’s also a great way to reflect on the past year and plan out what you hope to accomplish in the future with your personal and professional growth. 

Journaling Prompts to Try Out: 

  1. What are three things you’re grateful for today?
  2. What three ordinary things bring you the most joy?
  3. List 10 things that inspire or motivate you. 
  4. What are your top 3 happiest moments of this past year?

3. Get Proper Rest

If you find your stress levels rising as the seasons change, it could mean that you need more rest, both physically and mentally. Proper sleep and rest will help you think more clearly and be in a better mood. 

Ask yourself, “In what ways could I add more restful activities into my day?

Resting doesn’t have to mean just sleeping or laying down. It can also mean getting out into nature and invigorating our senses. If you have to think a lot for work or use a computer, it could mean doing something more active, like taking a walk or hike to give your mind and eyes a break from the screen. 

According to the American Pyschological Association, researchers have found positive correlations between nature and mental well-being: 

The stress reduction hypothesis posits that spending time in nature triggers a physiological response that lowers stress levels. [Another] idea, attention restoration theory, holds that nature replenishes one’s cognitive resources, restoring the ability to concentrate and pay attention.

With screen time reaching an average of ten hours a day, making time for mental rest is just as important as getting proper sleep. 

4. Set Intentions for Before Each Activity 

One powerful centering technique can be to set an intention for what you’d like to embody or experience before each activity of the day. This will help plant the seed in the fertile soil to manifest growth in various areas of your life. 

Here are some ideas for setting intentions in your day: 

Before a meeting: Center yourself by setting an intention of what you want to achieve in this meeting. What kind of energy do you want to bring? What is your objective?

Before getting together with a friend: Clear your mind of any mental clutter or stresses from the day and focus on enjoying the present moment with your company. 

Before attending a holiday gathering: Set an intention of the energy you want to bring and how you want to interact with others. If you get overwhelmed in crowds, take mental note of this to prepare some conversation starters to ask others. 

5. Surround Yourself with Positive Quotes and Affirmations 

Think about how you can sprinkle your day and life with positive thoughts and inspiration, such as quotes, a book, or listening to a podcast. After all, you are what you think! 

Developing a positive mindset can be as simple as having a conversation with someone who inspires you or is a good friend. If you often fall into fear and panic, try limiting your news and social media exposure and focus on bringing more positive channels into your life. 

Here’s some daily affirmation and quote ideas to get you started. Feel free to write your own in your journal or display them on your office wall for a simple, daily reminder. 

Daily Affirmations:

I am enough as I am. 

I am allowed to rest and take breaks. 

I am at peace with myself. 

Things do not have to be perfect to get started. 

You can try writing your own affirmations as a daily practice. 

Positive Quotes: 

“The groundwork for all happiness is health.” – Leigh Hun

“Wellness is the complete integration of body, mind, and spirit – the realization that everything we do, think, feel, and believe has an effect on our state of well-being.” – Greg Anderson

“When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.” – Paulo Coelho.

“Health is a state of body. Wellness is a state of being.” – J. Stanford.

By adopting a few of these practices, you can bring more balance into the holiday season. If you’re looking for more guidance, check out our previous article on Mindfulness Tips for the Holidays. Feel free to share your other wellness tips in the comments. How do you stay centered in the winter months and throughout the holidays? 

Wishing everyone a happy and healthy holiday season!