Yoga instructor certified in New Zealand, India is now teaching classes part-time at the Pampa Youth and Community Center
The Pampa Youth and Community Center welcomed Haley Smith as their new yoga instructor one month ago, and in her hands- the class is off to a good start.
As of now, the class is held on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7 a.m. until 7:45.
“Those are just kind of the trial days to see if it takes off- and it is doing pretty good. We have 10 to 15 girls in here every morning,” Smith said.
“We’re looking at adding a lunch time class, maybe on Wednesdays, soon. We also have another teacher that is looking to maybe start, and she would teach evening classes.”
Smith says that adding more classes will have to be done strategically to avoid encroaching on Crossfit, Jazzercize or Spin classes. Despite this, she says that she would still prefer to keep her class sizes smaller, and for good reason.
“Honestly, we could fill this whole room. I would say 15 more girls could fit in here. Then if we really needed to, we could do the class in the carpet gym and then there’s really no limit to how many people can be added.”
“But, I’ve done a lot of hot yoga classes where all of our mats are six inches apart- that’s not the goal and that’s not what I want. I want to have smaller class sizes so that I can get to know all the girls,” Smith said.
“I already know all of the girls by name, and I know which girls are struggling with their shoulders and the girls that struggle with their knees.”
Maintaining this degree of knowledge about her student’s needs is important to Smith.
“Yoga is hard. But, we have girls that are in their 20s, and then I have two women that are 70.”
“Girls that have joint problems can’t lay or sit in plank for a long time. A 70-year-old woman isn’t going to do planks or pushups. But she can do this, and it will still have her sweating.”
Smith demonstrated a workout that involved standing in front of a wall, straightening her arms and using them to lean back and forth from the wall to while maintaining balance.
Because she tailors her workouts to individuals within the class, she says the goal is to add students to the class “slowly but surely.”
“A big slogan of mine for my yoga classes is that Yoga is for every body. And by that I mean human body. It’s for men, women, athletes, beginners, 20-year-olds that are super flexible, 20-year-olds that are 300 pounds, 70-year-olds that can’t touch their toes and 70-year-olds that are still doing CrossFit. It’s for every range of every type of person. You just need to come in here and give it a try,” Smith said.
Mats are provided by the Youth Center or can be brought from home. The rest of the props used in-class were purchased by Haley herself.
“Something I am personally proud of is that everything I buy and use in class is eco-friendly. We have 100 percent cork blocks and they don’t come in any plastic packaging. They can be recycled they’re biodegradable,” she said.
Other props used in the class include organic yoga straps made from certified reused cotton, full cotton blankets and lavender oils.
The Pampa News asked Haley what a typical class looks like under her instruction.
“So, they come in, grab their props and set up [their spot in the classroom]. We have music going, and a lot of them put essential oil on their hands or temples.”
“Then we relax into class for a couple of minutes, and then we start with three minutes of meditation. This is the hardest part for most of the girls, because you have to let everything go and just relax, be easy and not think about your day. You just think about your breath, or think about gratitude or we pick a word, something that they can focus on. They think they’re all struggling, but they’re all doing really good and working their mind in that way.”
“So, we do the three minute meditation and then we do quick warm-ups with each of our joints, just doing some rolls and putting some weight on our muscles.
“Then we go through what is called sun salutations. There is a lot of movement, you get hot and sweaty. They want me to turn the fans on, but I’m not going to,” Smith laughed.
“The we do tough, hard poses I would say for 30 minutes, and then balanced postures because they all really love it, like the tree pose or warrior three. Just some type of balanced posture to build their confidence.”
“Then we lay down, do a couple of back poses just to loosen up, and then we do Shavasana for five minutes.”
The yoga class Haley instructs is still accepting students.
“It’s free if you are a member. If you’re not a member, you get two free classes and then it’s just $2 per class. It’s super affordable,” she said.
Haley has been doing yoga for 10 years and is a certified yoga instructor in both New Zealand and in India.
“I grew up in Lefors,” she said.
“My husband and I, our goal is to be able to travel and always come back to our home base. And so just a couple of years ago, we were like let’s go. We sold our house, sold our car and sold all of our stuff. Then we moved [to New Zealand] for a year and I studied yoga. I got certified and I worked at two yoga studios and ran their social media-taught classes.”
Haley’s husband, Matt Smith, is a computer engineer and got a job in New Zealand as well.
“Then our visa expired, we went and backpacked through India. I got another yoga teacher certification there. I taught in India and did some yoga festivals there, and then we moved back,” Smith said.
She and her husband moved to Milwaukee for the first six months they were back in the United States before coming home.
“In May, we were going to move again to England for a year, but England said no [because of COVID concerns]. So we bought a camper two months ago and we spent two weeks in Rocky Mountain National Park. Next week, we’re going to spend two weeks in Big Bend, and then go to Yellowstone.”
“Since we can’t leave the country, we decided that we still want to be nomadic and travel. I’ve traveled a lot and done traveling yoga classes, and he works online. So we’re going to continue to do that,” Smith said.
“My job, since I’ve moved back home, is at the Youth Center and since that isn’t a full-time position, I work on a marketing website where I answer fitness and yoga questions throughout the day. Online, I get to pick my own hours.”
Since she is no stranger to teaching online yoga classes, Smith says that she already has a plan for her class in the day she and her husband are traveling.
“I can post videos on my page for the girls to keep doing. I have messages from two girls that are going to sub, and if they like it, they are going to see if they can start teaching yoga here (at the Youth Center), too.”
“I’ve already talked with the Jazzercise instructors and they’re willing to sub for me. The CrossFit girls are willing to sub for me and some of the Spin girls are too.”
Smith has also reached out to the BAR teacher at Madeline Grave’s and a girl at Benchmark Fitness to be potential substitute instructors as well, so she has a large network of people to reach out to to help guide her class through her videos if need be.
Smith wants to promote women helping and supporting women with her yoga class in addition to supporting fitness overall.
“I think it’s just important for women to come together in this journey that we’re on, especially now. I love coming in here in my yoga class and seeing 15 women of all different shapes and sizes working their butts off. And then I love seeing them go to CrossFit, Jazzercise or Spin. If the CrossFit instructor succeeds, I succeed. If the Jazzercise instructor succeeds, I succeed.”
“It’s women coming together and taking care of their body in a way that is good for them and feels good for them. They are challenging and growing themselves in a way that they’re proud of,” Smith said.
“I also want to support all types of fitness here in the Youth Center and not in the Youth Center. I went to P-Town nutrition and asked if there’s something I could say in class. I found out that a woman owns it, and as soon as I could, I supported her. Even if it’s not for me, it doesn’t mean I can’t promote and support other women in their grind.”
As far as COVID-19 procedures go, those that would be interested in taking the class would need to check in at the front desk wearing a mask, which includes a quick health questionaire and temperature screening. Once you are in the class, masks are optional.
“I’ve bought my own hand sanitizer, and I set out mat sanitizer. I wash our straps and blocks, and the class after our class washes all our mats. Our class is COVID-Smart,” Smith said.
The yoga class is held at the Pampa Youth and Community Center in the Jazzercise room. For more information or to sign up, you can call 806-665-0748 or visit their location at 1005 W. Harvester Ave.