Yoga is a foreign concept to many people in Montana. But to Shannon Agee-Jones, it has become a major force of her life. Shannon has been smilingly teaching Prairie Lotus Yoga in the basement of Farm Bureau Insurance for several months. “I'm plenty happy with it. I get to do a lot of yoga, teaching, and learning - even when no one comes. (Largest class has been eleven students.) That's where it starts. When we go to Bozeman, Zachary (husband) and I take a yoga class en route in Livingston.”
Shannon Agee -Jones started practicing yoga at MSU in Bozeman. “I did yoga because I was just plain interested and also because I had an injury during high school track that persisted throughout college track. Yoga made training easier. But, I really fell in love with it.
“Yoga just seemed to fit in. My program involved weight training, sprint workouts, pole vaulting and yoga. Yoga helped balance out the high impact athletic exercise.
“I also discovered along the way, that yoga is (for me) something for a lifetime.”
Still after graduation, marriage, and moving to the Jones Ranch (Two Dot Land and Livestock), Shannon let go of yoga for a while. “Then three years ago, I started going to Bozeman and later Livingston for yoga classes.”
While she was taking classes there, Jones was asked, “Have you ever thought of teaching yoga?” Having been an English teacher in Harlowton, teaching yoga was a natural fit.
“So, I needed teacher training. I chose to go to Baja, Mexico. I stayed in a tent for a month and was on a strict, pure, very vegetarian, Ayurvedic diet. I had papayas and bananas for breakfast every day. The foods were almost entirely fruits and vegetables, lentils and grains. I was living out in the country and only got into town on weekends.”
How was that experience? “It was a roller coaster, emotionally. But, I honestly came back with a pretty clear understanding of what is important to me and the determination to keep seeking these things. To not let daily life get in the way.”
“I have learned more in the last year than in many past years combined.”
Shannon's training was Iyengar based--really focusing on alignment and foundational poses. B.K.S. Iyengar is one of the modern yoga masters who is still teaching while in his 90s. While Shannon's training was from the Iyengar tradition, she now combines that knowledge to teach a Vinyasa style and a Yoga Basics style of yoga (Yoga Basics stemming from Bikram's Hot Yoga lineage).
“Here, I teach Vinyasa (meaning to place with purpose) yoga. In Vinyasa, we flow from one pose to another, really focusing on breath and awareness. In Yoga Basics, there are approximately 30 poses designed in a specific sequence to compliment one another. Breathing is foundational in yoga.”
With Shannon's baby due in a few days, “Some poses are being eliminated from my practice, but most are still available to me with modifications.”
Shannon and Zachary have been working with a doula (birthing assistant) and taking birthing classes. Mother Jones will take six weeks off from yoga teaching after the baby is born.
Jones says that, “Many people are pleasantly surprised when they take yoga.” Apparently, yoga is often not as people imagine it.
“The physical benefits of yoga are increased strength, better posture, skeletal alignment, and improved circulation. Mentally, it calms the nervous system, releases stress and strain. And, it is just good to take time out from our pedestrian lives.
“Yoga also has personal and spiritual aspects. It can be what you want it to be. The word yoga means union.”
How does yoga fit in Shannon's life? “It fits in quite well. I grew up in Helena. I have done a lot of catering for fly fishing and water color groups. I used to cook on the Smith river for a fly fishing company. My brother is a guide and outfitter.” Yoga, cooking, ranching, and teaching are all part of the flow for Shannon.
Mrs. Jones taught 7th to 10th grade English at HHS for three years. “It was very good. I enjoyed teaching and now miss the students. But, I needed to explore other options that I had put on the backburner. After I left high school teaching, I was able to go to New Zealand, travel within the states, attend my yoga training, be more involved with Zach and the ranch and to attend Holistic Managment Conferences with Zachary.”
Shannon has gotten deeply involved in ranch life with Zachary and their commitment to Holistic Management. Working on vision statements, making good decisions to maintain and make the best of their land. This past winter, Two Dot Land and Livestock hosted two Holistic Management seminars. One on vision statements and the other on grazing calendars. Two more are planned for next winter along with a one-day pasture walk this summer.
The Joneses also recently inaugurated a new eletter called The Sprout which addresses their interests and work with Holistic Ranch Management. This writer smiled and nodded as he read their excellent first issue. To get on their emailing list, contact Shannon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shannon's Prairie Lotus Yoga helps with the ebb and flow of her own holistic management. “It's not something I do an hour every few days. It's something I have taken into my lifestyle. There are within yoga the philosophies and teaching that match what I want my life to be.”