Workforce Profiles look at the people behind Workforce WindsorEssex’s 76 In-Demand Jobs. Each week, we talk to a different professional for an inside look into their work.

Above busy University Avenue, in the heart of Downtown Windsor, is H’OM Wellness Centre, a yoga and barre studio. Opened earlier this year, people of all ages and backgrounds come to the studio every day to practice. Lisa Schneider-Mitchell is one of the co-owners of the studio, as well as an instructor.

In our list of 76 In-Demand Jobs, you’ll find Program Leaders and Instructors in recreation, sport, and fitness. Windsor-Essex is home to a diversity of fitness and recreation, whose instructor training is as diverse as the programs. Learn more about the Sport and Recreation occupation in the Career Profile.

Lisa teaches weekly classes in Flow, Barre, Ying/Yang, and Baby at the Barre (along with her new son). Currently on maternity leave, she also a first responder in the Chrysler Fire and Security department.

We met her in the studio to chat more about her education and what brought her on her yoga journey:

How did you get started in yoga?

Seven years ago, I became a widow very suddenly. I was pretty young and was left lost in my own little world. Most people find yoga because of the physical practice (the Asanas); I found yoga through meditation.

My practice started as a meditative practice to help clear my mind and help me out through those tough times. After I started doing the meditation, I got into the physical practice. From then on, I started to practice regularly as well as meditate. The teaching came a little later on.

Photo of Lisa, Yoga/Barre Instructor

Has your job at Fiat-Chrysler helped you in yoga?

It does because I know a lot about the body from all the training we’ve had on-site, with the CPR and first-aid. You learn a lot about diseases and ailments, because they’re factory workers. We are constantly responding to people with injury. When we combine the two, it makes it easier to help people.

What is the best part of your job?

My favourite part of being a yoga instructor is being able to help people mentally and physically and emotionally. I feel like I can connect with people because I have been down that road with the things that I’ve been through. It’s amazing to watch someone’s practice and meditative practice grow.

What was your training like to become a teacher?

My very first training was in Los Angeles and I was there for two months. Our day-to-day training was about 12 hours in a heated studio. During that month, it was a silent meditation from the moment you woke up until your breakfast break. You weren’t allowed to look at social media, look at the TV, the weather; everything had to be silent.

You had to walk in silence to the studio, you couldn’t wave to anyone or say hello. Then, practice a meditation, as well as a 90-minute Asana practice. It wasn’t until our breakfast break where 40 of us got to converse about our silent meditation. Every day we journaled about that. That was probably the most memorable part of my training.

To me, yoga is not just about exercise, it’s about exercising your mind to work with your body.

What other types of training have you done?

I did Vinyasa Flow training in Toronto and Fit for Flow training in Texas. I went to India for two months to do a Yoga Therapy training. I’ve done barre training. I used to teach for Goodlife, so I trained through their Les Mills program, which is out of New Zealand.

There are different styles of yoga. It’s like an encyclopedia which never ends. My initial training was Hatha style. During those 500 hours, you learn the philosophy, anatomy, the postures, how to adjust, and how to assist. Every day we broke down one posture. There are over 8 million postures, so you can see how intense it got. There is a little science, a little history, a little bit of everything.

What advice would you give to someone interested in teaching yoga?

Go on a yoga safari. Try out every studio that’s in your vicinity or even across the border. Figure out which style of yoga is your favourite and which connects with you. Before you start training, get the Yoga Sutra, get the anatomy books, and really familiarize yourself.

What is your day-to-day like?

As an instructor, I get up pretty early. I teach the 6:00 AM classes because they work out with my schedule as a new mom. When I get home, I’m doing social media and working on scheduling and payroll. I work on the marketing and advertising. I also work to keep the studio up, making sure we have cleaning supplies and that the teachers are covered if they can’t come in. It’s a full time job.

Right now you’re on Maternity leave from Fiat-Chrysler, but what do you do there?

I’m a security officer and first responder. It’s an amazing job. I have one of the best jobs in the city. I’ve been there for 19 years. I work shift work, which is my only complaint, because it runs 24 hours. I do work a lot of weekends and holidays. It’s not very strenuous until things hits the fan, because we are first responders. We respond like fire, ambulance or police.

Has your job at Fiat-Chrysler helped you in yoga?

It does because I know a lot about the body from all the training we’ve had on-site, with the CPR and first-aid. You learn a lot about diseases and ailments, because they’re factory workers. We are constantly responding to people with injury. When we combine the two, it makes it easier to help people.

What is the best part of your job?

My favourite part of being a yoga instructor is being able to help people mentally and physically and emotionally. I feel like I can connect with people because I have been down that road with the things that I’ve been through. It’s amazing to watch someone’s practice and meditative practice grow.