Elizabeth Moulder has been a yoga instructor at Twisters Wellness Center in Erdenheim, Pennsylvania (outside of Philadelphia) for ten years. This is her second year leading the yoga program during Twister’s sold-out retreat at the Blue Osa in Costa Rica. At night during dinner, guests are often gushing with enthusiasm over Moulder’s teaching style, which is a blend of Ashtanga, Iyengar, Vinyasa, Hatha and Yin. Below, Moulder shares some of her secrets for crafting a series of unique classes that move the group forward with inclusion and grace.
Elizabeth first got into yoga at age 11 when her mother fell down the stairs and badly injured her back. The family doctor prescribed yoga, and knowing that her mother probably wouldn’t do it on her own, Elizabeth and her sister decided to learn so it would be a “family thing.”
“As a kid, we were mostly having fun, doing headstands, and backbends, seeing what it was like,” Elizabeth explained. “We have bodies that were already quite capable of a lot of that stuff. We were already quite flexible, just by the shape of our hips.
It’s one of those things where if you’re good at it right away, you’re more likely to stay with it… gives it that little push.”
Completing Yoga Teacher Training
Elizabeth studied philosophy in college at Temple University and completed her teacher training at Wake Up Yoga a year later. The program was a Vinyasa-based practice, taking a lot of specific alignment cues from Iyengar and sun salutations from Ashtanga. So there is lots of flow, but also a lot of holding postures for up to five breaths.
Elizabeth has developed a unique teaching style that is all her own. Her speaking voice is clear and sophisticated, and every class is different, though they feel like they are building on the one before. Throughout the week that she taught at Blue Osa, I had the impression that we were following an arch or a story, moving through different parts of our body, one-day opening hips, the next our back, the next our legs. Elizabeth says the key to her fluency is her own personal practice.
“The way I teach is I do it, and then I teach it,” Elizabeth explained. “So what you guys did this morning, I did it right before I taught you so I could be a little more understanding about how your bodies might take it, not assuming that everybody is the same of course, I don’t believe that is the case at all, but to have more of a feel of it. The goal is to bring a little more strength and freedom to an area we didn’t hit the day before.”
She teaches up to thirteen classes a week back home at Twisters Wellness Center, and has developed an excellent reputation among her students.
“I have a lot of students tell other students ‘If you really want to know what she is like as a teacher you have to take a whole week of her classes, so you can see what happens, see how you can shift space to space.’”
This year, for her time at Blue Osa, Elizabeth decided not to book any excursions and simply concentrate on teaching, practicing and enjoying the opportunity to get to know her students on a deeper level.
“I’ve just really loved talking to people from all walks of life. Talking to people about where they come from, what their story is. We have two pediatricians here, a few lawyers, two nurses… and they are all here doing yoga, some for the first time. We always have the token three or four husbands because their wives bring them, and even though they are new, they keep on coming back to class which I’m loving,” Elizabeth said.
One of Elizabeth’s gifts as a teacher is her ability to include every person in the class, regardless of their ability level, by explaining each posture with three or four options for progression. Advanced students are challenged to a great workout with advanced twists and balancing, while newer yogis soak up the benefits of the beginning formations. Even though the group is made up of some very advanced students, there are no competitive vibes in her in classes.
“I like yoga because it makes me sensitive to things. I feel less on autopilot and more alive while I’m doing it,” Elizabeth explained. “This place does something similar; it makes me especially sensitive to beauty and to goodness.”
Elizabeth believes the yoga retreat experience is unique from other kinds of vacation and travel because of its transformative effects.
“You’re in the jungle, you’re in paradise, it’s almost easier to allow yourself to let go of yourself when you’re in an environment that is so different than one that your used to, especially when everything is just breathtaking. It does take you out of yourself a lot easier than if you were sitting at home in your living room.
“My good friend Liz said she feels excited about everything while she’s at Blue Osa. She’s excited to do yoga, excited to get in the ocean, excited to see the animals… she’s excited to get out of bed in the morning, excited to go to bed at night… I agree with her. I think this place makes me feel a little in love with everything.”
If you’re a yoga instructor looking for a fantastic location for your next retreat, Blue Osa offers an oceanfront experience with access to animal sanctuary tours, waterfall hikes and kayaking through the mangroves. Many yogis, like Elizabeth, are more than happy to soak up the incredible prana at the resort and take it down a notch for a week. Blue Osa is also a great place to come as a solo traveler: you can join one of our existing retreats, take one of Blue Osa’s open classes, or work on your own personal practice in the yoga room overlooking the ocean.
About The Author
Laurel Brauns is a travel writer, musician, and yoga life coach. She has lived in Costa Rica for the past two winters studying yoga has believes this country offers powerful transformative experiences to visitors who are looking to immerse themselves in nature and healthy living. She is a regular contributor to the blueosa.com blog. Learn more at lifecoachingwithlaurel.com.