Yoga Instructor Empowers People to Live Healthier LivesSep 02, 2015 12:49PM ● By Sheila Julson
Shelley Carpenter, founder of Pure Energy Yoga, discovered the benefits of yoga after she injured her back in 1999. Yoga not only helped relieve her pain, but she was also captivated by how it brought the mind, body and spirit into harmony. Carpenter wanted to share the gift of yoga with others, and she used her training in physical therapy to create her own unique programs that make yoga approachable for everyone.
Carpenter is from Little Chute, Wisconsin, near Appleton, and she had considered several professions that involved helping people. She felt drawn to physical therapy and attended Marquette University, where she earned her Bachelor of Physical Therapy degree in 1992.
After college, Carpenter began a rewarding career as a physical therapist. “I was able to help empower people in their own healing process,” she says. While pregnant with her second child, Carpenter injured her back, misaligning the sacroiliac joint, and she endured recurring pain. A friend, who was also a physical therapist, suggested yoga.
Carpenter began watching some yoga videos but found certain movements to be too advanced. “I was concerned about the possibility of reinjuring my back, so I created modified versions of the poses. As a physical therapist, I knew how to do that,” she explains. In addition to pain relief, Carpenter’s regular practice of yoga gave her increased energy, an elevated mood and a calm mind.
When Carpenter’s patients began asking questions about how they could get started with yoga, she decided to help others experience the physical and mental healing benefits of yoga. She attended yoga teacher training classes at Kanyakumari Ayurveda & Yoga Wellness Center, in Glendale, and, in 2006, she became a registered yoga teacher and formed Pure Energy Yoga. During Carpenter’s yoga teacher training at Kanyakumari, she was introduced to the concept of prana, the life energy that flows through the body. This eventually led her to learn Reiki energy healing.
Carpenter’s specialty is a gentle form of hatha yoga, which focuses on movement and breath. She incorporates her physical therapy training into her classes and uses props like chairs for balance; blankets; yoga blocks; and straps to help clients keep their bodies aligned.
Carpenter observes how yoga empowers individuals to notice things about the body that they hadn’t noticed before. “Once we are paying attention to what our bodies are feeling, we learn to work with our bodies instead of pushing or forcing beyond our capabilities, which often causes injury. We let go of judging ourselves and instead, honor the wisdom of our bodies,” she explains. “When we truly honor and respect the body, it starts to let go of the guarding and protecting. The body is able to soften and release in a deeper way, knowing that we won’t push too far, or cause injury and harm.”
She holds two classes at Ommani Center for Integrative Medicine, in Pewaukee, for beginner and intermediate levels. She also works one-on-one with individuals, and offers Reiki healing sessions. Additionally, Carpenter teaches a beginner’s class at Heritage Presbyterian Church, in Muskego; a Gentle Healing Yoga class at YogAsana, in Muskego; and the Beat Cancer Yoga class through ProHealth Care, where she still works as a physical therapist two days a week.
"The Beat Cancer Yoga is for cancer survivors, their caregivers, families and friends, or anyone that wants a gentle class,” Carpenter says. She notes how within the last couple of years she’s getting more calls from people whose doctors are recommending yoga to complement their treatments.
Carpenter says she occasionally hears misconceptions from people who are intimidated by yoga because they think they lack flexibility. She believes that is the precise reason people should give it a try. “It’s very focused on alignment and honoring inner wisdom, focusing on breath and meditative practice,” she says. While there are many classes for young and fit people, Carpenter stresses that she offers gentle yoga classes for all ages.
"It’s been a wonderful experience,” Carpenter says of her journey. “I’m so grateful to have these tools to promote my own healing and to share with others, including those dealing with major illness or chronic pain.”
For more information about Pure Energy Yoga, call 414-217-4185 or visit PureEnergyYoga.com.
Sheila Julson is a Milwaukee-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Natural Awakenings magazines throughout the country.