Annie Adamson has always loved movement. When she was young she enjoyed extreme sports like snowboarding, wakeboarding, and speed skating, but it was the unstructured playfulness of being outside with her brother and sisters that continues to inspire her movement today. As a movement teacher, she is passionate about instilling joy and helping people reclaim the parts of themselves that are “youthful, bright, and vibrant.”
Two of Annie’s favorite quotes from the developer of the Alexander Technique F. Matthias Alexander offer a glimpse into the way Annie sees the world: “You translate everything, whether physical, mental or spiritual, into muscular tension.” and “We can throw away the habit of a lifetime in a few minutes if we use our brains.”
When asked what these aphorisms mean to her, she illustrates with a practice she teaches her students called the “beauty walk,” where they can choose to walk their story—express how they are feeling in the here and now—or they can choose to shift their gait to manifest a new energy and present themselves differently in their lives… We can change our habits of motion if we want to.
Annie is the founder of Primal Vinyasa™, Primal Medicine™, Holistic Therapeutics™, and co-owner of Yoga Union Community Wellness Center in Portland, Oregon. She has over 18 years experience teaching yoga classes, workshops, and trainings. Her deep love of mythology, natural movement, and the study of the Earth Medicine traditions with spiritual teacher and Boundaries & Protection author Pixie Lighthorse has greatly inspired her work.
Recently, we sat down with Annie to ask her the four questions we ask all of our featured teachers so that you can find out more about her, what you can expect from her classes on Yoga International, and what’s been on her mind lately.
What yoga style, tradition, and/or lineage are you a part of (if any)?
One of the things I often say is “movement is your birthright.” The process of evolution, of becoming more fully whole and more human, is the deepest lineage. And to really recognize where I come from—my ancestors and my community—and to listen to them. Some of my best teachers have been my clients, my students, and members of my community. I don't fall under a guru model although I trained in Anusara Yoga for fifteen years and was certified in it and I have done many other trainings as well.
It's hard to say—as a white person and an American—what lineage I relate to as a movement facilitator. I don’t teach traditional yoga, but I'm so grateful for it. I think that yoga is heading to an understanding of where we come from as individuals—our individual ancestry lines and stories—and honoring them. And at the same time, we need to honor how yoga made its way here and into the studios and be really grateful for that.
What can I expect from your classes on Yoga International?
One of the things I say is “Discover your birthright.” When people practice with me, it's really an unlearning and a remembering. I ask a lot of very direct, very specific questions about sensing. It's explorative from a sensory experience and it’s fun. It's functional movement inside of a vinyasa cadence.
What's on your mind these days yoga-wise?
What I’ve been thinking and talking about lately is the difference between holding space and hosting space. Many yoga teachers have this sense that when they go into a room they're holding space for everyone—but that's not really possible. We're learning to be more gracious hosts, so that it's not so heavy and burdened where we think that we're holding everybody up. There's this whole thing that's going on in the yoga world where we've staked claim to being space holders when really we're forging connections as movement facilitators.
As yoga teachers, I think we need to ask better questions, rather than just tell people what to do and where to place things. For example, why are we still standing in front of the room? [In Primal Vinyasa, the class practices in a circle.] Telling people who to be, what to do, and where to place things maintains that hierarchical energy. I teach and cue through a language map of asking people questions like: Can you sense that you're able to breathe on your back? Can you sense the difference between shifting your weight forward and back? If so, can you actually feel your midline as you’re doing that? etc.
So, what I’m looking at in the yoga world is can we effectively shift out of that commanding model and into real community, and into deeper inquiry, so that our students feel that we're actually curious enough to ask good questions?
What do you like to do outside of yoga?
I really love seasonally wildcrafting. I live out in the country, and I love plant identification and sustainable harvesting. I have a side company of Primal Vinyasa called Primal Medicine, and I make abhyanga oils, body oils, and balms—basically self-care products. I love getting out into wild spaces, learning about the plants, and then bringing them back into my world and sharing them with my community.
You can learn more about Annie and try her fun, liberating classes on YI today!