The Great Yogini
Nod off in English professor Sirpa Tolvanen Grierson’s (MLIS ’92) class and you may have to strike a pose. “I’ll ask [my students] to do a yoga move,” says Grierson, like tree pose—her personal favorite. She demonstrates, balancing flamingo-like, arms outstretched to heaven. “It helps them get the blood flowing.”
Yoga reinvigorated her life some 15 years ago after a serious car accident. The former competitive athlete would never run again, and she wanted something to keep fit.
“I’m so much stronger now; I used to have to use two hands for the frying pan,” she says. “Now I don’t need weights to have non–Relief Society arms.” Downward dogs do the trick.
But what started as a fitness regimen is now much deeper. “Yoga is a yoking of the body and mind. If both are healthy, our spirit can really soar,” says Grierson, who is nationally certified to teach classes ranging from strenuous to restorative.
She practices at least four times a week and teaches in her spacious, bamboo-floored home studio, equipped with some 30 mats for anyone who discovers the space. It should have a revolving door with all the yogis coming and going, entering without knocking.
“Sirpa’s studio is an underground gem,” says BYU yoga instructor Heather Hansen Wing (BA ’03), who has taught classes there. Classes in Grierson’s studio are priced to cover only the cost of mats and instructors; Grierson even allows attendees to pay what they can or “exchange energy” rather than money, trading services. “Sirpa is just that way,” says Wing, “open hearted and open armed.”
— Brittany Karford Rogers (BA ’07), BYU Magazine, Fall 2013