From Passion to Profession
by Denise Milanese Photography by Christian Lee
When Brittany Hiller was 14 years old she fell in love with the TV show Dharma & Greg. Already that fun-loving, free-spirited “hippie” girl in 10th grade, all Brittany needed was to marry a straight-laced guy and become a yoga instructor. Back when yoga was just for hippies, and before yoga pants were a thing, her dance instructor used yoga as a warm up and cool down technique. After the first class, Brittany knew two things for sure: 1. She was hooked for life. 2. She wanted to teach.
Soon after, she remembers sitting in her sister’s room (while her sister was out of the country on a foreign exchange) still and quiet with her legs crossed. The only meditation she’d ever done before was prayer. And before she knew it, she began crying. Deeply. It left her feeling peaceful and her mind decluttered.
18 years later, Brittany is married to her own version of straight-laced Greg, and she is in her fifth year of teaching yoga, a proud yogini—guiding others to awaken their inner Goddess through meditation and mindfulness practices. It’s become her profession as well as her passion.
She is a certified trainer in children’s yoga, as well as Baptiste-inspired power yoga, and most recently has shared the joys of laughter yoga with appreciative groups throughout the region. Teaching since 2010, Brittany has built a successful enterprise teaching yoga to children. School administrators and teachers find yoga helps students focus better and releases anxiety and stress. “It is encouraging to see more and more opportunities for children to experience the benefits of yoga,” Brittany said. She has observed that her young students develop a sense of clarity and ease beyond their years.
Dawn Harris’ 3-year-old son participates in Brittany’s classes every week at The Little Brown School in Beaufort. Dawn has noticed a big difference in her son. “It warms my heart to see him so engaged with Brittany and participating in group activities. That’s a big deal to me because, at first, he was reticent to join his classmates. She’s helped him come out of his shell, so to speak. He’s a lot more outgoing and confident. He’s got great balance and he’s more self-assured, Dawn said.
Laughter Yoga is Brittany’s latest conquest in the field. The concept is new to many—including this writer—and entails a 30-minute session designed to arouse and inspire chuckles, guffaws and deep belly laughs. There are over 6,000 laughter yoga clubs worldwide. In the past decade more than 400 clubs have cropped up in the U.S. alone. The health benefits of laughter are widely accepted and include strengthening the immune system, reducing pain and lowering stress. It can trigger the release of beneficial endorphins and promote a general sense of wellbeing.
Sebastian Gendry who founded the American School of Laughter Yoga describes it: “You laugh, you clap and you breath and suddenly you find yourself really laughing and you don’t know why. It’s fun and you feel good.” As the intricacies of the mind-body connection are being discovered and explored, researchers have found a particular focus on the potential benefits of laughter. A researcher from the cardiovascular field found that healthy adults watching a funny scene from a movie experienced a 20 percent increase in blood flow. Other studies have suggested laughter helps burn calories and increase heart rate. One Japanese study found laughter may even help lower blood sugar. The laughter yoga experience was a huge hit at the 2017 Women’s Holistic Health Symposium—THRIVE in February. Brittany opened the one-day event, sharing her bliss with more than 100 captivated, joy-filled attendees.
The future of our very own Lowcountry yogini will continue to encompass wellness on every level. Brittany is passionate about nutrition, eating only foods with ingredients that can be spelled, felt and held in her hand. Her Effervescence Yoga Studio and Spa will be opening soon, offering yoga classes and massage therapy. She hopes to continue expanding her Little Yoga Playshops (children’s workshops), offering a calming, centering experience to students in pre-schools and elementary schools around the Lowcountry.
• Earned license in massage therapy from Technical College of the Lowcountry
• Married to Andrew, a corporate glass technology representative, and proud mom to two fur babies: Armani–a Chihuahua/Boston Terrier mix and Abbie–a Springer Spaniel/Chocolate Lab mix
• Designer and writer who authored the children’s book The Little Laughing Yogini Me and designed accompanying Yogini plush doll. (available on Amazon)
• Opening soon–Effervescence: A Petit Yoga Spa offering yoga classes as well as massage therapy.
• www.theoutdooryogini.com Find Brittany on Facebook: outdooryogini and on Twitter