“As I Live and Learn”
Johanna jokes that she is starring in her own soap opera called “As I Live and Learn.” She is a life-long learner and longtime teacher, whose own spiritual journey to deeper peace and joy motivates everything she does. In her first career in New York City, Johanna taught high school English for seventeen years, worked as a staff developer for eight years, earned two NYC high school principal’s licenses, completed the course work for her Ph.D., and led workshops in corporations as Write Well Consulting. Then after being smitten on a vacation to Arizona, she left the school system to follow her bliss in Sedona.
in a van, for over fourteen months. She quotes her father saying to her sibling: “Your sister is crazy! She lives in a truck.” During this time, Johanna would do her yoga practice on the flat rocks by the creek and rock scramble up trails to majestic cliffs where she would sit and meditate. To share the wonderful transformation she experienced, Johanna invited others to do yoga and hiking with her amid the red rocks. With her first retreat in February 1994, she began her adventures as Director of Sedona Spirit Yoga & Hiking.
Throughout all of her life, Johanna has focused on self-development, striving to be all that she could be. She engaged extensively in Landmark Education personal growth seminars and became a course leader. In one of the advanced courses, she was asked to make an “impossible promise” that would be her life’s purpose to fulfill. Johanna’s promise was to “help people discover their voices and fully develop themselves as lifelong learners with a contribution to make.” She worked to fulfill this promise as a key member of the New York City Writing Project and the NYC Teacher Centers Consortium, where she led workshops and chaired conferences for teachers. At the Teachers’ Consortium, Johanna also helped pioneer team-building and vision-planning workshops for “Schools of Tomorrow Today.”
Now, after over twenty years’ leading hikes, workshops and retreats and extensive yoga study, Johanna is no longer “striving” to be anything, but simply learning to keep clearing her energy so that the love she already is at her core can shine through. Johanna teaches that it is all about vibration and letting go. All that we are is energy. We pick up stuff, which sticks to our ego like Velcro, and it blocks our essential light from flowing. No one can “wound” or diminish us unless we let it be so in our own minds. So all there is to do is to keep clearing ourselves daily, just like brushing our teeth. She encourages students to do centering through yoga postures, breathing and meditation, or simply by learning to quiet the mind a bit, focus inward, and let go.
Johanna’s yoga career began when she started teaching Yoga in NYC in 1990, after earning her first 200-hour certification from the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. She followed this with another 200-hour certification to do assisted yoga and became a Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapist. Once in Sedona, Johanna enjoyed over fifteen years of intensive study with Rama Jyoti Vernon and earned a 500 hour diploma from the International Yoga College. For six weeks in India, Johanna studied “The Healing of Yoga” at the Krishnamacharya Yoga School with TKV and Kaustub Desichar and colleagues. Johanna later successfully completed a 200-hour Meditation Teacher Training from the McLean Meditation Institute. And, most recently, Johanna compleated Richard Miller’s I-Rest Yoga Nidra Meditation Teacher Training Modules I and II.
Johanna is passionate about “Yoga as a way of life.” In 2000, she published a book (and later a CD set) about living the yoga principles for peace and contentment. YogaLife: 10 Steps to Freedom is now being acclaimed by yoga teachers and students worldwide. In YogaLife, Johanna teaches the value of these essential life principles to enhance success. She the authored two other books Cultivate Contentment: Using Ancient Wisdom to Thrive in Today’s World and Teen Triumph: 10 Ways to a Winning Life. Johanna Maheshvari has been a leader in the yoga community, serving as a founding board member of the International Yoga College and as past president of the Arizona Yoga Association.
As Sedona Spirit Yoga & Hiking goes into its third decade of providing transformational experiences, it hosts a trail of worldwide publicity and stellar endorsements. The Yoga Journal featured Johanna’s retreats as one of ten holiday retreats, and Shape Magazine publicized her retreats as one of six recommended yoga and hiking experiences. Both Essence and Alternative Medicine magazines sent authors to attend retreats for feature stories. Johanna has been filmed doing yoga in the red rocks for television by MTV, the Shakti Hill Cable TV Show, and Good Morning Arizona. If it is all about energy as Johanna says, each of us is a vortex. Playfully alluding to her red rock journey, when Johanna met a guide who called himself “Mr. Sedona,” she thought it would be fun to be her own comic book character “Madam Vortex” as she spins her transformational projects.