In awe of: Lila Pierce Brown by Betsy Vohwinkel

Ali here to start. Oh boy oh boy oh boy, am I excited to premiere my friend Betsy “BB” Vohwinkel’s testament to teacher Lila Pierce Brown. BB, thank you!

On Lila Pierce Brown by Betsy Vohwinkel


There are quite a few yoga teachers in the triangle area and beyond for whom I have great respect and to whom I owe thanks for my training and practice. Some have been teaching for years, others for a few short months. I am not a technique snob, nor do I feel as if my teachers should be so perfect that I have something to aspire to. Music isn’t a must, neither are props, heat or a beautiful studio. What I look for, enjoy, appreciate and learn from is the real person. Where I find that most consistently is with a group of teachers and practicing yogis who come together once a week for 2 hours of “Radical Expansion” at Gateway Yoga in Raleigh.

Led by Gateway’s founder and director, Lila Pierce Brown, this class is a veritable open vault of yoga experience. Most of the “students” are teachers themselves, some are yogis who have been teachers or who simply wish to deepen an already strong practice. Whatever the background, we are all there to learn from Lila and each other. Yoga teachers often neglect their own practice as they try to give their “all” to the responsibility of teaching and I am no exception. Because I respect and sometimes crave Lila’s Anusaran approach to connecting heart to body and mind, I am like a sponge when I come to my mat. Her inspiring words and the almost preternatural gift she has of speaking to specific anatomical corrections when I’m in an asana leave me feeling drained and inspired at the end of class.

But, the instruction doesn’t stop with Lila. She will often ask one of us to demonstrate a pose and/or speak to our experience in that pose. Now we have an open dialogue from which even Lila sometimes finds enlightenment. Because the same pose can be felt differently by everyone it is so helpful to hear the voices from around the room speaking to my experience or offering helpful suggestions and insights.  The personalities in the room are not pompous or yogier-than-thou. We laugh, groan, whine, cajole, snort and cheer in equal measure. Far from perfectionists, the yogis in this “inner body bright” love-fest are on a quest that will never end. With every asana accomplishment comes an acknowledgment that yoga is not a a destination, but always a journey.

I’m glad to be on this journey with Lila and the Tuesday “Radical Expansion” crew at Gateway Yoga!!

Lila Pierce Brown

Lila Pierce Brown is a Certified Anusara Yoga Teacher and the founder and director of Gateway Yoga, an Anusara Yoga Studio in Raleigh, NC. She is dedicated to the life-affirming and transformational aspects of Anusara Yoga and feels blessed to share such an elegant practice with the community. Lila has studied extensively with her teacher John Friend since their meeting in 2002 and was certified by Friend in 2005. She enjoys offering Anusara Yoga Immersion programs and teacher trainings throughout the area and has taught Anusara Yoga at the American Dance Festival in Durham, NC since 2008. One of Lila’s great joys is to guide students into a space of true transformation, encouraging them to continually discover, honor, and gracefully reveal the deep potential that lies within through the brilliant practice of Yoga.”

Classes with Lila Pierce Brown at Gateway Yoga, Raleigh

  • Radical Expansion Tuesdays 11-1pm
  • Firm Foundations Wednesdays 4:30-6pm
  • Groove is in the Heart Wednesdays 6:30-8pm
  • Radical Expansion Thursdays 11:15-1:15pm
  • Body Prayer (with Mark) Sundays 4-5:30pm

Betsy Vohwinkel

Betsy ‘BB’ Vohwinkel began practicing yoga over 16 years ago in her living room with a VHS tape of Patricia Walden’s ‘Yoga for Beginners’ At the time her goal was to stay fit and relieve some of the stress of being a full-time mom and part-time small business owner. As BB began to branch out into different classes, she found a passion for learning about the possibilities of yoga—for breath and balance, strength and laughter; and how the lessons of yoga could be applied to every aspect of our lives.

BB has practiced Anusara, Ashtanga, Bikram, Vinyasa, Power, SwaSthya and Sivananda Yoga. She has experience teaching Ashtanga, Vinyasa Flow, Hot Yoga and Power Yoga. Teaching yoga is a natural extension of BB’s love of the practice, outgoing personality and tongue-in-cheek sense of humor. Holding a pose is not as important as laughing when you fall out of the pose! BB’s classes are about the practice, but they are also about learning to care for you, the person on your mat; self-acceptance, self-love and taking the time to listen to the breath.

BB is the proud mom of two amazing daughters who are currently both in college. She lives with her wonderful husband, Joe, and two cats who eye her disdainfully when she is in down-dog. The kitties are also deeply offended by her OHM-ing, the sound of which makes Joe giggle like a school boy. Clearly there is no place for any serious ‘yoga ego’ in the house.”

Classes with Betsy Vohwinkel

SYNCStudio (Durham)
  • Ashtanga Vinyasa Flow Monday 9:30
  • Deep Stretch Flow Wednesday 7pm
  • Power Flow Friday 9:30 am
EVOLVE Movement (Raleigh)
  • Yoga Lunch Thursday 12pm
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2 thoughts on “In awe of: Lila Pierce Brown by Betsy Vohwinkel

  1. Betsy, what a sweet post about our dear Lila! I couldn’t agree more. Lila is innately connected to her heart and this connection shows in all areas of her life. And what a special fun-filled group we have on Tuesday mornings, for the radical transformation class, truly a joy! Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Love, Michelle

    1. Michelle, I couldn’t laugh at myself or our poses half as much without your fabulous “snort”! I missed it this week! Hope all that pt will get you back with us again soon 🙂 xoxoxo

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