Emily Smith is a staple in the Memphis yoga community, leading teacher training, workshops, and cutting-edge classes at Hot Yoga Plus. If you enter one of Emily’s classes or have the pleasure of practicing alongside her, you may first feel intimidated by her skills. You will often find her upside down, trying a new inversion with impressive focus, but you will soon catch her infectious, playful energy and resonate with her mantra, “It’s Fun to Try.”
Emily is originally from Texas but has lived in Memphis for nearly 20 years. She grew up very athletic, riding horses and playing sports as a child, eventually playing basketball and running track in high school. While all competitive sports, with Emily’s basketball team even winning four state championships, competitiveness was never a driving factor for Emily. “I just loved being part of a team and achieving success through teamwork. I also loved the pure physical exhaustion after a long weekend of basketball games. It was hard for me to find that level of hard work anywhere else.”
Emily studied dietetics at Baylor University and kept her fitness through walking and running, though she missed the passion and exhaustion she used to feel while playing basketball. Soon after graduating from Baylor, Emily married her husband and started their family, having three sons and a daughter. As a young mother with four kids, Emily found long walks as a way to get out of the house with the kids, talk with friends, and get some exercise. She eventually began running and grew to enjoy distance running, especially the St. Jude half marathon. However, after years of running, Emily recognized that her body was asking for rest and recovery after hamstring issues and general fatigue. In 2015, a friend invited her to a class at Hot Yoga Plus, and she was immediately addicted. “I loved how it felt to use all these other muscles and experience that full-body sweat and exhaustion.”
She continued attending yoga classes at Hot Yoga Plus multiple times per week and became interested in teaching. However, she was nervous about the intense multi-weekend schedule commitment of teacher training. With encouragement from her family, Emily enrolled in training and received her 200-hour yoga teacher certification in the fall of 2017, instantly recognizing her passion for teaching yoga. “When I found yoga, it was like having playtime for me. HYP became a place for me to feel free and safe to have fun, try new things, and adopt a mindset that anything is possible.”
Emily has continued her personal yoga growth by completing 300-hour teacher training, an additional online 200-hour teacher training, Yoga Sculpt training, and Aerial Yoga training. She has also attended several more specific workshops at Hot Yoga Plus. “I am a lifelong student, and I love learning as much as teaching. Nothing is more rewarding than integrating what I have learned to help my students tap into their potential and power.” Now, Emily teaches regular Power Flow classes, Ashtanga (a more thoughtful and structured Power Flow class), an inversion-focused weekly class, Yoga Sculpt, and Aerial Yoga.
I see how much people thrive when given a safe, open space where they can be challenged in a diverse group.
In recent years, Emily has partnered with fellow HYP teacher Lauren Vestal to lead 200-hour yoga teacher training at Hot Yoga Plus twice yearly. Through her teacher training classes, Emily is passionate about cultivating the safe and playful environment for her students that she fell in love with at Hot Yoga Plus. “I see how much people thrive when given a safe, open space where they can be challenged in a diverse group. At teacher training, my students are free to figure out and explore who they are and what makes them light up, including how their bodies and minds work.”
Check out Emily’s teaching schedule at Hotyogaplus.com. Learn about exciting opportunities at HYP on Instagram @hotyogaplusmemphis and Emily’s Instagram @emsmith00. You can also learn about Emily and Lauren’s yoga insights on their YouTube channel, Youtube.com/@LaurEm-yoga.
By Zoe Harrison
Photo by Tindall Stephens