Park Record 12/11/10
Steve Phillips, Record contributing writer

Randi Jo Taurel discovered the ancient practice of Yoga in 1998, or it discovered her. She stumbled into a south Florida Yoga studio at a time in her life when she was dealing with serious physical and emotional stress.”Yoga started helping me pretty quickly,” says Taurel. “I realized this was something that can really change lives and decided it was definitely something I wanted to explore.”

Since that revelation 12 years ago, Taurel has transformed her life through Yoga. Now, she wants to do the same for others, especially kids. Her mission these days is to introduce the practice of Anusara Yoga to beginners — pregnant women, new moms and children. Park City has become her classroom and it appears she’s here to stay. “I moved away from this town once after I found it, but never again,” she vows.

Taurel has traveled far and wide since her modest, middle class upbringing in the northeast. Born in Englewood, New Jersey, she grew up on a farm in upstate New York. “It was great for a little kid,” she recalls, “too young for hard labor but old enough to appreciate having my own animals.” Later, the family owned and operated a restaurant in Cooperstown, New York, home of the Baseball Hall of Fame. “It was always fun to help out there as a kid. I got to make ice cream cones,” says Taurel.

After taking a degree in Speech Communication from Ithaca College in 1988, she moved to San Francisco, where she worked in retail marketing for Levi Strauss. She married a Coast Guard pilot in 1995 and spent the next five years living out of a suitcase in Washington, Florida and Texas.When the marriage ended in divorce, she moved to Los Angeles to train as a Yoga Works instructor. Already a certified Yoga teacher, she took two more teacher training courses in the early 2000s. Never one to rest on her laurels, she also trained as a massage therapist and pilates instructor.

A chance encounter with Anusara Yoga, a more free-spirited form, would prove catalytic for Taurel. “I love to focus on having fun in my Yoga practice and teaching rather than taking it so seriously,” she says. “That’s why I liked Anusara, it just fit me. It’s more about finding the joy in your life, your body and your practice and seeing the good in everything. That’s what I try to share with my students.” She took workshops with John Friend, who created the Anusara form, focusing on prenatal practice and Yoga for children.

She met Yann Taurel on a blind date set up by friends. “He was in town for business but lived in Denver,” she explains. “I fell instantly in love with Yann. He was an extremely attractive and charming Frenchman, the fairy tale guy my parents always assured me I’d marry someday.”

“He understood me, my humor and what I was trying to do with my life. I was always super relaxed and comfortable between us, like we could both be completely ourselves. It was just love. We carried on a long distance relationship for several months. When he asked me if we could meet in the middle and move to Salt Lake City, I said ‘absolutely not,’ but I knew of a little ski town with a great Yoga studio near there that would do just fine.”

The pair soon arrived in Park City. “Along the way I found out I was pregnant,” says Taurel.

While pregnant, she began teaching yoga at The Shop in Old Town. “Once my daughter, Chloe, was born, the class turned into pre- and post-natal class with moms invited to bring their babies.

Taurel has since become a fixture at The Shop, so much so that she and Yann were married there. She also teaches Yoga classes as several preschools in the area. She’s even teaching kids up to 8th grade at the Weilenmann School now.

Taurel admits it’s challenging, but possible, to get crawlers, toddlers and preschoolers to focus on their practice. “It’s an amazing thing to see kids who are all over the place, to teach them a simple breathing exercise and all of a sudden they go from silly to calm and they get it! Most of them really feel it and respond to it. They learn how to stop, calm down, listen and breathe. It’s a way to changes children’s lives and help them grow and come into their own,” she says.

Her latest venture is to introduce a new kind of Yoga practice called “Yoginos,” taught in three languages: English, Spanish and Sanskrit. “The goal is to get the program into Park City schools and into the immersion program,” she says. She’s applied for a grant to help pay for children and parents who can’t afford the training.

Taurel is paying her training forward, passing her knowledge on to a new generation. Her daughter, now five years old, is stepping up to the Yoga mat. “Chloe is my co-teacher now, she knows all the moves and wants to teach the entire class. “Thank goodness she’s not in my class at the Weilenmann School,” she laughs.

Vital Statistics

  • Favorite things to do: go to summer concerts; hike and snowshoe with friends and dogs
  • Favorite foods: chocolate, sushi and anything my husband cooks
  • Favorite reading/authors: “I love self-help books, coming-of-age stories, cheesy romance novels and anything by David Sedaris.”
  • Favorite performers: Sting, Jack Johnson
  • Animal companions: Bisoux (“kiss” in French), a 1 1/2-year-old Golden Retriever