From makeup artist, to fitness instructor to milk mustache model, there seems to be little Pierce College Yoga instructor Sunny Young, hasn’t done. Her many experiences have given Young a drive to assist the people around her, not by feeding the homeless or rebuilding a shelter, but by teaching people yoga.
Young has had a love for yoga for the last 20 years and has been teaching it for the past eight. In 2007, Young began working at Pierce College Puyallup.
“I started in continuing education and moved to the PE department after the Health Education Center was completed,” Young said. “I started by offering Yoga 159; ‘all levels.’ Then we added Yoga 259; beginning/intermediate.”
Young’s journey to yoga instructor was a long, winding road. It all started in Nevada in the 1980s. A single mother, Young balanced three jobs in the fitness, fashion and performing arts industries to take care of her child.
While teaching dance-exercise programs and modeling swim, dance and sportswear, Young began coordinating fashion shows for casinos, such as the MGM Grand, Harrah’s, Caesars Palace and the Flamingo Hotel.
Later asked to perform in some local casino shows, Young found herself working with an Asian elephant named Bertha.
“I was very hesitant when approached to work with her,” Young said. “But Bertha was born in captivity and was very gentle and sweet, and she loved to perform.”
Over time, Young moved on to different experiences. Concerned about her health image in front of her daughter, clients, colleagues and students, she decided to start promoting milk.
She got together with a professional photographer and they took pictures of her with a “milk mustache,” something that didn’t become a popular campaigning piece until 1996. The pictures were sent to the Nevada Milk Advisory Board and were later turned into billboards.
“Working in the fitness, fashion and performing arts changed me forever,” Young said. “But as my mother would remind me, God wasn’t done with me yet. My journey was just beginning.”
This was more than true for Young. Sometime later, Young became a traveling makeup designer.
“It was the hardest job of my life,” Young said. “Long flights, longer days, sleepless nights. Not as glamorous as some might think.”
The taxing career took its toll on Young in more than one way.
A car accident in 1990 brought Young’s life as a traveling make up designer to a screeching halt.
“I injured my hips, shoulders, neck and lower back,” Young said. “All of a sudden I was off the road and in physical therapy every day.”
This accident just created a vacancy in her life for a new passion; yoga.
Young remembered using small bits of yoga when she used to be a fitness instructor to help tone, strengthen and improve flexibility. She also knew that many of the athletes, dancers and choreographers she met would use yoga for warm-ups.
Young found that the therapy she was currently doing wasn’t helping her like she wanted it to.
“After my car accident and months of physical therapy, I decided to incorporate yoga into my rehabilitation,” Young said. “I sought out a certified instructor and met Carina Terra. After a few months with Carina, my body completely changed.”
Young lost the weight she had gained after the accident and, according to her, became healthier than she had ever been before.
Encouraged by her husband, Young decided to seek certification so she could become a yoga instructor.
Young attended the Nosara Yoga Institute in Costa Rica and was certified in 2006.
“I knew that it was something I could share with other people and save them,” Young said. “I stepped away from a very glamorous industry and decided to make a change in my life.”
Since then, Young has taught at several different fitness centers, hospitals, community centers and senior centers; however, Pierce College stands as her favorite out of them all.
“One reason I stay at Pierce College is because the sense of family I have here,” Young said. “I always look forward to coming to work.”
Because yoga has had such an impact on her life, Young is constantly using it to help people with physical needs. She has worked with students from varying backgrounds and disabilities.
“Any age, any sickness, any illness, you can always find a yoga class for them,” Young said. “I know people in wheelchairs who are doing yoga from the waist up.”
While Young isn’t happy the car accident happened, she recognizes that it was the accident that brought her to yoga.
“I never imagined becoming a yoga teacher; it all happened by coincidence,” Young said. “I can’t explain how exactly, but every day I wake up and I know I made the right decision.”
Currently, Young is working on a new level of yoga called Yoga Special Topics, a program that will alternate every other quarter with Yoga Sculpt and Yoga Dance. The new class is scheduled to start in winter quarter.
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