Fisher, an instructor
in internal Eastern arts since 2003,
blends East and West in his teaching,
cultivating health in mind, body, and
spirit. He has studied internal
Eastern arts, including yoga,
taijiquan, qi gong, and meditation,
since 1995 and has been teaching
internal Eastern arts since
2003. Stephen has studied extensively
with yoga masters Joan White and Ana
Forrest, completing the Forrest
Foundation Teacher Training and
assisting Ana in her national
workshops. As a senior student of
taijiquan master Steven Bennett, he has
studied taijiquan and qi gong
including the martial aspects of tai
chi and its application to other
arts. He has earned degrees in
Psychology and Biology, completing
his academic training with a PhD in
Behavioral Neuroscience from Yale University.
I began my training in the Eastern arts about 20 years ago. While dealing with the stresses of graduate school at Yale a friend suggested I take an 8-week course in mindfulness meditation (MBSR), designed by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. The idea of living in the moment (experiencing the present moment while letting go of past and future ruminations) launched me on a path that would cause a fundamental shift in my worldview and the direction of my life. After completing the meditation course, I began training in taijiquan (aka tai chi) and qi gong with Master Steven Bennett. From taijiquan I was introduced to Taoism, which provided me with a philosophical framework for understanding and interacting with the world. In addition to multiple weekly classes I began a daily practice of taijiquan and qi gong, which I have continued to this day.
When I moved from Yale to U. Penn I transitioned from student to teacher, offering classes in taijiquan and qi gong throughout Philadelphia. At the same time I took advantage of Philadelphia's rich and diverse yoga community and grew my passion for yoga. When I found Joan White and Iyengar Yoga I knew I had found another of my teachers. The precision and depth of Iyengar Yoga mixed with Joan's knowledge and presence immediately resonated with me. However, it wasn't until I was introduced to Ana Forrest that my Eastern trainings all came together. For me, Forrest yoga was the bridge between taijiquan, qi gong, Iyengar Yoga, meditation, and my academic training. I was hooked on Forrest Yoga and began teaching Forrest yoga as soon as I was able to take the month-long, immersive training.
I believe life's difficulties provide the most fertile ground for growth. We will always be challenged and we will always feel fear. It's what we do at those times and how we handle the resulting emotions that's important. I use the knowledge from my Eastern training to help students come into the present moment and remain present in the face of difficulty (in taijiquan this is akin to the principle of being "fearless in the face of ferocity"). I am focused on creating a safe space, within which my students can be challenged. Through this practice students will grow in their ability to manage whatever life throws their way.
Below are my yoga-specific publications.
Cohen DL, Bowler A, Fisher SA, Norris A, Newberg A, Rao H, Bhavsar R, Detre JA, Tenhave T, Townsend RR. Lifestyle Modification in Blood Pressure Study II (LIMBS): Study protocol of a randomized controlled trial assessing the efficacy of a 24 week structured yoga program versus lifestyle modification on blood pressure reduction. Contemporary Clinical Trials 36(2013):32-40.
"Stephen is a special instructor in that he makes me feel cared for in all aspects of how I approach wellbeing: the physical, the spiritual, the energetic, and the intellectual. With his uniquely well-rounded background, he is able to seamlessly integrate a wide range of knowledge and wisdom into a highly accessible teaching style. Very importantly, my own needs and questions as a student vary across yoga classes, and Stephen has the versatility to understand me in all of those moments and then guide me with techniques that are both insightful and comforting. Thank you, Stephen." -- Meredith, faculty at the University of Pennsylvania
"I attended Stephen's Level 1 and Level II yoga classes for three years and he was an excellent yoga instructor for me as a relatively new yoga student. His classes were challenging and fast-paced but he provided very helpful hands-on assists and always explained poses in clear, concrete language. I definitely advanced in my yoga practice as his student.
" -- Tracey, educational researcher