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Yoga Hohm Student of the Month

February 2018

Mitch Godfrey

How long have you been practicing yoga?

About 1 year.

 

How often do you practice currently?

At least once a week.

 

What was it that brought you to yoga for your first time?

I was looking to try something new, to socialize and get out of the house, and yoga seemed like something fun to try. 

 

Do you remember how you felt after your first class?

Surprisingly relaxed, yet full of energy.  I was amazed at how great it felt to be more connected to how my body was feeling.  Although, I was sore the next day, but a good kind of sore.

 

Have you gone through periods without practicing? If so, what usually brings you back to it?

Unfortunately, yes.  My work schedule has sometimes kept me from going to class as consistently as I would like.  As a result, if I take a long break, I may feel as if I’m not capable of picking up where I left off; which makes me doubt my abilities.  However, when I finally convince myself to return, I always surprise myself. 

 

Has yoga changed your life? If so, how?

I have struggled with severe anxiety and depression for most of my life and I can say, without a doubt, that yoga has significantly helped with both; allowing me to relax and clear my mind as well as boost my mood and positivity. 

 

You have a job that requires a lot of multi-tasking and solving problems. Has yoga affected your job in any way?

Yes.  Yoga has taught me to be mindful of what my body is telling me, whether it’s my heart rate or breathing, or how my thoughts affect my attitude and behavior.  Simply being more aware of myself has allowed me to be more mellow yet focused especially in times of stress.

 

Is there anything else you would like to add about your experiences with yoga?

I would like to thank Renee and everyone else (at Yoga Hohm) for creating an inviting and supportive environment for yoga.  I was nervous during my first few classes, but you all have made me feel at home.  Thank you!

 

November 2017

Cindy Wuttke

How long have you been practicing yoga?

I began about 7-8 years ago, attending a class once a week. I did that for a year until the instructor closed her practice.  I then used videos 1-2 times a week until beginning at Yoga Hohm.

 

How often do you practice currently?

I try to get to class two days a week and practice a little at home.  Some weeks are better than others.

 

What was it that brought you to yoga for your first time?

I have always been active and have done cardio exercise, but I knew I needed to work on my flexibility and posture - especially my posture.  I would have co-workers comment on how I was the perfect candidate for osteoporosis, and I have always had a little curvature of my spine, so I needed to address it.  Yoga made perfect sense.

 

Do you remember how you felt after your first class?

Probably “this is a lot harder than I thought!”  Actually, after a few classes, I felt more energized and I could tell I was standing straighter. 

 

Have you gone through periods without practicing? If so, what usually brings you back to it?

I have – especially in the years where I was using videos.  I know it benefits me and centers me, and I miss that. 

 

Has yoga changed your life? If so, how?

I do feel more centered and grounded.  I don’t let little things bother me as much.  And I do stand much straighter. 

 

Do you have a favorite class level or intensity? Why?

I do like the Level 2 class that has just begun.   I can still focus on form and corrections as in Level 1-2, but I can challenge myself to try new poses.  I like to figure out how things work so I enjoy the physics of how to do an arm balance (and not fall on my face!)

September 2017

Susan Willbond

How long have you been practicing yoga?

   I started at Yoga Holm last January. My initial $30/2 weeks was a Xmas gift from my son and his family. GREAT gift! We moved to Fontana 1½ years ago. They knew I was practicing at another studio but wasn’t happy with it. Prior to moving here, I practiced yoga for about 16 years. I don’t know if this is due to age or past injuries, but I don’t do the more advanced classes I used to anymore. I can’t flow as smoothly or quickly as I used to. But that’s ok because I still enjoy the many benefits of practicing!

 

How often do you practice currently?

   I try to attend the 12:00 gentle class 3 times a week. Those sessions have everything I need and want in my practice. I appreciate how Renee offers different levels in poses so you can adjust depending on how your body is feeling on any given day. She is very intuitive of how everyone is doing! I do some poses at home, when out of town and when visiting my grandchildren. They love to do the poses with me and are so naturally good at it! I want to show them the benefits of breathing.

 

What was it that brought you to yoga for your first time?

   In 1980, when living in Racine, a friend took me to yoga that was taught by an English woman in her basement. I loved learning about and practicing yoga from her but, sadly, she moved after a year. I couldn’t find any sessions that I liked as well.  20 years later, while living in Libertyville, I found a great yoga studio again and have practiced since.

 

Do you remember how you felt after your first class?

   GREAT! I knew I liked it and wanted to continue. It is so different from any other form of exercise. I enjoy becoming more flexible and being relaxed afterwards, more “balanced”. For an hour I focused on “me”, not thinking about outside influences or thoughts.  Since my first class, learning about the breath control (pranayama), has helped me every day, as well as during previous difficult, stressful or emotional times in my life. It’s amazing how that works!

 

Have you gone through periods without practicing? If so, what usually brings you back to it?

   I started noticing osteoarthritis creeping into my life in my early 40’s. A completely ruptured ACL, from a ski accident, and 2 meniscus surgeries have caused a few pauses in my yoga practice.  There was never a doubt that I would return as soon as I could even though I knew I couldn’t do everything as before. I missed the positive, good vibes and continued wellbeing I felt when practicing. While not attending studio sessions, I let go of my practice at home.

 

Has yoga changed your life? If so, how?

   I feel good every time I leave a session. I’m sure that is why I want to return again! I am happier, more focused and know I have done something good for my entire self. I carry this with me throughout the day, if not longer.  More than anything else, yoga has helped me most by learning about the breath.

 

Is there anything else you would like to add about your experiences with yoga?

   I like that yoga is not competitive. There is no room for ego. I enjoy the flexibility and balance felt from continued practice, some days more than others! Each day is different even when doing the same poses. One benefit is the really nice people I have met at Yoga Holm. At my very first session, everyone was welcoming, helpful and nice. I have found that is how people who practice yoga are! It’s a positive place to be at any time during your life.

 

August 2017

Sheldon Rock

"I am a man of few words."

 

How long have you been practicing yoga?

     3 years

 

How often do you practice currently?

     2-3 times per week

 

What was it that brought you to yoga for your first time?

     Stretching and relaxation in a group setting. I lack the discipline to practice regularly on my own.

 

Do you remember how you felt after your first class?

     I remember when I first started I felt I wanted to make yoga a regular part of my life.  It felt good to open my muscles up. It was as if they had not breathed in a while, and yoga put a breath of life back into them.

 

Have you gone through periods without practicing? If so, what usually brings you back to it?

     Yes. I miss yoga when I’m not practicing regularly. I feel anxious and restless without it.

 

Has yoga changed your life? If so, how?

     Yes. It has helped me to maintain a sense of peace. I’m a little less crazy with yoga in my life.

I have always heard about the mind/body/spirit connection, yoga has allowed me to catch brief glimpses of the peace that is available for me to experience.

 

Is there anything else you would like to add about your experiences with yoga?

     After several months of practicing I started to notice a spiritual progression of sorts.  I enjoy where I am at in my practice, and I am excited about where it will take me.  I have come to realize the importance of proper technique and breathe control.  I started yoga for physical reasons and have continued it for the mental and spiritual gains I have received from it.

 

May 2017

Kelly Jensen

Kelly is currently enrolled in Yoga Hohm’s 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training!

 How long have you been practicing yoga and how often do you practice currently?

      I’ve been practicing off and on for a few years, but I didn’t start really doing it regularly and with intention until January 2016. I make it in at least twice a week to the studio, and I like to do a less structured practice at home periodically. I find myself using some asanas every day that feel good when I need a little extra energy or need to clear my mind.

 

What was it that brought you to yoga for your first time?

      True story: I was taking an online course on courage, and one of the tasks was to do something new and courageous and out of our comfort zones each day. I’d been itching to try a regular yoga practice for a while, and I had driven by the Yoga Hohm building nearly every day since it came to town. It just took a long time to gather the courage to show up the first time. It ended up being one of my courage tasks...and after that first time in, I kept coming back!

 

Do you remember how you felt before and after your first class?

      Before the class and even during it, I was terrified and anxious. I struggle with anxiety on a real serious level, and it was clear and present that day throughout class. But I had a big ah ha moment after that first class and since then, which has been to meet myself where I am that day. It was far less about how I felt physically and far more about how I was able to reconnect with my own mind and sometimes-screwy thinking patterns. I remember feeling super welcome and encouraged and being very excited to come back again.

 

Have you gone through periods without practicing? If so, what usually brings you back to it?

      Not since committing to a regular practice. I discovered pretty early on that if I don’t practice at least once a week, I feel awful when I come back. This has always been the case with me and any sort of health/fitness related activity. Working with that knowledge has been helpful in forcing myself to show up, even when not showing up sounds more pleasant at the moment. It’s never once been the wrong choice.

 

Do you care to share about the email you sent prior to your first class and what your concerns were, and about any realizations or new experiences you have had in relation to those concerns since?

      About the time I sent that email, I was making a ton of changes to my physical and mental health. I’d begun working out really seriously in my mid-twenties, and everything I did was in the privacy of my own home...in part because I’ve always been insecure about my body. Which is exactly how I started off that email: I wanted to make sure that the studio would be inclusive of all body shapes and sizes. And I will never forget when I came in that first day and it was not even a thing that crossed Renee’s mind about me or what I looked like. There was an immediate sense of feeling like this was a place I was totally welcomed and belonged.

      In terms of the second part of the question: in early 2015, the process of figuring out what was wrong with my body and why it was that, no matter how hard I worked out and ate a tightly-controlled diet I could not lose weight, really went into full force. I went through a number of blood tests and nothing -- literally nothing! -- could be found wrong. The only thing my doctor could tell me at that point, besides that she’d recommend antianxiety medication, was that I needed to stop worrying so much since I was healthy and wasn’t gaining weight. She referred me to a specialist not because she thought I needed to see one, but because I requested one so I could try to get an answer that felt more “right.”

      By the end of that year and early into 2016, I’d been through another battery of blood tests ordered by that specialist; she refused to believe everything could come back normal every single time. But she gave me a diagnosis for an endocrine disorder based on some symptoms that were present. She offered no real suggestions for managing the symptoms except “lose weight,” which left me at a point where I felt completely hopeless. When you have an endocrine disorder like I did, the problem is precisely that: you cannot lose weight. Your body is literally fighting against that.

      I had a moment there when I realized I needed to manage this the way that made the most sense to me, and after countless hours of late-night research, I kept coming up to the solution that I really needed to control the anxiety in order to keep my hormones in check. That was when I finally decided that hours of cardio at home and literally counting every calorie I ate weren’t going to do that. They were adding to my anxiety. I needed something else.

      It took a lot of courage to reach out in the first place, in part because despite how much benefit I could see myself getting from yoga….I never saw images of people who looked like me doing yoga. I didn’t know it would be possible because I’d not seen the possibility presented. Of course, not only did I realize that the reality of yoga is different than what’s advertised online or on tv, but I also had a moment of realizing that rarely does someone come into the practice thinking they have the “perfect yoga body.” There is no such thing.

      I saw the specialist a couple more times after beginning my yoga practice, (but have not gone back since because)… It has been far more beneficial to me to listen to what my body is telling me.

 

How does it feel to have made such progress in strength since you started practicing?

      Pretty awesome. It’s been more than just getting stronger physically. It’s definitely been about getting stronger mentally, too. I am much better about knowing when I’m coming to practice with the goal of reaching one step further and when I am coming with the goal of saving some of that strength.

My relationship with my mental health is so much better now. It’s nice not to wake up hating yourself, what you’re doing, and every single moment about being awake. I still take medication for it, but I know that yoga is a key component of managing it.

Yoga has been such a wonderful space to go to get away from my work life and from this online world I’ve become part of. Yoga Hohm has a welcoming community, and it’s always so nice to see familiar faces and meet new ones.

Yoga has really led me to listen to my body and to treat it like the incredible tool that it is. I know it best and I’m also responsible for treating it the best that I can.

 

March 2017

Colleen Abram

How long have you been practicing yoga?

I took some classes on and off for the last 15 years but nothing steady until this past August.  I tried some Apps but knew that I needed someone to help me get into the proper form for the positions.  (Oh was I right on that)

 

How often do you practice currently? 

Currently, I aim for 2 times a week and do some poses after I run

 

What was it that brought you to yoga for your first time? 

Two summers ago I had Planter Fasciitis, last summer I hurt my knee.  I self-diagnosed it as an IT problem – aggravated from my running and various aerobic activities.  It was extremely frustrating that I could not go run (or should I say jog) which makes me happy.  I knew my problems were due to overuse, age, weakness, and inflexibility.   I knew I couldn’t change the aging issue but might be able to improve the flexibility and strength.  A coworker recommended Yoga to help with flexibility and strength. 

 

Do you remember how you felt after your first class?

Yes, several feelings:  I was sore, the slightest correct adjustments in a pose make a difference, it confirmed that I am not flexible, my heart rate actually increased during the class, and I need some more relaxation!  Savasana is wonderful!

 

Have you gone through periods without practicing? If so, what usually brings you back to it?

Lately, I have been really into it and hope to keep it part of my regular routine.  Running has always been my “go to” exercise and I feel like yoga compliments it so much.  It helps with breathing and strengthening other muscles that don’t get too much attention.  I can compete with my 13 year old son and 12 year old daughter with push-ups now! 

 

Has yoga changed your life? If so, how?

I feel like it has relaxed me a bit.  I remember to focus on breathing and to not skip the stretches/ poses.  I like that I go to class and tune everything out.  It is a good refresh “button”.  I also appreciate to “do it at your own pace”. There definitely are some days when things are not feeling right, so it is time to take it easy or focus on what may be the cause.

 

Is there anything else you would like to add about your experiences with yoga?

My job is pretty physical – I can be on my feet most of the day.  Yoga reminds me to stand up a bit straighter, take a deeper breath, stretch a bit and I feel all the better.   I have a lot to work on and improve upon and enjoy the physical and mental challenge. 

 

February 2017

Paul Gregory

 

How long have you been practicing yoga?

“Since January 2016”

 

How often do you practice?

“I like to do it at least twice a week. I also do my own exercises at home.”

 

In the short amount of time you have been practicing yoga, have you gone periods without?

“When we went to Colorado for Summer break. I did exercises and walked, but I did not do yoga.”

 

Did you notice any kind of difference in your body when you got back to practicing yoga?

“Yeah. For me it's always harder when you haven't done something in a long time to get back into it. One of the things I like about yoga is the mental aspect of it. It’s the one time when I can go somewhere and just focus on one thing. For yoga (asanas), I always think the form is important. So I'm always trying to figure out if my form is right, or if I’m as right as I can be. So it's kind of good to just go to one place and just focus on doing just that.

 

Do you feel like yoga has changed your life?

“I think yoga and meditation both have helped me to become more focused, especially on my body because I have all sorts of flexibility issues. So it has really given me a way to work on that. For the first time ever I feel good about it because I do it. I don't overdo things. I've done it fairly consistently for a while and it's helping me to strengthen my body and become more flexible. I feel good and my body feels good. And I've lost weight. I feel like I can stretch a lot further than I used to and that makes me really happy.”

 

You mentioned meditation. Do you have your own meditation practice that you do on a regular basis?

“Yes. In January I started sort of fooling around with it and reading a lot of books. For over three months now I've done it every day. Right now it's 20 minutes a day. I didn't start at 20 minutes a day. Every morning I get up and meditate. So I've got the asanas of the 8 limbs of yoga and now the dhyanas, or meditation. And that's my focus now is just to make my life better. I think meditation for me is that practice to make my life better and to help me learn to deal with all the (censored). It's the way that I deal mentally and focus. That's the mental part of yoga I really love. It helps me forget the other stuff. “

 

One thing that is really unique to you is your back injury. Would you like to talk about that a little bit?

“Yes I have two herniated disks. I was fixing a flat and messed up my back really bad. I had an MRI done and I had ruptured L4 and L5. I was supposed to have a double fusion surgery last December. I started exercising and started feeling good enough to not get the surgery. What's nice about doing yoga is that I haven't overdone it. I haven't hurt myself, which is good for me. So I have a sort of happy medium of being able to challenge myself but not hurt myself which is really important for me, because the next time I hurt myself it's probably not going to be good. “

 

Was it intimidating to you coming to a yoga class for the first time?

“You know, it's intimidating not knowing what to do. The gentle class is nice because Yoga Hohm is a good environment. It's not elitist or uppity. If it was intimidating I probably wouldn't come back.”

 

Were you concerned at all with what your body would be able to do with the ruptured disks?

“If you watch videos of yoga you see people doing all these unbelievable things and if you always just focus on that then you probably wouldn't even do it. But that's why you have different levels of classes. I've found the gentle class. I can basically just try to stretch my body. I like the flow in level 1 because it challenges me and gets my heart rate up, and I can do it physically.”

 

November 2016

Mikki Markowicz

 

How long have you been practicing yoga?

   "I just started this year, early Spring. A couple times before that I had a singular experience here and there for maybe a year or two but never really had developed my own practice until I came to Yoga Hohm."

 

How often do you practice?

   “As much as possible. Every week I try to get here almost every day. I think the minimum would be 3 or 4, and if I can’t get here every day then I do something at home.”

 

Have you gone without practicing for periods of time?

   “I think there was a short period of time it was almost a full week.”

 

Did you notice a difference in that one week?

   “Absolutely. I definitely missed it on all these different levels and that was a surprise to me, from the physical to the emotional, mental, and spiritual - to all this connection.”

 

What was it that brought you back to your practice?

   “It feels like home here. I feel like this is a requirement, no different than if I was missing a body part for the first time. I’m like, ‘where’s my limb?’ I felt like I needed to be back here.”

 

Has yoga changed your life? If so, how?

   “Well, first answer is absolutely. Everyone kept telling me to do yoga. A back injury brought me in here, but what kept me coming back was that I don’t feel whole if I’m not here. I feel like yoga is imperative to my being grounded and centered. And what I learn here I take back home or to the office, to my family and friends. It all starts here. It’s made me very mindful of work experiences, whether it’s confrontation or judgement on my part outward. It has introduced me to mindfulness and gratitude as an every-day practice when I get out of bed. It's one single piece I've been avoiding for years. It's a very interesting and foreign experience for me to feel so symbiotic with something like this.

 

You have a very unique job. How does yoga affect it?

   "I've been an entrepreneur for a very long time, with successes and failures and everything in between. I just celebrated my 50th birthday and I've had everything from hormonal changes to differences in my physiology. I feel like I'm approaching my next chapter which is another 50+ years. I'm very excited and enthused and over-the-top at times, as you can sometimes hear in class, about where I want to take my own personal yoga practice. Yoga at times is a code of arms. Yoga at times is wings at flight. It is focus and it's a very soft and safe place. It's opened me up to trust, which is big. Trust was a very big issue for me from a young age into adulthood and it's been phenomenal the changes that yoga has helped me embrace. It leads to a higher quality of life for me. From being on the floor to poses that require having the shoulders back, I’ve been able to open up and trust." 

 

Has yoga change the way you look at spirituality? 

   "I've always been a spiritual person. I'm nondenominational but if anything I'm more toward Buddhism and Taoism and things of that nature, but I think yoga opens me up more spiritually. It takes something that could be like this (gestures something small) and all a sudden it's 360 versus 120. It's just another very organic force that takes off blinders in every single area."

 

What have you noticed about your back injury since practicing? 

What back injury? Badum-bum. Seriously! The other day I came in (for class) and out of the blue, months and months and months after I started practicing, I had a very stiff back. You were immediately able to correct something in a pose, and then my balance just came right back and any kind of little ache went right away. It was like "Wow, Shazam!"

 

October 2016

Bonnie McQueen

How long have you been practicing yoga?

    Off and on since 2001

 

How often do you practice?

    3-4 times a week. I wish it was every day. I think about it every day.

 

Have you gone through periods without practicing?

    Yes. I let life or work get in the way.

 

What usually brings you back to it?

    I think it keeps me a better person, more grounded. It helps with my anxiety. It helps me be calm. It's a spiritual thing; a good spiritual thing.

 

Has yoga changed your life? If so, how?

    Totally. How? It keeps me grounded. It exercises the emotions, the mind and the spirit. I think it only gets better with each practice, because each practice is different, and having a good teacher totally has changed things. I think yoga means more to me now than it did before I came to Yoga Hohm.

 

Do you notice if yoga has changed your relationships with other people?

    I'm more open. I don't judge myself as much so I don't judge other people as much. I think that's it but I of course want to learn more and more so I'm glad the teacher training is coming up. I’m hungry for it.

 

Do you think it has changed the way that you work and your attitude at work?

    Yes I'm stronger emotionally, because I use it every day. It's my quiet place; my balance. When I don't even think I'm using it I do. I don't realize it but I do, without intention. It becomes who I am. I think everyone should do it.

 

Did you have any kind of spiritual connection before you started practicing yoga? If so, has yoga changed the way you look at spirituality?

    Yes. I think I'm more spiritual now. I can deal better with life and death. So I think I'm more spiritual because I’m more connected. I would say I love more. I think that's why, and I don't know if you're really taught that in religion. You are, but in a different way. I think you have to love yourself first before you can love other people.

 

Do you think yoga has taught you that? Yeah, I do.

    My daughter took me to my first yoga class and it was love at first pose, if you want to call it that. And it's not just about the poses, it's about the whole thing.

 

Have you ever had any experiences with emotional discomforts, such as anxiety?

    Yeah totally. I think yoga helps me with that because I can come here and it's a safe place. I’m OK with my practice because it helps me deal with my emotions, good and bad. Because they're going to surface sooner or later. So it's good because yoga helps me deal with them. Some of those poses are really hard but I work through them like I do things in life. I always feel good when I come here. When I leave I feel better.

 

Has yoga helped with any physical conditions?

    Yeah, working as a dental assistant, my right hip started hurting. And since coming, stretching and doing certain poses, my hip does not hurt. That's huge. Now if I don't practice when I'm traveling, it'll start to bug me. Once I come back it's like my body has a really good memory. All the different little tweaks that my teacher does, and I can feel it, that is huge. Because I've gone to different teachers and never had anybody say "turn, just that one little turn” That's huge. My husband is all for me going, I think it's because I am happier because of it. He says, "Go every day!"

 

 

September 2016

Christine "Steeny" Gressick

How long have you been practicing yoga?

I was self-taught when I was in college. I had this funny little book with this half-naked man on it, and I just followed the pictures in the book, and I loved it

 

How often do you practice currently?

About 4 days a week

 

Have you gone through periods without practicing?     Yes

What usually brings you back to it?

I come back to it because it gives me balance. It straightens me out physically, mentally and spiritually. It gives me more grace of movement, flexibility, strength and balance.

 

Has yoga changed your life? If so, how?

Yes it has changed my life. I’m much happier when I’m doing it. I hurt myself when I was on the verge of losing my hips, so to speak, and after that I couldn’t even ride my bike anymore, let alone walk comfortably. I found a good teacher at another studio but they lost their lease, and ever since then I have been searching for a teacher to take her place. I tried different yoga classes and never found her until Yoga Hohm opened. I swear I manifested Yoga Hohm because I kept visualizing, “Why can’t a yoga place open in Delavan?’ and this is right down the road.

 

Speaking of “losing your hips”, can you talk about that? What happened?

Well, it started in my knees. One day I did some movement and something in my knee snapped, and I thought “Oh no, now I have knee problems.” Eventually I learned that there’s something in the knees that connects to the hips, and as the hips were crumbling it affected the knees. I lost 2 inches of height, so I had back pain because everything was squished together. It was getting more and more difficult to walk and I was in a lot of pain.

Then one day I woke up and I couldn’t move my legs at all, and I couldn’t roll over in bed. I thought “Uh oh I’m paralyzed, but with pain.” At 6:30 in the morning there were 6 neighbors standing in my bedroom wondering what to do with me.

I was told I had Avascular Necrosis. My nursing knowledge kicked in and I thought “Avascular – lack of blood supply. Necrosis – death of tissue.” I thought “I’m in dead kimchi here.” The ER doctor said “You have something that’s very rare. It’s in both sides and we don’t even know how you’re moving” So that was the beginning of my “year horribilus” as I call it. I was in a wheelchair for 5 months and I needed two total hip replacements. One was done in January 2015; the other was done April 2015.

It was a hard road to follow. I was doing physically therapy. I wasn’t doing very well. I was on a cane. My main physical therapist said “We have to strengthen your core. Do a Kegel, suck in your belly, tighten your buttocks and walk.” I did all that and I walked like a ballerina. I threw the cane away that day and from then on I continued to work on my core strength.

When Yoga Hohm opened up I was so thrilled. The minute they signed me out of physical therapy, I came straight here and signed up for classes.  I had the pleasure of doing a yoga class here at Yoga Hohm with my other physical therapist yesterday, as I also have with my main physical therapist who also practices here. That’s when I really show off, because these people have seen me at my worst. I don’t think I would be as far along as I am today if it wasn’t for yoga. Here at Yoga Hohm I am made to feel that any little thing is a huge accomplishment. I was allowed to start where I was at. I couldn’t sit Indian style so I would sit with my legs out in front of me. It was a slow process. Little by little I became flexible again, and the pain was less and less. Now there is no pain whatsoever and I feel very flexible and very good. Now I can sit Indian style.

 

You have gotten a lot stronger too. You can even do the intermediate classes. You have definitely come a long way.

Yeah. I’m a happy camper. I’m a poster child for double hip replacement.

 

 
 

August 2016

Sara Johnson

How long have you been practicing yoga?

“Since 2002”

How often do you practice?

“Oh boy. It’s pretty sporadic. It can range from every day to… whenever I come to class. (laughs) Like, once or twice a week, and I’ve definitely gone through long periods of time without practicing.”

What brings you back those times when you have long periods of not practicing?

“Even if I’m not practicing, I’m thinking about it every day and, either wishing I had time to, or thinking I have to get back into it. So I guess it’s just when I beat myself up enough about it, to be honest.”

Do you remember what it was that brought you to yoga in the first place?

“Yes, it’s really kind of sad. I heard Madonna did it, like in the 90s. So I went to the library and I checked out a book, and I want to find this book again, but I think Herbie Hancock was doing yoga in the book, and he had these little tiny shorts on. So I started doing it out of a book in the late 90s, but that’s not when I started. I went to my first real teacher when we started trying to have a baby. What was the question?”

How do you think yoga has changed your life, or has it?

“Yes for sure. I have a much more conscious relationship with my body. I know what I need, I know how to take care of myself. Then I had a teacher who also taught about the lifestyle and the philosophy. So from that standpoint it gave me kind of a framework to understand a lot of things that I already thought were important. So I can’t really think of many aspects of life that it hasn’t changed, because even the way that I eat, and the way that I interact with people is affected by the whole philosophy.

When my teacher started talking about the yoga sutras, she talked about some trauma in her life… And then she went to her teacher who reminded her of that whole idea of freedom and nonattachment to the storyline that you think should happen. And when she talked about that freedom, I became really inspired by that and that’s what this tattoo is, Kaivalyam (shows the tattoo on her wrist). As someone who has an anxiety disorder, who’s been through clinical depression, who is very emotional, I think that being able to be the observer and not be controlled by that stuff is the best goal I can think of.”

You have some physical issues. Can you talk about that and if yoga has done anything for that or if you have found any struggles in your practice relating to physical injuries?

That’s probably a really good thing to talk about. I’m extremely inflexible naturally, and I did get into yoga for the physical part, and I thought ‘I want to be able to touch my toes’. If I had known that it would take me two years to be able touch my toes, I probably never would have started yoga (laughs). But it did and I’m still always doing modified versions of most postures, but I think I’m still getting the same benefits because I’ve had teachers who showed me how to do them without having to do them the way the person next to me looks. So that’s what I try to explain to people who don’t want to get into yoga because they think have to be flexible. You can still get every single benefit of the pose as the person whose head is on the floor and their legs are out like this (makes gesture of wide legs). My shoulder has really just acted up. It’s always been not great, but it hasn’t been a big issue until recently. So I’m still working on how to take care of myself with that. Flexibility has been a great blessing, and a very good whole picture of yoga in that, you aren’t going to get anywhere fast but that’s fine, because you’re not really trying to get anywhere anyway.

 

   
 

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