In this third and final week of our therapeutic yoga blog series, I'm excited announce the winner of our Yoga Success Stories contest and share with you some of the powerful, compelling, and inspirational stories that were submitted. We, the teaching staff at The Yoga Room, are honored and humbled to have played a part in these Success Stories. As teachers, our job is to show up, hold the space, and guide the practice. But the real work is done and the real benefits are achieved by each individual practitioner.
According to Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, one should attend well to their practice: practice for a long time, without break, and in all earnestness. Patanjali also teaches that we should practice without attachment to outcome. And practicing in these ways is how the benefits of yoga are achieved and how these Success Stories are possible.
A big giant congratulations to Adria Ray, the winner of our inaugural Yoga Success Stories contest! Adria's story of self-discovery (physical, mental, and emotional) won her a $100 Gift Certificate to The Yoga Room!
And since we loved reading all the fantastic stories we received and had such a hard time picking a winner, every person who submitted their story will receive a $25 studio credit that can be used toward any class pass, workshop, or private lesson.
Now start writing your own Yoga Success Story. If you've been practicing a while, take time to reflect on the benefits yoga has brought to your body or your life and jot down a few quick notes in the Comments section below. And if you've never practiced yoga before, now is the time to start! We look forward to seeing you soon!
Yoga Success Story: Adria Ray
When I first came to The Yoga Room in April 2012, I was four months postpartum after delivering my first child, and quite honestly, I no longer recognized my body. It wasn't so much the way my body looked that has changed (though certainly it had); it was the way my body felt that grabbed my attention.
I was a reasonably healthy person prior to childbirth. I rarely experienced aches or pains beyond the occasional day of "overdoing it". After childbirth, however, the simplest task could bring on a rush of pain. I remember bending over one day to pick up a tiny baby sock, and a spasm hit my lower back. I couldn't straighten up! I felt absolutely terrified. I crawled over to the couch and called my mom for help (luckily, my daughter slept through this whole ordeal). I vowed that day to find a solution to this new found pain and inflexibility.
Quickly after joining The Yoga Room I began a transformation. I discovered that my lower back pain was triggered by not only a weak core but by shortened hamstrings from years of sitting at a desk. I learned that I had a mild case of diastasis recti, a separation of my abdominal muscles - something my doctor had never checked for or mentioned. Gradually I discovered poses that eased my pain and even allowed me to heal and develop strength again.
While yoga helped to heal my body, it also provided a much needed mental and spiritual gift as well. When my now two year old tries my patience I practice breathing deeply and striving for peace (not always successfully but that's part of my journey). I've found in my practice a quiet respite from my daily life. I usually emerge feeling refreshed and ready to begin again in a calmer, happier place. This is feat within itself considering the daily anxiety I battled prior to finding yoga.
Most of all, I found peace with myself. The unkind voice within my own mind that used to say I wasn't enough - not skinny enough, not tan enough, not tall enough, not strong enough - is finally becoming quieter. I've found a love for my body that I never had before yoga - an acceptance of who I am today, not who I want to be tomorrow.
Yoga is such a tremendous gift in my life today, and I have such thanks to The Yoga Room and the teachers there. I remember when my husband and I discovered that his work schedule and The Yoga Room's practice schedule no longer coincided. There were tears shed! I felt as if I was leaving behind a dear friend. I look forward to one day being able to practice at The Yoga Room again, and until then, I am so glad there's a home for people like me - a place where yoga truly is for every body.
Yoga Success Story: Kathy Conley
I will be forever grateful to Vanessa who showed me in Yoga for Fibromyalgia Patients that pain can be managed and relieved.
Since the sessions I attended in February I have moved on to Angela's chair and gentle classes. I am close to pain free the majority of time but the biggest plus is that I am nearly off meds that I have been on for 20+ years! Thank you Vanessa, Angela and Zelinda for making this possible.
By the way, don't let age or weight be a stumbling block for you. I am nearly 70 and weigh more than I should.
Yoga Success Story: Christina Ryan
I've been playing the flute for almost 30 years, since I was 8 years old. I was a very serious player throughout high school and into college. In fact, I began college as a flute performance major. After one semester, I knew I wasn't cut out to continue. I have thought back on that time frequently as I have gotten older. What was it that made me stop? What would I have done differently?
One reason I stopped was the pain I experienced in my neck, shoulders, and back resulting from the intense 4-6 hours of practice and rehearsal per day. I never thought there was a way to address it. Ergonomics and Alexander Technique were just becoming popular, and it didn't occur to me that the pain wasn't "my fault." I never thought of playing flute as a physical experience.
I never stopped playing flute throughout my adult life, but I have been playing more in the last 10 months than I have in years. I have been taking lessons with a local teacher, one whose own life events and teaching philosophy focus on pain-free playing. She begins each of our hour lessons with several minutes of stretching, breathing, and balancing . She is constantly observing and revising my playing postures to facilitate comfort and ease in my body. An awesome bonus is that it has improved my tone quality and even the speed of my fingers as I have learned to relax.
At about the same time I began my lessons last fall, I signed up for an annual membership at The Yoga Room. While I don't always attend as regularly as I'd like, I've averaged a class every other day. Several of the postures have proved extremely beneficial as a musician--walking my hand/arm in clock positions down the wall, forward folds, cat/cow, down dogs on the floor and at the wall.
I also appreciate the psychological and emotional benefits of meditations and the focus on breathing, which help me to prepare for the adrenaline-rushes and anxiety of performances. I have incorporated these postures into my practice sessions, and they have not only helped ease pain and discomfort, but also allowed me to practice for longer. In fact, I keep a yoga mat in my office right next to my music stand. (When I'm not using it, my dog likes to hang out on it; he does a great puppy pose!)
As I begin establishing my flute teaching studio in the next few months, I know that I want to think about the whole person when I teach my future students. In fact, I am thinking of naming my studio "The Whole Flutist" or "The Mind and Body Flutist" because the physical body, the mind, and the sound I can produce is so interconnected. I owe these discoveries of the last year to both my enlightened private instructor and the teachers at The Yoga Room!
Yoga Success Story: Christine Hebert
On April 3, 2014, I attended my first yoga class, after my daughter Jessica encouraged me to try it for a week. I had been having extreme neck and shoulder pain, headaches, with no range motion, for a month or so. Since I was getting no relief from otc pain meds, I felt going to the dr was my only option. But being afraid of what diagnosis I might get kept me from making the appointment.
So I went to my first class. I came back the next day. And the next... for the rest of the week.
All I can say is that before that first week was over, I had no more neck pain, and I was hooked! I felt lighter, taller, and happier! So I signed up for the monthly unlimited, and in five weeks, I had attended 24 classes. And a week ago I was able to turn my head to the left and lay it flat on my mat! What a breakthrough! Now I am starting my fourth month.
On a personal note, the day I started yoga, I set my intention to take care of myself. Part of that was to let go of a relationship that doesn't "serve me". Thanks Angela! And to all the wonderful teachers at the Yoga Room, I am grateful for you. I am in a better place emotionally and physically than I think I've ever been.
Yoga Success Story: Susan L.
I started yoga several years ago, mainly to work on flexibility and balance. For me, yoga was all about improving my postures through concentration and effort. After some time away, my goals for my yoga practice are different. I still could be more flexible and balance will always be a challenge, but my focus is now concentrated around breathing.
Breathing…something we all do naturally and without exertion. Yet I have discovered in my own life, I am always “doing” and focused on effort. I want to step back from the doing part of my life and just focus on the “being.” This has been the focus of my yoga practice. I now pay much more attention to my breathing and less time worrying about how deeply I can stretch or how long I can hold a pose. I let my mind focus on my breath, and for me this has been the greatest improvement to my practice.
Yoga Success Story: Joni W.
I love that as a "fluffy" person I am more flexible, feel stronger, and am more comfortable in my own skin than I was prior to starting yoga classes with Zelinda more than three years ago.
I may only get to go to one class a week, but I practice daily at home. And, taking time to do poses for short sessions several times a day makes me feel good about myself.
Thank you to Zelinda, Angela, and the other ladies that have taught me over the years.
Yoga Success Story: Ora Benton
I had asthma as a child and (foolishly) smoked cigarettes until 14 years ago, so one of my challenges has been to fully exhale and inhale (probably a "touch" of emphysema). Since I've been in Angela's Gentle class, I've noticed a marked improvement in my ability to control my breathing, and I use this technique to relax and go to sleep at night.
In addition to helping with my chronic back pain, I was surprised last week to notice that my balance has improved. Where I used to wobble on certain moves, I can now hold positions with confidence.
Because I am a family caregiver with limited personal time, I can only do one class a week and didn't think this would be enough to really make a difference, but I can see now that continued practice, no matter how small, will indeed help improve my life--physically and mentally.