Yogi of the mont

I grew up in New York’s Hudson Valley, later attended college in Massachusetts and then grad school in Washington DC. After graduation I continued to work and live for 20 years in the Washington DC area. My husband Bob and I then moved here to Punta Gorda in 2001. We have a beautiful little Maltese dog named Baby (she weighs just 5 pounds) who fills out our family just wonderfully. The rest of our extended family is still in the Northeastern United States.

I first started yoga in 2005 at the Punta Gorda Club with Bonnie as my teacher, but I feel that I really started in 2007 when The Yoga Sanctuary opened. Since then, I have tried to be a consistent student.

In the beginning I thought yoga would help my flexibility. I wanted to see if it would lessen my chronic lower back pain. When I first started with Bonnie at the Punta Gorda Club, it was difficult for me to even sit cross legged for just a few minutes; the lower back pain was too great. My flexibility was terrible and my hamstrings were extremely tight. After a few years, I found out that I have arthritis in my lower back. My chiropractor told me I had the back of a much older person and I that needed to get serious about things or I would find myself in deep trouble in 20 years.

So I decided to try yoga seriously, going at least 2 times a week every week that first year. I have inched my goals up to attending a yoga class on average five times a week. Now sitting thru an entire class is possible, with support, of course. I find that when I miss a few classes, my body pulls back in and I find myself with lower back pain all over again.

Physically, my balance is still pretty good. My flexibility is better than it was when I started. Also, I find an emotional lift as I stand taller after class. Things come back into perspective for me then. I also find that going to a yoga classes helps me mentally because I have to be still, be quiet, and focus only on the instructions of my teachers. This is probably the biggest benefit for me. Yoga has helped reduce my lower back and hip pain. I have also found that my pelvis is more in alignment. I do a lot of walking and aerobic exercise, and yoga is a wonderful complement to my daily routines.

When it comes to challenges in yoga, I find that motivating myself to practice at home is an impossible task. Perhaps one day it won’t be such a challenge, but for now it is something I just cannot get myself to do, no matter how good my intentions are. I also still find forward folds to be extremely difficult. I know that I can bend my knees (Margit has given me instruction on this numerous times), but I just find it frustrating.

Outside of the yoga studio, I spend a lot of time at the Visual Arts Center, working and volunteering. I also am an avid reader, and so I volunteer at the library bookstore twice a month. My yard keeps me busy as well; I am often out there in the early morning with my scissors and gardening clothes.

My favorite yoga poses are puppy pose and child’s pose. Puppy allows me to stretch my upper and middle back with no added pressure on my lower back. I get a great stretch in my chest and shoulders as well. Child’s pose allow me to breathe into and stretch my lower back without fear of injury.

I keep coming back to yoga because it makes me feel better about myself and about life in general. The teachers are wonderful, Anna is the best, and the other students are fun to get to know. I love and admire all of the teachers that I have at the Yoga Sanctuary. I find I learn different things from each one of them. They all inspire me to do better and just be. The lovely part of going to class at the Yoga Sanctuary is that there is no pressure to do more than you are able to do—there is no feeling of competition. I am never made to feel badly about my own physical limitations or what I cannot do.

My favorite quote is “The road to a friend’s house is never long.” I can’t even remember where I found it, but it is how I try to live my life each and every day.