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Yogi of the Month: Diane Smolen

Diane Smolen

The Yoga Sanctuary: Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Diane Smolen: Talking about myself does not come naturally. I arrived in Florida following retirement from a career in Michigan where I had earned a PhD at Michigan State University. Several years were spent working at Lansing Community College, where I met and married my husband, Chuck Bettinson. I went on to work for the Department of Education, State of Michigan. There I was involved in developing, implementing and then directing a number of different programs with state wide scope, responsibility and high visibility.

Chuck and I have a son, Tim Bettinson. Tim, and Margo Schwarberg, own and operate an independent restaurant in the suburbs of Cincinnati. Both have had long careers in the restaurant business.

Two of my proudest undertakings have been sharing my life with the Bettinsons and my educational attainment.

TYS: When and why did you first start yoga?

DS: Yoga for me began 5 years ago at our very own Yoga Sanctuary. At the end of a lengthy rehabilitation period following major back surgery that fused the last two vertebrae of my lumbar region, the therapist suggested I try some form of exercise that would be a bit kinder to my body. At that time, I was willing to try anything. I had already had a hip replacement and was faced with giving up many of the activities that I loved – long walks, running, working with my performance dogs and competing with my dogs in canine agility.

I attended a Yoga Sanctuary Open House, bought a mat and a strap and signed up! Margit helped me through my orientation session. I even wrote down all the props I would need for my first gentle yoga class. I wasn’t certain I would remember them and Margit had shown me how to use them safely.

Since that time every class, every instructor, every gentle correction has been a positive and life changing experience.

TYS: What are the greatest benefits of practicing yoga?

DS: I love my yoga practice for many reasons. I’ve strengthened my spine, back and leg muscles and my balance has improved. I learn something about myself and my body with every session. I have learned to quiet my mind and be still. I have learned what it means to be present even though I still find it a challenge to achieve. Yoga has helped me strive to be a better person. My life is much richer as a result of yoga.

TYS: What is your favorite yoga pose and why?

DS: Downward facing dog is my favorite yoga pose as it stretches my back and my hamstrings, two of my tightest areas and reminds me to re-establish my breath

TYS: Do you have a favorite book or quote that you would like to share?

DS: Several years ago in a gentle yoga class and then later in a meditation class, Melissa taught us a mantra that I have come to use almost daily.

May I be safe,

May I be happy,

May I be healthy,

May I dwell in peace.

I have added – with acceptance and understanding for all.