Each month, we choose a student to celebrate their continued growth and presence in classes by spotlighting them in our e-newsletter as our “Evolutionary of the Month”. Their continued presence in classes has inspired many people to keep coming back. When you prioritize your practice, not only do you benefit – those around you do too! By being an Evolutionary you help the community to get to know you, and it helps to deepen and clarify what yoga means to you.
Evolutionary of the Month – Becky Michalski- September 2016
I began my yoga journey after moving to California in 2006. I left my childhood home of Michigan behind and moved to San Diego as a travel nurse in my early 20’s. Having a difficult relationship with my mother fueled this change, although I did not identify with this at the time. All I knew was that I wanted a fresh start – I jumped at an opportunity to explore new cities and meet new people all while building my career as a nurse. Along the way, I forged friendships with people who had hobbies and interests that I had never been exposed to. This led to me taking my first yoga class with a friend. It was a very active, fast paced vinyasa practice that was intimidating yet immensely gratifying. I was hooked! For the first few years, I was drawn back to the physical challenge and benefits of yoga. Over time, I began to crave something more. With the intention of deepening my own practice, I signed up for a 200 hour teacher training at Nosara Yoga Institute in Costa Rica. It was here that I slowly began to see how the emotional trauma of my childhood was unconsciously affecting my life on so many levels. I wasn’t expecting this, and it was a very challenging time. Thankfully, I was surrounded by a safe and supportive community of like-minded individuals. I walked away from this experience feeling more self-aware, self-confident, and empowered. I learned how to identify and connect to emotions that came up in physical poses that honestly, I was never even aware of. From then on, my yoga practice became a place of safety, grounding, and connection.
Fast forward to late 2012. My husband’s job brought us from San Diego to Alaska. I was not expecting such a difficult transition. During the first year here, I lost myself to depression, anxiety, and a complete lack of self-confidence. My yoga practice suffered, and although I went to classes around town, I didn’t feel connected. Gradually, I began to find enjoyment and happiness in life again. Although I had started a home yoga practice, I craved the community of a yoga studio. When I came to one of Kim’s classes at Evolve, I immediately connected to her knowledge, humor, and insight. I’m so grateful for my yoga practice and all my teachers, especially Kim, for helping me connect to my inner strength and self-worth.
The Evolve Yoga Mentorship Program has taught me many skills that had been left out of my original teacher training. It has challenged me to accept that I am enough, in my yoga practice and in life. It allows me to be vulnerable in a safe and supportive community, and helps me build confidence. I have learned many valuable lessons, like how yoga poses are not cookie-cutter and don’t fit every body, and “just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should”. These are the kind of things I want to impart on my students when I start teaching, and I am so grateful to Kim for creating this mentorship.
If I could tell my beginner yogi self anything about practicing, it would be: You are enough! Don’t compare yourself to others around you. It’s okay to be imperfect. We’re all on our own unique journey. Have fun, and honor yourself for where you are in each moment. :-)
Evolutionary of the Month – Janel Vculek- August 2016
I am deeply honored to be this month’s Evolutionary. This is my favorite place to practice and meet others who are intrigued by the energy being shared here!
I garnered the courage to take my first yoga class at age 23. At the time I had little confidence in myself and I had just gone through a year of huge emotional imbalance and insecurity (apparently early 20’s can do this). However, I knew I needed to tune/turn my life up a notch. Little did I know I would eventually “tune-up” for real!
So there I was, dazed and confused, going to yoga. My first class was with Anita Hartman, the soul Valdez yoga teacher in the late 90’s. Her practice focused on alignment while engaging the breath – moving gently and consciously. I remember falling in love with yoga the first day. Yoga brought me into my body and back to myself, my being, a way nothing had before. A sense of joy, warmth, and confidence rushed through me that day; this feeling was so new and also peacefully ancient.
I did not commit to the practice then, but the initiation left me keenly brightened and curious. Later in Anchorage I found David Luce at The Inner Dance Studio. He taught Iyengar’s hatha postures- linked together and held longer. I could sense the alignment recharging my body and at that point knew this practice was important for my pursuit of happiness. Despite this, I still wasn’t sure if I was ready.
I kept going to classes, then to a yoga conference, and a retreat center – volunteering to work on The Big Island. Yoga was available to me. I valued what I was learning, although I found difficulty incorporating it into my daily life, I continued to return to practice anyway and experienced clear accomplishment, self-love and acceptance. I slowed down to communicate with my body and allow my breath to guide me. This helped the worries fall away. I spent so much time searching for something to grab my attention, change my life, and redirect me toward bliss- suddenly Yoga answered all my questions. Whoa!
I met Kim at Laughing Lotus in 2013. She spoke my language about what this practice meant to herself, her students, and the community. Her messages and practices resonated and had an impact on me; I have been a student of her studio since. She helped me find doors to my inner strength that I was oblivious to see; and reminded me of the great responsibility of being present. I am grateful!
Speaking to my beginner self with one piece of advice could be this: Love, trust, and start where you are now. These words open pathways and possibilities. I am a beginner every time I step onto my mat. Though some postures and techniques are familiar, I am always learning something as if for the first time, starting where I am in the moment. ‘Wherever you go, there you are!’ And what you are, what I am, is truly amazing. I believe we are here to love, trust, and be present. This is what I learn everyday, and in every practice.
Evolutionary of the Month – Dave Gardner – July 2016
It’s been a little over a year since I started practicing at Evolve Yoga. In some ways it seems like a lot longer, and other times it seems like I just started yesterday. I came to yoga not for spiritual awareness or stress relief, but for good old-fashioned coordination and flexibility conditioning, and hopefully to relieve the muscle pain that comes with age and sitting at a desk all day. Before I started, I didn’t know a namaste from a savasana, but thanks to the patience of Heidi and the encouragement of Kim, I look forward to the weekly sessions and try to get three days of practice a week, as my travel schedule allows. I’ve even gone so far as to carry a travel mat, therapy balls, and strap with me for out of town meetings.
I’m a self-admitted Type A person, living and working most of the time in my “left brain”. At first, I had a hard time letting go and just being in the moment during practice. But with each week, I gradually relaxed and now I can (mostly) stay focused and “in the moment” through an entire session. Additionally, I find myself thinking about my posture and how I stand or walk in everyday situations, like in the check-out line at Carrs I try to “slide me feet apart, but don’t actually”. Odd how little phrases stick with you. Or sitting at a stop light and doing deep breathing exercises or neck stretches. Lessons learned on the mat seem to creep into everyday life.
My advice if you are an absolute beginner: take a few private lessons or sign-up for the Yoga 101/102 classes to learn the basic poses and lingo; make a commitment to attend on a regular schedule, concentrate on executing each pose to the best of your ability without becoming distracted by other classmates, and don’t measure your progress by what you can’t do but instead on what you have done and the improvements you have made.
Yes, my coordination and flexibility have improved. Yes, I have less pain in areas I have endured for years. Yes, I feel more relaxed, less stressed, and seem to get a more restful night’s sleep. But I still have a glass of Scotch, an occasional cigar, and eat less than optimal food – I’m just a lot more mindful about it when I do.
Evolutionaries of the Month – Bob & Liz Butera – June 2016
Liz and I have led very active lives. Liz is the competitive one, having recently competed in her 30th Mount Marathon (including a 1st place in 1977) and has an ongoing passion for classical ski racing. I flirted with the edges of competition, primarily to keep myself in shape for my real passion of being in the mountains summer and winter.
All this activity, along with the excess of sitting that comes along with many occupations these days, have created imbalances in our bodies that we were able to shrug off when younger. We are currently going through some life transitions as well: recent empty nesters, moving towards retirement, and having gone through some recent physical challenges. We both came to the realization that although we do not yet know what the next phase of life will bring, we want to enter it, if possible, healthy and without physical limitations.
We knew there were benefits to yoga, but were leery of the potential for injury from haphazardly pushing our bodies into unusual positions. The Yoga 101 class format offered by Evolve appealed to us. Jen was our instructor and we spent the entire first class focusing solely on breathing. Could it be that we had gone this far along in life without thinking about this basic function? We were hooked when Jen told us “we are here to strengthen bodies, not to create flexibility, flexibility may come as a side benefit but it is not the goal”. That rang true with what we already knew, and the more classes we took the more we came to appreciate the focus on restoration, tune-up and avoidance of the mythology of yoga flexibility. In addition we are coming to know the previously unknown fascia of our bodies and the benefits that working with it brings.
My advice for someone new to yoga comes from a recollection I have from a physical therapist; “the only patients that resolve their symptoms are the ones that apply effort in that direction”. So, start! We wish we had years ago.
Evolutionary of the Month–Kim Nelson- May 2016
The human body is a lot like a sports car. When it is new, you can drive very fast, and it doesn’t need much maintenance. The car works like it was engineered to do, not much goes wrong with it. As the car is driven more and more, things start to go wrong with it, much like an aging body. It doesn’t perform as well as it did when it was new, needing more maintenance, much like driving a classic car. It is still a sweet ride, but you’ve got to pay more attention to it for it to perform optimally.
Thus, began my Journey of Yoga 5 1/2 years ago when I was looking for an alternative way to maintain my “Classic 57” body. Regular maintenance, including chiropractic, deep tissue massage therapy and myofacial treatments, only provided temporary relief, not improving the aches and function long term. Stress at work did not help the situation, and I have Crohn’s disease with it’s related nutritional issues and their resulting effects on the body. So finally, after much hemming and hawing, I went to a few yoga classes with a friend who had practiced for several years. She said that she had heard good things about Laughing Lotus, so we ended up attending regularly after work, and I added a 3rd class weekly on Saturday mornings. Jumping into yoga with both feet, I tried very hard to do all that I could. As a young person, I was not very coordinated or athletic (no dance or gymnastics in my background), so everything I was able to do during classes was a well-earned gain. There was relief not only physically, but also mentally, after each class. My husband could tell which nights I went to yoga, because I was a bit calmer and centered at home. Talking about my day, I would loose my “zen” feeling, but it did provide some temporary relief. I realized that yoga was an effective way to reduce stress, “working out my ya-yas” from the day’s events. My low back slowly improved, my posture was more in alignment, and my movements became smoother and more intentional.
I continued the 3 times a week routine during work, making it a priority after school and planning for it every Saturday morning. Breaks from work provided more time for yoga and allowed me to practice every morning. First I went to a wide variety of yoga classes — Yin/Yang, Kundalini, Vinyasa, and Ashtanga as well as Kim’s Forrest classes, quickly discovering that I enjoyed and got the most from the Forrest classes. Sadness would take over in September because I knew I would not be able to go to yoga as regularly. A brief breathing routine practiced every morning helped me get through the work day a little more centered and calmly. Laughing Lotus closed and the summer waiting for Evolve to open was an eyeopener — I truly missed the everyday yoga schedule to which I had become accustomed during Summer. Other studios did not provide what I was looking for.
Yoga at Evolve has changed as has my practice. I am now retired, practicing 6 mornings a week, and am seeing incredible progress. I’ve gotten much stronger, low back pain is all but gone, shoulders are slowly becoming more stable, and the neck is making improvements. Additionally, the Crohn’s disease has greatly improved (90% healed!), osteopenia is reversing with regrown bone, and the Type A personality has backed off a bit so that now I am a “Type B+”.
Summing up what I have learned through yoga so far:
* Keep working at yoga and make it a priority even if only a few times a week, it will pay off. Just because you are not athletic or graceful or coordinated, doesn’t mean you can’t do yoga.
* Yoga provides a way to develop the trifecta of better mobility as we age: flexibility, strength, and balance.
* Yoga not only helps physically, but also mentally. That flexibility, strength, and balance also shows up in your mental and emotional self.
* Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. It may not be good for you (in yoga and in life).
* You don’t always get what you want from yoga (or in life), but you usually get what you need.
* You don’t have control of what others “do” in your life, you only have control over how you respond to them.
“Sutra 1.14: When that practice is done for a long time, without a break, and with sincere devotion, then the practice becomes a firmly rooted, stable and solid foundation.” I fully enjoy the solid foundation yoga has created for me. It has helped me heal and maintain my “Classic 57” body, and has become a valuable part of my daily life.
Can work ethic and physical labor be part of someone’s personality? While climbing through the trusses in an attic last fall I wondered why this type of dirty,
difficult, and uncomfortable work was enjoyable to me. I definitely prefer having the physical challenges of a labor-intensive job rather than an office job. Hanging and balancing on trusses while avoiding a fall through the ceiling was reminiscent of playing tag on the playground dome (remember those?) as a child.
However, if I stayed in the attic, or crawlspace more than 4 to 6 hours a day, I would often have to take the next day off to rest my body, or fear long-term recovery. After an intensive workweek that did not include rest days I found myself in this exact situation. I was injured, and I knew my body was going to continue to deteriorate. I was in chronic pain, and finally facing a serious change in career prospects moving forward.
In addition to receiving various types of bodywork including Rolfing and acupuncture, I wanted more personal control over my healing process. I began to search for a yoga studio, and my goal was to learn how to self-maintain and restore my body to a healthy state. In addition to physical health, I also wanted to increase my mental, emotional, and spiritual health. I not only needed to heal, I wanted to create a path that would lead me toward a healthy mid-life and old age. I met with Kim in December 2015 for a series of private sessions to assess what path I should take with yoga, then I joined her 101 class, and now I participate in on-going classes.
We all want quick results when recovering from injury. My injury needs time to heal as well as a break from the type of work causing it. It is not only my current injury that concerns me, as all the other abused parts of my body need love too! When an instructor asks about injured or tweaky areas I know it would take less time to list the things that don’t have an issue, and I think, “from my ankles down I’m pretty good!” The best option I have for recovery and other health goals is to continue my yoga practice and physical therapy treatments. I know if I don’t make this commitment, I will continue with pain and physical struggles through the next 40 years. Pain makes it obvious that I need change in my life. It is easy to endure pain and forgo change, but it is my desire for an enjoyable and active future that gets me to the studio every week to practice.
I first started doing yoga after being diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis at age 15. I was already an avid hiker and tennis player, but I needed to consider some form of exercise that was more joint-friendly. Yoga gave me a healthy physical outlet and helped to strengthen my joints after having damaging flare-ups. Over time, Yoga has become much more to me than just a form of joint-friendly exercise. When my joints hurt, yoga takes me to a place mentally, if not physically, where I feel at peace. Once my joints have stopped hurting, yoga takes me to a place where I can take back the mental and physical strength that the arthritis flare-up take away.
I am graduate student in the M.S. in Clinical Psychology program at UAA where I have learned through coursework that mindfulness, meditation, and focused, manageable exercise is an excellent way of coping with chronic pain. Most importantly, I have learned this lesson through personal experience. My practice has also become an important self-care activity because GRAD SCHOOL IS STRESSFUL! After practice, my focus is often greatly improved, and the menacing stack of homework looks a little less scary. All-in-all, yoga keeps me grounded, focused, and in-tune with myself.
If I could go back and tell myself anything when I began practicing Yoga, it would be, “Don’t be so hard on yourself. If you can’t do a handstand today, but you still leave feeling peaceful, stronger, and more compassionate, you are succeeding”
Starting a yoga practice had been on my “to-do” list for 10 years, literally. I was a busy business owner, and I traveled frequently. My sister Lindsey Meyers taught at Evolve in 2013/2014, and encouraged me to come to one of her classes (plus she had been raving about yoga and Kim Greeff in particular for years). I hesitated because I was traveling so much at that time and knew there was no way I would be able to maintain a practice.
I eventually attended one of Lindsey’s classes – and wanted to quit immediately! The class was so challenging for me, I didn’t want to come back. Fortunately, another student in class that day noticed that I was having a hard time and told me to come back, that the exact same thing had happened to her but to just give it one more try. To this day I am thankful for her words of encouragement.
I came back the next day and amazingly, seemed so much stronger, or likely was just better prepared mentally. I was intrigued. By the end of that first week, I became a member at Evolve and on a deep level just knew this was something I wanted to commit to. Three months later, I ended up leaving my 7 year old, out-of-town business that I loved so much in order to put myself first and make some healthy changes in my life.
Since I started yoga in 2013, there have been a few periods of time where life has gotten busy again and the next thing I knew, I hadn’t made it to a class in 2 weeks. I could definitely notice a change in my attitude after these periods, and my body always seemed to “need” it and pull me right back. A big challenge for me has been with scheduling, and finally, as a goal for 2016, I have put “YOGA” in my personal/work calendar and aim to schedule everything else around it. I am so inspired by all the other students who show up so consistently, no matter what. If everyone else can do it – I can find a way to do it too!
If there was one thing I could tell my beginner self, it would be to understand that a yoga practice is really an evolution – you continuously grow in physical strength and commitment, and the time you put in is beyond worth it. In some ways, I still consider myself a beginner, and am amazed when I look back and see how far I’ve come. I honestly never thought I’d be able to do those “crazy” poses that everyone makes look so easy, or even make it through a 90 minute class – and here I am. Yoga has been such a positive addition to my life on so many levels, and is now at the very top of my priority list.
My first yoga class was as a grad student. Free student yoga in the art room sounded pretty fantastic after hours upon hours of sitting at a computer! I fell out of practice for a few years after grad school, until I heard about Evolve opening and popped in for a visit. I was impressed by the welcoming nature of the community, and have been coming regularly ever since.
For me, yoga began as a playful exploration of what I could do—could I actually reach my foot? Could I hold that standing pose? Could I kick up into an inversion? Some days the answer was yes, and other days the answer was no, but either way it was fun to try.
While I still approach classes with this spirit, I’ve developed an appreciation for the way yoga helps me focus on the subtleties of my body and breath. I had a disc injury in my lower back about two years ago. In retrospect I had been ignoring the slow progression to this injury for years, telling myself it was just a tight pyriformis or a sore low back that I just had to work through. A regular yoga practice during my recovery helped me learn to use my breath to get through painful moments, focus on stability and strength in my core, and work to loosen the tight places I had been guarding for so long. Most importantly, it helped me recognize that rather than pushing harder to try and work through a tight or aching part of my body, it’s ok to modify a pose and, if that still doesn’t feel right, I can ask for help.
Embracing the things that I can do, rather than focusing on the things I can’t, helps keep yoga a playful and joyous place for me. And I like to think that laughing while doing core work will only make me stronger!
Almost four years ago a friend invited me to join her in a yoga class. I liked it so much that as I was leaving I picked up a schedule of classes. took it home, looked it over and decided that I would like to try a Forrest Yoga class. That is when I met Kim, and was thoroughly impressed with her teaching style.
I was dealing with an autoimmune disorder that would cause flare-ups and wanted to find something that I could do that would not exacerbate the flare-ups but still let me get exercise and help alleviate stress (which also triggered flare-ups). These flare-ups could last anywhere from several days to several weeks, and there was always a chronic level of discomfort in my muscles. That discomfort kept me from doing many activities that I used to do, and depression came along with it.
I have to say that when I first started going to class I would just “go through the motions” of the poses, but as I continued going I would really try to listen to what my body was telling me. There were times when I thought I was never going to learn the poses correctly or get the breathing down. However, with gentle guidance from Kim along with patience, and perseverance, I began to feel a difference over time. I was not only feeling a difference in the way I was doing the poses, but I had also noticed a difference in my health. I was feeling better both physically and mentally and the flare-ups were happening less often and with less intensity. For the first time in a long time, I felt like I had some control over my health.
By seeing the impact that yoga has had on my health, I have committed to making yoga a priority in how I take care of myself.
I began my yoga practice over 20 years ago, learning the style of Kundalini as taught by the Sikh community. The Sikhs emphasized that we were Beings of limitless potential; infinite. We just had to learn how to become that infinite Being, and for starters they said “experience”. For in Kundalalini yoga the most important thing is “experience” because it goes right into your heart.
I practiced for a couple of years and then my job was asking me to work out of town. My schedule got to where I could not attend classes, and I found it difficult to practice in small quarters, and working long hours while on the road did not help either. My yoga practice faded away and before I knew it years passed with marriage, children, and I became one of those super-moms.
Then one day I found out about a trip to India sponsored by a group of like-minded people, and I seized upon the opportunity to travel to the Far East. India is a fascinating place with so many mixed cultures, but it was when I went to the Golden Temple, a sacred place to the Sikhs, that a flame ignited and memories stirred of my long ago yoga practice. On my return to Alaska I made an effort to find a yoga studio. I was stiff as a board, I was not flexible, my spine was crooked, and I could not maintain a simple balance pose. I had strength, but not yoga strength. I went though a little mental self-talk to adjust my attitude and vowed to have patience with myself.
I met Heidi at a small yoga studio in Palmer and she taught a style of yoga that I had never heard of before; Forrest Yoga. I attended her classes and finally I was making progress. Then she left! I tracked her down to Evolve Yoga studio and she said that if I ever had the opportunity, take a class from Kim. I did. Well, the story goes is that Kim’s style is changing me into a “new me”. I will not be just any form. I will be a form that knows itself consciously in every facet, from every side. The physical part of me is being mapped with tune-up balls and poses, and Kim ignites the spirit side with her readings of Rumi, Kahili Gibran, or some like-minded person, and her own potent and beautiful wisdom.
I intend to continue unfolding at Evolve Yoga Studio so that I may create and experience this “new me” and have a greater understanding of my limitless potential!
To have fun, too!
A friend invited me to go with her to a yoga retreat in Hawaii in January 2014. Just after I signed up, I had a serious collision on the ice and ended up with torn knee ligaments and a small tibial plateau fracture which ended my hockey career and, I was afraid, my running. I figured I would attend the retreat anyway and use the sun, warmth, and ocean for mental and physical healing.
I ended up loving the yoga practice for its complete physical and mental focus. It also helped me begin to recover function and strength in my injured leg. Upon returning home, I wanted to continue practicing but I was intimidated by the thought of going to classes.
Philip has practiced with a daily meditation and basic asana program for many years in the privacy of our home to help combat fatigue from his stressful job. We have both been active throughout our lives with running, biking, ice hockey, skate skiing, etc., but we hated the idea of taking classes.
Almost a year after my injury I was still struggling with my recovery. My PT encouraged me to continue with yoga, so when I saw the Evolve Yoga sign I stopped in, thinking I could sign Philip and I up for a private lesson. Instead I attended a class that had only a few students, the pace was not overwhelming, and the instructor was helpful despite the practice being challenging. I loved it! Philip was skeptical, but we both wanted a physical activity we could do together, so we decided to try it.
As we sat in front of our instructor, Kim, she asked about our yoga experience and noticed a few things about each of us that showed her depth of anatomical knowledge. We both immediately felt that we would be safe practicing here. It was very challenging physically, which I love, and the instructors’ attention to detail in alignment and anatomy has really helped teach us a healthy, safe practice. Each of us has grown more knowledgeable of our “inner landscape” as our teachers say, and we have gained tremendous mental and physical strength that helps us transition into our “rewired” lives.
Learning patience, how to adapt, and releasing expectations of perfection in breath work and asana have been among the greatest gifts of the challenging and creative practice we found at Evolve. The warmth and generosity of spirit in the community here inspires us to keep coming back!
Evolutionary of the Month- May 2015- Ellie Gunn
When I was 23, I found myself deeply unprepared for the next step I had chosen in life: joining the military. I had a few precious months to prepare for boot camp. I thought, “Hey, I am young and ‘fit’ (what I meant was ‘thin’ but I didn’t realize this at the time) I can handle it.” I began strength training and running 5-6 days a week and it was during this time that I was first introduced to yoga by way of DVD, as my small town did not yet have a yoga studio. Lo and behold, I did get stronger! I also felt like I was really using my entire body for the first time following along with those yoga videos.
However, three weeks into Coast Guard Basic Training I found myself bed-ridden with a litter of lower body issues, including stress fractures and strained ligaments. As it turns out, you can’t make up for a lifetime of ignoring your body with a few concerted months of effort. I eventually healed and completed my training but I had learned just how disconnected I had always been from my own body. The truth was, the body I expected to propel me through any adventure I wanted to undertake, was not actually ready. I have always had big dreams but I never dreamed my own flesh would keep me from reaching my goals. Something needed to change. I couldn’t go back and make up for those lost years but I could start now to build the vehicle that would take me wherever I wanted to go.
I remembered the overall physical knowledge and well-being that those yoga videos had introduced me to and, in the years following, I sought out yoga studios where I was stationed. I would return a few times to each studio but would eventually move on. As a life-long ‘non-athlete’ I felt like I was always trying to keep up with everyone else in the class. Other students seemed to easily intuit the next transition and the instructors moved so quickly through the positions. I thought, “I am just not cut out for the ‘sport’ of yoga.”
Never one to give up, I sought out yet another studio when I moved to Anchorage in the fall of 2014. I wasn’t convinced I’d find what I was looking for, but the first studio I visited was Evolve and it was exactly what I had always hoped to find. Each session is structured to teach you rather than test you and the instructors act as guides leading you into your own practice. At Evolve, I have begun to soar through my journey of connecting my inner self with my physical self. I have learned that a yoga practice is a personal practice, something to be explored and progressed through at your own pace and in your own way rather than something to be powered through with grit. I am slowly being introduced to my own body and the power I hold within myself. Physical, mental, and emotional well-being aren’t things to be hunted down and attacked. For me, they are to be approached with gentleness and care. Embracing this approach, I know yoga will carry me along my journey of self-care for a long time.