Coleen has been coming to my class for about 2 years now and asked her to be my "Spotlight Student" this month because I recognized there was a shift that had taken place and I wanted to know more about her transformation in her own words. I was shocked and thrilled to read her answers! Way to go, Coleen and keep up the great work! Now here is Coleen in her own words!
1. What brought you to yoga?
I was first introduced to yoga in high school many years ago, when in senior year at my all-girl high school, yoga replaced gym. Having taken ballet classes for many years, I was already very flexible and I instantly fell in love with yoga. I was one of only two girls in the entire senior class who could do one of the three poses we could choose from to earn an A in the class. (I did a headstand.)
For decades I unsuccessfully looked for yoga classes to take as I gained more and more weight from stress eating. I did find videos, but my weight made it challenging. Even the video "Yoga for Round Bodies" was made for pear shaped people, and no alternatives were offered for poses where my apple shape got in the way. I was so happy when yoga started catching on and I found yin. It has eased me back into yoga and helped me feel good in my body again.
2. How has practicing yoga helped or changed you?
Physically, yoga helped me regain my flexibility. It has also helped with my balance; I am thrilled to be able to put my pants on while standing up and not holding on to anything every morning! Yoga has also definitely contributed toward my 50 pound weight loss over the past year; feeling better in my body helped me focus on other ways to take care of it.
Mentally, it has helped me get through a very stressful couple of years. I cherish my newfound ability to observe my reactions to things and then let them go; I get caught up in the drama way less often now. And the breathing techniques I've learned in class have really helped me deal with stress more healthfully.
Yoga has become a big part of who I am. It's so important to me that I bought myself some blocks and a mat so I can practice it during those stretches when life calls and I can't make it to class; practicing yoga on the pier over the river in my mom's backyard in Maine has helped me get through the day-to-day grind of helping her through her journey.
3. What is one of your favorite poses or yoga practices and why?
Clearly I'm a yin fan. The practice is so adaptable to all body types, ages, and physical conditions. It's also very relaxing.
My favorite pose in class is Banana Asana. Relieving the tightness along the sides of my body really opens my core and enables me to use it more effortlessly and painlessly.
At home I often do a random Tree Pose during my day. Balance is something I've watched so many of my elders lose, and I want to be sure to keep it! I don't get my foot up as high as I would like, but I observe and let go of my frustration, and simply modify it :-)
4. Do you want to share anything else?
I am so happy to have found yoga again after all these years. Yin has helped me grow in so many ways. It has helped bring me back to myself; the lighthearted, positive person I was in high school before life overwhelmed me. And I'm especially grateful to Julie, who taught me how to bring yoga off of my mat and into my everyday life.