When did you start yoga and how did you find your way to yoga?
I started yoga about eight years ago when a close friend invited me to a class she was teaching. I had no idea what I was doing but I followed along as best I could, and I'll never forget how good my body felt during my first savasana (resting "corpse" pose) at the conclusion of class. I was instantly hooked, found a home studio in Fullerton immediately thereafter, and have tried to practice as often as possible since.
How often do you practice?
These days my goal is to practice at least twice a week in a class setting, however, obligations often get in the way, so I frequently have to live with once a week. I try to sign up for workshops whenever I can, too, because I'm less likely to skip those when life gets busy.
What are your favorite and least favorite poses?
I once thought of poses as favorite/not favorite, but now I've realized that if I don't like a pose I probably need to ask questions about which muscles I should be engaging. Poses that I don't like are usually poses I don't understand very well. On the other side of the coin, I used to have "favorite" poses which were poses I could do easily that looked the most impressive. Those poses didn't have me working hard but they appealed to my vanity. Now my favorites are the poses that I understand how to do but find infinitely challenging, like Warrior II. I despised Warrior II for years, but once I learned more about which muscles to engage, I came to love it because it offers a challenge growth opportunity every time I'm in it, even though it doesn't necessarily look like much. There is an awful lot going on even in the simplest of poses, which is why my fascination with practicing yoga endures.
What do you like about practicing with Cara?
I love a teacher with a good sense of humor, and Cara certainly has that. She creates an immensely supportive and friendly environment. It's really wonderful experiencing the smaller class sizes she offers in her home studio - we get a lot of personal attention. But most importantly, Cara is a master at her craft, both in the mechanics of instruction and the choice and sequencing of poses she individualizes for each group. She is eager to help you feel your best and move in a way that is safe and beneficial for your unique body. I appreciate her focus on functional mobility and balanced engagement of lesser-used muscle groups. I like that I always get that good savasana "buzz" after her class. Also, her dogs are really cute.
What gifts has your yoga practice given you?
My practice has given me a physical and mental space where I can completely relax and spend quality time with myself in a way that I rarely get the opportunity to do in my hectic grown-up's life. It has also dramatically improved my self esteem and body image. No matter what my body looks like, I am always amazed to discover what it can do and how strong it can become. I have difficulty doing meditation/yoga at home due to many distractions, so escaping to the yoga studio is very helpful for me to maintain my mental health.
What would you say to someone who has never practiced yoga before?
First of all, yoga can be therapeutic for every body of every size, shape and ability and there are no prerequisites to using yoga to feel good in your body. Secondly, don't be afraid to show up with the body you have and start practicing. The thing that most held me back from being physical in a group setting (I never set foot in a gym for over 30 years!) was fear of the judgment of others. When you're new to yoga, you need to look around at the people practicing around you for cues and clues to help you learn what the directions mean, and it's easy to assume that everyone is looking at you, too, as you fumble to move your body in new ways and deal with whatever internal shame you may be carrying around about your body. However, you should understand that literally no one is looking at you; they are way too busy focusing on their own practice, which takes a surprising amount of attention even when there is little perceptible movement. Yogis tend to be very kind and nonjudgmental, so even if they do glance around the room periodically, it will only be to offer helpful advice or encouragement. But mostly they're ignoring you completely, I promise. Isn't that nice?