Today we introduce a new feature of our newsletter - Student Spotlight! Every few weeks we'll feature a different member of our community. I'm honored to feature one of our earliest students today, Elizabeth Bennett.
When did you start practicing yoga?
Almost 9 years ago. My acupuncturist at the time noticed that I had good range of motion. He asked me if I’d ever tried yoga.
Why do you practice yoga?
Initially I began practicing related to my chronic arthritic condition, I was seeking a means to live inside this body. I sought and found increased flexibility, a release of endorphins. I was SOLD!
I have continued to practice because the breath keeps me present. I enjoy increased agility both mentally and physically, lowered blood pressure, and not being dependent on drugs to control my pain. My practice is spiritual, mental, and physical. I look forward to practicing for the rest of my life.
What kept you going?
I saw results from the practice right away!
My motivation has changed over the years. I think I’m stronger than most people my age. I see that benefit. I see now that, even if everything is going crazy around me, I’m disciplined enough that I can stay on track and lean into what I’ve learned from my practice.
What does your practice consist of?
I practice at home and at The Yoga Room. My practice in the studio reinforces what I practice at home.
At home, I usually start with yoga, then a walk, and then yoga again to wind down. I do yoga in the morning. And I also do yoga at work - not a lot, maybe just one asana at a time.
At work, when I take a deep breath, my assistant asks,”You’re breathing for your health, huh?” Even if she doesn’t practice yoga, she understands.
Do you practice yoga in a private space at work?
I work in a large area and there are only a couple of us in that area, so they do see me do some asanas. I do forward folds throughout the day. They see me do forward folds all the time.
You can do yoga anywhere, even in the grocery store, you can do a tree pose or another standing pose. I take yoga with me everywhere; I don’t even need to have a mat.
How do you maintain your motivation for your practice?
The practice provides its own motivation. I have arthritis pretty much all over my body, and I know that if I do certain postures, I’m going to find some relief.
What’s so fabulous is that I can read my own body. It’s like I’m my own doctor. I know what’s going on in my body and how to address it. If I have a stiff back, I know the forward fold is going to benefit me. Just knowing what to do is such an enormous benefit. It’s like having your own toolkit with you all the time.
What part of your practice do you gain the most from?
Breathing. I breathe at home, at work, and in the car. When I breathe I concentrate on the count - and my count has really gotten much better than when I first started! At first I thought it was literally impossible to breathe consciously. Of course, we breathe all the time, but conscious breathing was difficult in the beginning.
I have different breathing ratios when I’m sitting and when I’m walking. Sometimes I do alternate nostril breathing, especially if I’m sick or if I have congestion. Breathing consciously really seems to help.
Breathing keeps me focused. I know I can go to my breathing at any time. In the asana practice I connect the movement to the breath. I’m not always that good at it, but I’m consciously aware, and when I catch my mind wandering, I can go back to breathing consciously.
What advice do you have for someone who is thinking about trying yoga?
Be patient with yourself. Be disciplined with your commitment. Your mind will bring your body along. Know that your yoga practice will likely carry over into other areas of your life.
I’m so glad that I found yoga. It’s changed my life for the better. I wish everyone would practice yoga.
Anything else you want to add?
I’d like to convey my appreciation of you, the studio, and the great community you've gifted us all with.
We love having Elizabeth as part of our community!
Have a great week,