Introducing Renee Wetstein, one of the most exuberant students in our community. She works hard and plays hard. Renee’s infectious laughter reminds her fellow students to let go a bit and have fun. She embodies the joyful aspect of this practice with a warm caring heart. Her favorite class is the Transitioning from Level I to Level II LAB. The exploration and “laboratory” atmosphere appeals to her quick wit and investigative mind.
Tell us a bit about yourself : I was born in the Bronx and went to college in Boston and when I was debating at Smith College, I met the person I ended up marrying who lived in Easthampton, MA. That was 35 years ago.
What is a little known or surprising fact about you or your work? Most people know I am a divorce lawyer but I also am an adoption attorney and had a case heard in the Supreme Court of Massachusetts regarding a gestational carrier and out of state intended parents that I won. While I was waiting for my case to be called I did the breath work where you hold one nostril, breath in, and then out with the other nostril to calm me down.
What led you to Iyengar yoga? I knew nothing about Iyengar yoga until I was at the YMCA and an instructor there came from Cambridge and took classes with Patricia Walden. It was the first time I got “adjusted” by the instructor and loved it. I was shocked how much I would arch my back and stick out my chest. (I am still working on that.)
How long have you been practicing yoga? 26 years with Kripalu Yoga and at the Y but a student of IYENGAR Yoga for over 8 years.
What keeps you on the mat? I have a total love hate relationship with yoga. I hate being told what to do and hold a pose that feels like it is stretching a very short rubber band in my body, but the more and more I have come back to the mat and attend class after class, work shop after work shop, it is like little light bulbs go off and one part of your body opens up which was blocked and that creates a cascade of another opening and you are like, wow this is what my teacher has been talking about for years.
What keeps you off the mat? Time mostly. It is truly a balance but I do find that my work and relationships are happier if I put Yoga on the top or near the top of my to do list.
What poses do you love? Savasana of course!
What poses do you find challenging? Virabhadrasana I or any pose where my outer and inner groins are expected to be stretched.
What do you like to do when you are not doing yoga? My sons are now 21, 23 and 26, so I love going to visit them and spending time with them. Hanging out with my husband and our two puppies and binging Netflix or CNN.
How has practicing yoga impacted your life? If I didn’t do yoga I would look like a crunched up hunch back and be even more agitated and aggressive.
How does yoga show up in your everyday life? It reminds me to breath and slow down and gives me a community of like-minded people.
How does our yoga community contribute to your practice? It is a joy to watch Susan Elena practice and watch her evolve as a teacher that was very strict and now is just overflowing with joy. There is a lot of laughter in her classes and the new and older students who show up in the studio share this incredible healing experience together.
Any advice for beginners? Don’t compare yourself to other students. It is hard not to look around and get frustrated when you can’t do something. It is really about your practice and I always feel better after class. So keep on showing up!
How have you dealt with the COVID-19 crisis? Did your yoga practice help you in any way? It has been really challenging because my dad is in a rehabilitation facility in Florida where he cannot have any visitors and there have been some personal tragedies with close friends who I cannot hug during this time. Yoga has helped me reset and clear my mind. I have finally been able to find time to read Geeta Iyengar’s book, which has been very motivational.
Any thoughts on how yoga can help someone navigate these challenges of the COVID-19 crisis? If there is an upside to this challenging time, it is that now is the time to start your practice or renew your practice by joining a zoom class with Susan Elena!