IYCWM November Student Spotlight – Negest Retta

By Published On: October 31st, 2020

Tell us a little about yourself – I was born & raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I came to the United States to go to college but ended up staying here. After getting my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Health Sciences & Nutrition, I worked as a Registered Dietitian in various hospitals in New York City and Fairfax, VA.

After the birth of my second daughter, with my husband travelling constantly, it was difficult to balance motherhood and work. Therefore, I stopped working and became a stay home mom. Prior to settling in Farmington, CT, my husband and I  have lived in Fairfax, VA and Rochester, NY. We are blessed with three wonderful children and 3 grandchildren.


What is a little known or surprising fact about you or your work? Due to a traumatic childhood experience, I am scared of dogs. Even though, I have gotten better over the years, I still cannot get too close or pet a dog.


What led you to Iyengar yoga? How did you find IYCWM? A few  years back, a  friend took me to an Iyengar yoga studio in Avon, CT.  After the instructor moved out of state, I hoped around other various yoga studios (mostly non Iyengar) in my area. About 2 years ago, I started having back problems, a friend recommended Susan Elena. I took a few private lessons and attended a couple of classes. But, since I live in CT, it was difficult to attend on a regular basis. In Iyengar yoga, I like the attention to details, the focus on alignment and the use of props. In addition, I am not sure if all Iyengar teachers do that, but the fact that Susan Elena is still training impresses me and also gives me a sense of comfort. I hear a lot about yoga injuries, but now I know I am in good hands.


How long have you been practicing yoga? On and off (mostly off) for quite a few years. But now, except missing a few classes, I have been practicing consistently since starting the virtual classes with Susan Elena.


What keeps you on the mat? After yoga practice, I feel relaxed but at the same time energized and I love that feeling.


What keeps you of the mat? Kids, other family commitments, travel , all keep me off the mat.


What poses do you love? Adho Mukha Svanasana, Supta Baddhakonasana and of course Savasana


What poses do you find challenging? Mostly all inversion poses.


What do you like to do when you are not doing yoga? Walking, hiking, reading and spending time with my grandchildren. I also enjoy driving to small towns, explore the area, eat at local restaurants and do some shopping.


How has practicing yoga impacted your life? Yoga for me is a tool that has taught me to deal with stress & anxiety and keeps me relaxed. Physically, my recent daily practice has helped me tremendously with my back problems.


How does yoga show up in your daily life? Whether I am walking, driving, standing in the kitchen or waiting in line, I am very mindful of my posture. I hear Susan Elena’s voice,” strong feet, shoulders down, tailbone in”..


How has the pandemic changed your life? Does your yoga practice help you in any way? For me there has been a silver lining.  All my children and grandchildren came and stayed with us till the end of August.  It was “Camp Chaos” at times, but I enjoyed every minute of it. In addition, since there are no Iyengar Studios in my area, being able to practice daily with Susan Elena s has been a great gift. Yes, my yoga practice has helped me. With so many people in the household, when things go haywire, I quietly go to my room and do some restorative yoga poses.


What has it been like to become part of a virtual yoga community when you have never been to the physical space and do not know other students? In the beginning, just being by myself in a room surrounded by four walls felt odd. But that feeling changed pretty soon. Students’ faces and names show up in the “small boxes” on the screen. Occasionally, even their pets show up! (Valentino is a regular).

From the discussions during the question and answer sessions, I started learning more about the students. It did not take long before it started feeling like a community.

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