IYCWM Student Spotlight: March 2021

By Published On: March 4th, 2021

Introducing Ann, a regular in Monday’s and Friday’s Back Care classes. Ann brings positive energy wherever she goes and is always up for a challenge. She approaches her practice and hard poses with such enthusiasm and joy that she is a constant source of inspiration to us all. Enjoy getting to know this bright spirit!


Tell us a bit about yourself – I grew up in a small central Illinois town in an Amish farming community where we farmed and I worked as a telephone operator before we went dial while becoming a registered nurse. I moved to Denver, Colorado (with my horse) where I worked as an RN for five years and met my husband of 50 years. I moved here in 1970 to be married and as my husband is a self-employed Realtor, I then earned my real estate brokers license. I continued working until our two children arrived when I became a stay at home mom.


What is a little known or surprising fact about you or your work? While living in Denver, I rode my horse on trails in the Rockies leading to old abandoned mining areas we explored. I no longer have my horse but I still have my saddle.


What led you to Iyengar yoga? How did you find IYCWM? While working as an RN, I became interested in the mind/body connection and read Quantum Healing by Deepak Chopra which led to me meditation and yoga. I found IYCWM when I met Suzie at the Northampton YMCA and then transferred to your teaching location.


How long have you been practicing yoga? I had been practicing yoga for several years in Northampton and Amherst with Deb Neubauer until 2012 when I stopped for chemo and stem cell transplants. When I  returned to exercise/yoga, I noticed each time, I was less and less able to move as stiffness set in which led to a fall that fractured T12 which led to a weaker right leg. Since 2013, I began again taking classes once a week and now taking classes three times a week plus home practice.


What keeps you on the mat? Stretching and loosening tight areas especially working on getting my heels down, more flexibility and leg strength, and finding balance at all times especially in split leg or one leg poses. I also enjoy the freer feeling after class standing straighter and walking with more lightness and a more graceful stride.


What keeps you off the mat? Helping my husband with real estate office work and in warmer months, yard work which I love but leaves me too tired, and just a lack of effort!


What poses do you love? I love hip openers, stretching the psoas, and twists but really so appreciative of everything because I know it will help me and I really love how Susan Elena spots us to improve our poses.


What poses do you find challenging? Any pose where I’m bending over and have to raise/move my leg at the same time like going from down dog to high lunge, backbends, tree pose, boat pose, chair pose, shall I continue? I also have to admit I find it a challenge to stand tall and balanced with that block between my legs!


What do you like to do when you are not doing yoga? I love being outside and doing any kind of yard work – mowing, raking, shoveling, vegetable gardening as it’s so peaceful (except the mowing) and listening to the music of nature is so joyful. I also enjoy reading books about spiritual philosophy and visiting with my neighbors on my walks and bike rides.


How has practicing yoga impacted your life? Immensely! When I began again in 2013, I couldn’t bend over and put my shoes/socks on, trim my toenails or raise my arms to comb and blow dry my hair. I was bending forward more than I realized, also. I shudder to think where I’d be as I get older without yoga. I also think it helps to keep me focused on what I’m doing in the present moment – as my dad use to tell me, “ think what you’re doing”.


How does yoga show up in your everyday life? I’m more aware of my posture at all times like when I’m standing and waiting in line. When I reach or turn for something on one side, I feel the need to reach/turn  to the other side to be balanced. In the evening if watching TV, I sit on the floor and do stretches and recently added abdominal work and started using my ankle weights for straight leg raises.


How has the pandemic changed your daily life? How are you dealing with the COVID-19 crisis? Does your yoga practice help you in any way?  There has been less activities and opportunities to explore but also it has brought a quieter time to enjoy. I find the slower pace refreshing and a way to help us to accept what is and stay in the present moment. I’ve sat more, eaten more, gained more but I also have more time to work on my photo album and then I really appreciate knowing yoga stretches after sitting so much. The best part is wearing the trapeze belt while sitting.


What has it been like to become part of a virtual yoga community where you do not know some of the other students? Having been in class with many students and virtual classes since the beginning in March, it’s been nice to see the students I knew before virtual classes but a joy to meet new people from all over the world with similar goals which makes me feel I’m a part of that community.


How does this yoga community contribute to your practice? When I hear the same names consistently in each class over time it’s encouraging to me which keeps me involved. Hearing the names and voices of people I know in class makes me feel we are continuing our individual goals as a team.


How has the switch to online classes during the pandemic affected your sense of community? How does it help stay connected? How does it fall short?  I’m grateful for the switch to online. Technology helps us stay connected wherever we are located when we can’t meet in person which helps me feel I’m still part of the community. Also hearing from different people regarding their lives and seeing their yoga settings lets us know we are all in this together. Certainly, the short side is we can’t be together using the rope wall and each other to improve our yoga poses which would probably accelerate our progress.


Any advice for those seeking to connect to a virtual yoga community? For people that enjoy an individual non-competitive activity that can be done anywhere anytime, virtual yoga is a wonderful offering. I hope they try it and experience different classes until they find one that they really feel good about.


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