The transformative power of yoga continues to amaze me. I love hearing personal stories of how “yoga changed my life.” Recently I spoke with Kat Baumann, a student at Yoga from the Heart, to learn about her journey to greater health and happiness “all because of yoga.”
What do you believe you delayed giving yoga a try?
I had always wanted to try yoga but felt I wasn’t agile enough and felt very intimidated because I was always a “clunky” athlete. In my mind, I had to work out at a gym, lifting weights, taking a boot-camp type class or on exercise equipment, to see any type of body transformation. Although any movement in the body is good and healthy, I felt I was missing a spiritual connection. As I left the gym, I simply felt exhausted, sore and covered in sweat. I felt over time that there had to be something more. I still resisted learning yoga because I only saw yoginis with thin, ‘dancer-esque’ bodies in ads, online, etc. I was like, no way Jose, could I ever try…so intimidating.
What eventually did bring you to yoga?
Things changed after I ruptured my achilles tendon and snapped the muscle right off my calf in a gym class. I also had a meniscus tear surgery at the same time. Everything changed at that point for me. I knew I’d pushed myself to these injuries. I knew I had to try something different.
After surgeries on my achilles tendon and knee, I slowly returned to exercising. I was happy to start biking, and lifting weights. But I also started to look at spiritual connection to my body during my recovery and with coaxing from a wonderful orthopedic surgeon, began the process of learning about yoga.
Once I was 85% back to normal, I visited several yoga studios around town eager to begin a journey I was most excited about – my yoga journey. I wanted a studio that could teach me, correct me, encourage me, inspire me but DRIVE me to be better. Let me tell you something, there are studios that are adorned in flowing curtains, subdued colored walls, and beautiful lighting but lack the spiritual and physical connection I needed. I know I sound high maintenance, but I was scared. I was always a great athlete but Yoga was a foreign language to me. For the first time in my life, I was not good at something before starting
One day, I was talking to my beautiful neighbor and began to tell her that I finally was brave enough to try yoga and could not find a studio that I connected to. She suggested I try Yoga from the Heart. So I did!
Why did you choose Yoga from the Heart?
Lynn and her team of expert teachers give me everything I need. They were encouraging, communicative, inspiring, up-lifting, compassionate, kind, strong and message-provoking. I am in awe of their professionalism, light-hearted banter and the way they are patient in their teachings to the class. They make our “journey” their “journey.” We are encouraged to use props, and pose modifications taught that will help anyone at any level. With every pose adjustment, Lynn and her teachers take the time to make you want to become better in the practice. A little tweak to the wrist, the push forward of your fingers – all that make for a better pose and feeling wonderful benefits for your mind and body. Every time I leave class, I have learned something new.
What changes off the mat have you experienced because of your regular yoga practice?
Off the mat, I have become more confident in my body and feel more connected with my mind and spirit. My walk is taller, my limbs are stronger, my belly flatter – my mind craves yoga like my body needs water and air. I truly have been transformed in EVERY aspect of what I read is that yoga is a way of living. The benefits for me have been more than I ever hoped. I love how yoga transcends into my everyday life.
What words of advice would you offer to someone else in a similar situation as yours about taking on yoga as a regular commitment?
My advice to anyone would be, if I can practice yoga, anyone can. When you begin the journey, and you find a studio that gives you class choices such as Beginner’s and Open classes as Yoga from the Heart does, you will feel comfortable and encouraged by the instructors to come back again and again. You will commit on a regular basis because you will find that each time, you get to bend a bit further or turn a bit more. Lynn always says “Don’t work for yoga, let yoga work for you”…and it does!
I would encourage anyone to please try yoga now, and not to be intimidated like I was for years and years. It has been a blessing each day of my first year with this wonderful, loving studio. I will be forever grateful for Lynn and her teaching staff.
Anything else you’d like to add about your personal yoga journey?
The benefits of regularly practicing yoga are enormous. My confidence is getting better each day. My body is transforming. I can only imagine my practice getting better each time. One yoga pose at a time. I truly feel like Yoga from the Heart is my second home.
Writer: Dianne Ochiltree is a graduate of Yoga from the Heart’s Teacher Training Program, a 200-hour RYT with the Yoga Alliance, and has happily served as Lynn Burgess’s teaching assistant at weekly gentle yoga classes for Parkinson’s disease students. She is also a children’s author and freelance editor (www.dianneochiltree.com).