Michelle Ayling first made her way to Yoga from the Heart when she read a newspaper article by a local reporter who had interviewed owners of local yoga studios about why and how they came to yoga in the first place… and realized that Lynn Burgess’s story resonated deeply with her. When she checked the class schedule on the studio website and found some options that miraculously fit her busy work/parenting schedule, she jumped at the chance to take a class there. She, and the best friend who came with her that day, have kept coming back, even though it is a long drive (25 miles each way!) from their homes in Bradenton to the studio just off Tamiami Trail in south Sarasota County. Why travel so far for a yoga class? Read on and find out!
What prompted you to search out a yoga studio and start a yoga practice right now?
In the last three years I’ve witnessed the death of two amazing grandparents, watched my vivacious aunt battle brain cancer, dodged a gigantic hurricane, and as a middle school teacher, constantly worry about 107 students, 30 coworkers, in addition to caring about my friends, family, husband, and five-year-old daughter. It seems to be a turbulent and stressful world out there, too. I was desperate for some inner peace. I needed to quiet my mind.
What was it about Lynn’s story that inspired you?
I work in a job I love, but would love to pursue something in fitness. I feel proud of Lynn for following her heart and finding something that made her world and others a better place.
You drive quite a long way to take classes at Yoga from the Heart. What is it about the style of teaching that keeps you coming back?
I feel accepted just as I am. Sometimes when I go to the gym, I feel like people are watching me or judging me. I feel like everyone at Yoga from the Heart, instructors and students alike, are just happy to be doing yoga together in a peaceful environment.
You often come with a friend. How does having a yoga buddy inspire you to stay consistent with your practice?
My friend, Kristin, and I are opposites in a lot of ways….but we totally connect at yoga. I feel like having her there on the mat next to me gives me more strength. It’s like we send it to each other.
You are a school teacher. Do you use any “yoga techniques” with the kids in your classroom?
I feel as if I’m more patient with my students since I started yoga. One of the instructors at the studio said to sit back and watch your mind like a puppy chasing its tail. That image stuck with me. Whenever I feel like I have too many things on my plate and I’m stressed at work, I step back and just observe myself, and even giggle at the ridiculousness of it. Like a puppy chasing its tail!
It sounds as if the studio offers you a lot of good choice in techniques, motivation, and instruction from all the teachers. Could you tell us more about that?
Sure! All of the instructors at Yoga from the Heart are dedicated to sharing their passion for yoga, and caring for their students. Each one has the deep knowledge needed to keep students safe in poses as we build up strength and flexibility.
Lynn speaks to my mind and can lead me into a yoga pose by engaging me with clear and precise directions. It’s so eloquent. I typically feel like an awkward turtle at yoga, but in Lynn’s class I feel graceful.
Michelle speaks to my soul. Her adjustments help me fit more comfortably in a yoga pose, and her peaceful presence calms my mind.
Steve taps into my inner athlete, but in the same breath uses that to challenge me to be nice to myself. I don’t have to perfect.
I love Kris’s class for its calming, relaxed nature. Especially the restorative poses.
These people are my yoga family. Each class brings me a serenity I didn’t know I could have.
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).