Last winter I fell into a rut. Rather then enjoying life’s many blessings, I was simply trying to get through my daily routine: work, home, work, more work at home. My relationships felt off; I was unsatisfied by work and on many days, uncomfortable in my own skin. I prayed for wisdom. I prayed for strength. It is exhausting to be frustrated and uninspired.
The yoga studio I had been attending advertised a class to start in the New Year: “Transform Your Life” was an introduction to a new way of living. I friend of mine and I decided to join. Every Tuesday night in January and February we joined 4 women and our teacher in the studio, to share, grow, and nourish body and soul. We became friends, journaled, were reminded to love ourselves and cherish our unique gifts. The class was more than I had hoped, and provided the jump-start I had so longed for. By March, I had engaged in intense self-study and knew for the first time in my adult life, how to build myself up. I felt whole and so happy.
Many of my work colleagues and others would twist their lips in doubt as I discussed my class and the blessings that had been revealed on my yoga mat with new friends. My husband listened skeptically as I explained how I wanted to live each day with purpose, intention, placing an emphasis on what I needed to feel connected – quite time, time to pray, write, study.
The yoga studio that hosted the class, Uttara, has been in downtown Roanoke for two years. Our teacher is the studio owner, and my friend, Jill Loftis.
A few weeks ago when I decided to write about being a fish out of water, about people who inspire us to go beyond and become our best selves, Jill was the first person who came to mind.
Jill has been practicing yoga for over 10 years, and started her teacher training program in 2005. She shares her love for the practice, and her love of others with the same veracity and spirit.
When I asked Jill what lesson yoga has taught her that has most shaped who she is, she explained that now, because of yoga, she knows what makes her feel healthy and strong, as well as what makes her life feel dull and uninspired. Her practice has even changed the way she thinks about the world and its daily struggles. Yoga helps Jill to step away from the craziness and find ways to detach from it. She explains her practice gives her power over her mind, and the desire “to step away from it and find this endless peace and stillness.”
While her explanation may not be familiar to everyone, the goal certainly is. How can we as people, focus on what really matters, and not be pulled into endless worry and drama of daily life?
Jill explains (and I whole heartedly agree) that once you’ve gotten a glimpse of a life of peace, that stillness and realize that it is not outside of you, you will have a greater understanding of who you are and why you are here.
All that from a yoga class?
In my experience, yoga can remind you of that desire to lead a more purposeful life, and once the seed has been planted, change can happen.
For those who have never practiced before, or even entered a studio, Jill encourages you to “try a few different classes and instructors.” She compares yoga classes to ice cream wherein “all the flavors are delicious, you just have to find what kind makes you happy. Maybe you like slow, quiet, meditative yoga; maybe you like to rock out with an intense, sweaty class that blasts Bruce Springsteen. Either class will take you where you want to go.”
And what will you need to start? Jill insists you don’t have “to be a natural rubber band to practice,” or have the right gear. “You don’t even need to have a ton of time, or start the practice when you are young,” she explains.
She advises that people who are interested and curious not to be afraid; “Start your practice NOW and whatever shape you’re in, whatever age you are, your strength and flexibility will improve.”
And really, so much more could improve as well. If a weekly yoga practice can help a stubborn lawyer like me focus on what really matters, my faith, my family, my purpose, I think the practice can be a blessing to anyone with an open heart or willing spirit. And if you really want to learn from Jill’s years of practice and wisdom, you can Transform Your Life with her new class this fall. Call the studio today or visit online at www.uttarayogastudio.com.
Or, just stop by your local studio and attend a few classes. I know I am so grateful I did.