OM Yoga studio is happy to announce Sara as our Yogi of the Month! Here is a portion of her Bio and below are her answers to a Q&A session. The Owners at OM would like to thank Sara for being a part of OM Yoga Studio!
Sara may have only found the mat for the first time in November 2016, but her journey of self-discovery dates back to 2009, when she embarked upon a creative commitment to take a self portrait every day for a year. That personal voyage lead to her first yoga class, after which Sara has practiced frequently and passionately. She fell in love with the benefits of the practice and felt welcomed into a caring community of fellow forever practitioners. In December 2017, Sara completed her 200 hour yoga teacher training with Studio Oxygen and has regularly taught Hot Power Vinyasa as well as Power Yoga Basics.
How did you get into yoga? A friend (who has attended my class several times now) invited me to YSU's Namaste in the Yo in November of 2016. It was a super cool, all levels, community event. I could barely touch my toes. I had been considering a gym membership or pursuing Zumba because I wanted more physical movement in my life, but I was understandably freaked out by a culture where I wasn't sure I would belong. I felt awesome after that community class, and thankfully there were plenty of local studios to represent (such as Om, I even bought a T-shirt) and help me start a regular practice.
What is the best advice you were given when you started out? I distinctly remember that community class starting us in Child's Pose (Balasana) and the instructor saying "If you are in child's pose for the whole hour, you still practiced yoga for a whole hour". That always struck me and after I studied more of the eight limbs, resonates with me now as an instructor even more.
What is your favorite pose? As teachers, we always avoid teaching the postures we don't like, but likely need most. Funny enough, my favorite asana has always been Triangle (Trikonasana), but taking twisted triangle has always been a bit of a struggle for me. Thankfully, our OMigo Mandy teaches a variation that is much more accommodating for my shoulder rotation, and I have actually managed to find ease in a pose I once honestly LOATHED.
What is the most asked question by your students? My training is in Power Yoga, which is simply more physically demanding. For that, I see a lot of people who want to go upside-down, and achieve arm balancing asanas. But the power of those poses isn't brute upper body strength, it's full body muscle engagement, pranayama (breath work), and proper alignment. Downward Facing Dog is technically Handstand prep when you consider the full engagement of the body and the benefits of the inversion.
Why should people do yoga? The word "Yoga" means "union", cultivating a consistent practice helps one come back to the best version of themselves. It's really a study of self, mind and body. It allows someone the opportunity to shift the dialogue in their head for the better, or at least offer a more objective view on life and the surprise situations life gives us.
What's the best stretch for a sore lower back? Reclining pigeon is really great for anyone experiencing Sciatic nerve pain. Another great way to relieve some low back issues without the hip stretch is to place a bolster under the knees in savasana.
How does yoga compare to other forms of exercise, e.g. lifting, running, Zumba, etc.? Even though my training is quite physically based, I simply attribute that to some people requiring more movement to finally settle into the body and tune into the mind. Yoga is a Mindful practice first. Breath and posture are equal parts of the eight limbs. Yoga doesn't ask you to exercise, to sweat, to beat yourself up. In fact, beating yourself up goes AGAINST the nonviolence yama (ahimsa) of the practice. The physical side of this practice should be approached with compassion and curiosity. This is about honoring your body, celebrating what your body can do, and creating a dialogue with yourself on and off the mat. I guess the short answer is, it doesn't really compare.
Tell us a funny yoga story. One of my dear friends with whom I trained, who many OMigos might remember (Tony) and I used to practice and crack jokes in class all the time together. There were many moments we would inhale up to chair pose and burp loudly on the exhale. Typically the other one of us would look and say "nice" and just keep practicing. We shared a lot of laughs in class.
Favorite book/s? Favorite Author? I love memoirs and biographies. I guess as humans, we generally love a good story about the spirit of resilience. I also love the works of my good friend, Sarah Dickey. I have read some of her words in my class before, and her podcast has inspired me a lot lately.
Yoga accessories, equipment or props you recommend ? Yes! I wish more people would utilize the benefits of practicing with props! Blocks, bolsters, blankets, straps, wheels, whatever! It all depends on the pose/stretch you are aiming for. Every body is different. I love my wooden blocks. I do enjoy my wheel too, but I feel like my blocks are more versatile. Having two of them helps. I also think it's worth noting to invest in a good mat! If you are practicing regularly, having the right mat can really elevate (no pun intended) your practice to the next level.
Favorite music to listen to while you practice yoga? I really prefer instrumental, sometimes chanting. Tahitian bowls and gongs and chakra tuning sounds during savasana can be so blissful. Sometimes in a power class, I like something with a good beat during the movement, but even then lyrics can throw me off.
Do you have a favorite brand of clothing? Whatever is affordable, fits, and has pockets. I will confess that I do have a bit of an addiction to the vinyasa scarf, which are these great wraps that can be worn tons of different ways and they have snaps. I have 4 or 5. I've actually lost count.
How has Yoga changed your life? How yoga has changed my life, I could write for hours. Because of this practice I have lifelong friends, new opportunities, and the best relationship with myself I've ever had. The healing benefits of this practice extend far beyond physical. And I'm especially thankful to the leaders at Om who gave me a key and a class sight unseen, who allowed me to find my voice as an instructor as well as continuing my practice because we are ALL students. What a beautiful community of people congregate in this lovely space in Hubbard, Ohio. It really does feel like a family.