[dropcap]This months selection came to me after a conversation we had after a class; itmade me understand that for Lee yoga runs much deeper then the asana; it has given her freedom. I have known Lee for over 15 years as I went to elementary school with her daughter. While I knew her growing up I had not seen her much until I started teaching yoga at the gym she attends and practices at. About a year ago I taught my first class there and found it fun to be teaching mom’s of many of my childhood friends. For the most part it felt like nothing had changed most of the mom’s seemed to me to be the same great mom’s I had known, howevers Lee’s entire way of being seemed to have changed since I knew her as a child. She seemed lighter, softer, and even happier. Having gone through some though times she found yoga helped her find purpose and stay connected. The Lee that I see before me now is a fuller individual then the mom I once knew. She has always been a great person but the light and joy that she radiates now is contagious and uplifting. Lee credits yoga as a way of life, an entire support system for her that has given her the ability to shine. Here is a small glimpse at the insights Lee has found through yoga. [/dropcap]
[quote]I first heard of yoga, from kareen’s yoga, which used to be a program on television in the 70s. I think I was 10 when my mom used to sit on the floor in front of the TV to do the exercises. Well many years later I am not only attending classes but working on my own personal practice too.The transformations I have seen in myself are vast and I am looking forward for what is still to come…Maybe a teacher training?!?![/quote]
1 What does yoga mean to you?
Yoga practice is the physical discipline of self investment. We are miraculously made and yoga has given me the gift of that realization. Yoga has changed and enhanced so many aspects of my life, physically, spiritually and most importantly mentally. The practice of yoga gives me such a sense of energy, with the ability to move my body, and each week becoming stronger and more sure of myself in a pose. I feel the progression of my body becoming stronger, more balanced, and years younger. I have so much energy, I can hardly contain myself some days and I know its because yoga has opened my chakras, and my life force flows stronger than ever. Mentally, my thinking has become so much more positive. Accomplishing physical challenges, feeling and experiencing such a startling change in my being has enlightened me, and the anticipation of facing each new day brings me incredible joy. The mind body connection, for example being able to rotate that thigh inward, thinking it in your mind and doing it, well that is personal power. Getting connected with myself and self aware enhances my spiritual life. I am seeing the beauty in all things, and having appreciationfor all my feelings, both good and bad (not that I have that many bad ones these days). Yoga practice has changed my life, it has given me stellar good health, the body I’ve always wanted to have, enhanced my sexual life, freed my spirit and saved my soul. Sat Nam (My identiy is Truth).
2 When did you start yoga and how did that come to be?
I first experienced yoga in high school, we had a teacher, Mr. Aspinal who taught us fencing, yoga and dance. We were lucky kids. I started practicing once weekly when I was in my 40s, but I didn’t catch yoga until I met Louise Stout, Clair and Chelsea at the Bodyz gym. I started practicing 5 days a week. The physical changes began to occur within about 8 weeks and every week I feel myself becoming stronger, my knock knees are straighter, my back and wrists don’t hurt anymore and I lost about 22 pounds. Physically, I feel pretty fantastic but taking my practice seriously has given me far more then the Physical.
3 Have you had any teacher(s) in particular that helped you along your journey, if so what made them special?
I have to say I have learned something from all my teachers. Lyn Bowsher taught me the importance of form. Ginny Kift, who taught me Kundilini yoga, showed me the significance of breath, and her own effortless practice was amazing. She was 60 and had a youthful body, strength, poise, and incredible healing power. Louise Stout encouraged me by the example of her practice, her connection to spiritual thought, and her correction of my form had a huge impact on me. Chelsea taught me the importance of discipline, of being present in the pose. Claire’s flow class and the few private lessons I enjoyed taught me the importance of recognizing my own strengths and building upon them. I have been so blessed by every teacher I have encountered on this journey.
4 What kept you coming back to the mat and has that changed over time?
Joy keeps me coming back to the mat. The joy of loving the skin I am in, the feeling of fun in trying something new. The need to stretch, move, hold, and strengthen myself brings me to the mat. Yeah, its pretty much the joy it brings me.
5 What does yoga bring to your life?
Yoga has brought me back to myself. In life, I got caught up in the roles of who I was, mother, sister, daughter, worker, partner. Everything and everyone else was first. Yoga gave me myself back and I so like me!!!! I know it sounds a bit egotistical but I am excited about who I am and what lies ahead. I have no fear. I am filled with love and joy, yeah I still have moments, but mostly yoga brought me me.
My physical practice gets stronger every week. I notice that I can hold something longer (oh those lunges) my core strength is growing, I can hug my muscles to my bones, and oh do I ever like being able to do that.
7 How might you and/or your life be different if you hadn’t found Yoga.
I wouldn’t have found myself without yoga. Yeah Yoga. Yoga provides me with experience every time I hit the mat. I notice what comes up, I process what comes up, and I have so much fun.
8 What is your “can’t do without” favourite pose?
Downward Dog and Chataranga. I love how Downward dog stretches my back and legs, strengthens my shoulder and arms. Chataranga, well, it is getting better every time I do it. I can feel my
9 Tell us about an asana you struggle with.
Oh those lunges, but they get better every week.
10 Who inspires you, on or off the mat, what keeps you going?
I am inspired by all the wonderful women and men who are at class, because, not only do I see myself change, I can see their practice change as well. When you see the enhancement of physical beings right before your eyes, it is encouraging and inspiring.
11 What tips can you offer beginning students for a safe practice?
Listen to your teacher. Push yourself, but not too much until your strength comes, and it will come, believe me. Engage your muscles, don’t just do the moves, BE THE MOVES.
12 How about guidance for beginning teachers. As a dedicated student what would you say to a new teacher?
Be confident in your practice, and show your students that you can do the postures, don’t just talk. Act, correct, show examples, engage. Keep doing it even if it feels a bit awkward. Make it your own, use music. We are there and want to learn from you, find what can you teach us.
13 What few steps do you think a yogi can take today to tremendously improve their practice, was there or is there anything that has helped you along the way?
Go to class, make your practice a priority in your life. I finally caught yoga when I realized I needed to be engaged, not only in my muscles, and my breath, but in my mind. Think about what your body does. You can do the moves with little effort, or you can do them with intention. Be mindful of your own self and push through difficulties with respect of your limits. Use your breath, use your breath, and use your breath. Enjoy the journey to your higher self!
Lee McCarthy is 52 and was born and raised in this beautifully abundant valley. She has two exceptional daughters, Erin and Kiera LeSeach. For years I grew and sold vegetablesfrom my farm in Winfield and for the past 10 years I have worked in the office of a local manufacturing facility. Besides yoga, I love to hike, cross country ski, cook and garden. I love music, people,all god’s creatures and the beauty of nature. I appreciate and look to the good in everyone and am enjoying this stage of my life. I am free to decide what I want for my life experiences.