Dr. Heather Robinson: A Beautiful Practice
My first yoga class was with Jim, who very quickly became known as Yoga Jim. My best friend, Nicole, and I were in our first year of vet school, and yoga seemed like a cool thing to get involved in. I liked the idea of it; it was kind of mystery to me, a kind of religion or spirituality mixed with exercise and flexibility. It seemed to be just what I needed to get my mind of off the stress of school and work at the time, about nine years ago.
Yoga Jim was in his mid-50’s, had long grey stringy hair and a little pot belly. Oh, and he never wore a shirt. He was incredibly insightful and a good teacher. He taught us our basic sun salutations, the third eye, and about our bandhas.
“Take a breath in, and as you exhale squeeze your pelvic floor muscles, as if you were preventing gas from escaping. This is the Mula Bandha,” Yoga Jim would say. We hoped he couldn’t hear us giggling in the back of the room.
A few months later Nicole and I were totally hooked on yoga. It became our thing every Wednesday night. To me it became more than just a class, it was my church. If I missed a session I was super sad and empty- I had quite the attachment. How was I supposed to get through the week without Yoga Jim?
I was rock climbing outside only about once a month due to my crazy schedule, but I could squeeze a yoga session in most days of the week. We wanted to explore more of yoga and experience different classes. Pretty soon we started cheating on Yoga Jim. We hoped he wouldn’t find out about Klara.
Klara’s class was my favorite and to this day I haven’t found a more upbeat and inspiring teacher. Every week she would set an intention for the class. One week might be working on hand stands, the next week shoulder openers, hip openers, wheel pose, or arm balances. She was like the Rachel Ray of yoga- beautiful, outspoken, original, and lighthearted. Everybody loved her. But most importantly, she really seemed to care about all of her students (often up to thirty per class)- and it showed. At the end of class, in Shavasana or resting pose, Klara would come around to each student and give a head massage with essential oils. I think many in the class suffered through the postures just for that sweetness alone.
After graduating vet school and moving to Las Vegas, I never found a yoga studio that suited me. I tried some online classes but they didn’t have the energy that a live class had. I found it difficult to self-motivate and pretty soon I wasn’t practicing at all.
I began to focus solely on rock climbing, my yoga routine was all but forgotten. I started to feel like a rock monkey – my shoulders slumpy, my legs jelly, and my focus drifty.
Over the past month, 9 years after I first began my yogic journey, I’ve rediscovered my love for the practice. I find yoga to be a perfect counter-balance to climbing. And even after discarding my practice like a dirty sock, I found my postures and my ability to mentally focus were still there- I just had to dig them up, bring them to the surface again.
“You have a beautiful practice – stick with it,” my yoga instructor commented to me as I was walking out of class yesterday.
I think I’ll stick with it for life.
~ Dr. Heather Robinson, prAna Ambassador
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