Omar Rashid: Student of Yoga, Teacher of Youths
When did you start practicing and why?
O: I started practicing in college [about 10 yrs ago] cause my friend Mel said, “hey take this yoga class it’s amazing” [so shoutout to Mel! We thank and love you] and I went and it totally changed my view of fitness! I also found that the practice of linking my breath to my movements created this kind of meditative aspect that I found to be really invigorating and addictive… as well as challenging! So I was immediately enticed and ended up taking that yoga class every semester until I graduated. And then after college I took a break from yoga until I moved to New Orleans and found this studio which I really like.
That’s great to hear! We’re happy to have you a part of this community. Could you expound more upon the mediative aspect of the practice that you found and still find to be so enticing?
O: Well, it’s almost like I’m high when I leave… except better! My mind can drop into this space of effortlessness that allows me to no longer continue racing from one thought to the next of ‘what do I have to do next, what do I have to do next, what do I have to do next?!’... And I know it sounds like a cliche now, but I do feel like I’m with the present after I practice.
And how does this feeling of being present inform the rest of your day that proceeds your practice?
O: Well that feeling of being present is definitely not a constant, which is why I practice... There are times when I walk out of the studio and my excessive mental chatters returns within ten minutes and then other times it lasts for a lot longer. [However] I think yoga does give me the tools to find that calm mental state for when I’m off the mat and into the world.
Have you ever used those tools in your teaching profession?
O: Yea, definitely! We all need to take a deep breath in the classroom… And for me personally, I find that the ability to observe how I’m interacting with children and giving directions is a useful tooI that I have gained through the yoga practice. It allows me to be much more intentional, less reactive, and [more capable] of giving very clear and concise directions that allow the students to then feel more confident and successful in whatever it is we’re learning… And if I am not regularly practicing [yoga] I often times do not feel grounded enough to teach [in that manner]... and I very easily slip back into old negative patterns.
What negative patterns do you feel like are challenged in your yoga practice?
O: Well, I am so ingrained in this society that has brought me up to feel like I always need something more, ya know? I need a better job, I need more money, etc…. just always feeling like I need to progress in some very certain way comes up in my yoga practice… That kind of egotistical drive to do this pose better, and the next pose better, and the next classe better can get in the way o fully embodying just being here and recognizing that I don’t have to do anything other than just be human in this moment… Which is difficult, because I’m feeling this drive that’s been so embedded in me to be everywhere else but here. And I can understand the theory of ‘being present’ but it’s so much harder for me to practice it… But I’m always enthusiastic about showing up [to do so]. Coming here is something that I really look forward to. And I come for the yoga, but I really end up staying for the people. The sense of community here is what keeps me coming back.
Thank you for being a co-creator of this community! And for being so willing to share your perspective and have this conversation.
O: Of course.
Interview by Olivia Bowers