That’s amazing that y’all feel supported in this space. In regards to the physical aspects of this practice (especially as women) have y’all felt that cultivating body-awareness has positively or negatively influenced your relationship with body-image?
E: Absolutely… I think that being so [preoccupied] with body-image is just such a fallacy and that’s something that people have built into yoga… making it into this industry… but I feel like the core [of the yoga practice] is that you come as you are, and although you’re doing something physical… cultivating body-awareness is totally different than cultivating bodily-judgment. Awareness brings you into the practice and judgment takes you out…
P: That’s beautiful…
E: And I’ve also realized not only how much I judge my own body but how often I go to judge others… And yoga has taught me that you can’t judge someone’s strength by what they look like… because [strength] is so much more about the level of presence that you're bringing to the practice. So [for example], an older person who is less active can have a much more fulfilling practice than a younger more athletic person. You know what I mean?
P: Yea and understanding that building that kind of physical and mental strength is something that is [accessible] to anyone at any age… because it has to do with the commitment you’re making to [continually] showing up and being present.
How has the practice of being present affected your lives off the mat?
P: I think the mindfulness you cultivate on [your] mat translates over into everyday life... I was always a person who was high strung and anxious and… yoga has been a definite game changer for the anxiety and stress.. I just feel much more calm and centered. I have had times where I have been really upset and I come to yoga and it just takes… the drama out of my stress… I’m more settled.
E: I dig that… This is gonna sound kinda dumb… but I feel like I never thought about breathing before I came to yoga! [laughing] I really don’t feel like I ever thought about it as a tool… I always just thought of it as a result [for example] if you get nervous you start breathing faster… but you can also get nervous because you start breathing faster! So coming to that realization of your emotions [being a result] of your breathing pattern really changed the way I more [healthily] relate to my emotions… And I find myself practicing uji breathing when I started to get stressed and it really helps calm me down! And finding just how accessible focusing on your breath is no matter is going on… is really amazing!
P: Yea and I think that practicing [yoga] several times a week gives me that [deeper] awareness [and connection to] to my breath.
E: And that awareness [can] carry over to your daily life… instead of making it exclusively just for when you’re on your mat.
What are some of the most challenging aspects of this practice for y’all?
E: I think for me the most challenging part is showing up… and trying not to shame myself when I don’t show up… you know? I see yoga as self-care but sometimes the self-care I need to be [engaged in] is not necessarily showing up to practice [asana] because I have had a busy and exhausting day [for instance]... and I am realizing that being okay with not showing up is in a sense me practicing yoga…
P: Absolutely… and one of the things that is great about yoga is that you are responsible for your own practice. The teachers are basically guides, but you’re responsible for whether you come or not come, whether you be present in the poses or be [distracted with] trying to show-off, ya know? You’re responsible… you’re finding your own way just alongside people who are guiding you.
E: Yea and everyone is in their own practice and on their own journey so it’s not really your place to judge people… also that [way of non-judgment] can [be] extend to the postures… not thinking that one posture is more or less than any other, you know? Mountain pose is just as significant, real, and legitimate as a handstand… they each have a specific purpose and value… and practicing handstand isn’t [inherently] better for you and healthier for you just because it’s “harder” to do..
P: Glad to hear that! [laughing]
[laughing] Yea mountain pose is actually my favorite pose!
P: Mine is pigeon!
P: It’s a just really emotional pose for me... I feel like I get to let go of a lot of baggage… in all of the poses, but particularly in pigeon.
E: Yea and I’ve been realizing that when it comes to poses I hate versus poses I like, if it has to do with a pose being good for me and what my body needs or am I just liking this pose because it’s an ego thing and I think that I can [perform] it really well… or do it better than the person next to me… [for instance] pigeon is mentally really hard for me, because I’m so imbalanced in my hips. But I realized that it’s not the pose that I hate [as much as it is] the mental frustration that arises...
P: And also it’s cool [observing how] your relationship with poses evolve over time...
And has practicing yoga together evolved y’all’s relationship as mother and daugher?
E: Yea it’s something that we’re both learning together at the same time… where usually I feel like my mother is coming to things with more experience, but we both started yoga at the same time… so we’re equals in that way…
P: Yea and [since Erin is now] a young adult it feels like we’re just two friends, two women, doing yoga together [and that] feels special… we get to connect in a new way.
E: And she buys me coffee after! [laughing]
[laughing] Well any last words of advice y’all would give someone wanting to come here and try yoga for the first time?
E: I would say try the community classes… those are always filled with people of all different levels and ages…. And bring a friend! They’ll be able to laugh with you if you fall on your face!
P: And then eventually you’ll feel more comfortable coming alone…
E: And laughing at yourself alone!
Interview by Olivia Bowers