Yoga, a once “hippyesque” and Far East practice for monks just a decade ago has turned into a cultural phenomenon. There is not a gym you can walk into these days that isn’t also offering yoga as a way to better sculpt and tone. Sure, starting a regular yoga practice can offer you as lean and toned a body as your genetics will allow, but with all yoga’s popularity also comes a downside–the watering down of the real lessons and principals of yoga. We can get so distracted with buying the pretty outfits and the colorful mat and getting a “yoga butt” that we miss out on the most important aspect–connecting your breath with your mind, body and soul. Which is why I love coming home to New York. I am super fortunate to have the ultimate yogi and studio at my disposable, my mother and Essence of Yoga Studio.
My mother Shirley Newton is a R.N. (Registered Nurse) by trade. She spent 12 years working in ICU working to prevent the escalation of whatever tragedy brought people into her department to then transitioning into her current role in medical sales. Throughout her life she has had a passion for exercise. From Jazzercise to Step Aerobics to Spinning and now Yoga. My mother isn’t someone who just takes a class, nope she becomes the instructor and now owner of her own studio. For her everything good that has come into her life has been because she “set the intention”. The difference between yoga for her and the way she teaches it as oppose to say spinning is truly not helping people “get rid of something” such as extra a weight, the thighs they don’t like or to look younger. Yoga, is about teaching others about self-love, intention and purpose which is not only the essence of yoga, but the key to success on and off the mat as well. Check out my Fab/Fit interview with my guru, my mother and yoga studio owner Shirley Newton.
Fab/Fit Interview with Shirley Newton R.N. C.Y.T, Essence of Yoga Studio
threeLOL: Mom, you have literally become an instructor for every workout under sun while also holding down a 9-5 career. What is it that makes yoga different than the other fitness regimes you’ve taken on throughout the years?
Essence of Yoga: Yoga is more than physical fitness it is emotional and spiritual growth. It’s work you do for the inside out. Most of us westerners start a yoga practice for a physical reason, but after a while it seeps into your being and becomes a part of you like your breath and consciousness.
threeLOL: How have you witnessed your body and spirit transform through yoga?
EOY: Yoga is not just about going on the mat to practice. It’s really about becoming conscious of your thoughts. For me yoga has reduced the judgement towards others. It’s like the Universe brings you back and reminds you that we don’t know everyone’s full story and yoga helps me to be conscious about your thoughts. That’s why they call yoga a practice–you are lay was growing and finding a new space in your body and spirit. There is no perfection just growth and create space to learn your body and your mind.
threeLOL: What advice do you offer to people that may still be on the fence about trying yoga?
EOY: I remind people all the time that there is no competition on their yoga mat. If you can breath you can do yoga. Come to a class ‘open’ and respect your limitations–emotionally, physically, spiritually and be open for growth in all areas. Yoga is truly about creating space in your body and your mind.
threeLOL: I love your classes. I don’t just say this because your my mother. Your students always seem to emerge feeling so connected to themselves and dare I say stronger both mentally and physically. How does yoga help people better connect to their gifts and power?
EOY: Yoga helps you connect with your breath and your breath helps you connect with your power. With each pose you learn to honor yourself and honor the present moment you’re in and that honoring and respect for yourself is the foundation for building your power–mentally, spiritually and physically.
threeLOL: What do you say to people who say that yoga is “just a bunch of stretching”?
EOY: Yoga isn’t just stretching. It’s more than the physical aspect of stretching its really about stretching emotionally and spiritually and undergoing a journey of true growth.
threeLOL: What can people expect from your studio?
EOY: As they walk through the door they will feel a sense of relief and the ability to let go of the day’s facade and really feel free to be who they are. I ask all my students to leave their day at the door and be present for themselves in this moment. This moment is their gift.
threeLOL: Yoga isn’t a “one size fits all” type of fitness. How can people find the right yoga practice and style for them?
EOY: Find a yoga teacher that resonates with you. That makes you feel whole and not intimidated. Try different classes and types of yoga and find which one nourishes you both spiritually and physically. You can do a workout anywhere but if you are looking for something to nourish your soul then find a space that gives you just what you are looking for.
threeLOL: At the end of each of your classes you recite a mantra? Can you share it with our readers and discuss the significance?
EOY: I begin each class with “honoring the spirit in everyone, I honor the place in you that is of trust, peace and love. And when you are in that place in you and I am I the place in me we are one”. I close each of my classes the same way. “Taking your palms to your third eye asking your spirit to allow you to see the truth, taking your palms to your lips asking your spirit to all you to speak the truth and taking your palms to your heart asking your spirit to allow you to feel the truth, and the love and the light in me bows to that beautiful light in all of you.” That is what Namaste means–honoring each others light and spirit.
We want to hear from you! Have you ever tried yoga? What was your experience? Have you adopted it as a part of your life? Share your thoughts in our comment section below.
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