How injury will make me better (as a yoga instructor and a human being)

Hi all!  Please welcome one of my favorite Whole Life Yoga grads–and perhaps my overall favorite human being–Mary Bue to the blog today.  One of the many, many things I love about Mary is her upbeat attitude.  Not to mention her indestructible spirit and way she takes lessons wherever she finds them.  Contact Mary at Imbueyoga@gmail.com. Those of you in Minneapolis definitely need to check out her new yoga studio, Imbue Yoga!

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It was a beautiful,  sunny winter day in northern Minnesota. My husband and I were gifted free lift tickets to snowboard at a ski resort because we performed a rock show the night before. I had been wanting to try snowboarding for years and the conditions were perfect. I figured it would be a challenge – but I’m a yoga instructor who has good core strength, balance and mindful breathing.  I’ve got this! No problemo, right?

Wrong!  My husband was a ways down the hill and I thought, “I’ll catch up to him!”  For 30 seconds I was having a blast,  zooming down but I turned too sharply onto my toe side,  did an airborne cartwheel and BAM! Crashed down on my right shoulder.  I heard a crack.  Doh!

The results weren’t looking good – possibly torn rotator cuff.  Thankfully the MRI found only a bad sprain, but also a fracture on the tip of my shoulder,  such that, should I lift my arm too high,  it would chip off requiring sugery.  SO,  for six weeks,  no yoga.

Did I mention that during this six weeks I am recording in Nashville, moving, and opening a yoga studio?

Life has interesting timing sometimes, doesn’t it?

Thankfully I was trained in the yogic lineage of Viniyoga that not only values adaptations but also trains teachers to teach with our voices rather than demonstrating every move.

How will this injury make me a better yoga instructor and human?

  • Incorporating a sense of humor.  It’s been funny to see the look on a new student’s face when their teacher shows up with her arm in a sling.  Have to make light of it!  In one class I wanted to applaud my students for an awesome balance posture and told them, ”Here is the sound of one hand clapping for you!” (I thought it was funny).
  • Greater observation.  Instead of being glued to my mat,  I walk around and watch what is going on in the room, making sure everybody is on the same page, trying to connect with each student with eye contact and a smile.
  • Well designed sequencing.  I tend to create classes in the moment depending on what my students want, but I’ll also have some peak postures which I’ll research, share the anatomy and benefits, and get a little off the grid from my habitual teaching routines.
  • Increased empathy.  This injury,  minor as it is,  reminds me of my vulnerability and that this human vessel is fleeting.  Life can dramatically change without warning,  in mere seconds.  I felt pain,  distress,  aching,  restlessness,  and I am healing. All beings feel these feelings at some point in thir lives.  I hope to fully integrate this experince into my teaching,  my music,  and my day to day life.http://www.marybue.com

Namaste,

Mary Bue

Mary Bue is an indie musician, yoga instructor and brand new studio owner of Imbue Yoga in Minneapolis, MN – grand opening June 11th 2016! She spends her time touring the country, recording (7th album in the works), teaching and practicing Viniyoga amongst the lakes, trees and nice Minnesotans.

Music: www.marybue.com
Yoga: www.imbueyoga.com

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, learn about our Yoga Alliance Registered yoga teacher training program, and check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series. 

Killer Excerpts and Killer Prices!

Available January 8, 2015 from Midnight Ink!

Hey all!  This week I’m blogging at Inkspot (the blog for the writers of Midnight Ink).

I’m so excited I can barely see straight!  A Killer Retreat, the second book in my Downward Dog Mystery Series, was a BookBub featured deal on Saturday!  It is still on sale for only $1.99 (normally $10.99) on Kindle, Nook, and Kobo!

Sale ends April 23, so don’t wait!

In honor of the special sale,  I’ve shared a few mini-excerpts from the book and the photos that inspired them.  Here’s a teaser photo of the dog that started it all, my German shepherd, Tasha. If you want to see the rest, you’ll have to go to the link!

German shepherd queen

“A German shepherd queen, ruling her subjects.”

http://midnightwriters.blogspot.com/2016/04/killer-excerpts-and-killer-prices.html

Please share the sale links below with your mystery, yoga, or dog loving friends!  Sale purchase links are below.

Happy reading!

Tracy Weber

PS–all three books in my Downward Dog mystery series are now available!  Learn more at http://tracyweberauthor.com.  Thanks for reading!

Yogi Interview of the Month–Cynthia Heckman!

Hi all! Please welcome Cynthia Heckman to the Whole Life Blog today!  Cynthia is a talented yoga teacher as well as one of my favorite graduates of Whole Life Yoga’s 200 hour and 500 hour yoga teacher trainings.  Cynthia is a much braver woman than I for teaching yoga to families. Please join me in welcoming her and ask her any questions you have in the comments!

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Why and when did you start practicing yoga?

I started practicing yoga in 1994, when my first son was 3. At the time I was just looking for any class at the gym to help me get in shape.

After the first class, I knew yoga was different. Instead of just feeling energized after class, I felt energized and peaceful.

What do you specifically appreciate about Viniyoga?

It wasn’t until more than a decade after that first class that I had the good fortune to find Tracy Weber and my introduction to Viniyoga. After so many years of gym class yoga and Iyengar yoga, it took me awhile to fully integrate Viniyoga into my practice.

Now I wouldn’t have my yoga any other way. Firstly, in Viniyoga movement and breath are fully fused together. This brings a totally new awareness of the body and encourages more focus during practice, as well as other physiological benefits. Secondly, in Viniyoga the practice is designed to suit the individual who is doing it. No more trying to force my body into an ideal pose, but, instead, I get to choose the poses that my body needs. With regular practice, this has resulted in new love and appreciation for the body I was born with.

What yoga myths would you most like to debunk?

The yoga myth I would most like to debunk is the idea that if you are a yoga teacher you must be some kind of human pretzel. Flexibility is nice, but it isn’t a pre –requisite for teaching or practicing yoga. The body you have will work just fine, thank-you.

I completely agree.  If you had to be a human pretzel to teach yoga, I’d have been disqualified long ago.  That’s why I like teaching yoga to people who think they “can’t” do yoga.  Who do you most enjoy teaching? 

When I first graduated from teacher training I promised myself I would say “Yes!” to the first person who asked me to teach. I imagined this would be a class for adults at a studio or gym, but, no. The first person to ask me was a friend of mine, a mom who wanted a family yoga class at a local community center. I said yes, and I was terrified.

It turned out though, after a few bumpy classes, teaching kids with their parents was a good fit for me. I learn so much from the kids with their open hearts and playfulness and try to help the parents find a few moments to relax in the midst of yoga chaos. We all laugh and laugh, which may be the best practice of all.

Tip for teachers who would like to try teaching kids: After you graduate from teacher training, consider taking an Improv class, and/or a class specifically geared toward teaching kids yoga. It really helps when you need to change your plans on the fly.

Now that you’ve graduated from yoga teacher training, how are you sharing what you learned?

It has been said that if you are given the yoga teachings and don’t share them, you are a thief. As a teacher who only finds time to teach an occasional class or series of classes, I’ve thought about this a lot.

How do I share yoga when I’m not formally teaching without being annoying and preachy? I like to think that doing my best to follow the yoga sutras is the answer. I share their beauty whenever I’m given the opportunity. Here’s one I love:

Sutra 1.33: “The mind becomes quiet when it cultivates friendliness in the presence of happiness, active compassion in the presence of unhappiness, joy in the presence of virtue, and indifference toward error.”

Easier said than done, right? But as some wise soul once said, “That’s why they call it a yoga practice not a yoga perfect.”

What is your favorite book about yoga?

My favorite book about yoga is The Essence of Yoga , Reflections on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by Bernard Bouanchaud. Quoted above.

Who is your yoga hero?

I have many yoga heroes. From great teachers who spend their lives sharing the yoga tradition, to the regular practitioner, who, despite all of life’s obstacles, returns to the mat again and again. Namaste to you all!

Cynthia Heckman is a homeschool mom and yoga teacher. She graduated from Whole Life Yoga’s teacher training in 2009. She occasionally teaches kids’ and family yoga at Loyal Heights Community Center in Seattle and tries to live by and share the yoga teachings every day. Contact her at Chyoga@earthlink.net.

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, learn about our Yoga Alliance Registered yoga teacher training program, and check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series. 

Five Reasons to go Veggie in Seattle:

Funny cow on a green summer meadow. Blurred background

Most of my yoga students know that I’m vegetarian. I rarely try to influence other people’s food choices, but this weekend I’ll be hanging out at Veg Fest at Seattle Center.  So how can I not give a few reasons to go veg? Below are my top five reasons (and a bonus!) for being vegetarian in Seattle.

  1. Vegetarianism is good for the planet. Seattleites are known for their dedication to the planet. We reduce, re-use, and recycle. We ban grocery bags. Seattle Kayaktivists keep “big oil” from parking in our harbors. So why aren’t more of us vegetarian? Livestock generates 40% more greenhouse gasses than all of the cars, trucks, and airplanes in the world—combined! So while you’re riding your bike and lamenting the evil petroleum-based cars on the road next to you, know that putting pedal to pavement is only the start. That roast beef sandwich you’re eating creates way more greenhouse gasses than your evil neighbor’s SUV. And if you’re worried about wasting water? It takes up to 15 times more water to produce an ounce of animal protein than it does to produce the same amount of plant protein. Honestly, I don’t understand how anyone can claim to be an environmentalist and still eat meat.
  2. Going veggie is good for your health. The benefits of vegetarianism are well documented. Eating a plant-based diet helps prevent health issues ranging from obesity, to diabetes, to arthritis, to Multiple Sclerosis, to heart disease, to osteoporosis, to cancer. And you get way more vitamins from eating veggies than munching on Wilbur or Bessie.
  3. Going veggie is good for animals. All of you paleo dieters out there might argue that a meat-based diet has some health benefits of its own. But who on earth can argue that eating animals is good for the animal you’re eating? Love Fluffy and Fido? Pigs are of much higher intelligence. Studies show that chickens may be smarter than cats and dogs (though Tasha would strongly disagree with that assertion.) Cows are down-right sweet. And who possibly couldn’t love a baby goat? The lives of most livestock animals are downright horrific. I won’t go into it here, because it makes me cry. But I grew up on a farm. I’ve seen the cruelty, even from people I love. Anyone who claims to love animals should seriously reconsider their food choices.
  4. Seattle is blessed with abundant, delectable vegetarian restaurants. When I go home to Montana, I can’t even order green beans without finding bacon bits scattered within. Here in Seattle, vegetarian choices are everywhere. From vegan Thai restaurants like Arayas to entrees like my favorite black bean pita burger at the 74th Street Alehouse, I can almost always find abundant, delicious entrees at every Seattle restaurant. And if they don’t have veg choices on the menu, most places can create something special. Just ask!
  5. Vegetarian grocery shopping is easy! From prepared mock meats to fresh vegetables, to canned food, to frozen vegetarian entrees. The vegetarian options at PCC, Whole Foods Market, even my favorite corner grocer, Ken’s Market, are nothing short of amazing! And the best news yet? You can sample many of those same foods this weekend at Veg Fest!

And a Bonus reason:  I’ve been a vegetarian for almost 25 years—long before I took my first yoga class.  My food choices have nothing to do with yoga philosophy.  Still, yoga supports them.  The Yoga teachings ask us to live with ahimsa–non-violence.  For me, that means eating vegetarian.

For you?

One beauty of the yoga teachings is that they’re not prescriptive. They ask us to evaluate our own values and live by them.  But I ask you to think about it. I mean REALLY think about it.  Eating a plant-based diet doesn’t guarantee that you won’t act out in violence. But can you honestly say you live in ahimsa if an animal died for your mid-afternoon snack?  I know I can’t.

Regardless of your food choices, I hope you’ll come see me this weekend at Veg Fest at Seattle Center. I’ll be there talking about Whole Life Yoga and my Downward Dog yoga and dog-related mystery series.  (Which, by the way, has a vegetarian sleuth!)  I’d love to see you and give you a hug.  And there are hundreds of delicious food samples to try.

Vegan ice cream. Can you say YUM?

I hope to see you there!

Tracy Weber

books available

PS–all three books in my Downward Dog mystery series are now available!  Learn more at http://tracyweberauthor.com.  Thanks for reading!

Ten Ways to Show Your Favorite Author Some Love

Hey all!  This week I’m blogging at Inkspot (the blog for the writers of Midnight Ink)  about some simple ways you can show your favorite authors some love.  Check it out and let me know what you’d add to the list!

http://midnightwriters.blogspot.com/2016/03/ten-ways-to-show-your-favorite-author.html

See you there!

Tracy Weber

PS–all three books in my Downward Dog mystery series are now available!  Learn more at http://tracyweberauthor.com.  Thanks for reading!

 

 

Creating Beauty from Devastation

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I borrowed the title of today’s blog from the Facebook post of one of my favorite yogis, Jillian Cobo.  She attended yesterday’s fundraiser for the Greenwood Neighborhood, which was devastated less than two weeks ago by a natural gas explosion.

In spite of the devastation, there are always blessings.  Over 50 businesses and homes were damaged, several completely destroyed. But there were no severe injuries or deaths. That’s probably the most important miracle we could have hoped for.  The most beautiful miracle is how people in the neighborhood have come together to support the individuals impacted by the explosion.

Reconstruction is already beginning.  Windows are being replaced.  The stark brown plywood panels of those still missing have been decorated by murals, most of which (like the three below) are  wonderfully appropriate for the businesses they decorate.  The community will rebuild.  Of that I have no doubt.

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The yoga teachings have a concept called sangha–community.  The drawing together of people with united intentions.  Sangha has been wonderfully present in my neighborhood these last two weeks.  Many businesses, including mine, have pulled together to raise funds.  Whole Life Yoga’s fundraiser today reunited me with yogis I hadn’t seen in a very long time and introduced me to new friends.  In three short classes we raised over $1500.  As always, my students make me proud.12419261_10154265207043268_8936778293896193307_o[1]

I know many of my friends and students have donated via the Phinney Center’s donation link, and those donations aren’t included in the $1500 total.  But all of the money goes to the same fund and will be distributed to those who need it most.  If you haven’t yet donated and would like to, you can still do so at this link.

Thank you all!

Tracy Weber

books available

PS–all three books in my Downward Dog mystery series are now available!  Learn more at http://tracyweberauthor.com.  Thanks for reading!

Yogi Interview of the Month–Roy Holman!

Hi all! Today is the first of what I hope will be monthly interviews with some of my favorite yogis!  Roy Holman is a fabulous yoga teacher as well as a graduate of Whole Life Yoga’s 200 hour and 500 hour yoga teacher trainings.  I understand his retreats are to die for!  Please join me in welcoming him, and ask him any questions you have in the comments!

Tracy Weber

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Roy, thanks so much for joining me on the Whole Life Yoga blog today! Let’s dive right into the questions.

Why and when did you start practicing yoga?

1996, during a dark night of the soul, depressed, with an eating disorder. I felt so good and grounded from yoga, I knew if it could help me, it could help anyone!

What do you specifically appreciate about Viniyoga?

The breath connection and presence, and the look in people’s eyes after class. A spark!

Any yoga horror stories?

Too many to list! Farting when I was adjusting someone’s head in Savasana comes to mind. Another time while teaching, during a stretch, I split the back of my pants.

Oh my. I hesitate to ask after that, but what is one of your most humbling moments as a teacher? 

I usually share a few thoughts before we begin the asana. A woman would always come to my YMCA class 10 minutes late. I finally gently, kindly asked her if it was difficult to arrive on time, and she said “I purposely show up late to avoid listening to your psychobabble!”

At least she was honest! Tell me, what would you tell people interested in trying yoga for the first time?

If you don’t like it, don’t quit. Try another teacher or style until your body purrrs … I’m biased, but I feel there is a yoga for every body.

I totally agree. And there  is a yoga TEACHER for every student. What do you think are the most important qualities of a great yoga teacher?

Authenticity, humility, kindness, and one who is doing the inner work and has a spiritual practice (not just asana).

Kate (the yoga teacher/sleuth in my series) has anger management issues, but she uses yoga to mitigate them.  What challenges do you face, and how does yoga help you overcome them?

I have no issues–except denial! Truthfully, I feel like it may take several lifetimes before I truly love myself, sigh. Practice, practice, practice…

Who is your yoga hero?

Krishnamacharya. Talk about devoted and committed! Not too many yogis like that these days.

Agree. He’s my hero, too.  I often wonder what he would think about yoga as we practice it in America today. What would you change about the American yoga scene, if you could?

I’m trying to stop controlling everything so I think I’ll just let it be! I’m thrilled that 36 million Americans are now doing yoga, including 10 million men, according to a recent study. It has to start somewhere, but again, I wish there was more breath connected, gentle, slow, traditional yoga aimed less at developing six pack abs and more on ahimsa, satya and isvara pranidhana.

I totally agree. No wonder I think you are so awesome!  How can people learn more about you and your classes? 

www.holmanhealthconnections.com … or my Blog at http://holmanhealthconnections.com/blog/

Roy Holman has run Holman Health Connections in Everett, Washington since 2000. Roy is a 500 hour certified Yoga, Meditation, and Healing Instructor, a Oneness Blessing giver and trainer, and leads retreats to Costa Rica, Mexico, Guatemala, Hawaii, Bali, Sedona, and in his home state of Washington. Roy Holman is author of two books: Healing Self, Healing Earth: Awakening Presence, Power, and Passion, and Poems from the Passionate Heart: Reflections on Healing and Awakening.  Roy does a health and healing radio commentary every week on KSER 90.7 FM. Roy also lived several years abroad, mostly doing human rights work in Central America. Roy has a passion for assisting the healing of our Earth and evolution / shift of humanity.  He teaches with humor and joy.

Contact Roy at 425-303-8150 — Holmanhealth@gmail.com

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, learn about our Yoga Alliance Registered yoga teacher training program, and check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series. 

We’re still here, but some of our neighbors aren’t.

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Hi all.  This blog post will be short and sweet. As many of you know, there was an explosion this morning that destroyed several Greenwood businesses.  Whole Life Yoga was undamaged and will re-open at 6 PM tonight.  Several of our fellow businesses weren’t so lucky.

We want to help.

Please join us on Sunday, March 20, from 12:30 – 4:30 PM for a special yoga fundraiser to benefit the thirty-six businesses that were damaged this morning.  One hundred percent of the proceeds will be donated to the Greenwood Relief Fund established today by the Phinney Neighborhood Association.

All classes are “by donation” and appropriate for all levels–including beginners! Please give generously, spread the word, and bring your friends!

Sunday, March 20

  • 12:30 – 1:30 with Julie

  • 2:00 – 3:00 with Suzette

  • 3:30 – 4:30 with Kim

Classes will be held at Whole Life Yoga, 8551 Greenwood Ave N, #2, Seattle, WA 98103.

No preregistration accepted, so please arrive early, chat with Tracy and the Whole Life Yoga crew, and help yourself to some tasty treats!

Can’t attend but still want to help?  Please donate online at this link.

If you have questions, e-mail me at Tracy@WholeLifeYoga.com.

Namaste and stay safe, everyone.

Tracy Weber

Compassion in a Fractured World

Two hands holding a broken globe, illustration for a damaged planet

I met my dog-mom doppleganger today. A woman about my age with long dark hair who was crying outside of my vet clinic. She was very upset about her 12-year-old German shepherd, who has many of the same neurological symptoms as my German shepherd, Tasha.

I told her to wait for me, put Tasha in the car, and chatted with her for about 30 minutes. I described the therapies we’ve been doing with Tasha. I confided my own fears for the future. I explained as best I could what the neurologist had just told her, which is basically the same thing they told me. “We don’t know.” She said I used the same words the vet had just used in describing the potential diagnoses, but she felt like she could hear them from me. Frankly, I think she simply felt heard.

Why am I writing about this? I worry about our world lately, especially now that the political rhetoric keeps getting louder. We spend much more time talking at each other than communicating with each other. Listening has become a lost art. I’m not taking sides here. I see the same problem on all sides of the political spectrum—and there are way more than two. Our political candidates are simply a reflection of the rest of our world. None of us is innocent.

I don’t know how we change it, but perhaps opportunities like the one I had today are a start. Rather than walk past someone who is a struggling, why not walk toward them? Human connection comes in so many forms, and it has infinite benefits. We’re just out of practice.

Remember what the yoga teachings say about communication:

  • Speak less
  • Speak only the truth
  • When the truth will cause harm, say nothing.

As for the stranger I met today, I don’t know what the future holds for either of us, and the end is inevitable for both of our dogs. (For all of us, really.) But I feel like talking to me helped her. At least I hope it did.

May we all find a kind ear when we need it the most. More importantly, may we be willing to offer that same kindness to others.

Tracy Weber

books available

PS–all three books in my Downward Dog mystery series are now available!  Learn more at http://tracyweberauthor.com.  Thanks for reading!

Why Yoga isn’t as ‘Wishy Washy’ as You First Thought

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Please welcome Megan Zsaa to the Whole Life Blog today!  I’ve never thought of yoga as a “nothing exercise,” but  all of you marathon runners and weekend warriors out there should give this article a read.  Megan’s right!

My yogi friends–what benefits have you seen from your yoga practice?

Admit it, you once (or still do!) thought yoga is a bit of a ‘nothing exercise’; a chance for a load of people who have little energy or motivation to do anything else to feel better for heading to the gym. Well – you’ve guessed it – I’m going to tell you that you were wrong to think that! And you only need to get yourself along to a yoga class to fast realize it’s far from ‘wishy washy’, ‘easy’ – or worse still – ‘pretend’ exercise.

Yoga is hard, really hard. And there’s a reason the ancient Indian practice has been in existence for centuries – it’s because it works. I really have heard it all when it comes to people’s perceptions of yoga and I felt it was about time to take a stand. Here’s why it’s not quite as pointless an exercise as you might have first thought.

Yoga Really is ‘Ancient’

Let’s be honest, the word ‘ancient’ is overused. You might joke that your parents/grandparents/[insert other old relative] are ancient, but hey – they don’t come close to the real meaning of the word. The development of yoga can be traced back to over 5,000 years ago. Yep, 5,000 – you read that right. Some researchers believe it could be as old as 10,000 years. So you see, it’s been around a long time – and that alone must mean it offers more than a few benefits. If not, why else would people do it?

Improved Flexibility isn’t its Only Benefit

True, if you get yourself to enough yoga classes you’ll be able to bend and stretch like a pro. Touching your toes? No problem. Splits? In time, maybe. But did you know improved flexibility isn’t the only benefit of yoga?! The hobby can also help you burn calories, too. So if you’re thinking of kick-starting your fitness regime for 2016, you can enjoy all the stress-busting benefits of yoga and a smaller waistline – in time.

That said, yoga does burn a relatively small number of calories – but it will help improve everything from muscle tone and strength to balance and posture. Not bad at all, eh?

It Makes You Happy

And by happy I’m not just talking about that post-gym feeling of ‘I’ve done a workout so now I have a chocolate bar’. No, yoga actually makes you feel happy in general – it’s been proven! Reducing the stress hormone in your body, it brings about a general feeling of happiness and helps you zone out and relax whilst you’re in the class, too. Result!

It can Ward Off Illness

We bet you don’t need another excuse to sign up for yoga at this point – the fact it burns calories, keeps you fit and reduces stress must be enough, right? Wrong! But there’s another great benefit of yoga – and it’s that it can help prevent illness too. So not only will it ensure you feel good today, it can also stop you getting ill in the future.

If you’re someone who’s always got a cold, you’ll definitely want to try this quick move to help prevent you contracting one in the not-to-distant future.

Start by sitting sideways next to a wall, or the headboard of your bed. Now, simply lie down on one side, facing away from the wall but with your bottom touching it. Now, using your arms, just lift your legs up the wall as you roll over onto your back. Allow your arms to fall on either side of you, with your palms facing up. Finish by breathing for at least 10 breaths. Go on, give it a go – you know you want to.

By now I hope I’ve converted you to the art of the humble – but extremely beneficial – yoga class? And if I haven’t, can I suggest you keep reading up on the hobby; it really will become your new favourite workout if it isn’t already!

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Megan Zsaa has been a student of yoga for three years and works with Samsara Mind and Body on their health and wellness programs. She lives in London and when she isn’t doing yoga you’ll find her preparing yummy, healthy food or making Kombucha.