Meet our Teacher, Lara. She is one of the many amazing teachers here at Yoga By Degrees as well as our featured teacher for the month of February! Read how Lara first came to yoga and how her yoga journey has lead her to where she is now.
When and how did you come to yoga?
I was a gymnast and dancer from the time I could walk. Elements of yoga have always been a part of my life. I didn’t start a truly dedicated practice until a few years ago. Began, looking for cross-training to help my distance running. Started with a solid Bikram practice and fell in love with the heat! I quickly branched out to Ashtanga and Vinyasa. My soul felt SO alive, again. It truly was a homecoming of sorts. What started as a practical cross-training idea, quickly morphed into an opportunity to come to my mat and work on other stuff, too… perfectionism, anxiety, etc.
Why did you start teaching yoga?
True story… knew it was deep in my soul, when I began to literally demo postures in my sleep (my own version of sleep walking, I guess). When you’re dreaming about it and acting it out, it’s probably something you should explore. I found a big part of myself in yoga and hoped to help others find the best of themselves there, too. Teaching is at my core. Spent my post-college years teaching in Corporate America and definitely spend lots of time teaching as a mom of four. After class the other night, one of the students described me as a teacher who, “hugs with my words.” How neat is THAT?! The opportunity to share yoga and connect on that level, fills my heart with gratitude. Best feeling ever.
What is your favorite pose?
Hard to choose just ONE! Depends on the day, I guess. There’s nothing like coming into your breath, while flowing thru a series of sun salutations. Lots of days, I’m alllll about inversions to lift my spirits. I’ll rock out a headstand just about anywhere! Child’s pose helps me get quiet enough to hear my soul. Heart and hip openers are deeeelicious. Balancing asanas take me back to countless hours, spent on the beam. Oops. You asked for ONE.
Who inspires your teaching?
SO blessed to practice and teach at Yoga By Degrees. There’s inspiration everywhere in this beautiful community: the brave students, who open their hearts; the most amazing, supportive, fun and diverse group of teachers ever; the exceptional musicians who make time to share their talent in the live music class; the hesitant students who find a way to push fear aside and try their first few classes. YBD rocks!!
Everyday LIFE, nudges me, too… my four courageous babies; stuff I read; conversations with friends; my own struggles as a student.
Tips for beginners
The other day a friend of mine asked for tips, prior to his first class. Said this, essentially… Quiet the inner critic & enjoy. Someone next to you may look completely different in the postures. That’s THEIR journey. Be YOU! Have FUN! You are enough, just as you are. Rest, drink water, breathe, smile. Repeat.
Get lost in the feeling. It’s not just about the asanas. Read something many months back, about a group of monks who set out on a trip, in the early hours of the morning. Although they’d been rowing steadily for hours, the sun came up & they discovered they were still in the same spot. No one untied the boat! The book likened that, with doing YOGA & only putting your energy into the asanas… never connecting to the FEELING underneath, them. Untie your boat! Close your eyes and FEEL it. Mind. Body. Spirit.
There are so many different types of yoga and teaching styles. Keep searching until you find something that speaks to you.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. It is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of the Universe. Your playing small does not serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of the Universe within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”