As Randi and I headed out onto the tails for a hike on a drizzly Friday morning, I mentioned that I had recently started going to yoga. For Randi, yoga is one of the best things in life. She is a yoga instructor. As yoga is a new thing in my life, I was curious to know how she chose that path and what it was about yoga that was so attractive to her. Up until recently my perception of yoga was that it was kind of boring and complicated. So far, all of the instructors I had experienced seemed so immersed in their craft. So my mission for today was to find out why.
Randi started doing yoga from a DVD starring Ali McGraw (80 ‘s flashback) about 20 years ago. After her second son was born she started going to a power yoga class at the local rec centre to add variety to her gym workouts. In her own words she became a bit “obsessed” with yoga and at one point was practicing either power yoga or flow yoga almost every day to the point that if she missed a day, she would feel tense. Power yoga is more of a North American invention I have discovered. A more challenging, strength building workout based on Ashtanga Yoga but with a huge variation of postures and flows (often invented) strung together at the instructors whim and generally with the intention that yoga is solely a physical practice. A great workout, however, resulted in injury for Randi and she was forced to re-evaluate her approach. She has now learned that yoga should not be viewed as simply a good workout; but instead, a lifestyle. A thought process that can be taken “off the mat”.
It was at about this point in her life that Randi was also re-evaluating her job as a chemical biologist. She and her husband had a conversation that I’m sure many of us have had: “If I won a million dollars what would I do? Would I work, volunteer, travel the world? What would I do even if I wasn’t getting paid? ” This got Randi thinking and she realized that she wanted to teach yoga regardless of whether she won the million dollars. Eager to get started and not knowing a lot about the different styles of yoga (beyond the more powerful ones) she found herself signing up for a three year program in therapeutic yoga that had been recommended to her by her current yoga teacher. It would mean training far beyond the training of a regular yoga teacher and this was an area that Randi was not familiar with at all, but had a feeling it was where she needed to go.
At this point the hike was getting pretty steep but I was learning so much about yoga, and Randi, that I kept my mouth shut and pushed through. Did you know that it is called a yoga practice because it never really ends? You are always practicing and working towards a higher state of being? I didn’t.
Randi found the calmer, slower pace of therapeutic yoga just what she needed. Three years later she was certified as a yoga instructor. At the same time she was taking her training, Randi was working towards her certificate as a Holistic Nutritionist. Seriously, this girl is no slouch. She has a BSc in Biology with a minor in psychology and has traveled extensively to China, India and Africa. Her second trip to India was study under her teacher’s teachers in Chennai in the lineage of TKV Desikachar, son and student of T Krishnamacharya. An amazing experience that required the participants to be up at 7:00 am and practice for the better part of the day with limited breaks. Crazy? Before today I would have thought so. Now I see that perhaps devoted is a better word for it.
So now Randi sets her own schedule and teaches therapeutic yoga at multiple studios on the North Shore. She is able to balance her passion for yoga with a busy life with young children. She has combined her love of yoga and her knowledge of holistic nutrition and created Samana Wellness. A practice devoted to restoring balance to body and mind. She no longer dreads getting up in the morning and slogging away at a job she doesn’t like (sound familiar). More importantly though, it has given her an inner sense of peace and allowed her to deal with stressful situations, live in the moment and be her best person. It’s obvious to me that yoga is one of the best things in Randi’s life and potentially mine.