LYW: What initially brought you to a yoga practice? How long have you been practicing.

Sharon:   I have been practicing yoga for 8 years.  Prior to that, many years ago, I was a runner.  When I could no longer run, I took up walking for exercise and weight control.  Yoga gives me the opportunity to stretch my entire body, not just the muscles used for walking.  In addition, I was suffering from osteopenia (lower than normal bone mineral density) and my gynecologist recommended a yoga practice.

LYW: What brought you to LYW? And what keeps you here? How often do you practice?

Sharon: When I decided to take up yoga, I talked to a friend of mine who had been practicing for many years.  I asked her to ask her teacher if she could recommend a yoga teacher in my area.  She recommended Luke Ketterhagen who was teaching at LYW at the time.  I loved practicing with Luke and when he moved to Santa Monica I moved with him.  However, I continued to practice at LYW on Saturdays.  A few years ago, Luke left the area and I moved to LYW full time.  First of all, it  is very convenient for me.  I can walk to class and combine my walking exercise with my yoga practice.  Also, I love the small classes and the personal attention I get.  The teachers know me and I know them.  I can talk to them about any probIems that I’m having and I know they care about me.  I also love the community feeling with the other students.  I feel like we are all friends.  I try to practice yoga 3 times per week.  When I can’t come to class, I have a yoga DVD that I use at home.  However, I much prefer a live teacher.

LYW: Are there any observations/comments/anecdotes from a class or workshop you attended you care to share?

Sharon: When I first started practicing yoga, I felt very competitive.  I would look around the room and see people doing things that I couldn’t do.  I wondered what was wrong with me and had a negative opinion of myself.  At LYW there is a strong emphasis from all of the teachers to listen to your body and not judge.  Every body is different every day.  I now accept my body and what it can do at the time.  Sometimes I’m amazed and other times amused by what I can and cannot do.

LYW: Please share with us the benefits you receive from your yoga practice.

Sharon:  Before I started yoga I thought of it as an exercise program.  I wasn’t really aware of the breathing and spiritual aspects of the practice.  However now, I really appreciate not only the physical aspects but the emotional ones as well.  As soon as I lie down on my mat and start breathing, I feel my entire body relax and I move into a different realm.  I love the feeling of calmness that comes over me.  I also love the way my body feels after all of the stretching.  I used to have back problems but I believe through yoga I have strengthened my back and now I rarely have a problem.