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September 24th, 2012

Yogi Of The Week: Sheri

Meet Sheri.

Sheri is a mountain-thrashing, nose-grabbing, 360-spinning snowboarder (metaphorically). But a serious injury to her upper left leg kept this Betty off the slopes and brought her to the yoga mat. Unable to walk without pain and with limited mobility, Sheri focused on her yoga practice. After one dedicated year on the mat, Sheri's pain was gone and her mobility back. That's the power of, as she puts it, "yoga magic."

That's also why Sheri is studying to become a yoga teacher - where the hospital couldn't help her recover, her yoga did. And as an unexpected benefit, she also found a deep sense of community and kindred connection. Sheri travels often and has studied with many yoga teachers, and every single one has left her with something to remember – from a helpful tip for Pigeon to sage wisdom to a happy memory. These are her inspirations.

Yoga has moved Sheri to always make the choice that she knows is truly right. Not easier, not cheaper, not quicker – but the option that brings her to a place where she is happy with the life she is living and the person that she is.

We loved learning about Sheri! And we’d love to learn about you, too. Tell us about yourself on our You Series page: Manduka.com/You.

Every week we're sharing the story of another real yogi in our blogs, emails and even magazines. Maybe soon you'll see yourself here. Or see something in yourself here.

Practice On.

--Manduka

September 17th, 2012

Yogi Of The Week: Gregory

Meet Gregory.

At 6’4, 230 lbs., Gregory spent much of his life worrying that he was in someone’s way. Concerned with how much space he was taking up, if the person behind him couldn't see - he just wasn't at ease. With yoga, that anxiety is gone now. A dedicated Forrest yoga practitioner (with an 85" Black Mat PRO to boot), Gregory no longer hesitates to use as much room as he needs to feel free and move freely.

Gregory turned to yoga after being laid off from his job — where he'd worked devotedly for 10 years. He experimented with as many styles of yoga as he could find, and felt most at home with Forrest yoga. Because of his size, Gregory had always subconsciously placed a ‘heaviness’ on himself and always assumed he’d never be able to do handstands or more advanced poses. What he discovered was that he could be both big and heavy, AND light and graceful. Ana Forrest once told him during a tough workshop, “you take care of so many of us, you are such a big presence and person… and so is the world! The world is huge and cares for all of us, yet it still floats in space, gracefully spinning.”

Sometimes things happen for a reason. Gregory’s dedication to his yoga practice has "paid off" in a way he didn’t expect: he is now the Creative Services Director/Artist in Residence for the Forrest Yoga organization. He is feeling lighter than ever with the opportunity to combine his two passions, yoga and art.

In addition to his practice and his career, Gregory is also committed to bringing yoga to the LGBT community. He volunteers through Street Yoga and teaches at SMYRC (Sexual Minorities Youth Rescue Center) in Portland. His passion for unifying and uniting the yoga community and the LGBT community is bringing new tools for transformation and new perspectives for beautiful consideration.

We loved learning about Gregory! And we’d love to learn about you, too. Tell us about yourself on our You Series page: Manduka.com/You.

Every week we're sharing the story of another real yogi in our blogs, emails and even magazines. Maybe soon you'll see yourself here. Or see something in yourself here.

Practice On.

--Manduka

September 3rd, 2012

Yogi Of The Week: Christa

Meet Christa.

Christa used to manage broadway shows for a living. That's how she found yoga.

A musician working on one of the shows also happened to teach Iyengar yoga, and could sense the stress and pressure that Christa was under. He ended up offering her private instruction for close to 6 months – all he asked in return was that she ‘pay it forward’ to someone else in need.

Christa took that request and ran with it. She has opened a non-profit organization called Compass Yoga, teaching free yoga classes in New York City to people who don't otherwise have the opportunity, or the funds, to begin a yoga practice.

This past spring, Christa went on her first trip to India. It was an experience that broke her down and built her back up completely new, and more powerful. She now refers to her life in two eras: her life before India, and now her life after India. She returned home with a newfound gratitude for all of the opportunities she has available to her, and feels more determined in her purpose to spread the benefits of yoga and meditation to more people.

Yoga has truly been therapeutic for Christa. It has helped her to work through her father’s passing, and to let go of the guilt she still carried from their rocky relationship. Yoga taught her that we don’t have to wait for healing, it is within us and available to us all the time. We have all the answers and all the knowledge we need; we just need to tap into it.

We loved learning about Christa. And we’d love to learn about you, too! Tell us a little about yourself on the You Series page: Manduka.com/You

Every week we're sharing the story of another real yogi in our blogs, emails and even magazines. Maybe soon you'll see yourself here. Or see something in yourself here.

Practice On.

--Manduka

August 13th, 2012

Yogi Of The Week: Jenn


Meet Jenn.

Jenn has no idea why she started practicing yoga so many years ago.

One day, she wandered into a yoga class at her university’s gym, and admits that at first she didn’t really like it: “All the things the teacher was asking me to do seemed entirely out of reach. Still my mind? Twist like what? Stand on my arm and head? What the? But for some reason I kept going back, and I kept unfolding and growing and after awhile I stopped doing yoga and yoga started doing me.”

These days, Jenn’s yoga practice is a "luscious love." She is heavily involved in Africa Yoga Project, an organization bringing jobs, improved health and leadership training to Africa's urban slums. What was supposed to be one teacher assistant opportunity at a Baptiste teacher training in Kenya in 2009 revealed her passions and new purpose. At a recent fundraising event in the San Francisco Bay Area, where Jenn helped raise over $50,000 for Africa Yoga Project and Children’s Hospital, someone told her it was the most inspiring day of their life. That moment brought everything into a new light.

Her practice has given her patience, deeper relationships, unexpected lessons everyday and maybe most surprisingly, a job! We loved getting to know Jenn, and we'd love to meet you too. Tell us a little about yourself on the You Series page:Manduka.com/You

Every week we're sharing the story of another real yogi in our blogs, emails and even magazines. Maybe soon you'll see yourself here. Or see something in yourself here.

Practice On.

--Manduka

July 30th, 2012

Yogi Of The Week: Jennifer

Meet Jennifer.

She completely accepts herself. Acknowledges her insecurities, bares her flaws and loves them all. But it didn't used to be like this. That kind of self realization comes with practice.

For all that yoga has added to her life, maybe the most significant is what it took away: the judgment. "The first time I didn't judge myself based on those around me, the first time I practiced fully on my mat, fully with my breath. All of that came together in a moment I didn't grasp until I left the class and realized I didn't judge myself for a full 90 minutes."

She may have started yoga "to look like Madonna, of course," but her yoga became her path and her practice eight years ago, when she was both a new mom to her baby daughter and a daughter to her mom dealing with ovarian cancer. She learned a lot about the circular nature of life, and how to live fully present in the flow of it all. That is complete and total freedom.

We loved getting to know Jennifer, and we'd love to meet you too. Tell us a little about yourself on the You Series page: Manduka.com/You

Every week we're sharing the story of another real yogi in our blogs, emails and even magazines. Maybe soon you'll see yourself here. Or see something in yourself here.

Practice On.

--Manduka