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  • Writer's pictureSecond Opinion Magazine

Meet Your Yogi

Mimi French The Family Learning Center and The Core in Menomonie

Through my eyes, yoga is a lifestyle, an embodied art form, a tool for therapeutic relaxation, a means for shaping and strengthening, and a form of spirituality. In class, I offer a Hatha Vinyasa practice, incorporating techniques and methods from a variety of teachers and systems. I encourage an inner listening and aim to personalize our practices per our individual needs. My mission is to help students transform their bodies to be stronger and more flexible and to aid in removing mental and emotional obstructions for a more balanced and healthy energy flow.

In my own life, yoga enhances all that I do. Aside from the amazing experience of instructing yoga, I am also a wife and mother, a filmmaker, an employee with Farmer to Farmer (a wonderful local nonprofit working with communities in Central America), a student in advanced yoga study, and an outdoor enthusiast. Yoga has truly brought synergy to my bountiful — yet hectic — life.

I am deeply grateful for the wonderful instructors I studied with while earning my 200-hour certification, and the exposure to the many facets of this beautiful practice that were a result of my intense immersion. In addition, I am currently continuing my studies in the 500-hour training, again with gratitude for the depth of knowledge being passed through teachers in both our local yoga communities and by visiting instructors. I believe yoga is a lifelong practice and it is never too late to awaken to joy and to follow your heart!

Sandra Helpsmeet The Yoga Center of Eau Claire

I was a young woman living in a small town in southern Minnesota. I don’t remember if  I knew what yoga was. I only recall that I had a copy of Richard Hitttleman’s Yoga: 28 Day Exercise Plan.  Somehow, something in me recognized truth and yoga found a home in me.

Yoga has, most importantly, grounded me in my body on the earth.  To say that I have a tendency to be spacey is an understatement.  (Ask anyone who knows me!)  I came to yoga yearning for roots, and was amazed to feel what it was like to begin to feel my body and to feel in my body the connection with earth.  It is a long path that keeps unfolding, as there is so much ungroundedness in me and in the cultural surround we all live in.  In giving me back my body, yoga has played a big part in healing my depression in my early adulthood, and in coming to terms with anxiety in my middle years.

More recently, it has become apparent to me that yoga has kept a pattern of asymmetry in the muscles of my pelvis from twisting me into some less than functional state.  I learned this two+ years ago when pain in my left leg and pelvis brought me to the point where I couldn’t walk more than a few steps.  Using what I knew from my yoga studies and practice, along with the help of a physical therapist, I was able over the next year to return to full functioning.

As I move into older age, I am so grateful to know how to care for my unique body, how to quiet my mind, and how to continue on the path of opening my heart.

Sandra Helpsmeet, RYT-500, has been studying and practicing yoga for most of her adult life. She is amazed and grateful at the way in which yoga continues to unfold into her life and the lives of her students.  Sandra is a Registered Yoga Instructor at the 500 hour level through the Yoga Alliance. She completed both her 200 (2005) and 500 (2008) hour training with Scott Anderson of Alignment Yoga, and she continues to study with him. Sandra is grateful for every experience along her yoga path as well as for a community to share yoga with. She also holds a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy and maintains a part-time psychotherapy practice, wherein she enjoys allowing yoga and mindfulness practice to inform her work. She teaches private classes and therapeutic yoga at the Yoga Center of Eau Claire LLC and is completing training to instruct yoga teachers through Alignment Yoga.

Linda Foster New Day Yoga, Chippewa Falls

I have had a lifelong interest in health, fitness, and nutrition. Even as a little girl, I wanted to be a nurse. I discovered running at about age nineteen and yoga shortly thereafter. I could not believe how good it felt to release my lower back in cobra! After I had our first two sons, I joined the YMCA and regularly attended classes such as Step, Cardio Kick, and of course, Yoga. I still continued to run and eventually got into Karate.

Then, about twenty years ago or so, I was asked to teach yoga at the Y. The idea sounded great, but I was told that I would need to find my own training. At that point in time, I didn’t know of any place to train in the Midwest. Even though I am quite adventurous, I just couldn’t get comfortable with the idea of traveling to Arizona by myself. I really enjoy the physical practice of yoga and the physical relaxation that yoga stretches and breathwork produce, but have never been completely comfortable with Eastern religious philosophy.

Through the years I have used my various workouts to help me cope with the different stressors in my life. The major stressor was and still is my husband’s multiple sclerosis, as he has had it for all but nine months of our thirty-two year marriage. My faith in Christ has been a life line for me and sustains me to this day.

In the Spring of 2007, a woman from my church told me she had attended a Christ-centered yoga class. I had never heard of Christ-centered yoga, and it all just clicked. I finally knew where I wanted to train, and I was willing to go anywhere for this kind of training, even Arizona! I have since trained in Dallas as well, and now I hold the highest teaching certification recognized by the Yoga Alliance. My classes are strength oriented and are a reflection of my many years of working out in the gym combined with a gentle reflection of a faith that has been tested over and over again by life’s trials.

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