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Team Spotlight : Monika Shepherd

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Nickname: None, outside of a couple goofy family nicknames which I won’t repeat for fear they’d “catch on”.

Hometown: My dad served in the army when I was little so this answer has always required a bit of explanation. I was born in Germany but I typically claim Farmington, NM as home since that’s where I spent most of my school days.

Day Job: Photographer

140726_Monika_Shepherd_How long have you have been practicing at YS? Since late June 2014.

What days/times do you work at YS? Wednesday and Thursday from 7-9pm.

Family/Pets: I don’t have any family in Texas but luckily I love to travel. I do have two sibling cats… most days they act surprisingly human.

Furthest city traveled to: Osaka, Japan (my little brother and his family lived there for 9 years)

Spill – What’s your guilty pleasure? Chocolate-Covered Gummi Bears

Favorite ice cream flavor: Cookies-and-Cream I suppose. That said, I’d rather have Chocolate-Covered Gummi Bears.

Favorite book: When I have time to read my choice of reading material is strangely diverse. It’s usually decided by a “hey, have you read…” suggestion by someone I admire. A couple specifics you ask? An all-time favorite… Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. A recent and surprising read… The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer.

Who inspires you the most and why? My parents. I love my mom for her self discipline, selflessness, and her ability to organize anything. She has a beautifully subtle way of teaching me life’s lessons – simply by example. My dad is a brilliant complement. I admire his keen awareness of others and their needs, his ability to see the good in every situation, and his adventurous spirit. Did I say adventurous? I think I meant daredevil.Monika_and_Mom

When did you start practicing yoga and why? My first “consistent practice” was in 2011 but only lasted a few months. It was a small community class in a home studio and I was in need of refuge from work/life stress so it was a great fit. When the instructor moved out-of-state it was tough to imagine finding a new yoga home with the same feel so my newly found practice slipped away from me. That is, until I found Yogasport.

Why do you still practice yoga? To calm my mind and find strength.

What is one thing we don’t know about you that would surprise us?
I’m often perceived as quiet and cautious but don’t let it fool you, I love adventure too. I’ve been surfing, skydiving, bungee jumping, and hang gliding.

Holiday Templates

Member Spotlight: Randy Paggi

DSCN0114 Name: Randy Paggi

 Nickname: I don’t really have a nickname but some people call me RP at work.

 Day job: My day job is a FedEx driver.

 How long have you have been practicing at YS?  I’ve been practicing at YogaSport for about  3 and half years.

 What is your favorite YS workshop or class?  My favorite class is the Tuesday night class at 5:00.

Name one thing you consider yourself to be very good at: This is kinda weird, but I am good at cleaning and being organized.

What’s the number one yoga pose you just love to practice?  My number one pose is tree, it’s this feeling I get trying to stay balanced and breathe.

Who inspires you the most and why? The animals I see at Dog and Kitty City inspire me the most because when they come to the shelter, either from the kill shelter or from of the street, they still have this unconditional love. That just blows my mind away to think how lucky we have it. I can’t forget the staff either – they are our heroes.    IMG_4383

Why did you start practicing yoga? I started practicing yoga because of my physical job at FedEx. I want to make sure I can perform my job at my best. I also realized this is helping me take a different approach as I get older in life.

Why do you still practice?  The thing I like about coming to YogaSport are the faces…..

Spill – What’s your guilty pleasure?  My guilty pleasure… there are a few but the one that stands out are Reeses Peanut Butter Cups , dam those commercials, lol!

What’s the best dish you can cook? I don’t really have a favorite dish, but one that stands out is a chicken dish with white wine, lemon, and capers. Yummy!

What is one thing we don’t know about you that would surprise us? I think I am a shy guy.

Mac or PC? Mac baby.

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Member Spotlight : Andra King

Camp Ty

 Name: Andra King

 Nickname: Little King and Aundie (my brother’s name for me since he couldn’t pronounce my name  when I was born)

 Day Job: Marketing Coordinator for KDC Real Estate Development & Investments

 How long have you have been practicing at YS? Well, that depends on when you consider what  my start date is. I actually took my beginners class at YogaSport in 2005/2006. I loved it, but didn’t stay  consistent. Several years ago a friend who had actually taken the beginners series with me way back  when, asked if I wanted to do a challenge. I agreed and I am happy to say I haven’t stopped since.

 What is your favorite YS workshop or class? I truly think all the classes and workshops are wonderful. However, the workshop I feel I learned the most from was 40 days. It really brought me to a new level of being present, not only with my practice and discipline, but with my community! Go Team Orange!!!!

 Name one thing you consider yourself to be very good at: I have never been comfortable  boasting about what I am good at, when asked to do this spotlight I cheated and polled a few close to  me. I learned I am good at being very thoughtful and caring to others with my giving nature, hmm is  that even something to be good at??

Meg Coach Patterson

What’s the number one yoga pose you just love to practice? I love to practice crow to tripod (I know that is 2). Crow was the first inversion I accidentally did in Shanna’s class out of the blue one day several years ago. I think it surprised us both when it happened and since then it just reminds me of where I started and how far I’ve come.

TCU Game

Why did you start practicing yoga? To be honest, to lose  weight. I had no idea it would give me so many more gifts.

Who  inspires you the most and why? I have been very blessed to  be surrounded by several who inspire me on a daily basis for their  own reasons, they know who they are. If I had to pick one, I think  I would pick the first person that inspired me when I was very  young, my Dad. The lessons I learned from watching him love  and live by example and then his inspiring spirit when he fell ill,  continue to live within me and inspire me every day.

 Why do you still practice? I love challenging myself and no matter how long or how much I practice, I am challenged every time.

What do you just love about YogaSport? I just love the YogaSport people and community!!! I feel so supported and encouraged every time I am there, it just makes me feel at home.

What’s your guilty pleasure? A good Bone-in Rib eye accompanied by a nice glass of red wine!!

Yoga in the Park

Furthest city traveled: Tokyo, Japan

What is one thing we don’t know about you that would surprise us? Unless you were in 40 days, most don’t know I was an exchange student in Tokyo in High School.

Mac or PC? PC

Get Empty to Fill Up

By YS Teacher, Morgan Martindale

I remember driving past yoga studios and wondering, “What’s that all about?” Years went by as I drove down Lemmon Avenue, passed by YogaSport, and had my share of black bean dip and margaritas downstairs at Gloria’s.

You see, I had other things to do with my time. I went to the gym to “workout”. I took Spinning classes and loved them. I had “my” bike and favorite teacher. I spent my weekends riding or running outdoors and my Saturdays making pottery. Life was good. I worked out at my gym, exercised outside, created art with my hands, and ate good burgers with friends after class.

Somewhere during “life is good,” my mom had a series of hospital visits with her diabetes that affected her in numerous ways. One day, my mom told me to ride my bike and visit her later at the hospital. I decided to just go for a walk around the lake, but on my way there, I got the call from dad. Mom was gone. I believe she planned it that way…she wanted me on my bike and my dad at home with their dog, Bailey.

From that moment on, I went outside for my workouts. I became a lake regular, seeing the same faces in the mornings and evenings after work. Friendships were never really formed, only smiles, waves and nods.

I recall the day I decided to give yoga a try. I purchased a mat for eight bucks and signed up for the new member special. My first class was a Sunday, a beginner class. All I remember was sweating a TON, wondering what just happened to me, and telling myself that I was going to come back the next day! I was hooked.

In all honesty, I thought yoga would compliment my other activities, end of story. I came for the physical workout. I loved the sweating, rinsing, detoxing, and as I did all that, my body began to feel stronger. Maybe a month into my yoga practice, I began a full on crying episode in my savasana, one that I could not contain or stop.

I began to experience a release and healing of the loss of my mom, who passed away four years prior to my yoga ‘journey’. My practice became another form of therapy for me. On my mat, I had to be with my feelings and thoughts, where as when I was outdoors I could escape them all. In Journey into Power, Baron Baptiste’s fifth principle is, “In Order to Heal, You Need to Feel.” My priority and vision shifted to landing on my mat to heal. Each class, in almost every half pigeon, I cried, and it felt so good. I left the studio feeling weights lifted from my shoulders and my heart.

I found yoga to workout and yoga found me to heal, release, and connect with others. Loss put me in a very raw, empty, and alone place in my life. What came that I never anticipated was a human-to-human connection with fellow yogis. I look forward to each practice on my mat, supporting my neighbors with breath to move fluidly together.

Two years into my practice, when I drive by YogaSport, I now know what it’s about: getting a great workout and, more importantly, being a part of a place where I can “let go” and fill up on living my life in a brighter way.

My Life as a Carnival Mirror

By YS Instructor, Christopher Roberson

 

There is this version of ourselves that we see when we look into a mirror. What we see reflected back at us can range from strictly superficial things like hair, skin, and smile, to a deeper, more personal view of ourselves as human beings.

Over the last few years I have begun to realize that the image I see in the mirror, where I brush my teeth and comb my hair, feels more like a carnival mirror. In this reflection, proportions are exaggerated, distorted, and any semblance to myself is nearly absent.

The carnival mirror has become a metaphor for my social behavior and the way in which I replicate and exaggerate the behavior of others.

I recall waking up many a morning overwhelmed with a heavy feeling of regret sitting on my chest. Who was that guy last night? He put on my clothes, wore my face, but didn’t represent the values and standards that I want for myself.

In an effort to fit in, I worked too hard to reflect the thoughts, energy, and attitudes of those around me. But in true “Christopher” form, I took what I experienced in others and exaggerated it three-fold. Throw me in a room with a slightly narcissistic and hedonistic variety of people, and suddenly, I became an “If you don’t have something nice to say, come stand by me” kind of guy.

I wasn’t content simply following the lead of others, and I often found myself disproportionately mirroring the energy and flaws of the people around me. This way of being became a mask I wore to absolve myself of responsibility for my behavior, as well as the effect this behavior has on others.

In the moment, it was hilarious to be rude, to make fun of my friends, and to talk shit about people who under any other circumstance I held in high regard. I justified that being catty and sarcastic was part of my cultural connection and sociological response to those around me.

This realization was a necessary step towards redefining who I see when I take a long hard look at myself, and how I can sometimes behave. Part of this process of growth was saturating myself in a community whose values I admire. Thus, emerging myself in the yoga community helped me find ways to create the change I needed for myself.

YogaSport, primarily, has been a welcoming community where smiles and honest connections are in no short supply. I have been fortunate enough to surround myself with people whom I admire, and strive daily to adopt traits that I appreciate in the people around me. It’s in this transition that I have realized that I am the company that I keep, so keeping better company has become a necessity to living the life I want to live.

My struggle is still constant, and I acknowledge that this process of growth is always in a state of flux, but now when I look at who I am, I like what I see.

Lost… Destination, Discover…

By YS Teacher, Morgan Martindale

Have you ever heard of the term boomerang? A boomerang is someone who leaves a job, only to come back to it later. I have a friend who is a boomerang. He started a new job, didn’t like it; went back to his old job and is now miserable.

My friend works in marketing; he has worked in marketing pretty much since graduating college. He believes you have to follow a certain path, ultimately leading to a “big brand” – the pinnacle of what it is to be a marketer. Working for a big brand means you get to work on “big” budgets and “big” projects and “big” ad agencies…that is the goal. Ultimately, my friend who got his one shot to work for a big “brand” didn’t like what he was doing, quit and went back to his old job. Now he is lost; he doesn’t know where to go from here. He feels he made a major mistake and is struggling to find out how to get back on track. He continually looks for jobs, hoping to get that shot again. I keep telling him that he is where he is supposed to be. He is supposed to be in his current job…he isn’t supposed to be in the job he quit. He never believes me when I tell him this. He believes he made a huge mistake and feels like the chances of getting another shot will be few and far between.

This brings us to what Melody Bettie wrote in her book, Journey to the Heart:
“You are where you need to be, on your path, guided, in just the right place for you today. We have a path, a map, even if our eyes and conscious mind can’t see it, can’t figure it out, or aren’t certain it’s there.” That is tough to hear, in such a raw and vulnerable state, but these feelings are part of being alive.

My friend is now trying new things. He is opening his eyes to experiencing life in a new way. Sometimes you just have to say “YES”! When you feel lost, the best thing to do is try different things, improve yourself and shift your vision. My friend noticed when riding his bike outdoors, he could escape his feelings. Also, he is now taking yoga and that is something he would never, ever have done before!

Yoga can be a good workout, but getting to the mat and practicing can be so much more if you are willing to be open to the opportunity for more. Our practice allows us to face our feelings head on. Be open to what the Universe holds. Open your eyes in a new way, a better way, to begin shedding the layers to your best, truest self.

Yes, boomerangs are objects that come back to their initial starting point. And though my friend is still unhappy with the outcome of his decision, he understands that just like a boomerang this gives him another opportunity to start over, and try again, and be better now and in the future.

Being Present On and Off The Mat

By YS Assistant, Twyla McCarthy

Many if not all of us have had one of those days. As much as we plan ahead, the universe seems to have a different plan. Take for example, one of those days that are perfectly scheduled to a tee. The lunch is packed, and appointments are made. When you look at your calendar, you just hope to be able to pull it off. There are appointments booked back to back all day, an interview, and yoga classes to teach.

Of course obstacles come up such as a nail in your tire, or a rescheduled interview. When these kinds of situations arise during a perfectly scheduled day it’s really challenging not to get extremely agitated and panicked. What is important to remember when these situations arise is to stay present.

Baron Baptiste talks about presence in his book, 40 Days to Personal Revolution. He says, “My ego screams out that there is so much to do, but I’ve learned that saying present in anything is a practice. As often as I forget and get distracted, I must remember and simply begin again.”

Beginning again can happen for you at any moment you choose: stressful situations, traffic, or even on your mat while practicing yoga. Calm, presence, and breath can be applied when situations arise in life. It is a choice to be present in the situation or pose that is happening right now. Instead of fighting what is happening, ease into it with breath, and everything will fall into place.

After recalling Baron’s words, I approached my hectic day with the calm centeredness that I learned in yoga. It worked! It was easier to tackle any bumps with a sense of ease. Presence works when dealing with schedules, work, and people. Presence works everywhere!

No matter how perfectly we plan, there is always an instance where we need to breathe and channel all of those hours spent on the mat instead of yelling at traffic, or being agitated. Practicing the asana life brings us while practicing presence allows us to start again if we need to. If our eyes and ears are open, the windows of opportunity will open around us. Yoga is a practice that unfolds when we need it. We just need to be conscious of it. Eckhart Tolle says in Meditations from the Mat, “You can’t think about presence, and the mind can’t understand it. Understanding presence is being present.” By learning to stand in power and breathe, we are able to use presence in day-to-day life. Yoga isn’t necessarily about being this enlightened being and quoting all of the masters; yoga is about using what you learn in class and bringing it into your life.

I Am Them by Evelyn

Our Teachers in Training share their insights with the YogaSport community.

by Evelyn Roland

I don’t think it’s any secret that I love yoga. Why wouldn’t I?  Yoga has so many great things to offer. I have been practicing for 3 years and have learned a lot about myself along the way.  There are things that I have heard teachers say that have really hit home for me and helped me to make changes on my mat and in my life, such as, learning to breathe through the challenging moments and how beneficial it is to just sit still. But there are also things that I have heard said many times by many instructors that very clearly did not apply to me, such as, how certain yoga poses can bring up emotions
and how what we do on our mats, we also do in our lives.  And while these messages did not apply to me, I thought they were great and I was glad that they were being delivered to ‘those people’ who needed them.  I hoped that ‘they’ were listening so that ‘they’ could grow and get as much out of yoga as I was getting.  And then this summer, it suddenly became clear… Holy Crow, those messages are for me!

As much as I love yoga, I have always struggled some with my practice.  There have been poses that I have resisted strongly, mostly poses that involve going upside down.  I knew that there was some self-doubt that I needed to deal with, but I also knew the largest part of my resistance was based on fear of losing control.  And in the end, I was partially right.  It was fear of losing control … but not physically like I had always assumed.  It was emotionally!  Lo and behold, there really are some poses that bring up emotions, but the reason that hadn’t been true for me up until now was because I was actively avoiding most of them.

That realization shook me up a little bit.  But it also forced me to look at some things differently and to think about what else I might be avoiding for all the wrong reasons.  I am now actively trying to lose a little control and I have cried through several of my practices recently.  Amazingly enough, I feel so much better!  My practices (and my soul) are so much lighter and less strained.  I have become incredibly aware of the amount of energy I was spending trying to maintain strict control over things that are not always supposed to be in my control.  I was literally exhausting myself.  And letting go of some of my control has been surprisingly freeing.  But, as happy as I am to have learned all of that, what I really learned was that there is no ‘them’.  There is only ‘us’, and we should all try to be as open as possible to any message offered to us in the course of our practice.    Who knows what might happen.