Often, people think yoga is simply stretching. However, those who come to the practice will quickly learn that it incorporates much more than just a physical body practice. Yoga certainly allows for the student to stretch one’s body, but it also allows one to transform on a mental and spiritual front. While the student is moving through a series of postures linked with corresponding breathwork, they are receiving corresponding benefits to the nervous system. These subtle benefits include relaxation, mindfulness, heightened concentration, stress reduction, a reduction in reactivity, and an overall sense of calm.
When I was a young girl I recall seeing my Dad in a headstand on his orange wool rug (his version of a yoga mat). Many years later I came across his books with pictures of men in various yoga postures. I quickly grew to cherish these books as my own. They were what helped me heal from his passing. It was as though he knew I would need the tools that a Yoga practice gives to its students.
Like many students who begin on the yogic path, I signed up for yoga classes believing that my stressed body and depressed mind would benefit from some gentle stretching. I certainly did find a great deal of relief from the stretching postures, but I found an even deeper release of the mental build-up that grew with his absence. I found myself going to more classes, craving this simultaneous relief of body and mind. I realized, through the tears that certain postures triggered, that my body and mind had become very disconnected to protect my broken heart. With continued practice, growing physical strength, and a more concentrated mind - due to the breathing and meditative practices I was incorporating - I began to understand that yoga is so much more than stretching the body. It clearly had the capacity to help mend a deep hole from the void I was left with. Eventually, I felt a sense of wholeness again.
So, I arrived at yoga practice via my Dad, but I began to teach yoga on my own accord. I developed a strong desire to give others a similar feeling of release and relief that the regular practice of yoga provides. Yoga reminds us of that tool that we all have within us - our breath. It is through the collaboration of the physical practice of postures and the concentrated focus of breathwork that one arrives at the awareness we all have the present moment anchor of breath within us, always. This may seem very simple, yet is very profound when we allow the trust in our breath to calm us in situations of fight or flight, fear, sadness, anger, etc.
I currently teach in my downtown Ellicottville boutique studio. I teach all-level classes that are available to most students with room for layering more difficult options as the body grows stronger. I incorporate relaxation, breathwork, balancing, as well as vigorous warming of the body movement in my classes. I encourage students to witness their own experience each time they arrive at the studio, letting each time be entirely new and honoring how they are feeling mentally and physically that day. Additionally, I’m available to travel and work in a variety of home and work settings including school settings, sports team facilities, etc. Please feel free to contact me to reserve your spot in ongoing all-level classes or private sessions. You may also visit my website for up-to-date rates and schedules: www.laurasollyyoga.com.