By Bob Leary
Editor’s note: The following is a series on one person’s experience of taking a yoga class. Full disclosure: the author of this article was not charged for the classes and the yoga business has advertised with the newspaper.
Weaverville – In this ongoing four-part series, I am taking a month of yoga at We Yoga Warehouse, and sharing my experiences as a “senior” who has not participated in yoga for quite a few years!
By now, I have taken three classes, two times each. Fitting this into my busy schedule has been a bit challenging, but so far, I’ve managed. It is a testament to the classes I’ve taken, and the teachers of those classes, that I’ve been willing to go out of my way to attend. This bodes well for my future yoga work.
My third class is called Sankofa Yoga, taught by Mia Younce. “I teach yoga because I believe in it as a way of life. I trained at Harmony Yoga in 2012 where I earned a 200-hour YT certification under Lisa Moore, a hatha-based foundation, rich in yogic philosophy and in the wisdom of the chakra system. It was a healing experience and a wonderful complement to my massage and bodywork and Reiki practices,” said Mia.
“I felt like I had a sense of direction again. After a few years of teaching, I went back to Lisa for a 300-hour certification, the emphasis this time was on yoga as therapy and Ayurveda, a sister science to yoga, was woven throughout the training. My understanding of yoga and of myself was greatly deepened by this second training and by application of what I learned,” she explained. “I teach from experience and I teach from my heart. I believe anyone can practice yoga and that developing the right type of practice is key. I see myself as a lifelong learner and an artist at heart; I think having fun is crucial to peaceful, balanced living. I am thrilled to be living in these beautiful mountains, sharing yoga with this community and I look forward to yogic fellowship.”
The word Sankofa is an African word that loosely translated means “Do not be afraid to go back for what you need.” If you have left your village for a journey, there is no shame in going back to get something you have forgotten and will aid you on your journey. In life, it could mean that you should not be afraid to go back to your past, and to bring something forward that might be of aid now or in the future.
This style of yoga developed by Mia is based on the concept of yoga as therapy. Moving through various asanas (poses), primarily concentrating on stretching, Mia stresses function over form. She is not so concerned with how well you do a pose, but how it affects your body, how it benefits you in your practice.
Still a beginning class, it is slowly becoming one of my favorites, as stretching is one of the things I’ve long neglected, and also for the balance it creates by focusing on opposite sides of your body and by being aware of the differences in each side. This class is also for more advanced students as it concentrates on body integrity, no matter what your level. An example of how subtle but strong it can be, I remember Mia telling me to focus on both feet during a particular pose, and not to favor one over the other. It made a significant difference in how the pose felt! I’m starting to feel like I’m getting this stuff!