It was 2008 and I was living in a mental war zone over family turmoil. It seemed that I couldn’t quiet my mind. So I made myself a deal. I would dedicate 20 minutes a day to doing yoga. Little did I know that through this dedication to breathing and movement, my life was going to change dramatically for the better. Not only did yoga help quiet my mind and stop the daily chatter of a worrisome internal voice, but it also healed years worth of emotional and physical challenges, giving me in return the gift of getting to do my favorite thing in the entire Universe — skiing — at a level that I had only previously dreamed of accomplishing.
This daily gift that yoga gives me nearly a decade later is precious and is why I so avidly applaud those who are passing the health and well-being of yoga along to others. One of these teachers who radiates grace, peace and sparkle is Lauri Glenn of Bodhi Therapeutics, Truckee Massage and Yoga. A woman who specializes in not only therapeutic yoga, but also sports therapy as well as deep tissue and Swedish massage, Glenn is especially gifted at helping her students find their happiest, healthiest selves.
For my second installment of Living in Lake Tahoe, I got to chat with Glenn and learn about her path into yoga, which yoga pose is best for those moments of crazy stress and her exciting surprise happening in April. Here’s what she had to say.
Please share with readers what inspired you to start your path with yoga and how it developed into teaching.
I moved to Tahoe in 1994 to pursue a career in snowboarding and I was looking for a way to crosstrain during the super stormy months of the year. I was reading a Self magazine and saw a tiny little ad in the very back for Bikram Yoga. So I went to the library, checked out his book and proceeded to teach myself at home. I practiced regularly and it went quickly from a physical endeavor to a spiritual experience, though I'm not sure I truly understood that at the time. At that time in early 1995, there were zero [yoga] studios in Tahoe, and so I kept doing my practice at home until a back injury took me out of the snowboarding game around 1997. Pretty soon after, I decided to check out some other avenues of yoga. I took a 100-hour course with Joseph LePage at Integrative Yoga Therapy and another 100 hours of Iyengar with Richard Schachtel in Seattle. I started teaching right away at the Rec Center in Tahoe Donner and Northstar and eventually the first yoga studio in Truckee when it opened in the early 2000s. I took a big break from teaching to focus on my massage career and have returned to teaching regularly again these last few years.
What do you feel is the primary benefit of creating a yoga practice?
Tapping into our fundamental nature of equanimity and divinity. There are lots of what I like to call "side effects" of yoga: flexibility, mobility, strength, confidence, endurance, etc. But the ability to drop into that state of calm, clarity and grace that lives within each of us (it just gets buried under all our "stuff") and to recognize that we are all, everything, cut from the same fabric, enables us to really live each moment of our lives more skillfully. Even the ones that seem really crappy and overwhelming. Our world is busy, sad, crazy sometimes and we can get really caught up in the wild ride. Having tools and a way to really connect with ourselves, each other and what matters is fundamental to being a positive force on this planet.
What advice do you have for people who don’t feel like they are cut out for something that requires them to be flexible or to have a quiet mind?
Ha! You don't have to be flexible or have a quiet mind actually. That's the whole point of practice! These are things you can cultivate over time. And I'd really love your readers to know that a yoga practice doesn't even have to include physical poses. There are many paths (margas) to the state of yoga. Remember, yoga means union and is a state we are looking to rest in . . . the state of union. Union/connection with our bodies, minds, breath, environment, each other, universe, divine . . . and so on. There are lots of ways to start to experience this state. You definitely don't have to be able to stick your foot behind your head!
Can you share an experience that you have had where yoga or meditation created positivity?
Gosh, there are so many of them, tiny ones all day long. What's coming right up to mind, though, is a workshop I taught on New Year's Day in 2017. (I'll be doing another and different NYD Workshop on January 1, 2018, so check it out). We had been focusing on connection, seeing that we are all in this life journey together, even if we have the illusion of being on different "sides," the us/them mentality. This was all in the light of our recent election, which needs no further explanation. We did a practice where we all wrote down one "fear" and one "love" item/story/thing in our lives and put them in two separate jars. We passed the jars around and everyone pulled one of each out. Then we went around and read them out loud (anonymously of course). The reflection after hearing the wide variety and intimate sharing (yes, there were some tears) was that these are not "MY fears" or "MY loves," but that these are "OUR fears and OUR loves." We are all in this together. The greatest illusion we face is that we think we are separate. So after the exercise there was a truly palpable sense of deep connection, love and compassion. I believe that was a positive experience for everyone.
If you had one pose to offer someone with immense stress what would that be?
Savasana. I call it "lying down pose." Not to be confused with "going to sleep" pose. Lie on the floor on your back, with a blanket roll under your knees if you need to accommodate your low back and let the arms and legs fall naturally out. Become aware of everywhere that your flesh touches the floor and allow those areas to soften, get comfortably heavy and relax. Then bring your attention to your breath, steady and slow the inhale and exhale to a comfortable rate and then allow your exhale to lengthen a little more than the inhale. Then just track the rhythm of your breath gently with your mind. Feel the inhale, the exhale. Let your tension, worry and thoughts fall away and release with each exhale. Keep bringing your mind to the breath if it wanders. Stay for as long as you like, but a good five to 10 minute savasana is a great place to start!
Please share with us any exciting upcoming events.
I've been daydreaming about putting together retreats since I started practicing in 1995, so I'm so excited to be able to share this one! I'll be offering a five-day/four-night, all-inclusive Yoga & Meditation Renewal Retreat from April 18 to 22, 2018, on the Northern California coast. One of our finest (in my humble opinion) local and international teachers, Meg McCraken, and I will be co-guiding this immersive experience. It is open to all levels of practitioners, whether you are brand new to yoga or a seasoned yogi/yogini. Those who join us will be exploring potent and practical teachings and practices that they can take back home to use in their everyday lives, along with handouts and a group follow up conference call. We are really inspired for this one! You can find registration and info on my website at LauriGlenn.com under the Events tab. Space is limited so check it out soon!
Photos: Lauri Glenn
So there's a little taste of a Tahoe local's life. I'll be introducing you to more people in the coming year, and you can read my previous Living in Lake Tahoe blog post about Steven and Melissa Siig of Tahoe Art Haus & Cinema here.