Learn why Michele started practicing yoga, how she fits it into her busy schedule and what she would say to those new to yoga.

When did you start doing yoga?  Why did you start?
I started practicing yoga about 15 years ago, when I was 35, as I was going through a difficult break-up, a new job, and so spent a lot of time working out my frustrations at the gym. A friend suggested I go to the yoga class with her and I was hooked!

How do you fit it into your busy schedule?
I make yoga a priority – I make a lunch-time appointment with myself every Monday, Wednesday and Friday and if something else comes up, I will go to an evening class. I ask my bosses (I work with demanding attorneys), “Yoga, or postal? Take your pick!” They see me come back to the office refreshed and able to handle anything they can throw at me.

What is it about yoga that you love?
Not only do I see the physical benefits (strength, balance, flexibility), but also the mental benefits (letting go of “stuff” like frustration and anger). Sometimes, when I’m all over the place balance-wise, it reminds me that I’m not balanced in my “real” life and it lets me step back and take stock of what I need to do to reacquire that equilibrium.

Do you have a favorite style? Or favorite studio?
I started with “gym” yoga, then practiced Bikram for three years. I do prefer Hatha or Hatha flow or a slow Vinyasa. Because of menopause, hot/power yoga doesn’t appeal to me, and I need more strengthening yoga (Hatha) to stave off osteoporosis. I also love yoga for relaxation (Restorative and Yin yoga), as long as it’s not too “woo-woo” (lots of chanting and “third eye”). My favorite studio is Satori, in San Francisco’s Financial District, as they offer all types of styles. Plus, the people there are so lovely and welcoming, it feels like going to a mini-oasis amongst the chaos that is downtown.

How is yoga changing your life?
I guess the best way to describe it is that when I have not practiced for a while (because of travel, or illness), I feel myself getting cranky, impatient, and “crunchy” – lots of little aches and pains and stiffness.

What would you say to someone new to yoga?
Don’t base your opinion of yoga on one class, one style, or one teacher (or one studio). I’d say give it at least six times before you decide if it’s for you. For me personally, having a teacher you “click” with is crucial – I definitely have my favorites, but am always willing to try somebody new once in a while just to mix it up. Also, you don’t have to be flexible to practice yoga! That’s the whole point! I am not flexible at all, which is why I practice (note the word “practice”!) as often as I can.

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