Awe-Inspiring Appalachian Trail Mountain Yoga Hiking Tour
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Hey y'all!

I'm Miranda. Welcome to Namaste in Nature where we craft custom yoga + hiking experiences near Asheville, NC and create fresh content about nature, yoga, meditation & mindfulness every Friday.

How Your Yoga Practice Can Change Over Time

How Your Yoga Practice Can Change Over Time

How Your Yoga Practice Can Change Over Time: From Student to Teacher and Beyond

A collection of inspirational journeys from the team at Namaste in Nature.

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The only constant is change.

The best thing about your yoga practice is that it can change along with your shifting mental, physical, emotional and lifestyle needs.

I know I personally came to it purely as a form of exercise but years later have discovered so many more benefits beyond just a good stretch. I have friends and fellow teachers who started with a hot, powerful Ashtanga practice and now like to snuggle into slow and steady Yin poses. And of course, you can always practice both and anything in between.

Whether you’re new to the practice, have been practicing for years or are thinking about transitioning from student to teacher, we wanted to share some of our stories to inspire you to be curious, creative and try new things when it comes to yoga and life in general.

Namaste & Have A Great Day!

Miranda

This and cover image instagram.com/ivanadesancic

This and cover image instagram.com/ivanadesancic

Miranda Peterson, Founder

IG: @miramblings

How you discovered/started practicing yoga:

I took a class called Stretch and Relaxation in my last semester of college at the University of Tampa around 2006/07. I didn't realize what it or what yoga was at the time but it was very much part of this class in retrospect. I did not take it seriously and got a C (my lowest grade in any class ever.) 

I wish I knew who the teacher of that class was today so I could tell her the seeds she planted finally grew. It just took a really long time. lol

What hesitations/concerns you had & how you overcame them:

Since college I experimented with yoga as a form of exercise at gyms I went to or if I had a Groupon. I didn't really have many concerns or hesitations at the time because I liked to be active and try lots of different things. It wasn't until I quit my job in 2015 that I really started practicing regularly at a studio in Fort Lauderdale called Red Pearl. 

Why/how you transitioned from student to teacher:

I felt so much better physically, mentally and emotionally after practicing yoga consistently at Red Pearl for a few weeks. I was ready for huge life change and decided to include my yoga teacher training in India (Ayur Yoga Eco Ashram) as part of my travel adventure. I wasn't sure what Hatha was or even if I really was going to teach afterwards. I just knew yoga came from India and I wanted to learn at the source. 

How your definition of yoga/yoga practice itself has changed over time:

I used to be a lot more concerned about alignment and trying to achieve really difficult asanas. I was constantly thinking "am I doing this right?" and "am I teaching this right?" I have learned so much from teaching yoga for a few years and from taking advanced yoga trainings at Asheville Yoga Center. All of my experience has really broadened my definition and practice of yoga. I don't believe in perfectly aligned or advanced poses as the goal of yoga. I keep practicing it and learning more about it because it continues to have a positive impact on my life. 

Your number 1 insight/lesson learned from yoga:

Every body and every journey is different. Yoga is about feeling better, being kinder and more mindful. Yoga is different for everyone and your practice can totally change and grow along with your body and your life over time.

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Julia Haman, Yoga Guide

IG: @juliahaman8

I discovered yoga as a student at UNC Asheville when friends invited me to attend a class with them. However, I didn't start practicing regularly until few years later when a toxic relationship and my first year teaching elementary school found me stressed out and developing chronic health issues. Yoga and meditation became coping mechanisms that allowed me to continue living that way until they eventually empowered me to see the changes I needed to make. After a meditation retreat, I surprised even myself by leaving my partner, quitting my job and four months later starting yoga teacher training.

I have lived with yoga as my constant companion for six years now and throughout that journey my yoga practice has changed drastically. Figuring out how to live and work with chronic illness has been the greatest catalyst for the evolution of my practice. While it is amazing to be able to practice fun, athletic asanas every day, the real growth came for me during the months when my body seemed to let me down. Not having the energy to practice asana or engage in any of the physical activities that bring me so much of my joy for months on end has at times sent me into dark, seemingly inescapable spaces. It is during these times that I have been forced to find light in the stillness of yoga. My body's struggles have made me come to know yoga as a moment to moment practice of presence. My yoga practice has grown from a form of coping and exercise to a way of life and my foundation for joy and peace.

This journey has shown me that everything is fleeting. Yoga has grounded me through rough waters and taught me to soften into the simple joy of being.

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Ceiara Cartony, Yoga Guide

IG: @ceceyogini

How you discovered/started practicing yoga:

My first yoga class was when I was 17 on a mother/daughter date. We went to Bikram (heated yoga) class. I had little knowledge as to what to expect but I remember loving the "weirdness" of what this class offered! I enjoyed being super sweaty and remember having more balance and flexibility than I imagined! From this point on I was really interested in yoga becoming more regular of a practitioner when I was in college. 

After a few years of "on & off," I was in a bad relationship and started diving deeper into yoga classes because it was my only escape. At this point, the magic of yoga started taking over and it slowly became a regular way of life.

What hesitations/concerns you had & how you overcame them:

I don't recall having many hesitations. When I began trying inversions, I had a natural fear of falling so I used the wall until I was confident without it. I learned quickly in my practice to use props and to allow a lot of time before expecting results.

Why/how you transitioned from student to teacher:

I had been practicing yoga for about 10 years and decided after I had my first daughter, I wanted to pursue teacher training. I always had this goal in the back of my mind but it took a huge life shift to make it a reality! When I began teacher training, I realized I never had visions or aspirations of teaching but over the course of 11 months, I became certain that this is what I was supposed to be doing. 

How your definition of yoga/yoga practice itself has changed over time:

My practice started as a physical challenge. As I noticed the strength and flexibility I was gaining, it became a work-out goal. But, a wake-up call soon came with the start of teacher training! We were taught the traditions, meditation, philosophy, pranayama (breath), mantras (affirmations), mudras (hand postures), the importance of the Eight Limbs philosophy, yoga mythology, Ayurveda and the list goes on. I began to click with certain pieces of these practices and started reflecting them in my classes.

The feedback I received from students encouraged me to keep seeking more wisdom and sharing this with them. Although I still love a very physically powerful practice, I've learned to love Yin and restorative classes. When teacher training began, I committed to a daily practice but when I didn't fit in 60+ minutes everyday I was hard on myself. Now, I've evolved into loving each day as it comes and know that I'm choosing to not practice Asana (postures) some days because my body needs rest. I find reading philosophy/studies and practicing what I "preach" as something I enjoy and incorporate daily. It's no longer a "to-do" just to check it off my list. It's now been a 16 year journey and there is still so much more to tap into and learn of myself and this practice. 

Your number 1 insight/lesson learned from yoga:

Taking each day as you are and honoring/embracing this. We will constantly go through ups and downs, seeing through whatever comes upon us and living, learning, loving through it. Let go of all we cannot control, we are exactly where we are supposed to be.

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Tara (Becky) Eschenroeder, Yoga Guide

IG: @greatabidingyoga

I was lying on my mat in Supta Baddha Konasana; one hand holding my heart, the other resting over my solar plexus. Practice was beautiful... Flowing... Mindful... Intentional...

Delivered with compassion by my sweet friend Ali, I was surrounded by countless members of my "family" sharing breath... Sharing life... Sharing love.

I felt as high as a kite, soaring through a crisp, radiant, blue sky. Arriving in this moment was pure bliss... Floating. Then Ali spoke gentle words. ..."Welcome home." I melted so deeply into the earth there was no longer a separation. I melted so deeply into me... And it was okay.

A very large portion of my life has been spent taking care of others. This is where my heart is. Taking care of others gives me a sense of purpose. Helping people better their lives, renewing their visions, makes me feel strong. I would be lying, however, if I said I was taking care of and creating time for myself for all of these years. I would be lying if I said I have always found the time to "pause, breathe, and feel." Focusing on my own needs is not something I made a priority for a very long time. My ability to truly feel was muted by the effects of anti-anxiety drugs and put on the back burner so I could focus on helping and trying to save others. I strayed so far from me, so far from home.

When I begin practicing things started to come up... To open up. Sometimes it was scary; sometimes it was liberating. I remember Arlene, my beloved teacher, cradling me in her arms as I wept after my first intense heart opening practice.

"What was happening to me?" I wondered.

I was FEELING. I remember when I realized pranayama (breath) could be used to help stop heart palpitations and chest pain that resulted from anxiety. I was BREATHING. As I sit here writing, I am not on an elliptical or running down the sidewalk; even more, I am not wishing I was. I am able to PAUSE.

My practice is not perfect, nor do I ever want it to be. As I continue to navigate through this life, I am able to truly experience it more as opposed to numbing myself to it. As I pause, as I breathe, as I feel... I take one step closer to home... To me.

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Abigail Temoshchuk, Yoga Guide

IG: @atemoshchuk

How you discovered/started practicing yoga:

I started practicing yoga in college after a few injuries kept me away from the traditional exercise I was used to. A friend of mine had a grandmother who taught yoga, and suggested I give it a shot!

What hesitations/concerns you had & how you overcame them:

When I first started practicing, it was super hard for me to not compare myself to others in the classroom - "look how good their form is," "they're much stronger than I am," and things like that. It took a long time, and a lot of practice to turn that off and focus on my own mat. I found that closing my eyes and focusing on micro adjustments took up so much mental capacity that those other thoughts drifted away. There are times those thoughts still do pop up, but that's part of yoga - continuously learning and moving forward. 

Why/how you transitioned from student to teacher:

My regular studio back in DC offered a well-known training program in the area, and after hearing about it for a while, I decided to attend a Q&A. I originally joined teacher training more as a way to deepen my own personal practice, to learn more about the philosophy and other non-asana focused aspects of yoga, and not to teach. Once I started my training, and went through so many revelations in my personal life, I realized I wanted to the opportunity to share with other people, and allow them a chance students to connect with themselves the way I did. 

How your definition of yoga/yoga practice itself has changed over time:

Yoga when I first started was just another workout - something I did occasionally to stay flexible. Once I dove further into the other depths of yoga, it became a way for me to overcome struggles in my life, and then eventually grew into a way to interact with the world around me. Approaching each day, each interaction, with the mindset of a yogic philosophy - being mindful about what I do and say - has forever changed who I am. 

Your number 1 insight/lesson learned from yoga:

Each day is unique - for the world and for your mind and body. Don't expect what worked in your practice yesterday to work today. Pay attention, listen, and meet yourself where you are. 

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Erin Crowley, Yoga Guide

IG: @crowleigherin

The seed was planted when I was thirteen-years-old and living on the coast of Maine—far removed from any city or forward thinking. I remember watching a Mary-Kate & Ashley movie called The Challenge in which one of them played a role of a San Franciscan college student who wore Birkenstocks and practiced yoga. Though I did not conceptually know what yoga was at the time—with no exposure to yoga in our little, remote lobster-fishing village—I had an inherent feeling of love, belonging, peace, beauty and a longing for more. 

I found myself as a college freshman before I experienced yoga myself. Yoga Club opened my eyes to a new pathway of peace. As an eighteen-year-old, I was anxious, uncertain of my being and purpose, insanely self-critical, self-destructive and totally unaware of all these characteristics.

At my core, there was a light that had always shone if you could see past the lampshade of social anxiety, self-consciousness, perfectionism and the fear of being seen. Though I was a seemingly outgoing person, on the inside, my light had been smothered just enough to combust through the enlivening wind of yoga.

This was my biggest transformation and it occurred over the course of four collegiate years. The mental and spiritual changes occurred later. Over the course of four years, my off-the-wall opinions and reactions changed, my vision of the body I hated morphed into a respectful companionship between self and body, and my relationships with myself, others and the world around me grew roots in love and appreciation. 

After graduation, I was walking through the woods of Ault Park when I stumbled upon a soon-to-be new friend who introduced me to a teacher training starting at Vitality Cincinnati next weekend at a price I could afford and in the neighborhood I lived in.

At first, I didn’t think I would teach, I thought I was merely deepening my personal practice. As I grew with my spirited teacher training community, I quickly realized I was to share my learnings with the world by teaching.

During and for a year after teacher training, I was entirely consumed by this groundbreaking new style of life. I practiced at least an hour of yoga each morning. Most of the time, I would include inspirational videos from legends like Alan Watts. My life was light, loving, centered, all-flowing, beautiful, purposeful and adaptive to change. 

Over time—I began a new career in digital media, incorporated yoga workshops at music festivals, a series of Chair Yoga in the office and a new giveback project called Melting Yoga two nights a week. At first, it was entirely inspired. Eventually, I noticed my at-home practice decreased in frequency and duration. The more I shared yoga, the less I would practice. Though ironic, this is burnout and most teachers have or will experience it at some point in their journeys. 

Though some times were hard, this is when I realized I was adapting. My morning practice of an hour had transformed into a life of being instead. After practicing yoga for five, six and seven years—yoga had become a lifestyle. I found myself in meditative mindsets throughout the day, my reactions were fueled by presence instead of emotion, gentle stretches in short but frequent increments throughout the day kept my body in alignment and soon I came to realize something profound. 

My practice was not suffering—it was deepening. It was strengthening. It was consistent and ongoing. I had become yoga where as before, I was spending time practicing yoga. Now, yoga practiced life through me. 

I think this is the primary takeaway of my journey from student to teacher. You level up. You begin to use yoga in day-to-day life experiences. Your senses become heightened so that you know when to use breathing techniques, you know when your body is communicating with you and understanding what it needs. Yoga becomes so deeply integrated that you need not set aside tons of time to be in yoga, you no longer become frustrated when you do not have a chance to get on your mat. 

You are yoga. Your thoughts and emotions, your reactions and decisions, your awareness and love-giving are your practice. All damn day. And, it’s a beautiful discovery. 

Your journey of yoga will take on many faces. As will your journey of self. Yoga is the practice of becoming flexible not only in body but in mind and spirit. Yoga is the practice of letting go and allowing the marvelous waves of life to sail you into your greatest harbor yet.

How has your yoga practice changed over time? We’d love to know in the comments below!

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