Asheville Community Yoga Teacher of the Month – October 2015 [INTERVIEW]

I am incredibly honored to be featured as this month's Teacher of the Month at Asheville Community Yoga

asheville community yoga logo circleAsheville Community Yoga is a 501(c)3 nonprofit yoga center offering donation-based yoga classes, workshops, and trainings here in Asheville, NC. Their yoga community is supportive and strong and so inspiring! The donation-based structure of the weekly classes makes yoga accessible to anyone who wants it and the welcoming and inclusive atmosphere at ACY has made it one of Asheville's favorite places to practice yoga. I am grateful to be a part of the goodness that is Asheville Community Yoga.

BIG thanks and hugs to ACY staff, students, fellow teachers, and volunteers for everything you do to make the studio so awesome. Thanks for coming to my classes and sharing in this beautiful practice week after week. 

Below is an interview I did for the occasion. Hope you all enjoy reading a little bit about my yoga journey!

Love,

Lindsay 

Lindsay Fields has been with us from the beginning, teaching one of our most longstanding and loved classes, Tuesdays night’s “hot core” practice. Her classes are definitely challenging, but Lindsay’s demeanor is so authentically kind and her instructions so clear and intelligent, that even the toughest sequences seem accessible. If that wasn’t a reason enough to come to her class, the music might lure you in! Lindsay has great taste in music and her playlists are energizing and inspiring. Not only that, but Lindsay herself is an accomplished musician, and her students receive the soothing gift of her sweet chanting voice and ukelele songs at the start and finish of every class. We asked Lindsay some questions about her practice, and here’s what she had to say:

What was the experience with yoga that got you hooked?

lindsay-yoga-wesleyphotography-14

When I was 20 years old, I was very unhappy and depressed. I somehow intuitively knew that yoga was something that I needed. I don’t even remember where I first heard about yoga but it obviously intrigued me. So, I sought it out. In 1999 yoga classes were not as abundant as they are now (especially here in Asheville!). I would go to any free meditation lectures I heard about. I bought a yoga book and a DVD and started practicing at home. And then one day, I opened the phone book and found the closest yoga studio to my house and went to a class. It was a hot yoga class and I was hooked from that very first class. It was tough. It was hot. Most of all, it was DIFFERENT. I have always said that the experience of that first class felt like coming home. I think the missing piece, something that yoga offers that was lacking in other areas for me, is bhakti. Through the asana practice alone, I learned to move in prayer and in service, not even knowing to what at first – maybe to myself, to call my spirit back, to remember my wholeness. The practice is so rich and so deep. It’s the way yoga makes me feel about myself and my role in the world. Yoga is more than just physical exercise. For me, simply exercising my body left me feeling incomplete, and even “less-than,” because I always felt like I didn’t fit the mold, you know? Yoga has taught me that the mold is much bigger and I am so much more than my body or my successes/failures.

What inspires you to continue yoga?

I have been practicing for 16 years now and I am still learning. And the yoga tradition is still evolving. I heard someone say once that yoga is a “living practice.” I love that. The practice is always changing and growing as more and more people are coming to their mats. I think that’s exciting to think about and I definitely want to be a part of it.

What is your favorite pose?

Probably plank or crow. I spent a good portion of my early life being sick and feeling like I was at war with my body. Arm balances are something I never imagined I would be able to do. They have helped me feel strong in my body and make friends with it again.

What is your most challenging pose?

Handstand. I broke my toe falling out of handstand when I was first learning it. It is still scary for me.

What is your favorite time/place to practice?

Whenever and wherever I can! I am so busy these days and I am super grateful for any opportunity to sit, slow down, and reconnect. I love practicing outside.

How has yoga changed your life?

I tend to be anxious. Yoga has taught me that I am more than my anxiety and that within me is divinity and unconditional love. Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, it was with me all along. And that no matter what is going on in my life, no matter how much my outer world spins, I am ok. I am love. That is so comforting to me. I am less afraid as a result of my yoga practice. I am less anxious. This has had a huge impact on how I live my life and the choices I make.

Do you have a favorite yoga book or video?

Light on Yoga by BK.S. Iyengar and The Heart of Yoga by T.K.V. Desikachar are my 2 all-time favorite yoga books. I also love The Secret Power of Yoga Nischala Joy Devi for a women’s perspective on the yoga sutras.

What is your mantra?

Aham Prema – I am Divine Love

Do you have a passion other than yoga you’d like to share about?

Music! I began playing music again about 1 1/2 years ago when I picked up a little ukulele at a local music store. I was obsessed at first and now my ukulele and singing and mantra are like food for me – something I do every day because it is so nourishing. I really want to be playing music more. In addition to playing for my weekly yoga classes, I’d love to be playing for other people’s yoga classes, collaborating for a bhakti vinyasa workshop or kirtan, writing songs and playing with a band, and teaching people to play music. I have lots of ideas and big plans for the future for sure.

I Was On The Radio!

asheville yoga show logoI recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Asheville Yoga Show host, Mike Hiers, to talk about some of my favorite topics – yoga and Asheville. He even let me bring my ukulele! It was super fun and even though it was not my best vocal performance by any stretch (only got 1 take and I was nervous), I'm so glad I did it. The show originally aired on Independant Asheville RadioNow, it's available as a podcast here. I have also posted it below. Just hit play. 🙂 

Listen to the end for a surprise announcement. Many thanks to Mike for having me on the show. Enjoy!

P.S. Please check out some of the other interviews. They are all available for free on the Asheville Yoga Show buzzsprout podcast page. We are really lucky to have so many wonderful yoga teachers here in the Asheville area. 

5 Years Ago

yoga teacher vision board5 years ago this month I taught my first yoga class.

I had just completed a 200 hour Hot Yoga teacher training and I couldn't wait to share the wealth of knowledge I had accumulated (Look out Asheville! Here comes Lindsay Fields, RYT200!). The class was held in a gym and we used space heaters and homemade door draft blockers to heat the room. I had a carefuly curated playlist and flyers I designed myself. Most of the students in that class consisted of my friends and family. And it was pretty great, if I do say so myself. 

5 years ago this month I was ready. I felt fresh, optimistic, and excited.

What I would encounter following that first class, was more challenging than I expected. Starting a new yoga class, in a new location, in a different style than was was already established here in Asheville, and all with a non-existent advertising budget, was not easy. It was lot of hard work and often met with disappointment, questions, and lessons.  

In the last 5 years I have had many classes where no students showed up. I've been "let go" by yoga studios and gyms. I have felt frustrated, misunderstood, criticized, ridiculed, and even wronged at times and I have made plenty of mistakes myself. 

So, why continue? Moreover, how can I continue and maintain the purity and authenticity of yoga without being colored by the negative expereinces? 

Without a doubt, it has been my personal practice that has kept me grounded and honest. Meditation, self reflection, yamas and niyamas, discipline, equanimity, letting go of attachment, friendliness, and compassion are more than words I memorized for a teaching certificate, they are my life. When offering a class or workshop I consider it for a while first. Before I begin a new project or class, I meditate and get clear about my intentions. I remind myself of why I practice yoga and what led me to that first teacher training. I consider my students and I am careful where I choose to teach and what people/businesses I work with.

And I think maybe the negative experiences are part of the yoga. They are the teachers, my practice being reflected back at me. 

Yes, there have been bumps along the way, but those bumps in my path have led me to treasured friendships, more teacher trainings, a deeper personal practice, and a life I truly love. Through it all, I have always enjoyed leading yoga classes. Whether to 1 person or 30, I always leave with a big ol' YES in my heart. 

So, 5 years later, a little older, and perhaps wiser. How do I feel about teaching yoga? 

Grateful. Settled. Inspired. 

With Love, 

Lindsay