At Anjali we feel the act of love can be experienced and shared in many ways. It may be self love, love for a family member, partner, child, friend, or pet. Our February student of month, Shelley Ratterman exudes an obvious love for others and self love through her practice. We are so happy to share her words of wisdom. May your February (and all months) be filled with “self love and love of Self.”

1) Why and how did you come to practice yoga?

I started practicing yoga in my early 20’s when I was new in my career as a clinical social worker and looking for additional ways to release stress, find balance, and to take care of myself in a draining job.  I was working as a hospice social worker and discovered that yoga, meditation, and eastern philosophy and spirituality helped me to manage the intensity of working with death and dying, especially at such a young age.

I continued to practice yoga in my 20s, 30s, and into my mid 40s, and my practice has deepened and evolved as I have.  Yoga has been a modality of healing for me in so many ways.  I love that it is a physical practice that encompasses all aspects of the human experience: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.

2) What does your practice mean to you?

Yoga has brought me home to myself, and to my Self.  This has been an incredible journey.  I grew up in a family completely out of touch with emotions and with the body.    My mother died when I was a teenager, and I was full of unresolved grief.  Yoga is one of the ways I accessed emotions that were frozen and stuck in my body.  I discovered a strength, grace, and balance in myself that were embodied, not just thoughts.  It helped me to nurture a relationship with my body that is accepting, friendly, full of gratitude, and not too serious… a feat in this culture!

I would credit yoga for helping me to navigate the challenges of life with a deeper awareness, equanimity, and resilience.  I have cried tears of grief and anger after deep back-bending postures, found my rock-solid center and grace in balancing postures, and felt deep release and a sense of safety in forward bends.  Going to class often feels like hitting the “reset” button… releasing accumulated tension, breathing deeply, accessing energy, re-finding my center, and oftentimes hearing that “still, small voice within” that is my inner compass and guidance.

3) What would you like to tell others about the practice of yoga?

I would say that yoga can truly be helpful for everybody and every body.  It is a wonderful physical practice to promote health and wellness, and it can also be instrumental to the health of our mind, emotions, and spirit.  As a psychotherapist, I have seen yoga help with healing from trauma, depression, and anxiety as well as healing physical injury and patterns of chronic tension.  If I live to triple digits, I may not be running any longer, but I plan to still be practicing yoga!

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