We are so happy to have Elise Marzluff as our September student of the month! Elise brings a focused intensity to class every time she comes to the mat. Both teachers and students are inspired by Elise’s consistent breath, and command of her practice. She shared her thoughts with us:

Why and how did you come to practice yoga?

I began practicing yoga in my late twenties. I was in grad school at the time, and the combination of stress and a sedentary lifestyle had begun to wear me down in every way. I had never had any interest in sports and had always failed to stick with any sort of exercise, but yoga worked for me. I liked the non-competitve nature of yoga, which allowed me to focus on myself and not worry about everyone else, and I appreciated that there was so many types of yoga to choose from. I quickly gravitated to Ashtanga yoga because of the physical and mental intensity and challenge it presented.

What does your practice mean to you?

My yoga practice keeps me from losing my mind. Often, that one hour of practice is the only hour of the day in which I can get my brain to shut up about all the things I need to do and let me just relax. I can’t get to that place through silent meditation; for me, yoga is that meditation. The steady rhythm of the practice helps me to shut down my thoughts and focus simply on breathing and moving and being alive. Yoga gives me a mental recharge like nothing else I’ve found.

My yoga practice is also important in keeping my ego in check. Although I’ve never been into competitive sports, I quickly realized that I am very competitive with myself, and that is a trait that often does not serve me well in my life. Yoga has shown me over and over again that I am not perfect, and I will never be perfect, and there is nothing I can do that will make me perfect, and I can be ok with that. There are some poses that I will never fully achieve simply because of the way my body is put together. Accepting that fact has humbled me in the best way. I continue to work hard on those poses, but without being focused solely on achieving perfection in them, I can actually enjoy the process and the journey. It’s a lesson I strive to apply to other aspects of my life, and being reminded of that lesson in each yoga practice makes that work a little easier.

What would you like to tell others about the practice of Yoga?

Yoga is a one-stop shop for physical exercise and mental therapy. In one short hour, you can work your muscles and you can settle your mind. And best of all, yoga is empowering, because you are the one doing both of those things, all by yourself.

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