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Stephanie O'Hara

How did yoga become a part of your life? What led you to a devoted yoga practice?

I have been practicing yoga for 20 years. I remember my mom doing yoga on tv with Lilias Folan when I was a young kid. I also remember doing yoga with her at that time, so that was my first exposure. Growing up as a gymnast, I was always stretching, flipping, twisting and handstanding, so the concept of yoga fit into my repertoire of interests. It wasn't until I was on summer break from college that I truly found yoga at a little studio in my hometown in Michigan. I began to practice regularly and found this as a way to deal with the aches and pains of a former gymnast as well as a way to deal with stress. Over the course of the next several years, my practice was on and off, but I always found a way back to it. For the last 9 years, my practice has been completely devoted and what keeps bringing me back to my mat is the way that yoga makes me feel so alive -- mentally, physically and spiritually. 

What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about yoga? 

That you have to be flexible or be able to touch your toes to do yoga, or that you have to have a certain body type or build to do yoga. Truly, one of the most beautiful aspects of yoga is that it transcends age, gender and body type and most physical limitations. All you really need is a desire to come to your mat and breathe. 

 

Name 3 non-negotiables in your life

1. Meditation or prayer - i need time to quiet my mind and turn inward daily. Our minds are constantly processing ideas, thoughts, feelings and emotions. Finding the space in between the thoughts through meditation/prayer is so liberating! 2. Reading - from the time I was a young child reading has been a big part of my life. I read to learn, I read to escape and I read to grow as a lifelong learner. I am a former high school English teacher, so reading and writing have been a large part of my professional life as well. I love the feeling of getting lost in a book, it can be very meditative for me. 3. Focus on family - as a mother of 4 children with a very active family, it is very important to me to share space together and spend quality time. I hope to instill in my children the idea of unconditional love and the importance of loving every day.

 

What is the pose that challenges you the most and why?

Warrior 3 for sure. I am not sure why it is challenging for me. I know that there is a physical component related to my hip flexors, but maybe there is some other emotional reason that I have yet to uncover. I do know that I get a little stressed when I do this pose, but I remind myself to keep at the practice, keep moving forward on the journey and to celebrate the process~

 

One mantra to share with students

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu - may this world be established with a sense of well being and happiness. Or, may all beings be happy and free. For me, this sums it up...seek the well being for all beings, and life will work itself out.

About the Author

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