December Student of the Month: Taylor Mitchell

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Meet our December Student of the Month, Taylor Mitchell! Taylor’s presence and practice has been a great blessing to the studio. She is a great and dedicated volunteer in multiple capacities, but it is the precious gift of her gentle and sincere presence that stand out the most. Taylor is the rare type of person to be able to fill a room with calm, simply by being there.

Here’s what Taylor has to say about herself and her practice:

What was the experience with yoga that got you hooked?
Having to share yoga with kids pushed me to learn more about it.  Actually doing yoga with kids and seeing how much they benefited from it and loved it, inspired me to start a more regular practice.

What inspires you to continue yoga?
Every day that I’m still not relaxed or at ease in my body/mind, every day that I see suffering in myself and others, I’m inspired to continue to do yoga.

What is your favorite pose?
I have a lot of favorite poses.  I remember one day in Leaflin’s class we did the airplane pose.  It was a fairly full class, and she mentioned how sometimes having many people around us doing the pose, can help us to balance.  I felt as though I was being held up by the group, and it was one of the greatest experiences I’ve had with a pose.

What is your favorite time/place to practice?
My favorite time to practice is not any certain time of day, but more what I might call “difficult” times.  If I’m feeling particularly sensitive, emotional, or tired, doing yoga at these times seems to shift something inside of me, and it reminds me that these states aren’t permanent.  Especially at these times, it feels like yoga is a new experience waking me up to life.  In terms of a favorite place to practice, I’m finding that doing yoga in a studio with others is motivating me and it’s starting to have a feeling of coming home to myself.

How has yoga changed your life?
My mom tells me I went to pre-school in an ashram and was taught by yogis.  I don’t remember this and have no idea in what ways that experience has influenced me, but it took another twenty years before I started to do yoga again. Even then I seemed to have a strong aversion to it.  Sometimes we don’t do the things which are healthiest for us, but luckily I kept being introduced to it and discovered that yoga makes you feel more alive.  Four years ago I contracted Lyme disease from a tick and wasn’t able to get rid of it through antibiotics. The journey of healing has taught me about fear of sickness and attachment to the body.  The disease has helped me to experience greater health than I ever have in my life, by changing my diet and starting a yoga routine.  It’s not until starting to do yoga more regularly that a feeling of overwhelming tiredness in my body has gone away. Yoga is helping me to heal mentally, physically and emotionally. I believe it’s through a more gentle approach of loving-kindness that I’m becoming more emotionally stable and that through this, the disease doesn’t have such a hold of me. Yoga is helping me to become stronger in myself, so I’m finding my interactions with others are becoming healthier and more positive.

Is there a recurring theme that runs through your yoga practice?
Relax and trust.  I have trouble relaxing the body and mind.  Recently starting a regular yoga routine, I’ve discovered that yoga helps me to trust and to know that life is supporting me. While I do yoga I feel something inside me let go of control a little bit. After I do yoga I feel more positive, and more capable of being aware of fears without being consumed by them.  There seems to be a softening through the practice and a way of seeing fear, pain, and sadness as friends helping me on the path.

If you could just share one practice that has helped you the most, what would it be?
Meditation.  Through meditation I’ve begun a journey of cultivating the mind and understanding myself more deeply.  It’s helping me start to take better care of myself (mentally and emotionally) so that I’m there more for others.

What is your current or all-time favorite song or artist for a yoga playlist?
Yoga has been part of a silent meditation routine I do daily, so I don’t yet have a personal playlist, but I enjoy listening to the playlists in yoga classes.  I was quite taken with a song from one of Sonya’s classes called Heart Sutra (by Wah!).

What is your mantra? 
“Open mind, open road.”  This is more of a life motto.  I had just finished a residency at a meditation retreat center and was about to leave for a road trip across the country.  My teacher wrote this down for me, and it continues to help me in my daily life.

Do you have a passion other than yoga you’d like to share about? 
I enjoy painting, dancing, cooking, gardening, flower arranging and just creating in general.  I love observing the beauty of nature and have a passion for playing with color and design.

Taylor, you are beautiful inside and out. We are so grateful to have you as a part of this community. Thank you for being you, and sharing yourself with all of us!!! Your peaceful presence is truly a gift.