August Volunteers of the Month: Gardening Dream Team!

If you’ve been to the studio in the last few months you’ve most likely noticed the beautiful landscaping that has popped up! This is all thanks to our amazing Garden Dream Team – Linda Thomasson, Judi Wagner, Caitlin Peters, Dana Mason, Wayne Scank, and Elizabeth Reis – that have volunteered their time to dig in the dirt and make our space more beautiful.

We’d like to highlight some of the folks who have really stepped up… read on!

Linda Thomasson

My yoga experience began the summer of 2016. I found Asheville Community Yoga on the internet, and it had a welcoming tone to it’s website. The staff and teachers were very friendly and helpful. Immediately, I could sense that the community was much more than exercise and stretching. In spite of my awkwardness and inflexibility, I could tell that if I stayed with it, my body, mind and spirit would all benefit.

I like to volunteer because I am so grateful for the community and the opportunities it offers to everyone. Everyone is encouraged in their practice of yoga. Such a powerful, uplifting place to spend time.

My spouse and I are full-time RV’ERS, living the good life of travel. We enjoy hiking, biking and gardening. But we have chosen Asheville as our summer destination. And the yoga community was a big factor in that decision.

 

Judi Wagner

I began studying kundalini yoga in the mid 70s and spent some time in an ashram in Baltimore. It has been feeding my body and spirit ever since. When I moved to Weaverville in2009 I found Donna Hollinshead teaching out of her home and it was a perfect fit. She introduced me to Asheville Community Yoga and it’s been a love affair ever since. The space is so pleasing and it is wonderful to have such a diverse buffet of classes to choose from. Gardening is my other many decades passion and putting the 2 together is like a rainbow. I also look forward to spending time helping with the juice bar as vibrant health is one of my guiding principles.

 

Caitlin Peters

How has yoga changed your life?

How has yoga not changed my life is more like it! Yoga has inspired more positive changes in my life than I can count.

How did you find Asheville Community Yoga?

A friend brought me to one of Michael’s classes in 2009.

What inspired you to volunteer?

I enjoy digging in the dirt, so when the opportunity arose to garden for ACY, I thought, ‘Aha! Just the way I’d love to give back!’

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

I also have a passion for mental health counseling and animal-assisted therapy.

 

Dana Mason

How has yoga changed your life?

For starters, yoga has changed everything about my life! I’ve learned to breathe most importantly. I feel better in my body and make more conscious decisions and actions off of the mat. Through my practice I am learning to become my best self.

How did you find Asheville Community Yoga?

I found Asheville Community Yoga when I needed it most. I had established a strong home practice and stopped practicing with others. After a while I started to realize that I was missing out on the benefits of practicing in community. Upon my first class I knew that it was the studio for me and I’ve been a regular ever since.

What inspired you to volunteer?

I was looking for ways to give back and be more involved with the studio. When Wendy said that she needed help gardening it seemed like a good fit for me since I love being outside and am naturally good with plants.

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

When I’m not on my mat, I’m foraging for plants and building terrariums. I also love sewing, dancing and hiking with my by beagle Esther.

 

Wayne Scank

How has yoga changed your life?

It has become a genuine spiritual home, full of love, friendship, caring environment which truly sees my “God Within.” It is giving me “tools” to deal with my emotions, thoughts and the often dichotomy of struggles within and without. I am less reactive emotionally, more focused (although, I constantly have to monitor myself), and more comfortable with silence and being on my own.

How did you find Asheville Community Yoga?

In February of 2015, I decided to begin classes at ACY. After all, I was driving by the studios, multiple times a day. I began taking Mary Jamison’s Qi Gong, gentle yoga and Joshua’s meditation classes. In about August 2016, I began attending workshops and a variety of classes at ACY.

What inspired you to volunteer? 

Initially, I volunteered at the former location of Zen & Now. I primarily did this to get credit for classes. But, alas; I quickly discovered – once again – that my heart is not into retail. I also pined for being in the studios. I began helping with a variety of tasks around the studio and cleaning bathrooms and floors. I was cleaning twice a month, but that recently ended. I began seeing needs to be filled in landscaping. It seems I have moved from “What’s in it for me?” to “How can I contribute to the Center?” As we have expanded and gotten busier as a Center, I began to see areas – particularly gardening and landscaping – where perhaps I can take some  of the work off the staff. Now, I see I am building deeper community by helping out, contributing, offering my skills. I am beginning to love being outdoors (although it is very hot out there). I sometimes pull weeds out of the berms in the parking lot, because the weeds are there.

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

When I was in late junior high school/the start of high school, I was writing poems and journals, as well taking journalism and creative writing classes. I also began photographing nature, abstracts, rusty metal and other fine art subjects.  Currently, I photograph more than write. I have been more drawn to abstracts in the last two years, particularly the graffiti in the River Arts District. I have worked in photography and reporting positions. I freelanced for a part of The Roanoke Times for several years. I have sold images to Leisure Media360 (in Roanoke, VA), which at times has had the account of the Smith Mountain Lake Chamber of Commerce’s visitors guide.

 

Elizabeth Reis

How has yoga changed your life?

The practice of yoga has helped center me, and approach life in a more gentle way. Yoga helps me see how everything is connected in a subtle beautiful way. It has helped me approach my life with more patience, grace, and understanding. Life is like a yoga pose, sometimes just a tiny little tweak in movement, or awareness can make all the difference in the world.

How did you find Asheville Community Yoga?

I found out about Asheville Community Yoga four years ago when I moved here from New York City. I came to one of Michael’s Warm Vinyasa classes with a friend. I was immediately in awe of the sense of community that filled the room, how powerful that felt. I have been coming back ever since.

What inspired you to volunteer?

Volunteering has always been a big part of my life. I like giving back to a place that gives so much – selflessly – to the community. I also really admire Wendy, and all that she does for ACY so of course, I like to help her out. I feel like if I’ve got the energy, why wouldn’t I do something positive and generous with my time. Life is what you make it.

My passions outside of class: I am a Pre-K teacher, I work with 4 and 5 year olds and I get to share many “firsts” with them. I get to be their first teacher, and hopefully introduce them to a lifelong innate passion for learning. When I am not teaching I like to hike, kayak, go camping, bake, make jewelry, and organic beauty products and play with my two cats and dog.