Our January Student of the Month is JR Smith! He is a generous community member who is a real pleasure to have around the studio. You can find JR here practicing most days of the week and coming in on his free time to help out. He volunteers to help with every event that we host and has had a large hand in our gardening efforts. It’s not only his time that he so graciously gives, he donated a large number of plants to our gardens and was seen last month hauling in several bags of groceries for the Manna Food Bank food drive. To hear more about JR read on…
My yoga practice actually began with martial arts a long time ago. The warm-up stretches we did in martial arts were all yoga related. Years later a friend asked if I would go to a yoga class with her and I was into it from that moment on. I found Asheville Community Yoga through a friend. Asheville Community Yoga embraced me from the moment I walked through the door. Everyone there makes you feel like family. After dealing with the troubled world we live in, ACY feels like my safe place to land. Yoga for a Healthy Spine with Wendy was the jumping off point for getting back into my yoga practice. An accident confined me to a wheelchair for a few months. The mind/body connection within yoga philosophy is partly responsible for getting me through the ordeal and walking again. I believe we are not what has happened to us but what we do about it. After my accident I did not believe I could do yoga any longer, but after that first practice I knew that we are only limited by our own minds. I have a metal plate and several screws in my foot, so my foot has limited flexibility. I have to modify some poses to accommodate my body. Tadasana (Mountain) is my favorite pose. When you do it right and you’re grounded, there’s a flowing connection through the entire body. It becomes a physical meditation. A theme that runs through my life is embracing every moment, because life can change in a second.
Sunrise outside on a beach or near any body of moving water is my favorite time and place to practice. That always provides a peaceful moment in time for me. Right now I am reading Yoga of the Subtle Body by Tias Little. It’s an exploration of yoga philosophy and how it ties in with our physical bodies. I’m listening to Anugama, Shamanic Dream at the moment. Elena will sometimes play it in one of her practices, very calming. My passion other than yoga is glassblowing. I have blown glass for over 25 years. Most times its a team effort with everyone moving as one, and when you’re in the moment, you’re completely absorbed by the process. It’s an immediate and a consuming art. Taking a molten liquid and creating a form with it is mesmerizing and mindful….. a form of flowing meditation. My mantra is “Onoro la Luce di Dio in Tutti le Persone” (Honor the Light of God in All People). Its a tattoo I have written in Italian. My maternal grandparents were from Sicily and the language is a nod to them. Three words to describe myself are Creative, Adventurous and Intuitive
My spirit animal is a wolf. Wolves as well as dogs are loyal to their pack and yet are an individual within the pack. An embarrassing moment in a yoga class was me doing Downward Facing Dog and having the back of my shorts rip wide open. I found it funny, and so did those behind me, but I finished practice and had a good laugh.
JR is truly dedicated to his practice both on and off of the mat. His enthusiasm is shared with many as he often brings friends, neighbors and family members in to try out Asheville Community Yoga. He is a source of inspiration for staff and teachers alike! Thank you, JR!