The sweet Colleen Koehler is our Student of the Month for June. Colleen is a true practitioner of yoga. Her practice isn’t just physical, but also contemplative. She chews on the truths her practice reveals to her and she puts her yoga into action not just on the mat but in the world. She brings the energies of joy and playfulness to the places she goes and the people she meets. What a great quality to have considering that many of the people she interacts with on a daily basis are children! She is a true living example of Yoga in action. Colleen’s gentle presence makes her a true pleasure to be around, and her dedication to her yoga practice is clear as she can often be seen journaling around the studio after classes. She’s active in our community as well, showing up for events and happenings around the studio.
An Ode to ACY
I came to Asheville on a journey; a journey to face some of the deepest and most challenging aspects about myself and my relationship to the world. I had dabbled with yoga up to this point in my life, but never anything serious. In fact, what kept me from exploring it more was this long-standing belief that I always needed to be moving, doing, and pushing myself to my physical limitations. Yoga, therefore, was terrifying, because it made me have to sit, to surrender to a world that suggested less intensity, to allow myself to go slow and be still. I wouldn’t know who I was without this constant discipline of movement. To let myself do yoga with the mindful awareness that it asked of me, and to actually allow myself to slow down when the spirit requested that attention, seemed too daunting as I would have to face my darkest fear: That without the disciplines of my current life, I would have nothing, be nothing. And so I decided, “I don’t really like yoga that much.” Didn’t I, or did I just not want to face its pure and wise honesty? When I got to Asheville, I was doing a lot of work to heal many of my internal demons and wounds, and during this time, I was stripped of a lot of my previous coping mechanisms, including the rigidity of old exercise behaviors. I was forced to open my mind to new ways of thinking and being if I longed to live with any sort of gratification in life. It had been a long time since I had stretched my body, or in fact, payed much mind to it (in a healthy manner, that is). And when was the last time I respected it? I longed to return to some sort of use of my body… and then, somebody introduced me to Asheville Community Yoga. I attended my first class about a year and a half ago, and since then have come almost every week, several times a week when I can. What began as a means for me to finally move my body, evolved into something much greater than I would have ever imagined. I was introduced to feeling my body, to being still through the pains of self-dissatisfaction, to the power one smile has in a room full of strangers, to the magic such simple movements have on the grace of the soul, and, most significantly of all, to a community where I would feel safe and welcome every time I walked through the door. I still struggle with being still, with sitting with my own mind, with knowing who I am, but this is why I keep coming. Sometimes the most challenging classes are the ones with the least chair poses, boats, and vinyasas, and the best yoga classes can be the most painful (emotionally), because they show me what I’m capable of getting through—and I’m beginning to learn that I am capable of much more than I often allow myself to believe. While I still love my warm vinyasas, my journey now is to continue to explore other ways of moving, of feeling, and of being, and for sure, yoga will help lead me on this path. I cannot thank Asheville Community Yoga enough for all it has offered to me through the most life-changing months of my 21 years. They have offered me a place to have fun, to grow, to connect, to learn, to move, to be still, and to come Home.
Colleen, thanks for choosing Asheville Community Yoga to be your yoga home, we are so grateful to have you as a member of our yoga family, and are so lucky to walk this path by your side.