YOGI OF THE MONTH
March 2014 - Debi Isbrandtsen
What first brought you to yoga and how long have you been practicing?
Yoga came to me at a time when I had become very bored working out at the Y and I was looking for a change. In December of 2010, I bid on a yoga package Susan was offering at the YMCA’s annual Christmas fundraiser and I won! I committed to attending all 8 classes on my punch card and I was hooked! I’ve been taking classes from Susan on a fairly regular basis (two to three times per week), except when we are away on our sailboat.
What is/are your intention(s) for your yoga practice?
To be as strong as I possibly can while working on balance and flexibility. Due to the constant chattering in my brain, I have looked at yoga mostly as a form of exercise and I want to work on calming my mind and becoming more focused on and off the mat. Susan still has so much to teach me and I hope I can continue practicing with her for many more years.
What is your favorite pose and why?
The Pigeon pose because I have very tight hips and a tight lower back. I had low back problems for many years and finally had surgery to fuse L4 and L5. I have never been a flexible person and after surgery my back became even more inflexible. There are certain poses I do not do because they cause me pain and “crunch” my lower back. I have learned however, that sometimes my back pain is due to very tight hamstrings and hip muscles and stretching this area with Pigeon pose provides relief.
What is your favorite class at InsideOut Yoga?
I like Steady Flow once or twice per week because it’s a perfectly paced class for me, but when I want more of a challenge, I like Power Flow. It’s quite strenuous, but I feel really great once it’s over and I am so glad that I did it. I never thought I would be able to complete that level of class, but after a lot of “practice” I can hang in with the best of them.
How has the practice of yoga influenced your life?
Yoga makes me slow down for an hour a couple of times per week. I am definitely Type A and am in a constant state of motion, both physically and mentally. I think yoga helps me reduce stress and it really has helped me become stronger. My flexibility has improved as well. When I leave a yoga class I feel totally energized.
What advice would you have for a beginning yoga student?
Commit to a month of at least twice a week classes and you will learn to love yoga. Just taking a class or two isn’t enough to realize the benefits. At first you may feel intimidated by the poses or by the fact that other people may be able to do more than you can, but you learn not to compare yourself to others and to just focus on where you are in your practice. I am learning to accept that my body will never “stretch or bend” into certain positions due to its limitations and the fact that I’m not twenty anymore; and that it is okay! I have gotten stronger and more flexible than I ever thought possible.
What is your occupation?
I have been blessed to be able to have always been a housewife, a stay at home mom and now a grandma to my sweet, beautiful one and half year old Olivia.
What activities do you enjoy?
I enjoy getting together with my “beading” friends to make jewelry. I’ve just gotten a new sewing machine and have some projects that I am working on. My husband and I spend a lot of time sailing on our boat, “River Rat.” We also love having friends visit most weekends in the summertime and enjoy cooking, drinking great wines and spending time on the beautiful waters that surround us. Most of all, I love every precious minute I spend with my family: my children, my grandchild and my husband.
What is your favorite thing about living in the Northern Neck?
We have made some really great friends and are especially lucky to have awesome neighbors who are our dearest of friends. We get together almost weekly and have such a great time. Living here is like being on vacation. Coming from Virginia Beach, I also love the slower pace the Northern Neck offers. Traffic is almost nonexistent except in the summertime, but I can deal with that. The absolute best thing is where we live on Yopps Cove, a part of Carter’s creek. Our house faces southwest and we get the most spectacular sunsets just about every night.
Is there anything you want to add?
Susan is the by far the best yoga teacher around! She cares so much for her students. She doesn’t want anyone to hurt themselves and is always telling us “no pain, no pain.” She reminds us not to compare ourselves to others because our bodies are all built differently and to find a real balance between “effort and ease.” She is truly an amazing yoga instructor, person and now a great friend.