YOGI OF THE MONTH

August 2019 - Lauren Leo

Lauren Leo.jpg

What first brought you to yoga and how long have you been practicing? 

I began practicing yoga about 17 years ago when I moved to Northern Virginia after grad school. I wouldn’t categorize it as a “practice” as I entered into it as another thing to do at the gym. A couple of years later, when enrolled in an executive coaching program, my teacher assigned specific yoga poses to people as a focused part of their development…lie on a yoga bolster three times per week to open your heart, practice standing poses to have more belly to develop courage, work on back bends to open yourself to vulnerability, etc. It was an awakening for me. In my effort to “practice” yoga to burn calories and be the best, I had totally missed the point of what yoga could bring to my life.

What is/are your intention(s) for your yoga practice? 

My specific intentions are almost always rooted in allowing myself to soften. It is hard for me not to fill every minute of the day with activity, productivity, nagging internal chatter, and focus on what’s next, so softening, being kind to myself, and letting go are often intentions for my practice. 

What is your favorite pose and why?  

As an active pose, I love half moon. It makes me feel grounded, strong, and purposeful. As a passive pose, I just melt into constructive rest. I can literally feel myself recharging in the pose. 

What is your favorite class at InsideOut Yoga? 

I’m going to be lame and say that I don’t have a favorite class. I attend power flow most frequently, but when I stumbled on the myofascial release class one Thursday, it was perfect for me in that moment. 

How has the practice of yoga influenced your life? 

Yoga has brought me connection. I feel internal connection to what I’m thinking and feeling and doing what makes sense for me in the moment. I feel connection to others and the community that yoga unites. 

What advice would you have for a beginning yoga student? 

Suspend judgment of yourself and what you think yoga might bring to you. Listen to your body instead of the voice that tells you what you should or shouldn’t or can or can’t do. 

What is your occupation? 

I worked at NASA for 15 years before moving to the Northern Neck two years ago to get out of the Northern Virginia craziness while our two daughters are still young. After climbing up the leadership ladder during those 15 years, when we moved here I started a company to get back to what I used to call “play work” in my mid-twenties, which for me is leadership coaching, training, and organization development. 

What activities do you enjoy? 

I love to spend time with my family, so most activities I truly enjoy involve them. I love cooking (and eating) a wide variety of cuisines. I love a great hike, particularly if it ends at a nice brewery with a delicious IPA. I enjoy moving my body and being grateful for all that it does. Sometimes that means a totally hardcore work out and other times that means a casual stroll on the beach or a restorative yoga class. I enjoy anything that gives me a good belly laugh.  I enjoy activities that keep the kid alive inside me, even though that embarrasses my eldest daughter to no end! 

What is your favorite thing about living in the Northern Neck or Middle Peninsula? 

My favorite thing is the sense of community. I like the one-finger steering wheel wave when passing a complete stranger while driving. I like that people actually stop to talk to each other at the grocery store. I like that people act in ways that show they care about each other rather than just saying they do. 

Is there anything you want to add? 

“On the path of awakening, keep going! Lots of little moments of practice will gradually and truly increase your contentment, kindness, and insight.” —Rick Hanson, Buddha’s Brain:  The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom