YOGI OF THE MONTH
November 2017 - Sharon Topping
What first brought you to yoga and how long have you been practicing?
I first started yoga in 2010 after foot surgery. Because four toes were fused, I ended up with quite a bit of balance loss. I didn’t want to weave and stumble through the rest of my life so yoga seemed a good choice. It turned out to be a great one for me, but certainly not easy. It took me over a year to be able to do any of the “warrior” poses without holding onto a chair, but eventually yoga worked and I could do the poses without help. In 2013, my husband and I retired to Deltaville, which I had left 40 years ago after graduating high school. The first thing I did was look for a yoga class and found Susan---one of the best things I’ve done since arriving here. She’s a great yoga teacher and provides such a wonderful learning environment.
What is/are your intentions for your yoga practice?
My intentions are two-fold. First, I want to strengthen my body. Given that I am in my 70's (only beginning 70s!), strength and flexibility are super important. While trying to accomplish that goal, I have learned so much about my body especially as it ages. That’s important since you need to know your strengths but also you limitations to age gracefully, if there is such a thing. My second intention is to remain mentally healthy. I have been surprised over the years how yoga contributes to my psychological balance.
What is your favorite pose and why?
Definitely pigeon for the deep stretch in the hips and the relaxation in the upper body it provides.
What is your favorite class at InsideOut Yoga?
I can’t decide between Breathe & Stretch Restorative and Slow Flow. They’re both my favorite.
How has the practice of yoga influenced your life?
My goodness, there are so many ways I can hardly count them. For one, it has certainly made me a better person----much more compassionate to myself and others. This is especially true when considering my body, which is aging and requires lots of compassion and care now. Furthermore, I love the idea that yoga is not about competition and comparison to others in the class, but as Susan often emphasizes, “no pain, no pain.” This definitely applies to me right now since I am using yoga to rehab a rotator cuff injury. Avoiding pain is important but also is the fact that at the moment my practice isn’t a pretty sight. It’s reassuring to me to know that during class everyone is concentrating so hard on their practice that my problems don’t stand out. However, I’m not sure about the first couple of classes after the injury when moaning and groaning was coming from my mat.
What advice would you have for a beginning yoga student?
I would tell them to look at yoga not as a common exercise class but as a lifetime experience, one that allows you to grow physically and mentally regardless of age. I would also add that the love of yoga might not happen overnight, so stick with it until you have an understanding of its benefits and joys. Then make the decision to stay or go.
What is your occupation?
My husband and I are both retired college professors. I taught and researched inter-organizational behavior and strategy, which is very simply the study of organizations and how they behave (identify, collaborate, compete, align) in the industry/world.
What activities do you enjoy?
I love to walk with my dog in the woods and on the beach, but also love to read and work with native plants in my yard and garden. I usually keep one project going, and right now it’s the restoration of an old family cemetery where my mother was recently buried as well as many of the people that I knew as a child. At this point, we are trying to identify graves and sometimes just find others.
What is your favorite thing about living in the Northern Neck or Middles Peninsula?
The peace and quiet above all, but the people and the beauty of the area as well.
Is there anything you want to add?
Susan is an exceptional teacher who shows so much interest in her students, her classes, and yoga, in general. I love that she is so curious and views learning as a lifetime event, which is reflected in her classes every day. I feel blessed to have found her.