YOGI OF THE MONTH
December 2013 - Anna Mendez
What first brought you to yoga and how long have you been practicing?
6 years ago, after the last of many hospitalizations for anorexia, bulimia, and exercise addiction I started working with a dietitian who strongly encouraged me to begin practicing yoga as a way to make peace with my physical body. There was a yoga studio across the street from her office and I finally agreed to go to a class with her. I walked into that studio and was greeted with a wall of mirrors! At that time in my life mirrors were not something I could handle and I almost walked out right then and there. My dietitian and the yoga instructor encouraged me to stay. I stuck it out, but spent many months basically facing the back of the studio so I could avoid the mirrors. Life is funny... now I MISS having mirrors when I practice because they help me keep my alignment. I practiced regularly for years but took a hiatus following a significant ankle/foot injury. I rolled out my mat again when my husband and I moved to the Northern Neck in August and I found InsideOut Yoga.
What is/are your intention(s) for your yoga practice?
I have so many! To integrate my physical, emotional, and spiritual bodies. To appreciate and explore what my physical body is capable of in a non-competitive way. To exercise my physical body in a safe setting, with healthy boundaries that discourages excess. To learn to accept my limitations gracefully. To experience the present moment without regret for the past or anxiety for the future.
What is your favorite pose and why?
Sirsasana! I love the change of perspective it gives me and, like many inversions, it is invigorating. I regularly find a quite space at work in the middle of the day and "kick up" to help counteract the stress and exhaustion that sometimes finds me over the course of my day.
Who or what inspires your practice at InsideOut Yoga?
Kirsten, and all the students who regularly come to the 6:15am Monday class. Anyone who can put up with me that early in the morning is inspiring!
How has the practice of yoga influenced your life?
Yoga has helped me work toward balance in my life. It is one of the many pieces of the puzzle that have helped me make peace with my physical body. It allows me to work toward full recovery from my eating and exercise disorders. Yoga gives me a place to safely practice sitting with discomfort without having to "do" anything about it. Yoga has taught me to breathe and has helped me find peace and strength even when my head is filled with chaos and doubt.
What advice would you have for a beginning yoga student?
Start where you are, not where you think you should be... or where you were in the past, or where you want to be in the future. You are right here, right now. And right now, right here, you are ok.
What is your occupation?
I'm a social worker. I help people successfully make the transition out of the state psychiatric hospital (in Williamsburg) and back into community life.
What activities do you enjoy?
Hanging out with my husband, Dave, and our rescue-dog, Smokey. Reading, listening to NPR, drinking coffee, running, kayaking, and hiking.
What is your favorite thing about living in the Northern Neck?
Sitting on our dock watching the sunset! Nothing is more amazing, at least outside of the Shenandoah Valley ;-) (You can take the girl out of the mountains, but not the mountains out of the girl!)
Is there anything you want to add?
I am so incredibly grateful to have found such am amazing group of yogis so close to home. I would never have expected that moving to Weems would lead me to such a wonderful yoga community.