Student Highlight – January 2021
Meet Catherine Cowan
What first brought you to yoga and how long have you been practicing?
Like many of us working from home during this Covid pandemic, I found myself drinking more than before – my afternoon commute had turned into an extended cocktail hour. Something had to be done to incent me to give up my nightly glass (glasses?!) of red wine. I had also piled on a few extra pounds over the previous months – too much comfort food! Since moving to the area in May-19, I had driven past Etowah Valley Yoga studio countless times. While I had never done yoga before, I decided it would be a great replacement to cocktail hour – engaging in something incredibly positive for my body and my mind. Today marks almost 50 days of yoga and well over 60 classes. Physically, I feel better than I have in months, I sleep through the night and feel stronger mentally.
What is/are your intention(s) for your yoga practice?
Nothing profound here, I just want to feel better, look better as well as do something that gives me pleasure, boosts my mood, feeds my soul and provides a daily challenge.
What would you say to a student thinking about starting yoga?
Well since I am a new student of yoga – give it try. Be fearless. I know many are nervous about Covid – personally I only go to the studio and, when necessary, the grocery store – and that’s it! But many of classes are small – usually no more than 4 to 6 people – and it’s easy to maintain social distancing. And most folks wear a mask from the front door to their mats.
What is your favorite pose and why?
Savasana! Just teasing, but it does mean all the hard work is over and it’s time to congratulate myself on completing a class. I don’t have a favorite pose but I do have the ones I am working to perfect like pigeon, wheel and lizard. When I started yoga, I had zero balance but slowly its improving as my core strengthens – now I can hold tree, dancer, and am working on other balance poses.
I do strive to achieve the correct form for each pose before advancing to the next progression. My first yoga class was with Lisa and I was amazed at how well she was able to correct my positions just by describing how I should tweak my stance here and there. All done without having to touch me which is important during the ongoing pandemic. Lisa’s and later Angela’s direction gave me the confidence to keep trying and stay committed to the practice.
What is your favorite class at Etowah Valley Yoga?
It’s too difficult to pick a favorite. Angela’s early morning classes make for a great start to the day – she is always adding new positions and challenges to keep it interesting. After her class, I always feel longer, taller and stronger. After my first couple of weeks of doing traditional yoga, I worked up the courage to attend Earl’s hot yoga class. Wow, it was challenging but highly rewarding. The hot yoga courses are more athletic with the heat making you more sinewy and able to execute poses easier. Needless to say I am now hooked on hot yoga. Both Earl and Raquel make a noticeable effort to keep me challenged while at the same time being fully versed in my limitations with me being so new to yoga.
I enjoy doing a combination of both traditional and hot yoga. I frequently go to Angela and Earl’s morning classes (roll out of bed, grab a cup of coffee and hit the road!) and then come back for a late afternoon class with Raquel, Lisa, Chandra, or Martha. EVY has amazing and gifted instructors. Also, I have found it to be a very warm and welcoming place. Moving to the Cartersville area from the heart of downtown Atlanta, the friendliness and genuineness of the instructors and fellow students really sets the studio apart. There were days I should have felt like furniture I was coming so much but was always welcomed enthusiastically at the door. It is also a judgment free zone – there are many students just starting out and those with years of practice. Everyone can find an instructor or a class to suit their individual needs.
How has the practice of yoga influenced your life?
Well – it has given me a whole new vocabulary (asana, vinyasa, chaturanga, pranayama, adho mukha svansava to name just a few) but it has also filled a spiritual void that I was unaware was missing. My practice, while still in its infancy, has already improved both my physical and spiritual body. Each day I look forward to heading out to my next yoga class!