Who knew the magic of yoga can transform someone’s life?
MeetCynthia Cooperstone (@yoganatrix). About 20 years ago, she was working on “auto-pilot”. A full-time career with little ones at home. Although it may have looked all pretty on the outside, things were not right on the inside. Feelings of stress and anxiousness began to brew and she knew something had to be done about it.
Ask any healthcare practitioner, when you’re struggling with your mental health, exercise should take centre stage. To be perfectly honest, it doesn’t really matter what kind of exercise you do, as long as you stick to it and make it a part of your daily self-care routine.
There is a laundry list of reasons, but here are my three favourites:
It brings you joy.
Relieves the weight that you are carrying on your shoulders.
Creates endorphins (the happy hormone) in your body.
Cynthia chose to dive into yoga as her choice of exercise. It awakened her sense of play, movement, and well-being. Just recently, I sat down with Cynthia, screen to screen, to talk about the magic of yoga and how it changed her life.
When did you begin practicing yoga and why?
I practiced yoga on-and-off in my late 20s. I took up a regular and more disciplined practice in my early 30s. When I had two young toddlers and was ten years into a writing and editing career, I was suffering terribly from anxiety and depression. I was moody and worried and I knew that regular exercise would provide some much-needed relief, not to mention an endorphin boost. A few mornings a week, I began to practice with one specific teacher several times a week. After about a year, the magic of yoga surfaced and I noticed a real difference in my sense of well-being and my ability to remain grounded.
Why did you decide to teach?
I was deeply curious about how and why I began to feel so much better. I had no intention to teach, but after substituting for my teacher several times and taking on some private groups, I fell in love! Beginner butterflies aside, I liked taking centre stage to inspire and support students. Yoga was such a meaningful and transformational path for me so I was excited to connect with people and share this fascinating journey.
What are your challenges that you face on the mat?
For many years, my biggest challenge was to find more grounding and confidence. Now, after a breath or two, I find myself in “the zone” and I feel strong and graceful and self-possessed. As I have aged, I have had to look for new ways to improve my strength and balance my flexibility.
What are the challenges you face as a yoga teacher?
Yoga has changed so much in the 20 years! The number and structure of studios (especially in Toronto), the commodification of yoga, the internet, and social media all present opportunities as well as challenges. These days, I see students wander from teacher to teacher and studio to studio. They are looking for a good deal rather than cultivating a relationship with a specific teacher and diving deeper into a focused practice. I see students stop at the physical practice and obsess about yoga pants rather than learning how yoga can help to improve their self-awareness and the way they live off the mat. I guess the big challenge is not to get jaded!
Do you participate in any other exercises?
If I had to pick only one form of exercise it would be yoga. However, I have found that High-Intensity Interval Training and Functional Fitness have helped to strengthen my increase my cardiac fitness in ways that have benefitted me and also improved my physical practice, using the Asana technique.
Do you have a favourite type of yoga?
I practice a mix of styles and find myself closely aligned with The Anusara School of Hatha Yoga, which accommodates all levels. It also introduces many of the rich, universal, concepts of the practice in every class.
If I want to learn more about yoga, where should I start?
Time to do a little homework! Begin by researching the many different types of yoga practices. Next, check out the yoga teachers. Most studio owners, managers, and instructors are happy to talk to you about what to expect in a yoga class, so find a studio and give them a call. Finding a teacher and a style that’s right for you is similar to a courtship: if one doesn’t fit, don’t give up! There’s something for everybody in yoga.
What should I look for in a yoga teacher?
A teacher who is knowledgeable, friendly, and compassionate. A person that inspires and challenges you to keep showing up. And as I tell my trainees, good teachers don’t stay on their mats doing their own practice. They pay attention to the students and provide them with the specific guidance and support they need.
How can I get in touch with you?
People can find me through my website cynthiacooperstone.com, where they can contact me directly if they have any questions at all. Message me through Instagram (@yoganatrix), and you can even take advantage of some free classes on Facebook through The Virtual Mat with Cynthia C.
The magic of yoga has clearly changed Cynthia’s life. From remarkably improving her mental health and paying it forward to teach others. A way of living life that truly is a gift.
“Your mat is a microcosm of the world around you. When you visit it regularly, you address some of the aches and imbalances we tend to create through sailing living, and you’ll also cultivate the kind of perspective and presence that will affect how you live your life.”
I’m so grateful to be able to have the opportunity to write what I’m passionate about and what I think will serve others. If you would like me to write for a product or service you represent or for your own company, please be in touch.