Meet Lexie Shaw, our GottaBeFresh winner from our University studio. A regular presence at GottaYoga, she is an explorer, a dancer, and a blogger. Keep reading to learn more about what keeps Lexie coming back to her mat. And if you want to keep up with her, check out her blog – Lexie Lioness.
What was your first yoga class as a student like? My first yoga class was actually a Bikram yoga class. A college classmate mentioned she was attending a ‘yoga’ class later that day and I decided to join – neither knowing that it was a Bikram style class and much less who this Bikram fella was. I was also unaware that this would be a ‘hot’ class. I showed up, rented a mat, and stepped into the room to a very warm, humid surprise. Seeing the mirrors engulfing the room and the very seasoned yogis towards the front, I took a spot in the back. I had spent about 12 years of my life as a dancer, so I was far from nervous despite the steamy room. From here, it gets a little foggy… I had not eaten a full meal prior and quickly began to feel faint as I forced myself into poses I was clearly not prepared for. I had to run out mid class (which is apparently frowned upon) and collapsed into the bathroom. It was at least 7 years before I would try yoga again.
How did you discover GottaYoga? What keeps you coming back? I found out about GottaYoga via the internet. After my failed attempt at a yoga practice those many years before, I wanted to give it another go. I realized that there were many forms of yoga out there as well as hot yoga that was offered differently than that of the Bikram practice. I live less than 5 minutes from the University studio and thus my selection of the studio. I am delighted and filled with gratitude for such convenience to encourage me in my (almost) daily practice. Whether commuting home from work or coming from home, the studio is so accessible and welcoming for my ‘me-time’. I believe that the changes in my body are what keeps me returning to my practice and to GottaYoga, in particular, each day. Noticing the visible changes, feeling the ease in my breath, and finding more and more stillness throughout my day has been inspiring and rewarding – and I know that yoga and my teachers at the studio have helped foster those changes.
What posture do you enjoy the most/least? Why? I feel that is hard to pick a specific posture that I enjoy more than others. Yoga feels like such a flowing, ever-evolving dance with your mind and body and so picking just one pose is tough. Yet currently, I have found much improvement and benefit from standing splits. I am starting to be able to lift my hand off the ground and onto my leg, and that has been rewarding! Savasana is always a good one, too! As far as least desirable poses go, I must say I have struggled most with pigeon. We are always there so much longer than I like and I start to get fidgety and anxious! Some days I am able to lengthen into the pose deeper than others, but no matter what, I am always cursing in my head silently!! I know this is a message from my body, though, asking for attention and teaching me stillness and patience. Hey, they say it’s a ‘practice’, am I right?
What posture(s) are you currently working on? I am currently working on crow and side crow. At this moment, I am still unable to perform crow, yet I can attempt and achieve a decent posture in the side crow variations. I see it as me feeling more safety on either side, knowing if I fall, it won’t be on my face. I am aware that I need to let go of fear and work on more prep for the standard crow posture.
What advice would you give to new students? I would advise to any and all new students to be patient with yourself. Drop the competitiveness. Don’t be afraid to show up to a class because you feel you will not look as good or experienced as the more advanced yogis that may or may not be present – it’s not about that at all. And while you’re at it, don’t worry if you have to look to the guy or gal next to you when the teacher recites a word that you can’t understand or a posture you’ve never heard of – you’ll get the hang of it! Also bear in mind that the way one yogi does a pose may work for them, but may not for you – in which case – take a variation! Get creative and let your yogi bear personality come through. Above all else, be playful with it. It is a practice, not a goal. You get what you put in on your mat.
What is your life like off the mat? Off the mat, I am an ever-evolving, adventure-seeking, wilderness-loving lioness. I love to travel and experience different cultures as a means to bridge connection to the whole of humanity as well as see what our wondrous world has to offer. And with that, I am also very engaged in exploring higher levels of consciousness through meditation, shadow work, and sacred plant ceremonies. Learning about the human mind, body and spirit and all the metaphysical connections in between excites me beyond belief. Nurturing myself into a safe place for healing through all these different paths has shown me what a beautiful world that the healing arts has to offer. As I work on myself, i.e. my wounds, my ego, my shadow, I come to a more centered place that is in more alignment with my heart and thus invite others to do the same. Creating authentic connections through this and guiding others into something similar is an intention I have set in my life, and I believe yoga has helped foster that with the ideals of patience and acceptance so instilled within the art.
How has yoga changed you? For me, the most rewarding factor that yoga has gifted me with is the practice of nurturing the self. I feel so proud and aligned when I step on my mat, day in and day out, and especially on days when I am feeling stiff or otherwise wishing to not be there. The moment the class begins, all despair vanishes and a sense of love and honoring washes over me because I know I am treating my body and my mind to the ultimate treat – being present. No matter where I am, physically or emotionally – when I am there, I am showing up for myself. This notion has helped assist me in being kinder and gentler with myself without a doubt – and for that, I am eternally grateful. No matter where my life and travels take me, I will always have this truth to stand in.
How has your practice changed since your first class? My practice has changed exponentially since my first class! Coming out of my first class mortified, drained, and angry when I unknowingly signed up for a much stricter form of yoga turned me off completely. Starting back again at GottaYoga and feeling the family vibe has been so wonderful – it feels so reminiscent of my time living at the dance studio growing up. So the community I feel connected to is always great. And on the mat, I feel much more able to receive the lessons that are laid out for you and also have learned to honor the body (and thus the self) where it’s at.
What do you enjoy most about yoga? I thoroughly enjoy the energy that is created in me during and after yoga. I feel like a ninja warrior sometimes – and other times – a gentle goddess gliding along her mat. I feel a deep sense of honoring occur as I begin to be more and more present with myself as well as a warm blanket of self-love engulfing me each time I leave (attending most of the hot classes helps with the warm feeling!!!). Overall, it’s all about presence for me. Being in the moment. That’s what it’s all about.
What are you currently reading? I am currently reading a book called Goddesses in Every Woman by Jean Shinoda Bolen. It is a book that describes the powerful archetypes in women’s lives based on ancient myths of the Greek Goddesses from long ago. Learning to recognize all the goddesses present in us, in the absolute fabric of us, at any given time and discerning when to call on, who, and for what task or situation has been so interesting and helpful. I enjoy exploring the mystery of the woman psyche and feel this book is perfect with a mythological twist!