Student Spotlight: Mandora Gourdie

My yoga practice began when I was 4 years old. I was sitting next to my mother, mimicking her moves. She had a strong home practice, but  in the 1960’s yoga studios were not within reach and she was a young mom at home with her girls. She studied from the manual “Yoga for Health” by Richard Hittleman, who also had a tv show. I remember sitting next to her doing Lion’s Breath- thinking we were crazy!  I think of her every time I’m in that pose.

Yoga floated in and out of my life. Sounds cliche’, but when I turned 50, I found myself a stranger. I was the heaviest I’d ever been, I had several health concerns, and I was depressed. I decided to show up in my own life, quit wallowing.  Self care and self love doesn’t happen overnight, but when you start, and lead with your heart, the rest follows.

I began with nutrition and later headed back to the gym. Strength training had been a big part of my life in my younger days, but that too had fallen to the wayside. I was gaining momentum! I had friends that were Yen members, and they encouraged me to visit Yen. I had been talking to them for a couple of years about starting up my yoga practice. I even had a mat that was still in its wrapping from 3 years prior. I didn’t come to yoga because I thought I was too “fat”! That loathing self talk holds us back from so much.  Yoga is for EVERYONE!

My first class was 60 minute hot with Jen. I felt reborn. I wish I could convey the epiphany I had. I do remember thinking, “why did you wait so long?” But here I am. I began. I tried every class Yen has to offer. In the beginning, I was a disciple of the hot room, but Leslie encouraged me to explore the softer side. My yoga practice now includes a balanced sample platter of what Yen has to offer.

The way yoga has changed me is boundless. It has helped me love myself, truly fall in love with myself for the first time in my life. I talk to God and my Mother every time I come to my mat. It marries my bodybuilding life, keeping me anchored body, mind, and spirit. I can honestly say that yoga keeps me put together during the bodybuilding competition process, heals me from the inside out. Thank you, yoga.

But the dessert of my yoga life? My husband and son discovering it for themselves. Beautiful tears as I write this. Watching their practice grow, and lying on the mat next to them, fills me with such unquenchable joy. Thank you, yoga.