How did a busy trial lawyer find a new way of life through yoga? Read an interview with long-time yogi and student of The Center, Bruce Wallinger. Does this resonate with you?
Taylor: How long have you been practicing at The Center?
Bruce: Since it started… Part of the fun of it for my wife and me was (that) I think Suzanne was just starting to teach at that point and watching her progress has really been awesome.
Taylor: That’s really cool, what kind of classes do you typically take here?
Bruce: I’ve been doing Yoga I and II primarily, and the flow series. [Primarily with Suzanne, Devon, and Veronica].
Taylor: Do you practice at any other studios in Harrisonburg?
Bruce: No I don’t. I started practicing yoga about 15 years ago and at that time I was riding the road bike more than 1,000 miles a year and doing a century ride every year. And what attracted me to yoga was the stretching exercise to counter the fixed position on a bicycle. The combination of that and, [at the time] I was a trial lawyer so there’s a lot of stress, [and] a lot of sitting at a computer and all of those things together caused a lot of shoulder stiffness. So I was just looking for a way to stretch things out and to have a better rounded exercise routine.
Taylor: So it was your other hobbies that pulled you into yoga?
Bruce: Yeah; and it’s gone from an exercise to a way of life. The deeper you get into it the more you get out of it.
Taylor: Totally. I guess the big question is, “Why The Center?”
Bruce: Well in all fairness, I haven’t been to the other [studios] so I can’t compare them… When I first become interested in yoga I got some VHS tapes, I think one of them was Ganga White, and Tracy Rich and followed them on TV. [At that time] there wasn’t much that I was aware of being offered in Harrisonburg in the way of yoga… From the very beginning, Suzanne’s classes were, to me, more focused. They were more like the experiences that I had enjoyed going to yoga retreats and I was really surprised to find that quality of instruction in Harrisonburg, so that’s the #1 reason. The #2 [reason]… is that there are a lot of people that come here that have been coming for years… but there is a feeling of community of coming back and practicing with the same people. Keeps you motivated.
Taylor: Yeah, because they’ll check up on you, you know.
Bruce: Right, “where’ve you been?” (laughs).
Taylor: What place does yoga have in your life, or how has it influenced your life? And what place does The Center have in your life?
Bruce: Yoga has become an integral part of my life; not just something that I do a couple times a week at a yoga class. Hardly an hour goes by that I don’t think of yoga in some fashion. Whether I’m just checking in and thinking about, “am I breathing? Am I relaxed?” The first thing I do after I take a shower in the morning [are] some forward folds because it just feels good. I’m not disciplined enough that I can claim to say that I put in some mat time everyday; [but] I practice yoga in some form several times every day… The reason I come to The Center is because it adds the motivation that I have a hard time generating by myself. The group participation in a class, I think, takes your mind off of how tired you are or whether you really feel like doing yoga today and I think you tend to keep up a pace for a longer period than most people probably are able to do at home; it takes some encouragement. It’s kind of a way to recharge my battery once a week…
Taylor: Is there anything else you’d like to say? You’ve been practicing for a long time, and there’s a lot of insight that comes with that.
Bruce: Again, I can’t compare the classes here to others because I haven’t had any reason to go anywhere else. I found what I was looking for here. But I like the fact that the classes here are not confined just to doing exercises or doing asana… the class begins and ends with some thoughtful time, some centering… I would recommend yoga to anyone and for any number of reasons. I feel like it has changed the way I think about life. I notice things that I didn’t used to notice. I’m more focused; I more focused on my work, I’m more focused on my relaxation time. It’s just an increased awareness that’s hard to describe.
I don’t think that there’s any question that I’m healthier. I used to have chronic sinus infections every spring and every fall; I pretty much planned on going to the doctor and getting an antibiotic… The practice of conscious breathing exercises and yoga and some of the Ayurvedic cleansing practices have gotten me to a point where its been years since I’ve had a sinus infection… There’s no question that I’m more flexible; and I’m talking [physically], I think I’m more flexible in other ways as well, but I feel like I’ve got more energy and more focus than I had even when I was younger. I attribute it more to yoga than anything else.