Come to The Center on any given day and you’ll probably meet Matt. An extremely kind and dedicated student, find out how his journey started and has blossomed into something incredible.
Photo Credit: Brian Ripley Photography
M: It was a few things; I had stopped smoking after 30 years, [and I realized that] I’m in my middle years, I [needed] to do something to take better care of myself.
TC: Was your first yoga class here [at The Center]?
M: Sometime ago I had taken a short series that was offered at [a community college]. I did that for a couple of years before I came here, and from that [previous experience] I actually practiced at home for a while. I discovered, though, after being here that I wasn’t necessarily doing a lot of things correctly, as far as alignment [was concerned] so coming here was an eye opener. It was almost like my first class.
TC: In those early times, if it seemed a bit bizarre, why stick with it?
M: The reason that I wanted to do [yoga] was I felt like it would be something that would be accessible for me. I don’t see myself going to a gym or doing anything like that. I’m not into sports so as far as something physical I can do. I started to say, “the easiest” but… (laughs) I guess maybe I thought it was going to be easy but….
TC:. How did that shift happen for you, going to taking a yoga class at [a community college] to becoming a regular student here?
M: It started with an at home practice and then I had this minor procedure done on my shoulder, it was just superficial but I couldn’t really do a lot of stretching and that was my excuse to get lazy and forget about it. And then just a couple years later…. The Center was offering one of its free weeks and I [thought] , “Ok, I’ll go check it out!” And then I decided to register for once a week, and I went once a week for a while, and then I went twice a week for a while, and now I come every chance I get.
TC: You typically take yoga classes, have you ever taken a pilates class or a nia class here?
M: I did one pilates class and… I don’t think I was doing it right (laughs). Now that I’ve done more yoga I would be curious to try one to see what I would get it out of it now.
TC: There’s a lot of yoga in Harrisonburg, why [practice] here?
M: I live right downtown and The Center [is an] easy walk for me, but what I like about The Center is the variety of instruction, the different instructors and the different types of classes that are offered here… I see more of a range in age here than some of the other places I’ve been in town.
TC: There’s a pretty wide variety here, which is pretty cool.
M: I mean at first I felt sort of the old fart in the Power Yoga class, but I’m over that now. (laughs)
TC: (laughs) Good! How has your yoga practice influenced your life? I mean, there [must be] a reason you went from coming once a week to 4 times a week.
M: I feel much better. I feel better now than I did ten years ago; and I look better! I’m learning, it’s the whole “process” thing; it’s putting me [in] the process of just being calmer. I tend towards [being] high strung, that’s my nature… and yoga is helping just to pull back, respond not react. That’s a tough one for me. Action and re-action, phew! That is hard for me. One thing that comes up [in yoga] is to try easy, don’t try hard. I’m trying to latch on to that. I’m a perfectionist and [I’m] trying to [work with that] too.
TC: Do you see this translating wider? How is this working in your life? Do you feel yoga has influenced the way you interact with others and others interact with you?
M: I’m probably more open [because of yoga]…. It’s hard to put into words…
TC: We’re curious as to why [The Center is so important to you].
M: It just feels good to be here. and what I [learn] here I can take out of here [into my life] as well. I definitely get in touch with that unknown “whatever it is here… Whatever it is, it’s working and it seems to be working for a lot of people.
TC: Anything else you’d like to add? M: I feel at home here. I have been to [other places] in town where the practice was fine the teacher was fine…. I just… It’s that indefinable thing… I feel at home here. The teachers and the community of students just go [together]. I can’t overstate that aspect of it.