Hi darling yogis, we’re so happy to welcome back this lovely and inspiring lady – our very own Summersalt Yoga teacher Leah Sugerman, who is coming back to teach at our Balance yoga retreats this May and June. Her love and devotion to yoga simply shines and she can’t wait to share it with every one of you! Join us and let Leah guide you through this amazing yoga experience in Croatia!
Why and when did you decide to become a yoga teacher?
About seven years ago, I first came to yoga as a means to heal an injury and I was quickly transformed by the practice far beyond the physical benefits. I felt so deeply impacted by yoga that I decided I wanted to share the practice with others so that they might have similar experiences to mine. It has been one of the most rewarding things I have ever done.
What do you enjoy most about teaching yoga?
I love to witness transformation, in any form. I love watching a formerly inflexible student touch their toes! I love watching a student who has recently experienced a great loss feel the cathartic release of the practice. I love experiencing the transformation inside myself as my students affect me much more than they could even realize.
Name the top 3-4 benefits of yoga to you personally
Personally, yoga has changed my life in many ways. Since I have started practicing, I have become a calmer and much more centered person. Little things no longer get to me and I can withstand greater things with more ease because of what my practice has taught me. My practice has also greatly increased my self awareness. Not only physically, but mentally as well. I am much more in tune with my body and my emotions. I feel that yoga introduced me to my own inner being. Yoga has also created counter effects within me. The practice has both greatly increased my confidence while simulataneously humbling me. That is what is so special about yoga. As I built strength and awareness in my practice, I began to believe in my own potential. But as I built strength and awareness in my practice, I was also knocked down more times than I can count. I learned that the journey is the practice, not the end results. I learned to have humility and confidence at the same time. A practice that I try to apply to my daily life. So finally, yoga has changed my outlook on the world. I live my life a little bit different each day as I grow and learn in my personal practice. Each lesson learned on my mat translates to a million different scenarios in my everyday life and I am eternally grateful for all that it has taught me.
Do you have any advice for new yoga students and why they should not be afraid to start practicing?
Yoga is not scary! It is a practice solely of the mind. If you can breath, you can practice yoga, all the rest is just circus tricks.
In all seriousness, the physical practice is quite simple. All you do is make shapes with your body. And if one shape feels wrong, then it is wrong for your body. So don’t do it! Do what feels good in your body. And over time, as you build strength and flexibility, more and more poses will feel good in your body. And you can take all the time in the world to reach that place. Most people never do. And that is totally fine. The practice of yoga is reflecting about how your mind reacts to the body’s movements. And that is all. THAT is what yoga is. So if you can tune in to your mind, then you are more than capable of practicing yoga. And enjoying it!
What changes do you notice in students after some time practicing yoga?
Many physical and many mental changes seem to occur after practicing yoga for some time. The body begins to gain strength as the muscles simultaneously elongate and relax creating a greater flexibility through the body. Internally, people seem to find greater self awareness. Emotionally, people relax deeply and seem to live life in the present moment. It is a beautiful and transformative practice.
Why do you think participating in a yoga retreat is a good experience?
I think a yoga retreat is the perfect setting to remove all distractions so that you can completely focus entirely on your practice. It is a luxury that we often cannot afford in our daily lives, so this isolation allows us to retreat deeper within ourselves. I think it is the perfect setting for both beginners and advanced practitioners to deepen their practice while enjoying travel and relaxation and adventure all mixed into one!