Yoga & Pilates
An Interview with Lindsey Adkison
We consider ourselves very lucky to have Lindsey as a part of our local yoga community. And, all of us at Inspire Active Wear are even more grateful that she agreed to become our first Brand Ambassador. Lindsey will be a regular contributor to our newsletter and so we thought it would be a good idea if everyone could get to know her a little better.
- How long have you been practicing yoga and how did you get started?
I first started yoga with a Rodney Yee DVD in about 2000. That was my very first taste and it was right before I went to college. I loved it and immediately felt drawn to this tradition. But with going off to school, came a lot of other obligations so I stepped away from it. Eventually, when I moved here in 2006, I started classes at The Club on St. Simons Island with some truly amazing teachers. It was the first time I ever heard Sanskrit and I was absolutely hooked. I just thought it was the coolest thing and the energy they shared was just so loving and welcoming. I started there with more gentle, early morning classes. The main goal then was simply unwinding and decompressing — I was engaged and if you’ve ever planned a wedding, you know that there is plenty of stress that comes with all the happy. (We made it though — tied the knot in 2007). Since then, I bounced between different exercise regimens, including finishing my first and likely my last full marathon. I officially returned to yoga and became a dedicated, daily practitioner while living in Miami for a year in 2013. Since then, I’ve gone on to get my Yoga Alliance certification with the lovely Patricia Ploeger at OMCORE Yoga and Body on St. Simons Island. I also had some supplemental 100 hour training course from American Fitness Professionals of America. I’ve been teaching for four years (starting in 2014). Now, I’m teaching at The Club, where I first began, and at St. Simons Pilates and Yoga, my best friend, Reed, is the owner. I still have a full time job as the lifestyle editor of our local paper so I don’t have as much time as I would like to teach.
I am however a daily practitioner and I committed myself to the Ashtanga Yoga method more than a year ago. I consider Kino MacGregor in Miami, my teacher now. I try to get to her as often as I can as well as following her online offerings. I also travel to New York City as often as I can to work with the incredible Eddie Stern.
- I understand that there are many different forms or styles of yoga. What are some of the most common? Do you have a favorite?
There are dozens of types of yogas, ranging from very relaxing to extremely vigorous. Then, there is everything in between. There are heated classes, non-heated classes, classes with goats or rabbits even beer — lol. So I think it’s safe to say, there is truly something for everyone. I believe the most common types of yoga are gentle, vinyasa flow and yin.
Gentle, which as the name implies, focuses more on breath and easy, slow movements to relax the body and untangle the mind. Then there is a vinyasa flow. A “vinyasa” is simply "a series of movements connected by breath,” and there are many different types of vinyasa. The most common is your chatranga dandasana to upward facing dog (urdhva mukha svanasana) to down down (adho mukha svanasana). There are several standing postures that are linked by this chain of movement. I think this is one of the styles people see the most, certainly in gym settings, as well as studios. These classes can also be heated for an extra bit of a challenge. Yin is another very popular style. This discipline focuses on holding stretches for extended periods of time (three to five minutes or so) that really allows you to drop down, focus and open your body. I believe these would be most common but again, there are tons of styles. The type I practice is called Ashtanga Yoga, founded by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois in 1948 in Mysore, India. The tradition itself is said to date back thousands of years, passing from teacher to student in a sacred lineage.
Jois constructed a system set postures (you do the same thing every time) that aims to target every part of the body in a very methodical way. Each pose has a precise anatomical reason behind it as does its placement in the series. You hold each pose for five, solid and steady breaths (of course, some like your headstand is held longer … for up to three minutes).
There are a total of six series in Ashtanga. Practitioners begin with the Primary series (called the Yoga Chikitsa). While the name implies that it is a beginning sequence, in its entirety it is very challenging. Traditionally, you begin under the tutelage of a “guru" or teacher who teaches you the series one pose at the time. When you reach a pose you cannot do, you move on to the finishing sequence. The whole goal is to never feel defeated at the end. Simply go as far as you can … then put it away. The next day, you get up and do it again. I am currently working on the Intermediate series, the second one (Nadi Shodhana) which cleanses your nervous system.
- What do you love best about your yoga practice? What challenges you the most?
Ashtanga, as I mentioned, is an incredibly challenging practice. Any one can do it … I do believe that, but it requires complete dedication and focus. It is meant to be practiced six days a week. So that, in and of itself, is challenging. The postures are also tough, which demands full mental and physical presence each time you step on the mat. That’s one of the things I love about it. While you are doing the same thing every day, the physicality of the practice doesn’t allow for it to become routine or something you can blow through.
While there are many complex poses (feet behind your head, multiple headstands and inversions, etc), the standing series, which all Ashtanga practitioners do (to a point then each series diverges) is very basic. I often teach almost all of those in my classes now. There aren’t many chatarangas which is great for beginners and all of the poses are manageable. There’s Trikonasana (triangle) and Parsvakonasana (side angle). Each are held for five slow breaths. This allows both new and experienced students to really focus on some critical and fundamental elements of the poses so many have become familiar with and often move through quickly.
- You recently traveled to New York for yoga. Can you tell us about it?
I did … in January. I went to NYC with my good buddy and practice partner, Dustin Brooker. We went to stay and practice with Eddie Stern, one of the premiere Ashtangis in the world who studied with Jois for decades. Now, there were a great many twists and turns along the way … I came down with the flu literally days before leaving. Our baggage, due to weather, couldn’t be taken off the plane (still haven’t figured that out). We spent four hours in baggage claim (talk about a meditation). Even after all that time, we were forced to head to Eddie’s with just our carry-ons. I had only — literally only — my yoga mat and purse … hehehe. But we made it work and the whole experience was wonderful, one of my best trips ever. Eddie is amazing and we were so fortunate just to share his beautiful space in Brooklyn (the Ashtanga Yoga New York - Brooklyn Yoga Club). Everyone at the shala is super kind. We learned a ton and had a blast along the way. Fun fact: I did eventually get my bag back … three days after I returned home. But yoga teaches us to learn from our experiences. It’s the way to transform the negative to the positive … and this trip really showed me how little I need to be content. It made me focus on what mattered most.
- How does your yoga practice effect the other parts of your life - mentally and physically?
Oh I always say that “yoga keeps me sane.” It transforms who you are on the deepest and most significant level. And I am not overselling or exaggerating. Through the physical practice of yoga, we are asked to contort our bodies into often complicated and unfamiliar positions … then we’re asked to breath deeply and find “peace in the pose.” (Yeah … easy peasy. Ha!) But it is finding that little bit of comfort and stillness even when you are not the most comfortable that produces a true change. If you can calmly breathe through an intense forward fold or a back bend, you are much more likely to be able to handle trying situations in your daily life. You can handle traffic a little easier. You aren’t rocked by standing in the grocery line. These are simple things but they are just real world examples of the power of the practice. For me, I am more calm and collected than I’ve ever been. I am stronger (physically) than I have ever been — even after years of running and weight training. It has changed every part of me for the better.
On the mental level, yoga cultivates compassion through its ancient teaches and traditional principles. It is very common for a physical practice to lead to more study outside of the studio or gym, which further expand on these teachings. I truly believe that they help you — regardless of your religion — to be a better person. But for most of us, it is the physical practice that lights the flame. As the great guru B.K.S Iyengar said, “yoga is a journey of the self, to the self, through the self.” I absolutely believe that is true.
- What recommendations would you give someone who wants to start a regular yoga practice. Do they need special gear or clothing?
Well I would certainly recommend starting with an experienced teacher at a studio or gym. The class atmosphere is always positive and the happy energy is infectious. Start off small, take some beginner or gentle yoga classes — you don’t want to overwhelm yourself or push too hard out of the gate, so to speak. But classes help you learn the postures and they also help hold you accountable. If you have a regular class, you develop a sense of consistency that it key to a long term yoga practice. It can just be 30 minutes once a week at first, then build from there. After taking some beginner classes to get the fundamentals down, then I would experiment with different styles. Not every style is for every student so it’s important to find what is right for you and what most speaks to you. The same is true for teachers. There are so many amazing teachers out there … find those that resonate with you and leave you feeling strong, steady and empowered. You should always leave a yoga class with a smile on your face, wanting to return.
As far as gear …. always remember ancient yogis practiced in loin clothes on rugs … so clearly “extras" are not really necessary to the practice. However, times have changed. We all want to be comfortable and feel good when we are practicing … that allows us to focus more on what matters — the practice. As far as pants, I love breathable material (Ashtanga makes you sweat). Of course, I love the Inspire Active Wear line for this element, as well as the fun, funky patterns they offer. And, of course, the sustainability aspect speaks to all yogis. I also love very simple black pants that fit well and let me move. I typically wear pants (or capris, I love capris) because I can slip and slide in arm balances if I don’t. As far as tops, I prefer fitted shirts which are great for inversions. I honestly love wearing my hippie band t-shirts tied up. It’s just very me. For more gentle classes, I enjoy looser garments that allow me to really feel cozy and zen out. Basically — wear what makes you feel good and what allows you to put your full energy into the practice.
As far as mats, that is all personal preference. I practice with lots of different mats — some very cheap and some are expensive. Some are squishy and others are very firm. I use mats for years, storing up lots of good energy in each one. They are all important to me and representative of whatever I was going through when it was my "main mat" … if that makes any sense. Ha. I do use my Lululemon most often because it was a gift from my best friend, so that is special. It has also spent a lot of time in the shala in NYC so that is important to me too. I also use a yoga rug or a towel. Make sure that, if you use these, they don’t slide around. That can be dangerous (spraying with water can help). I also always have a hand towel because again — Ashtanga equals sweat city. I can also use a towel as a strap if needed so it’s very useful. As far as blocks, straps and other props, those are available for purchase online at the Yoga Outlet or at your local Target. However, most studios and gym provide those props but if you wanted a home set, those are good options.
Lindsey Adkison, RTY-200 is a Yoga instructor at The Club and St.Simons Pilates and Yoga in addition to her job as the lifestyle editor for The Brunswick News. You can follow her on Instagram @Lindsey_Adkison_Yoga
February 11, 2018
My friend Kristy Yager, is bringing together over 20 experts, to share advice on a no-cost interview series starting February 12.
Kristy is the perfect person to host this interview series; she spent many years training the staff of high-end spas on ritual, and now she's teaching the yoga of courageous self-care, which means she specializes in guiding individuals on stoking their inner fire so they can radiate power externally.
It's called, Conscious Beauty Secrets: Learn Daily Practices To Invoke Vitality, Joy, Courage, And Boldly Shine Your Divine Light, and you can grab your spot here, now:
When you go to the link above and sign up to join this complimentary video interview series, you'll learn easy, accessible practices designed to empower you to look good, feel good, and be earth-friendly. And, just for you, there are FREEE GIFTS from many of the presenters?
Specifically, you'll learn practices you can use to:
Claim your Divine Light every day—no matter how you feel when you wake up—so you can access that internal fire whenever you want or need it!
Feel better—and radiate that great feeling in an outward, amplified way—at a moment's notice!.
Identify earth-friendly products you can use to charge up your inner light and outer beauty, quickly and easily.
Oh, and did I mention Kristy is leading a Retreat on Cumberland Island this Spring ? Meet her and learn from her in person at: