Joel has practiced with Yoga Vie since the very beginning (2013), he and his wife were two of our very first students. We know him as a dedicated yoga student and community activist. He created and runs the Vandenberg Farmer's Market Association, which hosts a community Farmer's Market each Sunday in Vandenberg Village. Proceeds fund various Lompoc community projects that promote healthy eating and sustainability. He is also the driver behind Lompoc's annual music/craft festival, Santa Barbara County Local Fest, which supports and promotes local artists and businesses. But his talents don't end there, he is also an entrepreneur, and owner of Orion Coffee, where he roasts and sells the most delicious coffee in Lompoc.
This man of many talents, has supported our mission over the years and it's an honor to highlight him and his yoga journey this month in our April Student Spotlight. We recently sat down with Joel to chat about the role yoga has played in his life since his first class. Here is what he had to say:
How would you describe yourself as a yogi?
I’m not one for labels, but if I had to give myself one in reference to yoga, it’d be: Asana Doer. Within the yoga realm, my comfort zone is practicing the asanas.
How did you find yoga? What was the inspiration?
My wife Danielle attended a couple of classes at Yoga Vie with a friend and told me she thought I’d enjoy it. So I tagged along for a Saturday morning class. It was difficult, made my muscles ache and quake, but I got to nap (literally) at the end, so I kept going back. Those first few months were...brutal but I’m glad she kept dragging me along because it has been a fun journey that has also cleared up a couple of ailments for me. I have bad shoulders that use to cause me to lose hours of sleep per night. Yoga has loosened them up and strengthened them to a point where I don’t notice them much anymore. This has improved my quality of life immensely.
Share with us an interesting fact about yourself.
I have a ham radio license. (Smile)
If you were a yoga pose, which one would you be?
Utpluthih (OOT PLOOT- TEEHEE) for Ashtangis, or Tolasana, for the rest of us. It’s fun to say. Impossible for me to do, but still fun to say.
What is your FAVORITE yoga pose? Why?
Prasarita Padottanasana C. I have had numerous shoulder injuries and surgeries, I could barely touch my hands behind my back when I first attempted this pose. I can clasp my hands behind my back and raise them in the air while bending at the waist - it's super cool to me.
How does your practice fit into your everyday life?
The practicing of asanas fits into my life when I make time for it. I do benefit every day from that time I do set aside. Improved sleep, fewer achy joints and an awareness of my body’s position. I pay attention and am able catch myself when my shoulders are slumped or tense and am able to correct them.
What's your favorite aspect of Yoga Vie?
This one’s easy: the people! The instructors, fellow students, Road Dogs, everyone has always been so welcoming, understanding and happy. It’s a totally unique environment. I feel an asana practice is unlike any other “sport” or exercise regimen: from the start, you’re told it’s NOT a competition, don’t compare yourself to others, in fact don’t even look at them. Since Yoga Vie is (I feel) a very inclusive and genuine studio filled with these friendly folks, this aspect was conveyed from the beginning, which made it easier to be a beginner who was sometimes surrounded by folks with super impressive practices.
What advice would you offer to a yoga novice?
When I see them in class, I want to give them a hug (and I’m NOT a hugger) and tell them “we’ve ALL been there.” I know their pain and I can remember my first year or so: butt up in the air, in an awkward shaky-arm push-up style down-dog. Thinking “5 breaths my a-s!” Sweat through it, stick with it, it’s so worth it.