This month both of our beautiful ambassadors were more on the shy side and it’s exactly why I picked them. I know that inside they both have this infectious and beautiful glow of love and light – so I picked them out of the BYS community in order to put them front and center.
Cassie Johnson is a brand new EMT who wants to serve and give love to the community through healing. She is a petite and adorable little firecracker and I just adore having her in class in the mornings. This interview was so much fun as I got to learn a little bit more about her here as well as on our photo shoot with Sarah!! She’s such a bundle of joy and I can’t wait for you to meet her.
1) How long have you been practicing yoga and what got you into the practice?
I first stepped onto the mat when I was 16, attending a few classes here and there at local gyms and studios in my hometown as a way of lowering my stress level and incorporating a different form of exercise. It wasn’t until Jacalynn invited me to BYS this spring that I fell in love with yoga and I began a regular practice. I would have to say what got me into yoga this time around is a mixture of how Barefoot Yoga Shala is as a studio, and realizing that yoga isn’t about being the best at every pose, its about making my practice my own.
2) You’ve had quite the fitness and health journey in the last few years, making many changes for the better. What has your journey and experience been like and how did yoga help?
About 4 years ago I was sitting in my first class as an Exercise Science major at SSU and my professor started the class off by simply saying “I’ll be honest with you, in the healthcare profession if you want to talk the talk – you need to walk the walk”. It sort of lit a spark in me that I needed to change myself for the better and become an even greater version of me. I knew I was overweight and was often the more pleasantly plump of my group of friends through grammar school. I held the self-confidence level to go with it, never truly feeling comfortable in my own skin. So here I was: a college student with a hectic schedule, a budget in the back of my mind and no direction or idea of where to start.
I figured I would start with my diet, and place the focus on creating healthy habits without restriction – because lets face it we are human after all, and its okay to indulge once in a while! After a lot of research, spending hours creating meal plans and prepping in advance to combat my busy schedule I was on my way to a happy balanced diet.
I couldn’t forget the physical activity component. Studying these concepts in school greatly helped in creating an exercise plan for myself and having a greater understanding the human body on a physiological level. After following my routine for a while I realized I really loved weight training, I still hated running and yoga held a greater place in my life than I had noticed before.
Every yoga class I would begin to attend at this point in my life was unique in its own way – incorporating different teaching styles, strings of poses and foundational concepts. I found a new level of strength in myself, both physically and mentally, when I realized how true it is that “a pose begins when you want to get out of it.” I watched myself begin to connect with a deeper practice: finding balance, inner flow and growing to be a mindful human being. I no longer found myself concerned with the number that stared back at me as I stood on a scale; I found self-acceptance. For the first time I felt confident in my own skin. I finally understood that upon walking into a room filled with self-love and confidence would always prove to outweigh the importance of trivial numbers and sizes. For that, I will always have my yoga practice and mentors to thank.
3) What is your favorite pose?
I would have to say half pigeon is easily my contending favorite because I do love a good hip opener! However I’m growing to love poses that test my balance – such as tree, dancer or crow!
4) You have an intense job as an EMT & you’re in school full time! How do you create balance in your life?
To be entirely honest this is still something that I’m working on and kind of learning as I go. The key to balance in my life is a simple promise that no matter how busy my week is, how tired I feel or the length of my to do list I will take the time out to go to yoga at least once a week at the minimum. This small choice gives me the opportunity to leave my stress at the door. Once I step onto my mat I’m instantly immersed in the comfort of studio and I can finally let go of what no longer serves me. We so often forget to press pause, to take care of ourselves even when we spend our days helping others and just to simply breathe. My yoga practice allows me to have a clear mind, and with that I can manifest a beautifully chaotic but organized balance of everything I love and hold dear.
5) What’s your favorite part about yoga OFF the mat?
I find it kind of incredible that your yoga practice stays with you even after you’ve rolled up your mat and walked out the door. It’s almost like I have this set of tools in my back pocket to help in moments of need. It could be as simple as remembering to focus on my breath in times of stress, repeating a mantra in my head while sitting in traffic or as I mentioned before taking the extra time to do something for me. It’s a little reminder that I am important, and that everything is a gift – no matter how small or trivial. As someone who spends a lot of time thinking about what’s to come, yoga reassures me that it is okay to live in the present moment. Things will be as they are meant to be.
6) What would you tell someone whose never tried yoga before? (Or your pre-yoga self?)
If I could give my pre-yoga self some advice it would be…
It’s okay not to be perfect. I promise. Every pose doesn’t need to be just like everyone else in the studio. You are at your own level and progressing at the rate you are meant to. Enjoy that your practice is truly your own, and no one else’s. Also, never be afraid to just let go. Give into the practice, sink deeper into the pose if you want to and don’t feel guilty for taking this time for yourself. Embrace all the love and support that yoga has to offer whether it’s from the teachers or the crazy yogi family, I promise you won’t regret it.
7) Why do you practice at Barefoot Yoga Shala?
I practice at Barefoot because honestly it is my home away from home. It is truly a sanctuary – providing a space where you can feel safe to just let go. You are always greeted with a warm welcome, and you are known on a personal level. You are more than just a name, often your teacher knows more about your life than your friends outside of the studio! They genuinely care about your well-being. Every class gives the opportunity to practice at the level you feeling that day, and it always has you trying something new that you hadn’t before. You find yourself laughing, crying or maybe both at the same time while being fully supported from those around you. I love the variety of workshops available, and as a studio the amount we give back to the community. Yoga at BYS teaches more than just poses, it teaches a humble way of life.
8) Tell us a fun fact about YOU!
I really couldn’t narrow it down to just one, so here are a few! I have a black belt in martial arts, I used to act in various musicals and plays, and I love to spend time cooking and baking – especially if there’s some Frank Sinatra playing.
Thank you so much for joining us this month Cassie!!!