What brought you to yoga? Tell us a little about your yoga journey!
I started practicing Bikram Yoga after the birth of my daughter, Zadie, because I wanted to lose the post-baby weight and get back into shape. Right away, I really loved coming to my yoga mat because of the intense heat (105 degrees) allowing my body to sweat out toxins and I loved the amount of concentration involved, that one single point of focus. It was methodical & empowering and just what I needed at that moment in my life to help me feel grounded and focused. Then I felt a desire to learn more about other types of yoga and fell in love with the Ashtanga practice. I gravitated toward the linking of the body to the breath with each movement and the fluidity of the chaturanga, sun salutations as well as the primary series. I became so much stronger physically and spiritually. I completely believe in the science and philosophy of yoga and the transformation it creates in me daily!
Who are your mentors? Who inspires you?
My first mentors were my parents and my grandparents. Sadly, my daddy and my grandparents have passed away but they are forever a part of me. My grandmother loved me in this magical way that always made me feel so very special even though she had many grandchildren. She had this way of making ALL of us feel like that! She was strong yet loving and caring. She was a devoted Christian and always had a positive mindset. She was a vegetarian and led a healthy lifestyle. I admired her very much!
Yoga makes me feel very special like the way my grandmother would make me feel. Yoga feels like unconditional love and non-judgement surrounding me and it’s very beautiful, the whole spiritual element of the practice supports me every time I come to my mat!
In regards to yoga teachers, every teacher that I’ve studied under has mentored me in various ways! John Meredith was very knowledgeable of the Ashtanga practice and passed on to me principles of being an effective teacher. Jessie Fletcher was very impactful in my yoga practice teaching me about proper sequencing and aryevedic science. I also feel passionate about every yoga teacher on our SOL staff. I learn every time I take one of their classes, not only things about myself but about their teaching style and their personal yoga practice on and off the mat. I will always be a yoga teacher but first I am a student.
I used to love to run marathons and I trained a lot. I was disciplined about running plans and nutrition and I didn’t think I would ever find any other physical activity that I could love more than my time running. But yoga, well, I love yoga more! Yoga makes me a better person.
What do you wish new students knew about starting a yoga practice?
Most people that have never tried yoga are quite intimidated about walking into a yoga studio because they aren’t flexible or they feel they are overweight. I always tell them “the hardest part is letting go of the ego and making the choice to show up and let go of all their bull sh*t excuses!” I get discouraged by students with self-limiting behavior which tends to create a lot of unnecessary suffering. So, I would say: “Stop making excuses and get out of your way! Come to your yoga mat and just breathe and move your body and connect with yourself!”
What is your favorite pose?
As I have evolved in my yoga practice and have gotten physically stronger in my body, I love chaturanga dandasana flowing into updog/downdog. However, when I first started practicing Ashtanga, I wasn’t getting the movements just right and I injured my shoulder. So, I have worked diligently to correct my alignment and I love to teach students how to refine the details of shifting the shoulders slightly forward in front of the wrists, hugging the elbows into the ribcage and so forth …. I love all the subtle details because I don’t want anyone to get injured and I want them to continue to step into their strength and their personal power.
What are you reading right now?
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
In five years, I hope that I am leading more yoga teacher trainings, inspiring more people to come to practice yoga daily. Wow. I really want to continue to guide students to experience this beautiful ancient practice by following the 8 limbed path of yoga!”
I also want to travel around the world….. taking yoga with me and leading yoga retreats for our SOL yogis in beautiful places while experiencing different cultures and appreciating this ONE life we have all been given. I want to climb Mount Kilimanjaro while doing yoga every day! I want go to Machu Pichu, Peru and many, many other places!
What is your favorite comfort food?
My go-to comfort food would be veggie pizza. And honestly, I can eat a whole pizza by myself just ask my family! My all time favorite is Mellow Mushroom.
When do you feel most connected to the world around you?
When I intentionally let go of my ego and my desires and truly focus on being fully present in the moment. However it is a daily struggle because I am a goal oriented and always multi-tasking and hustling to get it ALL done every day! Breathe in, breathe out…when I do that I feel most connected.
What is your main goal for yourself? As a teacher? As a studio owner?
My main goal for myself is to learn to let things unfold naturally and be willing to sit with whatever it is I’m experiencing. I want to let it pass through me instead of trying to control it. I want to teach my children how to do this too! Maybe they can do it better, sooner!
As a teacher, I want to be creative but also have the element of grounding.
I want first and foremost to anchor my students, so they feel very grounded and have a strong foundation. I want them to feel that every time they come to their yoga mat they can be vulnerable and fluid and feel their energy without closing off to it. If I can channel that into each and every class, then I feel like I have accomplished something very special.
Sol is Latin for the Sun. I love the sun. I love to be outside. I love as much vitamin D as I can get organically. I am drawn to light. As a Yoga studio owner, I believe SOL yoga studio is drawing people to their inner light. There is something here at SOL for every one no matter your walk of life, no matter what burden you carry, we can all leave it at the door and we can come to our yoga mat and experience this releasing and letting go and renewing of our spirit & mind each and every time we walk into this sacred space and feel connection! We should all do more of what sets our soul on fire! Namaste.
Belinda Crowson Fleming