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Our Very Own Wilson Yogi

by Zazie Tobey, staff writer

Sophomore Julia Lehr is set to complete her Yoga teacher training certification at Asheville Yoga Center by the end of November. She also formed the Yoga sub crew of Wellness this semester, to ensure a more frequent schedule of yoga classes on campus.

“The more I do Yoga the more I love myself and those around me,” said Lehr.

Spanning around seven months, the 230-hour Yoga Teacher Training is offered several times a year in multiple southeastern cities. The teachers who assist with the certification program come from a wide range of backgrounds and personalities, providing students with a unique experience. Lehr started the program on scholarship at the end of May and continued to complete the nine weekend sessions throughout the summer.

“This is not a dogmatic practice,” said Lehr. “The training enforced the idea of individual Yoga style: find your own rhythm and share that. Be authentic with who you are.”

Lehr joined the Wellness Crew last semester and started the Yoga sub crew of wellness because she wanted more yoga classes available for students. She offers classes three days a week: Restore and Renew on Tuesdays, Yin and Restore on Wednesdays, and Gentle Flow on Thursdays, all offered in Lower Fellowship Hall behind the chapel or during good weather at the pavilion. Several other students on Wellness Crew have taught Yoga in the past and will continue to this year.

“Julia’s class was really relaxing,” said Melody Crain, a freshman. “[It’s] more focused on meditation, and yoga poses were worked into it. It’s nice to have a student as a teacher—she’s awesome.”

Charlie Wright, the crew supervisor/bodywork guru for Wellness and the Training Room, is pleased with Lehr’s self-motivation and dedication to create a Yoga sub crew.

“She wanted to take that on and devote her time to that,” said Wright. “That’s never been done with Yoga before — I think it’s great for students to take initiative and just run with it.”

Lehr got involved with Yoga her senior year of high school. Chosen as a topic for a final project, Yoga quickly became much more than an assignment. When Lehr came to Wilson last year her inspiration to study Yoga followed, and during her freshman seminar, Alternative Body and Soul healing, she did service with patients at a local nursing home and started to wonder if Yoga was just what the elderly needed.

“I was beginning to think about how yoga would be great for them to do,” said Lehr. “I thought ‘this could alleviate alzheimer’s symptoms.’”

Inspiration comes to Lehr through success stories of the elderly and those in recovery who have found the right practice and stuck with it.

“When I am doing a handstand I know how good it is for me, but it isn’t until I hear stories of people recovering from fatal injuries in their nineties that I realize how important it really is,” said Lehr.

For the certification and her own practice Lehr does Yoga and Meditation everyday, if not multiple times throughout the day.

“Most of my time this semester has been spent doing Yoga, teaching yoga—everything Yoga,” said Lehr.

Lehr is constantly juggling running to the Asheville Studio to complete training criteria, racing back for classes, all the while teaching community Yoga classes at least three times a week. Days for Lehr can range from a 6 a.m. Yoga class downtown, to academic classes, to a 4 p.m. class she teaches back on campus.

“She’s really stretched”, said Wright. “We check in with each other from time to time; I want to make sure she’s not too overwhelmed.”

“Yoga has changed everything for me,” said Lehr.

It was more than the certification for Lehr as she began to understand the flux in life that subconsciously leads you towards meaningful experiences and lessons.

“It wasn’t me choosing [the certification program],” said Lehr, “it’s what needed to happen.”

The serendipitous full circle moments have come out of the woodwork for Lehr, reminding her of the beautiful details that life tends to hit you with when you’re least expecting it.

“Yoga has taught me that everything is given to you, and everything is setup as it is supposed to,” she said. “I notice things everyday that happened and say to myself ‘Whoa I can’t believe that actually happened.’”

With her legs crossed, poised on a mat, Lehr circles the stick around the edge of her singing bowl making the bronze alloy echo, much like the sound of a wet fingertip circling a crystal glass.

“The universe provides”, said Lehr. “I needed to be able to share my love for Yoga with others and help them like it helped me.”

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