What brought you to yoga, and what made you want to teach it?
I took up yoga 15 years ago when running and intense workouts were starting to take their toll on my knees. I was drawn to Bikram initially. It had that hardcore element, and at that time, I equated a punishing workout with a strong, toned body. The harsher, the better. In time, I discovered that you don’t have to beat yourself up to get the body you want. I also concluded that there was an element of self-loathing that accompanied my exercise regime. Perhaps that is when the “work-in” of yoga started to kick in along with an acceptance of my body, and a kinder outlook towards myself and others.
I chose Baptiste and power flow sequences. Then I landed in Bloomington, Indiana. At Vibe. It was a homecoming. I enjoyed being around our teachers. I absorbed their energy. Their enthusiasm was contagious. And despite by struggles in distinguishing my right hand from my left, off I went to teacher training in Asheville, North Carolina, for a three-week intensive. My desire to learn more culminated in completion of the 500-hour training course here at Vibe.
How would you describe the purpose or meaning of yoga as you see it?
Yoga is a discipline, a passion, and an integral part of my life. It keeps me moving. It keeps the heart pumping and the blood flowing. It connects me to my body and to my community.
What are your sources of inspiration as a practitioner and/or teacher?
A curious mind and an open heart. And reading, lots of reading, not limited to yoga writing.
Outside of Vibe, many know you as a mother, a grandmother, a home cook, a writer, and a welcoming presence. Does yoga connect with or influence these aspects of your life?
Thank you for that kind description! My life informs my yoga and my yoga informs my life. Not sure where one begins and the other ends….
How would you describe your yoga style?
Spicy and sweet. I like a rigorous vinyasa flow to work up a sweat. And I like it to be followed by some sweet stretches and a melting savasana.
What do you want people to take away from your classes?
My hope is that students leave my classes feeling physically challenged, calm, and serene. And perhaps they might take away a little something extra—a nugget of wisdom, an interesting stretch—that they hadn’t anticipated.
Do you have a specific mantra or focus with which you practice?
What’s the most rewarding experience you’ve had so far as a yoga practitioner and/or teacher?
My tripod headstand! (So much for leaving the ego behind!) There is a Hebrew saying that loosely translates: “I have grown wise from all my students.” I may be standing before a class in the role of their teacher, but I am really the student. The reward for me is to be a witness to the lives around me, their joys and their struggles, and to discover a deeper well of compassion within myself. The novelist E.M. Forster wrote, “Only connect.” That’s my plan.
What’s your favorite moment in every class you teach?
It’s this imperceptible moment when I feel a bond with my students, this sense that I am taking them on a journey and they are willing and eager passengers.
What’s a pose you particularly like to teach and why?
I often include a camel pose in my classes. It is the ultimate heart opener. You are courageous when you expose your heart. And you are vulnerable when you expose your heart. The task is to live, and to live fully, while making space for both bravery and sadness.
Would you share a fun Ruthie fact with us?
I was born on February 12th, Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, and I’ve always felt a connection to him. His humanity, his vision, and even his sorrow inspire me.