Last year I attended a class that opened my eyes to a different side of yoga. I attended a Power Yoga class with Gena and I was hooked from day one. Not only was I excited about this challenging type of yoga, but I was also beyond thrilled to find an instructor who was clearly very passionate about yoga. I loved that Gena focuses on both the physical and spiritual side of yoga. Her enthusiasm and determination are such an inspiration to me. She has taken me under her wing and helped me grow tremendously.
Keep reading to see my interview with Gena Heminover.
When did you start doing yoga?
I started doing yoga in 2005 when I was 25. At that time I had quit drinking or was in the process of quitting drinking and changing my life. I was also running a lot and got injured. Someone told me to try yoga and so I did. The first time I went I loved it and keep going ever since.
How often do you do yoga?
How has yoga changed your life?
The poses haven’t changed my life. There is the superficially part of just being more flexible and things like that. I use more of the calming part of yoga to try and soothe my edgy personality. I can get pretty fiery, quick-tempered, bitchy. It might sound odd coming from a yoga teacher. Every time at the end of the practice, my intention is to be calm and less reactive. And because I have kids, it’s to show up for my kids. I use the yoga practice and the mindfulness part of yoga to show up for my kids. To be what they need, to be there for them.To get down to their level, to understand things from their point of view. To get out of myself, my ego. So that I can be the mom, the person that they need.
My husband comes second. I get out of being selfish and think about what he needs in this relationship as a dad and husband. That part of yoga has changed my life. I don’t know what type of person I would be without it, probably a lot more hell on wheels. And that’s why I can confidently say that I use yoga every day. I think I may take one day off of the physical practice. But every day I am trying to just be more mindful of what I am doing, be kinder to the people around me.
What do you find most challenging about yoga?
There are the physical poses that I am always trying to work on. But I think it’s working on yourself. The connection to everybody, I was mentioning my family and my kids, but what is even more challenging is stepping beyond those that you love and love everyone else and not judge. It’s very easy to look at somebody and judge them. But, then you take a step back and remember that we are all together on this earth. We are all one kind, we are all human. You don’t know their story, their background, you don’t know anything about them. I think it’s very rude to look at someone and have a quick judgment when you don’t know anything about them.
I think that part of yoga, being mindful, and being responsible for your actions and your thoughts is one of the hardest things of yoga because it’s easy to just slip into that ego, slip into being judgemental of other people and having those thoughts. When you realize it, you can change it. A lot of people don’t even realize it. A lot of people don’t work on themselves. It starts with you, how you look at the people and situations around you. I think that’s the hardest part of yoga.
What do you find most rewarding about yoga?
Teaching it. I love when I find a student or someone who has gotten it. A lot of people come to class and they are looking for exercise, just the physical movement. I like it when someone will turn around and say, “I use it for relaxing”, or “I love that I can clear my mind”. I have a class full of teachers. Most of them come to just unload and clear their head. They are doing poses, but I think a lot of them are trying to empty the mind.
There are also the people that I find that take it a step further and they are working on the spiritual practice, taking their practice off the mat. I can tell them to be more calm, friendly, less reactive and patient and they go out and practice it. It has nothing to do with doing a handstand. It’s how you are with other people. That is the most rewarding, giving my passion to someone else.
What role do you see yoga taking in your future?
I hope that it keeps me aging gracefully. I don’t know that I’ll be able to stick my foot behind my head forever, it’s not that. It’s that I still want to have mobility. I want some dignity as a get older. To not need help to clean myself or get up off a chair. I hope I can keep a little bit of the movement I do in yoga and continue to practice, if not teach it, as I get older. The population of who I teach to will probably change as I get older. But doing it myself, I think, will allow me to stay more active with my kids longer, live on my own longer.
Yoga, in India, is called the practice of letting go. It’s getting ready for the big let go, death. As you go through life, you are able to let go of earthly attachments. So as I get older, I hope that it prepares me so that I can leave this world feeling content and ready to go.
Thank you Gena for the interview and all the inspiration!
Do you have someone who inspires you? Comment below!