SHOP SUMMER WARRIOR
A beauty with a lionheart, KiraGrace Warrior Lisa Laird was introduced to yoga at a young age through her parents who were Ashtanga yoga practitioners. She attended classes with them, seeing it as a way to complement her studies in ballet. However, a dance injury brought her onto her mat full-time. She quickly began to see how transformational yoga was and became hooked. Yoga really helped her heal, understand, and respect her body. She might not be practicing ballet anymore, but she still loves to dance and views sun salutations as a true dance of self-expression. She is a treasure to our community, and we are so grateful for the unique gifts she brings to this team. Get to know this sweetheart as she shares her passions, dreams, and yoga philosophy, followed by an exclusive yoga tutorial for the KiraGrace community:
KiraGrace: KiraGrace is on a mission to celebrate women's beauty, strength, and grace as they move through life's journeys, and we are so inspired by empowered women like you. Who or what inspires you?
Lisa: Thank you! Reading about history, viewing and creating art, dancing to music, playing music... All of those things inspire and motivate me. However, I love seeing other people living their dreams and changing their lives for the better. It's amazing to watch positive transformation happen. It's such a sweet reminder that it's never too late to start something new or to follow your dreams. Not to mention, other empowered women inspire me – I love my fellow KiraGrace Warriors and what they're up to!
KG: From being the Program Coordinator of Cowgirls vs. Cancer to traveling annually to Mexico to teach giving class donations to Cambiado Vidas, it's obvious that service is a major priority to you. Why is it so important in your life? And do you ever feel spread too thin - how do you find a healthy balance?
Lisa: I feel extremely lucky in my life to have traveled and to be healthy, educated, and driven – that's why I serve. With that said, why not give back? To me, I feel socially responsible to take time, share, and volunteer. It really is a beautiful way to give and create relationships with others that normally you wouldn't. I'm able to find a healthy balance between work, teaching and practicing yoga by practicing what I preach. Self care is vital for everyone's well-being!
KG: We know that you dedicate a large portion of your time to Cowgirls vs. Cancer with Big Sky Yoga Retreats particularly. Why did this issue grab you and what inspired you to get involved? How has your experience with Cowgirls vs. Cancer affected your story and who you are? Lisa: I was thrilled when Margaret Burns Vap, owner and director of Big Sky Yoga Retreats, asked me to begin teaching on retreats. I was even more honored when she asked me to be the Program Coordinator for Cowgirls vs. Cancer. Each year, I learn something new about myself at our retreat. The bravery possessed by each woman that shares her story humbles me and motivates me to be strong in my own life, step out of my comfort zone, and go for it in life. Our time is fleeting and ever changing. Enjoy it and be present for it!
KG: What is your yoga teaching philosophy and how has it evolved with your own self-discovery?
Lisa: The practice is always changing! Working through injuries throughout my life and still staying committed to my practice has taught me that yoga isn't all about a "perfect asana." It's so much more than that. Yoga is how we treat each other, ourselves, and the planet. In my opinion, yoga is best practiced off the mat.
KG: What aspirations/goals are you hoping to achieve this year (or within the next few)?
Lisa: I will go to India in 2016 to study yoga with one of my favorite teachers, David Garrigues! Beyond that, I hope to continue inspiring individuals through the yoga I teach and being involved with the KiraGrace Warrior Program.
KG: What is your favorite KiraGrace item and why?
Lisa: I adore the Warrior Tough Cut Leggings! They stay put and are extremely comfortable. I get so many compliments on them when I wear them!
Eka Pada Galavanasana Tutorial by Lisa Laird
Eka Pada Galavanasana, more commonly known as Flying Pigeon, is a beautiful blend of arm and core strength and a hip opener. At first it can look like an intimidating arm balance. But anything broken down can be easier and more feasible, so let's break it down!
Begin by warming up the body with sun salutations incorporating a lot of hip opening standing poses – think Warrior Two and Side Angle. Move to the floor and then spend some time in Half Pigeon.
If full Half Pigeon isn't available to you right now, try it sitting upright or even maintaining the same position but lying on your back.
Once you feel ready, come to standing. Bend both knees and cross your left foot above the right kneecap. Flex through the left foot to protect the knee. This also creates a deep external rotation through the hips. Start to bend forward. If your body is on the tighter side, don't hesitate to reach for a block. Take a few breaths and then begin to reach your palms to the floor.
Spread the fingers and start to bend the elbows. Imagine Bakasana, Crow Pose, as you start to lean your weight and gaze forward. As you lean your weight forward, hook the left foot around your right triceps. That will not only build your foundation, but also help your pigeon fly!
Get comfortable with your weight in your hands, and then start to lift your right leg off of the floor. Use the breath to engage the core.
If it is your first time in this asana, try placing a block under the standing knee for support. It's a great way to feel the lift of the asana without straightening the back leg.
Keep the gaze forward and extend the leg.
Don't be afraid to fall! It's how you will learn. Trust yourself and the practice – it all will come!
Lisa currently teaches with Big Sky Yoga Retreats and is their Cowgirls vs. Cancer Program Coordinator. Annually, she travels to Chacala, Mexico to teach giving class donations to Cambiado Vidas. Lisa believes that personal awareness trickles directly into community awareness and that through yoga, one breath at a time, people can positively change their lives and the world. Visit Lisa's website, and follow her on Facebook and Instagram.
Photo credit Jennie Lynn Photo