March 2015 Student of the Month

Toni Cardiel

Toni CardielPlease tell us a little about yourselves.
First off thanks to The Union for recognizing me as the student of the month after 6 years, I'm very fortunate to be part of this incredible community. I'm a military brat that calls Austin home. I graduated from Texas A&M University with an Industrial Distribution degree, I moved to San Antonio where I've worked at a few different companies primarily in Project Management and/or Marketing. Yes, at one point, I did work at Steve's favorite: Whataburger headquarters. I've been in the medical industry, food industry, and I'm a make up artist. Luckily for me I live about 8 minutes away from the Hollywood Park studio, otherwise I'd never make it to the 5:30 AM BAM class (yes, I'm the reason this class isn't at 5:00 AM).  I practice yoga primarily so I can continue to wear my 5+ inch heels.  I'm a girl about town always trying new places and enjoying whatever the city has to offer with friends. I also enjoy my time at home with my dachshund, Ruby.
What brought you to the yoga/CrossFit practice?
At age 30 I was told by my back specialist that I had a choice, I could go to yoga/Pilates or have back surgery due to 2 torn discs and a protruding disc.  The very next day, I walked into the Hollywood Park studio, took my first class from Carlos, and the rest is history. Surprisingly, I didn't know anyone when I walked into the yoga studio and I didn't know anything about Bikram Yoga or any other types of yoga.  It was pretty intimidating!  I can remember being so out of shape that I would stagger to my car after class, sit there and think I was going to die of a heart attack.  I kept coming though...I was terrified of CrossFit; all I ever heard about it from students at other boxes was injuries and a lot of competition.  It took a lot for me to overcome this fear and give it a try. But I figured, if I trusted the Union staff with my body once and it worked; why not give CrossFit a try. Joining this community is one thing but continuing to return everyday is a joy.  Taking the time for myself daily is incredibly important; I don't function properly without the Union.  My joints literally scream at me when I don't practice yoga and my mood changes from a calm to anxious state. Seeing my yoga practice change due to the strength I've built in CrossFit is truly something I encourage all yogis to experience!
How often do you take class?
Hi, I'm Toni and I'm a hot yoga and CrossFit addict!! I practice yoga about 4-5 times a week and CrossFit about 4 times a week. Hollywood Park is my home studio but I occasionally frequent Alamo Heights.  It's a very rare occasion to see me at Huebner Oaks.
What specific physical issues, if any, did you have before taking you first class?
2 torn discs and a protruding disc was what convinced me to try yoga. Yoga seems to fix just about anything going on in my body from tennis elbow to sinus infections, best advise I can give is GO to class!
What are the greatest benefits of your practice?
There are so many!! Physical benefits are easier and quicker to notice such as developing flexibility, lean muscle, and balance.  I've dropped about 35 pounds and shed 4 sizes! And I, like Lisa and Kristen, did grow a half an inch! It's the non physical benefits that amaze me and what keep me going everyday such as: worrying less, less anxiety, and having a sense of calmness in intense situations outside of the hot room. Just breathe! I have consistently awesome blood pressure, am no longer pre-diabetic, and am no longer at risk for Osteoperosis. I had confidence before but it was a different form of confidence than what I have I have acceptance of who I am. Here's a shout out to my friend Dorothy for convincing me that I was ready to wear the little yoga shorts!! I started out 6 years ago wearing capris, my pants got progressively shorter through the years and I now understand the benefits of wearing the booty shorts.
How has this practice changed your health and life?
Any emotional or other benefits? I cannot imagine life without the Union!!  It's almost like my church, it's my reset button daily.  I just have to go. I have to refocus that relationship I have with myself. No matter what is going on in my life from career changes, to stress, to family matters, to relationship issues, or what have you, there is something grounding in going to yoga and/or CrossFit.  Even in happy times in life, it just makes those more enjoyable.
What is your favorite part of the yoga?
CrossFit? My favorite part of yoga and CrossFit is the amazing staff and the outstanding students I get to practice with. I love the fact that our studio exudes positivity, encouragement and acceptance. I also love the way I feel after class and throughout that same day. I know this practice will be a part of my life forever.