May 2015 Student of the Month

Amy Fortener

Fortener Please tell us a little about yourself.
I was born in Michigan and moved all over the country before ending up in San Antonio in 2009. I moved here to start my career as a PA in anatomic pathology. I spend my days looking at diseased organs, which gives me plenty of motivation to get in the hot room regularly to keep my own body working and healthy!
What brought you to the yoga practice?
A coworker/friend told me about this yoga and its impressive list of benefits. It seemed too good to be true. Despite my misgivings, she encouraged me to try it and I took my first class in March 2013. I remember looking up at the ceiling during savasana, reduced to a puddle of sweat and misery, and wondering why they’d bothered installing those infuriatingly motionless ceiling fans. Suddenly, they started spinning. Moving air never felt so good. I was going to make it. I did. I came back the next day and then kept on coming.
How often do you take class?
AS OFTEN AS POSSIBLE!!! I aim for everyday but inevitably get stuck at work, in traffic, or both and realistically make it 5-6 times each week.
What specific physical issues, if any, did you have before taking you first class?
Poor posture (significant improvement), hip pain (eliminated).
What are the greatest benefits of your practice?
Increased strength and body awareness. This yoga taught me I had no idea how to engage my muscles. It still amazes me how something so simple can be so difficult. It’s taken me two years to learn how to squeeze my legs together and I’m still trying to figure out those pesky lower abdominals.
How has this practice changed your health and life?
Any emotional or other benefits? I was an obese child. My metabolism finally kicked in around puberty and since then, through careful eating and exercise, I’ve been able to maintain a healthy bodyweight. Although I shed the body of my childhood, I never lost the posture of someone who is uncomfortable with her body. I spent over 25 years slumped over and came to this yoga with absolutely no strength in my “posture muscles.” It’s been a long, slow process but through regular practice, I’m finally learning to stand up straight. Staring at myself in the mirror for 90 minutes in a crowded room, completely drenched in my own sweat would have been my ten-year-old self’s worst nightmare. However, doing so regularly has helped me build an incredible amount of confidence and taught me to finally make peace with the body I see in the mirror and the person inside.
What is your favorite part of the yoga?
Practicing next to people of all ages, sizes, and fitness levels. Listening to the same dialogue every day and then suddenly hearing something new and different. Having an awful class today and a fabulous one tomorrow. How the staff enthusiastically greets me every time I walk into a studio. And most of all, how teachers work so hard to encourage us to do things the “right way”--who else would grab your sweaty, unshaven leg to fix your alignment? NO ONE! Thank you and Namaste.