As we continue our series of “People of Princeton Yoga” we like to introduce Shelly Yedlin. In 1999 – 21 years ago – she was one of our very first students and to date we love seeing her walk through our doors.
“In 1999, when I decided to begin a yoga practice, there was virtually only one center in the Princeton area offering it. PCYH was located off Route 206 near the airport at that time. A larger studio in a nearby location followed shortly thereafter, until PCYH landed at its current, beautiful campus. It has been exciting to watch the changes and growth of the studio, and also of it’s expanding roster of teachers, classes and workshops.
One of the best attributes of PCYH, in addition to the calming, welcoming and attractive environment, is that the teachers and classes are experienced and varied enough to provide a class for all types of students. Classes are open to everyone, and it’s always exciting to have a student walk into a class for the very first time. A beginner can place their mat next to a seasoned practitioner and feel confident that they are in a safe and inviting place.
Although the classes, interests and backgrounds of the teachers are varied, there are a few common and salient themes that run through every session at PCYH. No matter what type of yoga you are practicing, as one of my teachers likes to say, “Your breath is the soundtrack to your yoga practice.” Whether you find yourself in a restorative, gentle, moderate or challenging flow class, you will be encouraged to start from where you are, and to practice with compassion.
Like many, I came to yoga in part to seek physical and emotional healing. Several years after I began my practice, I underwent open heart surgery to repair a congenital valve problem. Another physical challenge presented itself later on. When I was finally able to return to PCYH, I was encouraged to begin anew with gentle classes. I found as I regained my strength, I was rather quickly able to incorporate more moderate classes. I learned to relax into, and enjoy the concept of, “beginner’s mind.”
I recently learned that I will soon need to undergo a second open heart surgery, this time to deal with a related cardiac issue. My teachers are working with me to stay strong and healthy—the best way to enter into any type of surgery or demanding situation. Moreover, I find that my almost daily attendance at PCYH, reminds me that the key to peace of mind is to stay in the present moment, one inhale and one exhale at a time. Another teacher suggests, “Breathe in what you envision for your life, breathe out that which does not serve you.” During meditation in a recent class, a new mantra came to mind—“I am a warrior, not a worrier.”
If you are like me, you realize that there is much in this world that is out of our control. Especially in these times of division, incivility and uncertainty, it is wonderful to have a place that offers a way toward expressions of unity, kindness and gratitude. It is liberating to work with the idea that the only thing we can be sure of is the present moment. A longtime PCYH teacher says that yoga is not a workOUT, but a workIN. At PCYH, there is always an opportunity to explore the union of mind, body and spirit, and to discover how that can be shared with others both on and off the mat.”