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Meet Our July Student Ambassadors: The Stockdale Family

By June 30, 2024No Comments

If you have taken a class at HYA in the past few years, particularly a Flow class, chances are you have practiced with a Stockdale. Since 2020, when Lee Stockdale first started taking classes in the HYA parking lot during the pandemic shutdown, HYA has loved folding this family trio into our community.

Lee, Gail and daughter Leah are often practicing in the same class, but you might not even know they are related. They don’t practice next to each other. But you might find them catching up in the lobby because our studio has become a second home base for all three of them. In the yoga room, they are shining examples of yoga’s benefits at any age.

Lee and Gail have five children in all, four of them who live in the Asheville area. Leah mirrors her parents’ love for hot yoga and the others have practiced at HYA occasionally as well. We will miss Leah as she leaves later this summer for Europe to earn a graduate degree in Human Resources.

Here’s their story:

HYA: How did the Stockdales land at HYA?

Lee: Our yoga studio at the YMCA had shut down because of Covid. And it really shut down. It’s no longer open. I missed yoga and found Hot Yoga Asheville and I was very excited that you were sort of open. The classes were being held outside, in the back. It was a hardy group. Bugs would drop from the trees and crawl across your mat. I felt like I was sort of roughing it. So when we went inside, that was very exciting. We had the stickers every 6 feet, so there weren’t many people in there and we had to wear masks inside, so that was tough. But then the masks came off and we started getting closer together and then one day, incredibly, a white, ice-cold towel arrived on my hand and I thought, I have died and gone to heaven. I couldn’t believe it. This is like a spa.

Gail: Once we went inside, I said, OK, I’ll go. I’m not doing yoga in a parking lot. We did the masks.

Leah: I joined while we were still doing masks, and I thought, ‘If I can do hot yoga in a mask, then, I can do anything.’

Gail: I had a cloth mask and one time, it got so wet. I started having a panic attack because I couldn’t breathe. I almost lost it. I came home and was telling Leah and she said, ‘Mom, hello, it’s like water-boarding yourself. Get one of the disposable kinds so it won’t be absorbing the sweat.’ That helped. What would I have done without her insight?

HYA: What about the studio drew you in?

Leah: I had done yoga as a college course, but doing it here was like my first studio experience and it was wonderful. I remember specifically being there in a moment when I was between jobs and I was going every day. Hot yoga was my job. It really taught me all the basics. I went and lived with my sister for a year and did yoga, but it was more free-flowing and I found I really missed the instruction of HYA and that was really great to come back to. You can always learn something new when you have that instruction and guidance.

Gail: That is one of my favorite things about the studio, the number of instructors and the amount of classes that are offered with the different instructors. It’s so nice to have the variety. I am used to being in a place where there are one or two instructors and you are just sort of in that groove.

Lee: I really like the music. It’s so different. I wouldn’t even know where to look for that kind of music. It’s very different vibes. And the people are all so nice. Everyone is collegial and helpful and respectful of one another. It’s a wonderful community. It’s really unusual. I hear guys in the locker room talking and saying, ‘I went to New York and I went to yoga and it really sucked. It’s not like this place.’

Gail: It’s not just exercise. The messages that many of the instructors like to bring, that’s what Leah and I especially like to hear.

Leah: The reassurance we get also from every instructor of like, where you are in your body is where you are meant to be and is where you are starting from today. And sure enough, that does change day to day and week to week. They are really wise about that, which is nice.

Lee: The people at the desk, Lily, Natalie, Valerie, everyone… they are just so wonderful. They are so welcoming. I don’t know if they even know how important it is for them to be as personable as they always are to everyone coming in. It’s very meaningful.

HYA: Why is it the three of you seem to gravitate to the same classes?

Leah: There are classes that I sign up for where I’m not expecting to see them. Last week it was 4 pm on a Sunday and there we all were. We tend to like the Flow classes, although ever since the challenge, I am a lot more open to the Hot 26. I totally see the benefit of that and the Blast classes, I like keeping that in my schedule.

Gail: For me, having been in the military on active duty, Hot 26 just reminds me too much of boot camp. Been there, done that. I like the music too.

HYA: How does practicing yoga benefit you as a family?

Gail: Sometimes that’s where we talk. She (Leah) is so busy, that’s where we catch up. Or we will bring her mail, or if she gets a package, I’ll put it in the car and know I will see her there.

Leah: It is our third place. It’s where we know that we will see each other and that’s nice. I’m a lot busier, so it’s a lovely middle place to meet for great reasons. We will sit outside afterward and chat.

Lee: I’m a guy and I’m so proud to be there with Gail and my lovely daughter. I just feel great that I’m associated with them.

Gail: Our son Noah has been to a class. Logistically he’s not able to come because he lives pretty far from the studio. And our oldest son Zach has been there, but it’s not convenient for him either. And Jay has been there too. To make the commitment, it has to be close to make it work.

HYA: What is it like to practice with your parents?

Leah: It’s funny. There are moments in the class when we are doing certain poses and I am doing it and it’s hard and I’ll look and say, ‘my Dad’s doing it too!’

Lee: I have seen Leah in class and I think, ‘She’s really good!’ It’s mutual adoration.

Leah: And Mom is so steady.

Lee: Yeah, she’s a champ.

Gail: I think it has a lot to do with the instruction. The instructors will say something about your alignment and I’m one of the people who will listen to that and in my mind, think, where is my arm, where is my shoulder and that’s very helpful. Not everyone likes to do that. I’m really listening to those adjustment cues. And I’m a really competitive person and it’s really good for me because I’m competing with myself.