Our student ambassador for June is Leah Madamba, who has been practicing at HYA for 14 years! Leah is a mom to two teenagers and a therapist and parent coach who works with teenagers and their families. While this work is very rewarding, it is also taxing. “I appreciate having a place to go to get re-centered,” Leah said. “I am always grateful to get into the heated room, be on my yoga mat surrounded by amazing people and follow top-notch teachers. Yoga is profound for me because it is a moving meditation that helps me connect my mind, body, and soul. It helps me become present and get clear about my priorities.”
You will see Leah in a variety of classes, always with a smile and kind words for her fellow students and yoga family.
HYA: When did you first start practicing?
LEAH: I first started practicing yoga after I gave birth to my second child. She was two months old and her older brother was 2 years old, so I was ready to start reclaiming my body and finding some “me” time. I was initially motivated by the idea of losing weight and getting back in shape. When I started in 2009, the studio was next door to the current location, still had carpet, and was only offering Bikram-style classes. I’ve kept with it through the years, and my practice has changed as the studio has evolved. While it’s true that I make healthier food choices when I’m practicing yoga regularly, over time I came to appreciate yoga on a deeper level for all the ways it helped me to calm my mind and get clear about current life lessons.
HYA: What is your favorite style?
LEAH: I will always love the Hot 26 series. When I’ve taken a break or feel the need to get back to basics, this is the series for me. I find it fascinating that each time I do it, the poses and order are the same, but the practice itself can be completely different. It gives me a way to watch my own growth and evolution as I can feel my muscles getting stronger and my flexibility increasing.
When the studio added hot flow, I started doing that and fell in love with it. There is something healing about the heat and the way it loosens up everything. I was amazed at all I could do physically in the flow classes after working on my strength and flexibility in the Hot 26 classes. That led me to try new, harder poses, and it’s encouraging to see my own progress with it. I also love attending yoga festivals, like our local Love Shine Play Festival. Those give me a chance to drop into my practice in a whole new way, connect with my friends, and get exposed to new styles and teachers.
HYA: What advice would you give to a new student?
LEAH: Keep coming back! I know after that first class, or the first class after a break, it doesn’t always feel good. Your body is sore, and you probably have a headache if you haven’t had enough water. And, coming back tomorrow is the best way to work through it. You will be amazed to see how quickly you notice small improvements in your practice.
HYA: What makes you love HYA?
LEAH: I tell everyone that HYA is like a time machine. We have such a diverse group of people, ages, and body types in the studio, and that is so inspiring. I love watching people that are older than me in the studio as they commit to their own daily practice. I swear they are not aging! I want to be like them and age gracefully, and I think hot yoga is a part of that plan. I also love our community. The teachers greet me by name and with a warm smile. I always feel weclome. I love planning my weekend practices with my friends so we can all be in it together. I’m extremely grateful to HYA for figuring out how to evolve and stay open through the pandemic as it has been a real lifesaver for me.