Each month I want to introduce you all to a few yoga teachers around the county, so you know who is out there and ready to support your yoga journey.
Let me begin by introducing you to my fellow Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) Sam Kauffman from Cumberland Valley Martial Arts and Yoga Studio.
Sam and I went through Yoga Teacher Training together and he has a great story to share. Sam was in his mid-40s and ready to take control of his health, so like many people he started with a conventional exercise routine.
He tried walking, going to the gym and martial arts. Nothing seemed to stick as Sam felt like it just took time out of his life.
He decided to try yoga at home and quickly recognized that yoga not only provided the kind of exercise he was seeking, but also had an “off the mat” mindset that suited his lifestyle.
Additionally, Sam felt as though the other exercises he tried would tear his body down over time whereas yoga had the potential to heal his body over time.
He started to notice less achiness in his knees and shoulders and an increase in flexibility both of which allowed an ease of movement in his day-to-day activities. As Sam moved forward in his yoga practice, he discovered an unexpected benefit.
As a CEO-level employee in a high stress job, he started noticing a shift in how he handled his day at work after a morning yoga practice.
He started practicing yoga for the physical benefits but was having significant shifts in his ability to quiet his mind and keep his stress levels under better control.
As Sam was practicing on his own in his garage, he came to the understanding that he was going to practice yoga long-term. So he decided to start Yoga Teacher Training in order to deepen his personal practice.
He received his 200-hour RYT from Om My Yoga in Camp Hill and during that 6-month process he had another ‘light’ bulb moment. Sam realized that more men needed to experience the benefits of yoga and he decided to teach public classes in a co-ed format.
During our interview, Sam shared with me that when men walk into a typical co-ed gym, they feel comfortable in their ability to compete with or outperform a female due to natural size and strength. Most men have been socialized to have this mindset, right?
When men walk into a yoga studio, however, they may be confronted with the realization that they aren’t going to have the same experience and that can lead to uncomfortable comparisons.
For Sam, the rewards of beginning the practice of yoga far outweighed some of his initial discomfort and he hopes to pass that understanding to others.
Sam also started to do a little research and discovered that many professional sports teams have a yoga component requirement built into their physical training programs. If you see a well-rounded professional athlete, you can bet they are practicing yoga!
Sam has now been teaching yoga for about 3 years and has almost completed the next level of training, which is the 300-hour certification.
When I asked him to share his favorite yoga myth to bust and his favorite aspect of teaching, he had lots to share!
Sam personally discovered, and hopes to impart to others, that not all yoga takes place on the mat. Quick frankly, most yoga occurs off the mat with the biggest impact being how you treat yourself and others.
Sam also shared that his favorite part of teaching was witnessing the success stories of others. He loves helping a client build up to a pose that they never expected to achieve, and Sam works hard to provide instruction and yoga props to help them get there in their own time and at their own pace.
Sam strongly believes that yoga is for every BODY – from the combat-wounded soldier, and the injured athlete, to the elderly and those suffering from illness just to name a few. He encourages focusing on the basics and having fun, sweating a little, relaxing a little, and seeing you reap the benefits.
Sam and his wife Janel co-own Cumberland Valley Martial Arts and Yoga Center located at 201 Sunset Blvd E in Chambersburg. For more information or to take a class, you can call 717-360-1101 or visit www.cumberlandvalleyma.com.