Some things just seem to be a bit better when they have a little southern style. Faith Hunter's yoga practice may just be one of these things. Faith got started with yoga back in the early 90s as a way to find balance as she dealt with her brother's terminal illness. Since then she's become one of the most well-known yoga instructors in America and has graced the cover of Yoga Journal.
MindBodyGreen: When/how did you first begin practicing yoga?
Faith Hunter: I started practicing yoga back in the early 90s (not sure what year), but it was the thing I needed at the right time. I started with a few Rodney Yee classes on PBS and video, but soon I ventured to a class. I went with a friend as an alternative to our regular exercise routine and as a way to relax. My older brother, Michael, had been battling a terminal disease for years, so I really needed time to heal during his last year and after his death. Yoga was the freedom I needed from the emotional jail I was in. Yoga helped me find balance and joy again.
MBG: Any tips for someone who wants to get started with yoga? How do they know what style is right for them?
FH: Start slow, take your time, be open to what comes up, and of course BREATHE. I suggest taking a few different styles of classes to see what works for you in this stage of your life. Determine what you seek or need in the practice, and select those options based on your needs. Also spend some time processing how you feel during and after class, and if it helps, journal about your experiences. Who knows what you may discover about the practice of yoga and yourself. Overall, find what feels yummy.
MBG: Have your southern roots influenced your practice? If so, how?
FH: My southern roots have totally influenced my practice. Since I live in a city where I don’t have immediate family, my yoga community, dear friends and my sweetie have become my family. Like most country girls, family is key to staying grounded and rooted in your beliefs. My yoga practice is about maintaining loving and supportive relationships with people that share my values and love of life. The other aspect is the spiritual connection with God. I grew up in the church with my mother, and with a father who was not concerned about organized religion, but more focused on being kind to others and teaching us to appreciate and share the gifts we have been given. I truly believe family was my first guru, and yoga helped me reconnect with that spirit.
MBG: What do you love about yoga?
FH: I love the fact that I can be myself and express my full divinity without apologizing. It is okay to love and hate, laugh and cry, and simply just be Faith with an open heart and giving spirit! Yoga also reminds me that everyone and everything I encounter is a divine teacher, so each day I’m learning and growing. Lastly, I love the fact that everything superficial falls away when I’m on my mat. Man, what would we do without the asana practice?