“As a former gymnast and dancer, I was trained to approach physical exercise in a competitive manner with the sole goal of attaining perfection. In the long run, this mindset is neither healthy nor sustainable and ultimately leads to disappointment.” Now, with Ashtanga Yoga, Sofia practices awareness and is learning to listen to her body mindfully.
Sofia Barchuk grew up in Marin County California and started her yoga journey as an adjunct to her competitive gymnastic career. The yoga classes were a complement; they helped heal injuries sustained from years of gymnastics and over stretching. However, yoga stopped there: “Though yoga served an important purpose in conjunction with my gymnastics classes,” Sofia says, “I never allowed myself to fully explore what yoga had to offer.”
Sofia continued to practice yoga intermittently throughout college, while still dancing ballet. Then she moved to Kansas City for medical school. Everything changed: “I began classes at Maya Yoga where I immediately felt at home.”
Two qualities of Ashtanga Yoga changed Sofia’s interaction with the practice: the physical challenge and the repetitiveness of the practice. “These combined qualities allowed me to experience a deeper understanding of yoga as both a moving meditation and physical exercise,” she says.
“Practicing awareness through Ashtanga has given me the opportunity to re-shape how I approach physical exercise, incorporating non-judgment and kindness towards myself in mind, body, and spirit.”
As Sofia finished her Medical School journey, she found Meditation to be extremely rewarding and helpful during long study days. She attended Sunday morning Meditation classes regularly and connected the physical with the mental. She explains it well: “By practicing mindfulness I continue to strengthen my abilities to act as a bystander to my thoughts, providing me with the opportunity to more deeply understand myself with heightened clarity.”