With fitness being a key topic for many as we kick off 2017, we asked Summer Brooks, DHG superstar and certified yoga instructor, to share tips with us on incorporating yoga into our daily lives. In this podcast Summer talks about her personal practice, her classes and how you can practice at home, at your desk and even in the airport!
Episode 24 Transcript:
AGH: Hello, everyone and welcome back to another episode of our DHG Podcast Series. I’m Alice Grey Harrison, your host, and I really love this venue because we get to hear from our people about the things that matter the most to them; flexibility, careers, and people. Today I have with me Summer Brooks. She is not only one of our DHG superstars; she’s a very good friend of mine. She works in our HR Solutions Center with a focus on analytics and process improvement. Welcome, Summer.
AGH: I practice yoga with Summer on a regular basis. We’re both in Greenville, South Carolina and she has a yoga certification, so I asked her to join us as part of 2017, our push, Energy for Life and Life Beyond Numbers. One area of Energy for Life is a focus on emotional well-being, as well as spiritual well-being and then I guess it also pulls in fitness. All three of those components are what yoga really does for our bodies. She’s going to share with us some ideas on how we can incorporate this into our everyday life. So let’s begin, Summer, by you telling us about your yoga certification and what drew you to pursue the certification.
SB: Sure. I’ve been practicing, I guess, for about 5 years now. I’ve always been really competitive and very athletic, fitness oriented. At one point in my life, I was probably doing a little too much, I injured myself and a doctor just flat out, said, “You have got to stop.” He suggested that I try yoga, I poo-pooed it and I was like, “You don’t know me. Yoga is not going to do anything for me, and 5 years later, here I am. I absolutely fell in love with yoga and the process of it and how it has improved so many parts of my life. I started going to Zanti Power Yoga in downtown Greenville and they had a certification program, and for a couple of years, I kept seeing people taking the steps that they needed to take to get their certification. I was so jealous but the timing just never worked out. Finally I just said, “You know what? I’m going to make this happen.” I knew that our firm had a Life Beyond Numbers Program that they would support my initiative to get my certification, and they absolutely did. They were great with me while I was getting my certification. They were super flexible with my schedule. I graduated in April and I’ve been teaching ever since then and I just love it. I love what it does not just for me but how I’m able to help my students now which is even strange to say that I have students because I still feel like such a student myself.
AGH: I’m a student and I absolutely love your classes. How do you think that yoga impacts you personally and others personally? How does it help us deal with stress?
SB: Well, it’s interesting because I feel like if any of you guys who are listening are yoga practitioners, you know what I’m talking about. I hope I’m not coming across a little odd. Yoga just finds you where you are, it really means something different to each of us.
AGH: Every day is different.
SB: Every single day is different. You come to your mat and – First of all, always there waiting for you. You know what? What you need today — it could be completely different from what you needed yesterday, and your abilities change. Same thing as you don’t eat and drink the same thing every day, so you can’t expect your body to perform the same every day. But as far as stress management is concerned, I find it comforting to know that I always have yoga as an outlet no matter what is happening, that is always there for me. Not only that, but in yoga, we practice focusing on our breath to calm our heart rate and to give us something to focus on to detach ourselves from, maybe either the practice or what might be going on in our lives. That’s something I’ve been able to take off of my mind as well, is really just focusing on my breath, my meditation. Just being very mindful at the end of the day.
AGH: Yeah. Absolutely. One thing that I think yoga helps with in terms of stress is that you can take it with you as you were saying, wherever you are and whether you have a mat or not, you still can practice.
SB: Oh yeah.
AGH: Once you learn, that’s the beauty of it. I do think it’s like running and that you can do it anywhere, anytime. Unlike running, you can do it in a hotel room, you can do it sitting…
SB: I’ve done it an airport.
AGH: Right. You can do it sitting, you can do it on an airplane, right?
SB: In your chair. Absolutely.
AGH: So that kind of leads me to my next question. Not necessarily that we’re on an airplane, but we’re sitting at a desk. How can we incorporate it into our life at work?
SB: Well, there’s a couple of ways that you could do it. First of all, like you said, yoga doesn’t have to be done on a mat. In fact, you don’t even have to be physically moving to perform and practice yoga. Yoga actually began as only a breathing meditation practice and later, it evolved into the physical arsenal that we see today. Incorporating it into our daily life, first of all, the breathing techniques there are; simply focusing on your breathing without even physically changing what you’re doing is yoga in itself. It brings awareness to your body, it calms your mind. That alone will be stress reducing. [caption id="attachment_2074" align="alignright" width="169"] Image from http://socialhermit.me/[/caption] The physical practice, if you’re in your chair simply place both feet squarely on the floor in front of you. You can take a hand and place it on the bottom right part of your chair and you can lean away from it dropping your neck to your left shoulder and then switching sides so your left hand is on the bottom of the left side of the chair leaning to the right dropping your ear to your right shoulder.
AGH: That feels amazing, doesn’t it? Definitely, you guys out there can try this.
SB: There’s all kinds of stuff you can do. There was one thing that I did. I’ve now traveled to three events with Dixon Hughes Goodman to teach yoga to our employees, and we did — at an HR meeting, we did only chair yoga for 30 minutes.
SB: It was wonderful, so I’ll be happy to pull together that sequence if you want to post it on the website.
AGH: Oh, yeah. That would be great. We can do that for this podcast. We’ll post some things and do some links as well. But, yeah, Summer mentioned she’s traveled. It’s really great that we have this Energy for Life and we are building this into our culture, so that at meetings, often times we start our day with group exercise and sometimes it is yoga. It’s amazing. There are some apps out there that I know I use. I know you have some that you use. Talk to me about some apps that people could download into their day to day routine.
SB: I don’t really use as many apps as I do websites. I am really trying to get away from being so dependent on my phone itself, but – and I know that I’ve mentioned this one to you, but I use YogaGlo.
AGH: That’s Y-O-G-A-G-L-O. I use YogaGlo in my personal practice, because the more I teach the less I find time to do my own personal practice in the studio. I find it really convenient to just go to this website. You can take a 10-minute class, you can take a 90-minute class, you can do a meditation, you can do a yen class which is holding static postures for up to 5 minutes at a time. You can do a power yoga class that’s level 3. It’s just really wonderful and you can find certain teachers that you like or if you want to – If your neck is bothering you can find something that focuses only on your neck.
AGH: If you’re a runner, you can type in runner. If you’re a cyclist, you can type in cyclist and they have classes that really work those parts of your body that get tense and tight through those exercises. I think it’s just—I have to use that one as well.
SB: It’s $18 a month.
AGH: Yeah, which you can’t beat.
SB: You cannot, and I think you get 2 weeks for free when you first sign up. Yup.
AGH: Well, recently I came across an app, it’s called Calm, C-A-L-M. It was featured on the Today show which is how I found it, and I’ve just started using it as of this week, but it’s a meditation website. It actually was part of the app, it has functions that help you breathe. It’s breathing exercises. It’s a pretty cool app to try out as well.
SB: Oh, I’m going to have to try that. I know as far as meditation is concerned, iTunes has their podcast app and my favorite guided meditation is by Rod Stryker, S-T-R-Y-K-E-R. I know he has some podcast on there as well.
AGH: Oh, that’s cool. That’s very helpful. If someone listens to us and I feel inspired which is kind of funny and they want to get started with yoga or meditating or breathing, what would you recommend? How do you get started? Because it is sort of intimidating to think of going to a studio.
SB: Yes and I totally get that, that it’s intimidating because they’re calling out poses in Sanskrit that you have no idea what’s going on, you feel silly and then—
AGH: I can even say – I mean I’ve been practicing yoga since college.
SB: Absolutely. I know it’s intimidating. What I did when I first started practicing yoga is I cut some personal sessions. I wanted to know is my alignment right, because you can hurt yourself doing it if you’re not doing it properly. I would recommend that and I’m sure that most of us know someone who practices yoga. Ask them for advice, ask them where they go. I know Greenville in particular has a ton of free community events
SB: - that you could absolutely look up and attend.
AGH: A lot of churches and a lot of libraries also have yoga classes.
SB: Yeah, it’s really everywhere. You can look up on meetup.com if there are any local yoga events happening, but for Greenville in particular, we do a lot of our events through Facebook. You could easily search for free public community events on Facebook.
AGH: Very cool. Well, this has been so fun. I totally could talk yoga with you all day.
SB: I know, I know.
AGH: We do kind of do that back and forth, too. Also, feel free to reach out to either Summer or myself.
SB: Yeah, absolutely.
AGH: We’re happy to help you think about how to get started incorporating yoga into your daily routine. Thank you.
SB: Yeah. Thank you.
AGH: This is so fun, and thank you all for listening to the Life at DHG premier podcast series. If you like what you just heard, we hope you all tell your friends and colleagues. Be sure to check out our DHG blog for more great stories about our Life Beyond Numbers. Join us next time for another edition of Life at DHG.
Summer Brooks earned degrees in International Business and German from Converse College in 2000, where she played collegiate volleyball as a Setter and Middle Back. After graduation, she competed in NPC Bodybuilding/Figure/Bikini competitions for 10 years, most notably taking the overall title at the 2001 Jr. USA, among others. In 2005 she co-founded Athlete’s Arena in Columbia, SC, a sports performance training facility and CrossFit affiliate, where she earned her CrossFit Level 1, CrossFit Kettlebell and NESTA Fitness Nutrition Coach Certifications. She has since accumulated 5 years of experience practicing yoga including Master Classes with Kathryn Budig, Briohny Smythe, Dice Iida-Klein, Irene Pappas and Taylor Harkness, and has recently graduated with 200 hours as a Yoga Alliance Registered Yoga Teacher in April 2016. Summer teaches at CrossFit Reaction and Zanti Power Yoga in Greenville, SC.