Are you ready to feel better? If you’re looking for exercise that will improve your balance, your flexibility and strengthen your body as well as your mind, then meet Bethaney Pilat, Owner and Founder of Inspire Yoga Studios.
In this podcast, Bethaney answers the most commonly-asked questions about yoga, tells newcomers what to expect from their first class, and fills us in on the benefits of this invigorating and life-affirming practice.
Many of us are looking for a way to get fit — especially in January, not to necessarily to compete in an IronMan competition or walk the red carpet, but just to be able to sit on the floor and play with our kids or grandkids, or maybe walk nine holes of golf with our friends, or get through a shift at work without being completely worn out.
That’s a rough place to be, to say, “I don’t have the mental or physical energy to do the things I want to do.” That’s like saying, “I’m not even healthy enough to try to get healthy.”
If that’s how you’re feeling, I’m really excited for you to meet my friend Bethaney, because she and her husband Adam have created a couple of places where everyone can feel welcome and encouraged to pursue their own health, in their own time, with their own individual abilities and disabilities. And all without judgement or competition or a scoreboard.
Bethaney On How Inspire Yoga Studios Began
Inspire is really a story of discovering connection. I was a new mom, struggling with postpartum depression. And I had lost my fire, my connection to myself. I felt like I really just needed to rekindle who I was.
I loved being a mom — don’t get me wrong — but also felt like part of me had been lost along the way. I wanted to find that again.
I had been a long time yoga practitioner prior to having my son, so I got back into the practice more seriously when I got to feeling a little bit better — when I felt I could get back on my mat again mentally and physically. When I started practicing again regularly, I began feeling sparks of that connection — of who I was — and I began feeling good again, like I could carry on and do more of what I was meant to do.
With that, the practice gave me back what I needed in that moment, and I knew that, looking around, I wasn’t the only new mom out there. I wasn’t the only one who experienced postpartum depression. I wasn’t the only one who felt lost.
— I knew that if I needed that sense of community and connection, there were hundreds of other people in my own neighborhood, in my own community who could benefit from the benefits of yoga as well. —
So I took it upon myself to create that place. I felt like I could create a space that other people could benefit from, as I would myself. And that’s what I set out to do.
And that’s what she’s done!
I had to ask Bethaney about the awards Inspire Yoga has won over five years they’ve been in business, because it’s really kind of amazing that such a young business has seen such success.
Bottom line, they’ve won Best of Denton County every year since opening, and Best of Flower Mound every year they’ve had the competition. And their teachers win Best Yoga Teacher awards year after year.
So Bethaney, what’s your secret? Why are your studios winning and winning and winning?
It’s obvious: It’s our teachers, and our students who feel like they’re in a wonderful place when they’re there. It just shines in every interaction you have with the people in the studios.
I practice at Inspire three or four times a week, and I love all the teachers. They’re all highly trained and helpful, and the environment is open and accepting.
Listeners, if you’re intimidated by the ‘gym experience’, then you need to give this a try, because it’s not a competition at Inspire Yoga. It’s an environment of acceptance, and most importantly, self-improvement.
Our Questions About Yoga
I’m not flexible! Can I do yoga at all?
Absolutely! I tell students, if you’re not flexible, then this is the place you need to be!
Does yoga hurt?
Yes and no. With any new physical activity there will be some soreness, because your muscles aren’t used to what you’re doing. So yes, in the beginning you might find some soreness while you’re learning your strength and flexibility boundaries — how far you should or shouldn’t go in the poses.
It’s our job as teachers to show you how to do it, and to empower you to learn about your body so that you can keep from getting sore once you become accustomed to the practice.
How do I keep from getting injured?
Listen to your teachers, and listen to your body. Your body has the best feedback mechanism; it tells you when you’ve done too far. If you feel stretch or pain or something like that, you’ve gone too far.
The teacher’s not always going to know how you’re feeling on the inside. We’re there to make sure you’re doing the poses safely, so that your bones and muscles and joints are aligned properly. But we can’t feel inside your muscles. So it’s very important that you listen to your own body’s wisdom every time you practice, to prevent getting hurt.
What do we wear?
Clothes! The nice thing about yoga is there is no special uniform. Wear what you feel comfortable in and can move in. And it doesn’t have to be spandex. If you’re not comfortable in tight clothing, wear something looser. It’s perfectly fine. Nobody’s going to judge you for the clothing you chose to wear. It’s one of the last things I would notice about a person!
Is everybody going to be staring at me — the new person?
No, only your teacher will be watching you (to help keep you safe and properly aligned). That is one of the most common questions we hear — “Is everyone’s going to be looking at me? What if I can’t do it?”
Honestly, as a new student, that’s a fear we all have because it’s new, and we don’t know the experience we’re going to have yet.
But once you get in there on your mat and your teacher starts to guide you in these very personal, individualized movements and postures and stretching and thinking, you realize that the other people practicing with you have their own stuff to be thinking about, so they’re not watching you.
Nobody’s looking at you with a critical eye. The teachers are there to watch you to make sure you’re doing things safely, and you want that.
— You’re not being judged. —
What about chanting? Is there chanting at Inspire?
We chant ‘om’. There are lots of other studios and styles of yoga around that incorporate other chants to different degrees, but om is really the only chant we use on a regular basis in most of our classes.
What does ‘om’ mean?
Om is the universal vibration — it’s the sound made from the universe.
For me it’s a very calming sound, and a calming noise to make in my throat. It helps me release my “to do” lists and focus on the practice!
Will there be men in the class? And if they’re there, will it be weird?
We’re a studio that doesn’t discriminate between men or women. We see predominately women at Inspire, but there are a lot of men that practice with us too. It’s a practice for human beings, not for men or women, And we don’t gear our classes just towards women or just for men — it’s all for human beings. We welcome everyone.
What makes yoga different from other forms of exercise that we’re more accustomed to doing?
Yoga is not just exercise. It’s a whole system of mind/body health that you’re learning when you practice. Here at the studio, the physical practice we do helps to unlock some of the other aspects of yoga. Through the poses, we’re training our mind to turn inward, and to be more present.
The nice thing about the physical practice of yoga is that it is not about beating yourself up. A lot of people might come in thinking they have to do the poses perfectly, or better than the person next to them, but it’s not a competition. There’s nobody there that’s judging your poses or judging your practice; it’s all about taking care of yourself.
If you are pushing yourself, you’re pushing yourself for yourself, not for the teacher. Not for the person next to you.
— You’re pushing yourself to become better — not better at the pose but better at your life, at who you are as a person. —
I started practicing yoga ten years ago. At the time I was running for exercise, but I have multiple sclerosis, and the effects of that meant that my balance was significantly challenged, so I had to stop running because I was tripping and was going to hurt myself.
So I tried yoga out at the gym where I met Bethaney (she was one of my teachers). I was so surprised at the difference it made in my balance.
Over time, the practice taught my nervous system how to reroute itself, so I could actually stand on one foot. And I’ve got to tell you, ten years ago when I was nearing forty, I had a very difficult time even just standing on one foot.
Now, nearing fifty, my balance is great. It’s because I challenge myself two or three times a week to do my own personal best, to listen to my own body. I tune out the bodies of the people near me. On one side there might be my 70-something mom, and on the other side might be a Russian gymnast. None of that really matters.
What matters to me is that I use that time to examine my own physical and mental state, and use that information to improve myself just a little bit more every day.
What’s your final message our listeners about yoga?
I would like them to know that yoga is a practice that fosters overall mind/body health. And it really is for everyone. Whether you’re a marathon runner or a new mom or in your retirement years, we have a class you can feel at home in.
We would love to introduce you to the enormous benefits of a steady practice of yoga. Things like:
and overall improvement of life
I want to invite each person that’s interested in practicing yoga into this space that I’ve created for this exact reason, a place for you to connect to yourself, to improve your own health and wellness, and to be part of a community that will inspire you.
Where are Inspire Yoga Studios?
We are located in the Shops at Highland Village in Highland Village, Texas and in Denton, Texas right off the square. And visit our website at inspireyoga.com. It has great information on it about our all our classes and teachers.