Featured Instructor – Leila Cranford

posted by Leila Cranford

I wish I had a profound story of how I found yoga, but the truth is: it’s pretty mundane. I’m guessing not so different from many others; one small discovery after another until one day, in retrospect, something profound really has happened.

My practice started as yours might have, a group practice in gym. And I only arrived there out of a sort of desperation that is born of being bored, having too much time and too many options. But I hadn’t tried yoga, and this teacher was wearing amazing pants, and well, why not? I followed Amazing Pants into the gym studio, and was immediately intrigued by this whole business of chaturanga and garudasana. More specifically, I had no idea how actual humans could do that, and I made it my business to keep a weekly date with Ms. Pants until I figured it out.

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And honestly, I hadn’t figured it out yet by the time I got my hands on a tattered copy of Georg Feuerstein’s “Encyclopedic Dictionary of Yoga”. While I enjoyed the challenge of the physical practice of asana, I was now broken wide open to a curious world of satya (truth), moksha (liberation), and ashta-anga yoga (the eight-limbed path). The book remains my favorite on the subject of yoga. Without hesitation, I can say that my love for the practice started here: when it began to engage me not just physically, but intellectually and spiritually. But still – so far, so ordinary.

Leila_0192Over the course of nearly 10 years, though, the tools and insights I’ve discovered through yoga have guided me – sometimes graciously, often less so; but always consistently and compassionately – through the sorts of everyday hardships, surprises and joys that all of us know: divorce, career struggles and success, financial worries, child-rearing, friendships ending, friendships beginning, the loss of loved ones, new love, to-do lists, fear of failure, fear of success.

Here’s the thing: I probably would have made it here whether or not I had tools like meditation, breathwork, asana, community and compassion that I’ve cultivated in my yoga practice. There is something to be said for arriving wiser, softer, stronger, kinder and more curious than ever, though.

“What I’ve learned has touched every extension of my in my life – as a mother, a lover, a friend, a colleague, a lover of the outdoors, and beyond.”

I’ve never been granted a greater privilege than to practice and to sit alongside everyone who has ever laid a mat out alongside mine, and was willing to listen as I shared what I know about these precious tools.

Leila teaches yin yoga and meditation at Inspire Yoga, and is a lead trainer for Inspire Yoga's 300HR Advanced Training Program. When she’s not doing that, she’s usually mom-ing, researching, rock climbing, hiking, loving her cat despite “not being a cat person”, hammocking, or indulging in a serious love of food– in particular, dark chocolate or phở (but never at the same time, don’t be silly). Despite a lifelong love of reading and earnest attempts at every style of writing know to man, she’s not really a writer. But she’s a thinker, and she’s a lover of people, and believes in the healing power of relating through shared experiences. What she shares on this blog might be about mindfulness, maybe movement, maybe fear and discomfort…but always about the whole human experience.

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