Conversation with: Dawn Greenfield

ct-small_outlined_orangeConversation with: Dawn Greenfield

dawn ji 07.2016‘I just want people to feel more comfortable and confident’

For Dawn Greenfield, yoga is much more than a workout or complex poses. Yoga is a means of improving both inner and outer strength, and a way to find personal peace, happiness, and relaxation.

Greenfield founded Yoga Born Studios in South Windsor in 2007 after previous experiences instructing public classes and working with traumatic brain injury survivors. She shares her passion by instructing a variety of classes for students of all skill levels, and aims to teach in such a way that students aren’t simply reenacting poses, but truly learning yoga and all of its benefits.

For Greenfield’s efforts, the South Windsor Chamber of Commerce named Yoga Born the 2016 Small Business of the Year, an honor that she wears proudly. As she continues her career and life in yoga, Greenfield takes time to reflect on the tremendous impact that the practice has had on her, and the impact that she believes it could have on the lives of many others.

Q: When did you first learn of yoga and from whom?

A: I came from a background where I had been working out for a long time. I worked out with body builders and they did all these competitions. So my friends told me I should get into it and something kind of went off in me that told me that what they had to do to get ready for competitions didn’t look really healthy. My idea of being fit and physically active started to shift so that started to lose its appeal, and then I found yoga. Yoga was really challenging, even though I was already very strong and flexible.

I ended up getting injured pretty early in my yoga career and from there anything I was doing was not working. I had a wrist injury and it just got worse. It went from all the physical stuff to where I could barely even hold a book and it transformed my focus more into fixing myself. I was really looking for something to help me out and that’s when I found the yoga that I’m in now; it’s more alignment-based and therapeutic yoga.

Q: Did you have friends or family who were interested in yoga?

A: When I first started yoga, my daughter, Veronica, was in elementary school and I would say she’s the reason why I visited a yoga class in the first place. I was always looking to try different stuff and expose her to stuff. I definitely made some friends along the way in yoga but I didn’t really have anybody in my life that was into yoga, it just kind of transformed to be what I do.

Q: Why is yoga important to you?

A: When I first came into yoga, I had my daughter and I’d had a pretty violent upbringing so I sort of retreated in, and all I did was work and take care of my kid. So when I went into yoga I felt safe and I started to feel stuff that I hadn’t felt. I’d always felt like I lived in the shadows but when I started doing yoga I felt like Dorothy when she lands in Oz, everything was full color.

I’ve always been drawn to some sort of self-development. It’s just been such a healing process. It’s been life changing; it’s made me a strong person but not in the strength that I was accustomed to, not that physical brute force but a strength that can last through the ages.

I don’t think I even realized that I was a pretty miserable person because I would just pretend to be happy. My practice has definitely evolved over the years and I think it continues to nudge me in that direction of evolving and just getting more comfortable with myself. My confidence has just blossomed from doing yoga and all the other stuff it supports me to do.

I get really passionate about it, and that’s the reason I opened this studio. For so long I was just going through the poses and sequences, but for me, yoga is a lifestyle. It’s just a nurturing, supportive thing whereas I used to get up at 4 a.m. because I had to go for a run and if I didn’t I was beating myself up. But now I get up and I practice and I feel great and if I don’t, that’s alright; practice tomorrow.

A lot of people that come here are very similar to me: they don’t want a routine, they want something that is going to support their lifestyle.

Q: How is Yoga Born different from other yoga studios?

A: I’ve been to a lot of yoga studios where you walk in the door and it’s like high school all over again. There are pockets and cliques and you don’t know the lingo and you don’t fit in and the people at the front desk maybe aren’t even paying attention to you. Before you even walk in the door we want you smelling the incense and knowing that you’ve arrived. I think we do a really good job of creating a friendly, welcoming culture as far as staff and clients.

We have a really amazing system that a lot of yoga studios have and I think we use it very wisely where we keep track of what people have going on. So if you walk in and you’ve had your knee replaced, the class plan is not going to involve anything on your hands and knees. We take all of that into consideration and pretty much customize the classes for people so they can get the most out of it when they’re here.

Q: What do you enjoy most about yoga and being an instructor? What is the most exciting aspect to you?

A: The most exciting thing is when you see it click for someone. Everyone has their limiting beliefs, they all think there’s something they can’t do. As a teacher, it’s great to see people start to get it and start to notice and feel a little stronger and a little bit more relaxed and have that sense of well being that progressively happens.

When I get people in there and they start to feel better and just have this general sense of feeling better overall, to me that’s huge; it’s awesome. That’s why I like to do yoga myself.

Q: What do you find to be the most challenging thing about yoga?

A: When people get stuck in that rut in their mind that they can’t do it. Some people just go in with the attitude that they can’t do it, and we try to breathe and distract them and try something different but sometimes the people that say that don’t come back, because it is challenging.

People go inside and close their eyes and they’re being still for the first time in years, and that can be some pretty scary stuff. You’re in there and you have to face yourself. It just makes me sad for people that they can’t soften a little bit and just take those baby steps to see what the practice can do for them.

Q: What type of influence do you hope to have on people’s lives?

A: I could have been a total statistic. I had (my daughter) when I was a sophomore in high school. There’s no way I should have my own business, let alone Small Business of the Year. I like to tell people if you think it, you can do it. I think you can do, be, and have anything. You just have to believe in yourself and not let those dark thoughts or whatever anybody else says bring you down. You have to do what feels good for you.

At some stage of the game we stop believing in ourselves and I think it happens really young and we just give into that. Then we just hurry our way through our lives. I just want people to feel more comfortable and more confident, more accepting of themselves. I just think the world would be a better place, because if I accept me then I accept other people, and it’s just going to have a ripple effect.


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