Letter from Publisher, Amber McKenzie

I grew up in a religious cult. There, I said it. But don’t worry, it wasn’t one of those stereotypical ‘drink the kool-aid’ type of cults where everyone lived on a commune. No, it was subtler than that, but no less dangerous. The charismasochist (that is not a typo) founder and leader of the worldwide movement wielded all the power over ‘his’ chosen people, and what he said was law. No makeup, nail polish or short hair for women, no long hair for men, no pagan holidays (Christmas, Easter—but hey, we got Thanksgiving), no false idols (except him), no mystical or magical movies about unicorns, mermaids or aliens (including E.T. Can you believe that?), and certainly no yoga! Back then I had no idea what yoga was, but I remember thinking it must be a powerful exercise if this guy’s against it. Hmmm, sounded interesting.

Fast forward to early adulthood and the dismantling of said cult (turns out the world didn’t come to a hellish end when the leader died), and phew. Free at last. And while I never resonated with the teachings of the church, and I learned a great deal about what I didn’t believe in God, I was still deeply affected by the whole mindset.

Like when it came to yoga. I avoided trying yoga for the longest time because I thought it wasn’t for me. The truth is, I was scared. That all changed when I went to my first yoga class at age 38. I was in Rochester, Minnesota, for my mom’s second open-heart surgery, and I nervously walked into a hot yoga class taught by a teacher named Anthony. I was expecting so little that day, and figured I’d get a nice sweat and go home. But like so many things that happen in life, the Universe had another plan for me: transformation. Anthony’s spirit-guided style of instruction, the music, meditative postures, and connection to breath was so powerful, I almost didn’t know what to do with myself. I accessed an ‘inner church’ I had always hoped existed and I was so thankful to find. I attended every class Anthony taught that week, and I bawled my eyes out in every Savasana. I was finally home. Thanks, yoga.

Needless to say, I’m delighted that we’re highlighting the amazing power of yoga in this month’s issue of Natural Awakenings Inland Northwest. Check out our news briefs featuring new area studios; the yoga spotlight on Hayden Yoga & Massage; a local article by longtime Spokane yogi, Alison Rubin of Harmony Yoga; and a full-page area yoga guide with every yoga studio in the Spokane, Coeur d’Alene and Sandpoint areas. Please enjoy learning more about our community’s offerings of this amazing practice that literally transformed my life in one class.

Other highlights of October include spotlights on amazing area businesses, including Flour Farm and their incredible organic, ethically produced, gluten-free flour and Northwest Recumbent Cycles and their mission to get people of all shapes, sizes and abilities outside exercising.

Grab your yoga mat and settle into Sukhasana (easy pose) or Utkatasanan (chair pose) and get to reading!

Namaste,

Amber