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One of the great gifts of teaching is meeting incredible human beings whose spirits move and inspire us. Hana, whom I am fortunate to teach, is one of these beings. She is a person who moves through the world with quiet courage and whole-hearted dedication.

Hana, as she will tell you herself, is shy. This itself would prevent most people from showing up to practice yoga, but Hana does not retreat.


Hanako & Paul in Triangle Pose

Her first class was at Hot Yoga South 10 years ago. Since then, she has practiced on a regular basis about four times a week.

Like many of us, Hana found yoga a comfort and aid in helping her mother cope with cancer. Amidst the inevitable sorrow and pain of that experience, it provided the opportunity to meditate, confront the difficult emotions and see the positive.

Unlike many of us, Hana has an additional obstacle in the form of a disabled right leg. Yoga helped her cultivate strength and self-assurance.

“I accept that my body is this way,” she says. “Practicing yoga, I found the confidence to like my body and be strong and walk with pride.”

As her friend, and teacher, it is humbling and uplifting to witness her practice. When I hear people complaining during yoga class, I want to say: Look at Hana! She’s always there, getting on with it. True warrior style!

Despite her physical constraints, she is not confined or afraid. More important, her spirit is free and empowered. Hana says yoga is her “life” and she is a great example of how each of us can make our own lives better through dedication to our practice.

Hana’s top 5 yoga tips:

1) Be present: I always think, “Today’s the last day. Today’s my final class. Do your best now.”
2) Focus on progress: I couldn’t even stand on the yoga mat before. Now I have balance.
3) Let yoga teach you: Yoga practice is life practice.Yoga is my teacher.Yoga is always there to help & support you.
4) Challenge your limits.
5) Never quit: Keep on. Try. Try again.
For more on yoga for all abilities read: Yoga and disability – an interview