As the year draws to a close, it’s common to feel overwhelmed by activities and errands. Taking a moment to relax and appreciate abundance is crucial for a peaceful holiday season. Cindi Odle, owner of Fire and Flow Yoga (formerly Baptiste Yoga Indy) in Carmel, is an expert in this. Her experience with the positive impacts of practicing yoga and gratitude changed her life and set a positive example for her students. Linda Lawrence is one such example.
Linda spent her career in education taking care of everybody else, but after retiring, yoga taught her how to put herself first so she could be a positive influence on people in her personal life. She gives back to the studio by participating in their Energy Exchange program, where she helps with tasks around the studio in exchange for free yoga, helping her to practice more and meet wonderful people along the way.
How did you begin practicing yoga?
Cindi: I came to yoga after a car accident. A car ran a red light and t-boned the back of my car, flipping it one and a half times. I walked away with what I thought was just a scratch on my wrist. I was thankful to be alive, but I ended up with a severe concussion, which is much harder to heal. My husband started practicing yoga at a studio, and any traditional workout I did would aggravate my symptoms. I thought, “I’m gonna try this yoga thing and see what it’s all about.” I went to a really challenging power class, and I could do it without triggering more symptoms. It was a physical workout with a mindfulness component, as well as a great stretch and cool down at the end.
Linda: I was a principal, so I spent my whole life caring for everybody else and let myself go. I was in terrible health, had no physical activity, and was married to my job. After I had a triple bypass surgery, I thought, “Okay, the time is now.” My friend’s daughter is a yoga teacher, and in my head, yoga was for 30-year-old moms with cute little figures. Then, I saw a piece on TV where people were doing yoga downtown on the monument, and I saw people of different sizes, shapes, and colors, so I thought, “Maybe I can do this.” I found a chair yoga class at Cindi’s studio a year and a half ago. I still can’t do everything, but it doesn’t make any difference to me. It was all for me to improve my physical and mental condition, so my glass was half full instead of half empty.
What are some benefits you’ve noticed since beginning your yoga practice?
Cindi: For me, it’s overall health and wellness. You get strength and balance work from physical practice, which becomes more challenging as we age. We talk a lot about the benefits of breathwork for mental health and wellness. The main breath we teach is ujjayi breath, which entails breathing in and out through the nose. It communicates to your body that you’re safe and everything is okay. In addition to the strength, balance, and mindfulness benefits, I have several friends beginning to complain about the aches and pains of aging. With a consistent yoga practice, I rarely experience that.
Linda: It’s the community as well. When I walk in here, I feel automatic acceptance. And it’s because it’s a place of kindness.
What does gratitude mean to you, and how can people implement it daily?
Cindi: Yoga and gratitude go hand-in-hand. A yoga practice gives access to the present moment, and it is through being present that we can see all that we are grateful for. Looking back at my accident, without it and the subsequent concussion, I would not have discovered yoga or opened a studio with this amazing community. I think it’s sometimes not realizing where the gratitude will come from in a challenging moment, and then being able to look back and think, “Wow, I’m so grateful that happened.” Finding joy in challenging times is gratitude. The more you connect with yourself and carve out time, the more you can open your mind to gratitude. It can be something simple in your day, or sometimes it’s something bigger.
Linda: It immediately makes me think of what I’m thankful for. I’m thankful for my physical health now. I’m thankful that this studio and these people helped me change my thinking. I still care deeply for the people around me, but now I care deeply about myself. I work on the energy exchange team here, which means I do menial tasks in exchange for free yoga. I don’t think people understand how much gratitude you feel by smiling and telling somebody to have a great day. Those little words mean so much to people.
Find Your Flow
Even in difficult times, there is always a reason to be grateful. Fire and Flow Yoga offers various heated and non-heated classes weekly for people with all abilities and interests, including:
Slow Flow to help you strengthen and stretch your muscles, all while releasing tension
Yoga Sculpt, a power yoga class with cardio, weights, and upbeat music
Gentle Flow for slow movement, relaxation, and restoration
Journey into Power, a power yoga class that builds strength and flexibility while contributing to stress relief and mindfulness
Heart & Hips to target the areas people hold the most tension and improve flexibility
Yin, which targets deep tissues like tendons, ligaments, and fascia to balance the yang in your yoga practice and life
Aspiring yogis can try classes in the morning or evening, seven days a week.