By OCinSite At-Large | November 18, 2011 12:07 PM
By Somer Flaherty
Photos by Jody Tiongco
Almost 16 million Americans now practice yoga—a figure that isn’t surprising when you take into account that the 5,000-year-old discipline has an allure for almost anyone, whether it’s to stay in shape, beat stress or seek spirituality.
For Laguna Beach’s Cathy Cox, it was a debilitating car accident that introduced her to the lifestyle. With injuries that left her unable to continue her running and weight-lifting routine, she sought out an alternative. A nurse suggested she try yoga.
“My first class was through a community college,” she says. “We had to move all the desks to have floor space to practice, but when the class ended with Savasana (the final resting pose), I knew I’d found my practice.” More than 15 years later, Cathy practices and teaches at YogaWorks in Laguna Beach (across from the Montage resort) and is a teacher and director at several other YogaWorks studios in Orange County.
Laguna Beach Magazine took a moment to share a tree pose with the local yoga master.
Laguna Beach Magazine: You’re a student and teacher of yoga—do you have a favorite style?
Cathy Cox: Vinyasa flow. Years ago, in the wintertime in St. Louis, I was in a workshop taught by Saul David Raye where the lights were low and candles were in all the windows. He taught this vinyasa that went on and on. All you could do was follow his voice and move. It was the first time I really understood a moving meditation, and I was hooked.
LBM: Favorite pose?
CC: Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon) gives me the feeling of expanding in space.
LBM: What do you love about teaching?
CC: My students. Nothing is more fun than watching someone learn something new or experience something new on the mat or off.
LBM: Tips for beginners?
CC: Place yourself near the back of the room, so if you don’t understand what the teacher is saying, you can observe what other people are doing and have fun—that’s why I do yoga!
LBM: What about experienced yogis?
CC: Go on a retreat. There is nothing that can deepen your practice more than taking it out of your daily schedule and putting it first for a week or so. Go somewhere that cell phones don’t work or television isn’t available. Really give yourself a chance to go deep into your practice, and therefore, yourself.
LBM: There are so many yoga clothing options; which do you recommend?
CC: Just make sure what you are wearing will move with you and keep you covered. If you’re not sure, bend over and look at yourself in the mirror—really, think about downward facing dog pose, where your tail is in the air most of the time. Hang upside down to see if your top stays in place. I’ve seen too many people completely distracted by wardrobe malfunctions while they are learning yoga.
LBM: You’re a fixture in the local yoga community—any great memories?
CC: When people heard I was being “painted” for the art walk demo, the first thing they asked was, “Are you wearing clothes?” To think people really thought I’d do yoga in the window of an art gallery nude still makes me laugh.