November 5, 2016

Smarty Mom: Liz Bundon

Liz Bundon Kids

{Photo Creds: Wanda Koch Photography}

If you have taken a yoga class with Liz Bundon, then have left your mat feeling impacted in the hardest, yet softest of ways. Liz guides each class through a practice to strengthen the physical, while always addressing the strength and support that we seek internally through yoga: you leave her class feeling mentally and physically stronger, more centered and lighter. About a year ago, I wrote a blog for Charlotte Smarty Pants entitled, “Where are you going to look today?” The inspiration for that article came to me on my mat while practicing with Liz as my teacher. A really impactful yoga teacher will not only help evolve your yoga practice physically, but will stretch your mind as well. I ran into Liz recently and thought, I want to learn more about her yoga journey. And I know many of you will enjoy connecting with Liz through her own words too! I have a feeling teacher certifications may be on the rise in Charlotte!

Liz’s Smarty Mom Stats:

Married to: Brent Bundon
Children: 2 girls and 2 boys
Years in Charlotte: 10
Originally from: My family lives in Wilmington, NC, but I grew up as an Air Force brat, so we moved around pretty much every year and a half. We lived in Northern Virginia three different times – so that was a homebase.
Occupation: Mom and Yoga teacher, PTA volunteer.
Alma Mater: University of Virginia undergrad, University of Chicago – Masters in Foreign Affairs and MBA

How did you find yoga or how did yoga find you?

Liz Bundon
{Photo Creds: Wanda Koch Photography}

I have always needed fitness to keep me sane. I am a happier, more productive person when I get a good strenuous work-out. I used to jog everyday, then once we had kids, I began to add in some group exercise classes more to be social than anything else. A friend invited me to a free yoga class one evening and I was intrigued, so I started working yoga into my schedule once a week at the Y. Then my practice turned into a few times a week at a studio.

I fell in love with the meditative quality of moving with breath – of being present with myself on my own mat. Eventually my knees told me to stop running, and I decided to try practicing yoga everyday as an experiment – I haven’t stopped in almost five years! I love how yoga makes me feel physically, but more than that, I appreciate the sanity I gain from setting aside 45-90 minutes to be quiet, to feel, to breathe, to regain perspective on my life.

Where did you get your yoga certification and share how that experience affected you?

copyright wanda koch photography

copyright wanda koch photography

{Photo Creds: Wanda Koch Photography}

I did my teacher training at Y2 Yoga. I feel strongly that you should do training at a place where you feel comfortable to be yourself. I did not do the training in order to teach – I did it to learn more, to internalize the yoga, to explore this practice that was transforming me from the inside. At the end of training, I was so in love with yoga and what it had given me and knew I wanted to share this practice with others.

Teacher training was an awesome experience for me. I was so unsure about doing the training – I felt like I had already had the opportunity to go study and learn and explore when I was younger and that my time for that investment had passed. Fortunately many people, especially my husband, convinced me that was not true. Going into training, I literally thought I would learn how to do the perfect triangle pose – which looking back is hilarious to me. Many people say things like “practicing yoga helped me learn to love myself.” It sounds cliche and kitschy – but it is the truth. In our training at Y2, we do a lot of “excavation” work: digging through our memories while looking at the stories we tell ourselves, the experiences that shaped our lives, and our self-perception. That work is hard, emotional work and you can’t help but be transformed for the better because of it. At the end of training, I felt so much clearer and at peace with myself – which in turn helps me do that for those that I love.

The other magical thing about teacher training – and yoga in general – is that it brings together a wide variety of people whose common characteristic is that they want to be happier, better, healthier people. I can never have enough of these people in my life.

What is ashtanga and why should yogis be practicing it more?

Ashtanga (ah-sh-tong-ah) comes from a town in India called Mysore. Incidentally, Shanna Small and Johnna Smith (two of my fellow teachers) are studying there now. Ashtanga is the original vinyasa yoga – vinyasa means “to place in a special way” – in this system each vinyasa is a movement linked with a breath so that you can place your focus on every breath, every transition, and on every posture.

I learned ashtanga in my Y2 teacher training: if it wasn’t for that training, I would never have known about it. Ashtanga is different, so it’s both mysterious and intimidating until we get to know it – but the beautiful thing about it is that it is personalized to each student. “Mysore style” means that we teach you the sequence one-on-one according to your body. Over time, you memorize the sequence for you and as you progress, we teach you new postures. So the cool thing is that I can do this in my house, on a dock, at the beach, in a hotel gym, or anywhere with a flat surface. It’s also the same everywhere in the world, so traveling ashtangis are usually able to find a studio in most major cities.

Ashtanga is for both brand new and experienced yogis. It’s a practice that definitely builds strength, flexibility, perseverance, and community. Once you know it – it becomes “yours” – and it helps inform a power yoga practice, it can travel anywhere, and it can definitely adapt to a changing body.

Where can we practice with you?

I teach three kinds of classes at Y2 Yoga: Hot Power Yoga, Non-heated Power Yoga and Ashtanga.

How has yoga made you stronger both mentally and physically?

Physically, yoga increases body awareness and challenges us to grow everyday. It’s impossible to practice yoga and not become more nimble and stronger. Everyone can practice as well – I love that about it. Pattabhi Jois, the Guru of Ashtanga said, “Anyone can practice. Young man can practice. Old man can practice. Very old man can practice. Man who is sick, he can practice. Man who doesn’t have strength can practice. Except lazy people; lazy people can’t practice Ashtanga yoga.” – Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. This quote could be applied to power yoga as well.

Mentally, it became meditative for me after I became comfortable with yoga as a physical practice. Now, I get totally lost in my breath and the movement. It is a haven for me mentally – away from everything else. I don’t really think about what’s going on in my life while I am practicing, so it provides a mental break. And somehow, magically, self-acceptance occurs during yoga; I don’t know why or how, but it does. Through the physical practice and from learning to calm the breath and the mind, I began to shed a lot of my insecurities and self-doubt. I started to shut down the old negative stories I would play on a loop and that was incredibly freeing. That is what I really want to share – I want other people to find freedom from self-doubt.

How has being a part of the yoga community impacted you?

The yoga community is amazing!! Love love! As I said before, it brings together all kinds of people who are seeking joy, health, and well-being. I can’t get enough of that. It has 1000% opened up our world to a wide variety of wonderful people who are older, younger, different from us, and we love that. It has deeply enriched my life, and the life of my family, to be blessed to walk each day with these beautiful, authentic people.

Do your kids and husband practice yoga?

Yes! My husband is an avid athlete and he loves classes at Y2. He has also begun his own “garage” ashtanga practice early early in the morning. My kids periodically practice and usually they say, “Yeah mom,you were right, it did make me feel better.” The kids prefer the non-heated classes at Y2. They have smaller classes without the added heat factor, so it’s easier for kids to try something new.

Favorite yoga pose?

Adho Mukha Svanasana – Downward Facing Dog. When I find myself in that pose, I am very at home.

Favorite yoga retreat?

This summer I went to Miami for a week with Johnna Smith and Shanna Small, two Y2 Ashtanga teachers, and a bunch of our students. The current head teacher of Ashtanga, Sharath Jois, was on a US tour this summer. It wasn’t a retreat per se – we got up at 5:30AM every day to practice and when we were done at 7:00AM, we had the whole day to do whatever we wanted. We had a blast together in Miami. It wasn’t your typical girls trip! We basically went to the beach or meandered around Miami, then ate a vegetarian meal around 4:30, and went back to the condo to relax and go to bed! It was the healthiest trip and a wonderfully rejuvenating, invigorating adventure.

Favorite family vacation?

Every summer, we always visit my family in Wilmington, NC, and my husband’s family in Victoria, BC, Canada. I love the days when my kids are home with me all summer. We have turned our time visiting grandparents into “family camp,” and we all look forward to free play all summer at the beach or the lake.

Favorite meal/restaurant?

Anything someone else cooked for me! Although, I do love the summer grilling season.

Favorite smoothie?

I like a smoothie with ginger: spinach, ginger, pineapple, flaxseed, almond butter, and a splash of coconut milk.

When you’re 90, what do you want to look back and see?

Joy. I want to see joy. I want my children to have grown into happy adults who love themselves and consequently have built lives that they cherish.

6 Responses

  1. Elizabeth L says:

    YAY Liz!! you rock.

  2. Kelly Trout says:

    Liz, This is so impressive! I so admire your journey of the last 20 years! I sincerely wish we lived close by – it would be a privilege to be part of your circle. Xo from Charlottesville!

  3. Missy Brading says:

    You are awesome Liz! Now I need to try yoga again😊

  4. Brooke Brown says:

    Loved reading your interview, Liz! I love how much yoga fills up your JOYFUL soul. Xoxo

  5. Blake says:

    Liz! This is beautiful. I so appreciate what and how you shared about you and your yoga. I’m so thankful you are a part of my community and life regularly. You’ are inspiring. Much love to you!

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