Transitions: Welcoming Our New Yoga EditorNov 02, 2021 06:00AM ● By Sheila Ewers
This issue marks my last as yoga editor for Natural Awakenings magazine in Atlanta.
When I first took the position in November 2019, I proposed a list of topics I wanted to share with our readers, but by March 2020, when COVID-19 began to dominate our lives, I realized many of the generic “feel good” subjects I had in mind would no longer work. Throughout that year and into 2021, both personally and professionally, I found myself reaching for the yoga tools I had been refining for many years to help me find solace in a world shaken by pandemic, racial tension, political unrest and uncertainty. Moreover, I found myself redefining my practice and my understanding of the relevance and importance of yoga and the ways it inevitably intersects with social justice and conscious action off the mat.
In my position as yoga editor, I felt compelled to help readers understand that what we do on the yoga mat must be accessible to all people and should inspire us to live more consciously in an ever-changing and often difficult world. I have appreciated the opportunity to try to meet the challenge of these times in the articles I have written, and I hope our readers have found tools that will continue to deepen their practice and sustain their lives both on and off the mat.
Introducing Mila Burgess
This month, I have the privilege of introducing you to my successor, Atlanta’s new Natural Awakenings yoga editor, Mila Burgess. Mila’s path and mine have frequently intersected over the years, and I know her as a person who lives her yoga fully, studies continuously and has a deep well of knowledge and experience to share. I took the liberty of asking her a few questions so you could get to know her a little better:
How did you first become interested in yoga, and how did your journey from student to teacher come about?
My introduction to yoga occurred when a friend, who had just completed teacher training, invited me to attend her first class. She assured me it would be a “great workout,” and I wanted to support her. I enjoyed the challenge of learning something new and felt it was a nice complement to the triathlon training I was doing at the time, so I began to sprinkle yoga classes into my weekly routine. However, it wasn’t until a few years later—when I wandered into a yoga class that offered not just a full range of motion but a full range of emotion—that I realized yoga is actually a “great work in.” Everything resonated deeply with me. It was more than just a class; it was an experience, and I became a regular student of that teacher. Not long after that, I felt the call to teach and to share with others the physical, mental and emotional gifts I was receiving on my mat.
What or who inspires you and keeps you passionate about yoga?
Yoga always has something new to offer, from poses to pranayama to philosophy. The ability to take a deeper dive, consider different perspectives and make connections between yoga and other areas of life excites me. My teachers have been and continue to be great sources of inspiration. So do the yogis in my classes and teacher trainings, whom I have the honor of learning from and with every day.
Can you share some of the ways you live your yoga off the mat?
Whether through the fluidity of flow, the mental and physical challenges of long-held poses, the practice of meeting ourselves where we are or the discovery of breath as a powerful tool, I certainly believe our yoga mats provide a fertile training ground for the off-the-mat practice of yoga. For me, this shows up as greater awareness and acceptance of myself and others. It translates to the ability to be more present, equanimous and intuitive.
What elements of yoga are you most excited about sharing with our readers?
I’m excited to share more about mindfulness, pranayama, and the growing body of both neuroscience and positive psychology research on topics related to meditation and yoga.
What can we say that readers can expect from you each month?
Yoga is expansive! Readers can expect to see a balance of the art and science of yoga along with the many topics that relate to it, both on and off the mat. ❧
Sheila Ewers, E-RYT500, YACEP, owns Blue Lotus Yoga in Johns Creek. A former professor of writing and literature, she leads group and private lessons, yoga philosophy workshops, yoga teacher trainings and retreats. Contact her at [email protected]