The Yoga Loft Storybook: Ruth Sigler
Why/When/Where did you start practicing yoga?
I was a young mother in Indianapolis, Indiana in 1968 (yes, this is a long story!) I had recovered from my first baby with Jack LaLane’s Glamour Stretcher, a much-advertised band of elastic that, with Jack LaLane’s bouncy enthusiasm on TV, was supposed to stretch saggy waists and tummies back into shape. After the second child (whom you know as Randy Sigler), I had attempted the in-vogue “Air Force Calisthenics”, a mind-numbing series of jumping-jacks, squats, sprints and sit-ups, meant to be increased in number until you ran screaming from the room. By the third child in 1968 the Glamour Stretcher had snapped, thought of the calisthenics made me nauseous, and the tummy and waist were stubbornly resistant to any mild attempts at shrinkage. I happened to pick up a Woman’s Day to see an article about yoga. I propped the magazine on the floor beside me and began my first yoga session. The stretches felt delicious, the poses in the magazine targeted problem areas, and best of all, I didn’t have to keep doing more and more – I just had to stretch a little bit further! That cinched it, so to speak. I found a book in a used book store, Stay Young With Yoga, by Richard Hittleman. (Libraries hadn’t even heard of yoga in those days.) It was actually quite comprehensive, explaining the basic poses in detail, with the accompanying physical and mental benefits of each. I even learned to do a head stand with Richard Hittleman!
How has yoga changed/influenced your life?
With successful return to pre-baby clothing, I continued a few sessions a week at home until long after we had moved to Marblehead. Not until 1986, when I heard about Kripalu, a yoga ashram in Lenox, MA, did I actually attend a real yoga class. I made my first solo visit to Kripalu a bit unenthusiastically after my friend bowed out at the last minute. I was in a funk about my job, feeling uninspired and unappreciated, not quite sure how to get out of it. After all, “what do you do with a BA in English?” as the song goes from Avenue Q. I was a bit put off at Kripalu by the obvious worship of the founder, whom they called Gurudev (beloved teacher), not sure I would ever return. But I left after that weekend with an audio cassette of Gurudev’s half hour yoga class, and from some unexplained source, an inspiration as to what to do with the rest of my life – go to the Harvard Extension and learn programming, a skill other than English which would perhaps stand me in good stead if I were to leave my job. And the rest is history – I became an original member of the IT department at my job, stayed for 17 years, loved it, got in the habit of doing Gurudev’s cassette almost every day, and of course went back to Kripalu many times, with mind-and-body-altering results.
What has been your experience practicing at The Yoga Loft?
When Randy and Laurel bought Phoenix Fitness, I offered to lead yoga classes for them. I wasn’t a certified teacher, but after some intensive teacher-oriented weeks at Kripalu, felt I could help them offer yoga as an activity. Occasionally I’d get nine or ten people, but four or five was a good day! My style was Kripalu-like, a meditative flow, moderately vigorous, not too much time spent on individual poses and alignment. But my extremely fit daughter-in-law was wary of yoga, sure she wouldn’t sweat enough for it to count as exercise! It wasn’t until she discovered power yoga that she got hooked, and even then, when we would go to classes together, she would do sit-ups during savasana! But the seed was planted – owning their own yoga studio became her dream, and with her passion (and knack for decorating and buying clothing) and Randy’s business experience, it became a reality in 2007. I well remember lying on a mat next to her for that opening session, in awe and almost in tears at what they had created.