Meet Lauren Hurley, a recent 200hr Kunga Yoga and Lifestyle Teacher Training graduate, who is on her way to India. I spoke with Lauren prior to her departure to give you a little background on her before she joins 14 other volunteers this year on our annual Kunga Journeys trip to Kerala, India to be of service at the Home of Hopes Orphanage. We are honored to have Lauren share her experience through our blog during her time with the girls! Check out her “While in India…” posts here!
JJ: How did you find yoga?
Lauren: Yoga found me while I was in college. I broke my ankle and my physical therapist suggested that I start taking yoga classes to keep building strength in my ankle after therapy ended. Little did I know that a few weekly classes here and there would change many of my perceptions on my entire life. Now, yoga is simply a piece of who I am.
JJ: Do you remember your first experience in a yoga class?
Lauren: I do! I started taking classes at the student rec center at UNC with an instructor named Larry. He is a really cool guy. He usually taught at a yoga studio in Carrboro, but had started offering classes to students. I remember being a little bit intimidated because he was a pretty advanced yogi and had been teaching/practicing for many many years. But he knew it was my first class and made me feel very welcome and was really helpful about explaining poses to me after class so that I felt very encouraged to continue taking classes. I think his focus beyond the physicality of yoga during classes inspired me to really feel connected to my practice from the beginning. For that I will always be grateful to him because the spiritual fulfillment I receive from my practice is, quite frankly, what keeps me coming back for more!
JJ: How long have you been practicing?
Lauren: I guess have been practicing for about 7 years.
JJ: What is your favorite asana?
Lauren: Savasana, absolutely. There is nothing as satisfying as a much earned savasana after a physically challenging class! I generally tend to be overly fidgety so the pose is challenging and extremely relaxing at the same time! Savasana is also a very enlightening pose for me. Sometimes I just start crying and it makes me a little embarrassed, but it is so cathartic and I love it so I get over that pretty quickly.
JJ: What does yoga mean to you?
Lauren: Yoga is the way in which I try to live my life. I’m a pretty simple person and for me yoga is a broad term for caring for my mind, my body, and being aware of how I am treating others and the world around me. It means challenging myself to be present with and connected to the people and circumstances in my life. Basically, through my yoga practice I to aspire to contribute more positive energy into this world than negative.
JJ: You just graduated from our 200hr Kunga Yoga Lifestyle + Teacher Training. Congrats! How do you plan on using your training and providing yoga as a path of service?
Lauren: I am actually hoping to get into graduate school in the fall to work toward becoming a licensed clinical social worker. With that I plan to combine clinical therapy with yoga practices for special populations recovering from interpersonal violence. Basically working with clients experiencing extreme anxiety and PTSD.
JJ: Have you ever been on a service retreat before? If so, where else have you been?
Lauren: I have not, but I hope this trip may be the first of many!!
JJ: Have you ever been to India before?
JJ: Why did you decide to join us on Kunga Journeys India?
Lauren: To quote Noelle…. “If not now, when? If not you, then who?” :). I think it is amazing that the studio partners with Homes of Hope to do such wonderful work with young girls coming out of such horrific circumstances. Honestly, I have wanted to go on this trip every year since I stated practicing at the WYC, but never really had the time or money to go. But this fall everything kind of fell together perfectly. I had just gotten off work when I noticed Logan had sent out an email about the last info session for the journey. I was not going to go, but something told me to just do it. I went and I won the raffle for half off the trip! It took me about 30 seconds to decide that I was simply going to take that as a sign and go for it and somehow make it work because I can’t imagine not wanting to be a part of a Kunga Journey.
JJ: Sounds like your journey won’t end after the service retreat. Tell us about your plans!
Lauren: Yeah! I take signs from the universe pretty seriously and I just felt that staying in India and volunteering with the Homes of Hope organization for an extended amount of time was something I really needed and wanted to do! I will probably never have an opportunity to be of service to such an amazing group of people again in my lifetime, and having the chance to volunteer with the girls at Homes of Hope for an extended period of time is absolutely an honor. So, after I leave Kochi I am taking a few days to travel up to another Home of Hope in Secunderabad, India. I plan on being there through April! I am really very excited about the journey and this opportunity to be of service.
JJ: What are you most anxious about?
Lauren: I am anxious because I know I probably will not heed all the travel advice and will try a lot of the different food which may not be that advisable. But I am really trying to go into this without a lot of anxiety because I don’t really know what challenges I will face. I am hoping that I am aware enough to figure it out as I go. There is no point worrying about what hasn’t happened!
JJ: What are you most excited about?
Lauren: EVERYTHING!! I don’t know that I could even begin to name one specific thing. I am really excited to meet the girls! I hope to be of service to them in any way I can but I also know they will probably teach me even more. And really, I simply cannot wait to be overwhelmed and over-joyed by the life changing experiences ahead of me. I am so grateful and so lucky for all that this life has given me and I just want to share a little bit of that gratitude and peace!
Would you like to be of service to the Homes of Hope? Join us for YogaFest–our annual Homes of Hope fundraiser–Friday-Sunday, January 2-4 for FREE yoga, specials, raffles and more! More info