(Photo Credit: Maggie Davis, featuring Lesley Fightmaster)

I’ll cut right to it: I practice yoga at home with Lesley Fightmaster’s videos because Lesley is clearly a teacher who leads from both life and yoga experience, and who embraces the wisdom of yoga as medicine. I surmise this from her videos, but this is also confirmed in her reflective email newsletter if you join her mailing list. Also—bonus!– I got results in my body and mind this season that I never expected.

I tried a handful of free yoga videos with different knowledgeable teachers, including Fightmaster Yoga on YouTube, and I ended up subscribing to Lesley’s paid subscription site (MyYogaPal.com) after understanding what sets her videos apart from the others. By the way, who knew a Smart TV—my first TV since “rabbit ears” left our culture—would improve my physical and spiritual shape?

Lesley really mixes it up in a good way. She blends several styles of yoga in some sessions, with varying levels of complexity, or leans in one particular direction, depending on the session’s purpose. Vinyasa flow, hatha, ashtanga, kundalini, restorative, and likely many other styles are represented. (I’m a non-hipster yogi—I avoid pretending to know.)

Her videos come in different time lengths and often have a gentle focus driving the sequence of postures. The focus can be physical, emotional, or spiritual, such as: yoga for energy, yoga for the lower body, yoga for joy, and so on.

MY focus in all of them is: Yoga to un-knot my body and my life.

After a Vermont winter of teetering on the mat every day for only 20 minutes, I am surprised! Off the mat, I notice an increase in my physical flexibility, strength, balance, and control (I cook in my kitchen like a hip-hop dancer, locking it and popping it as I reach for top shelves or deep into the fridge).

My use of breath during stressful moments suddenly surfaces at work, and my inner chatter is noticeable– redirected by my awareness *of* the chatter throughout the day.  Cultivating patience while disconnecting from judgment—regularly—during interactions with intense people, off the mat, is a whole new yoga for me. 

I’ve had spiritual practices my entire life— but it’s sticking firmly, this one—maybe because it is just a little bit every day.  Repetition is key sometimes!

“Fights” are not always physical altercations, or even arguments.  They can be internal struggles, which we all carry.  We’re human.  In that sense, “Fightmaster” has a spiritually badass ring to it.

Other aspects I love: Lesley’s videos are often recorded outdoors in natural settings, and her voice giving direction is added after. Minimal words. AND there is no distracting music.  This approach to recording yoga keeps a tight, serene focus and minimizes tangents or distractions, barring an occasional dog that runs onto the mat to say hi.  =)

Lesley’s voice is perfectly calming, and her directions are clear. When appropriate, she offers modification ideas for different ability levels, and she adds gentle reminders of how to self-correct poses (so important!!) while executing them. (Yes– like a real, live yoga teacher!)

And for those of you who are really skilled and talented at yoga, I think Lesley will give you a run for your money.  The later videos in the Thrive series on MyYogaPal.com are just not possible for me, now or maybe ever, but I’m glad they are a benchmark.  The “you have to be kidding me” benchmark.

I concentrate well during Lesley’s teachings.   In a world of sometimes too much chatter, this is beautiful. My improvement is real, but don’t ask me to go into Warrior 3 or “scissor pose” unless you want to laugh. A lesson in gravity! Very simple.

Speaking of Lesley’s voice, she gets an A+ from me as a former writing instructor. Her newsletter is always connected to yoga in some way, but since yoga is connected to all of life, each update is a new journal reflection on just about anything—as viewed from the lens of a yogi. Again, without unnecessary chatter.  Ah, something sane in my inbox!

Something graceful.

As a student and performer of the physically ecstatic language of West African dance for more than two decades, I occasionally ventured in and out of public, local yoga classes over the years—but the practice never stuck. I found yoga boring at the time. BUT– bodies change over time. When the hardware changes, the software follows.

How do you use yoga in *your* life?  Please comment or email– I’m fascinated!

I’m on the mat every day at home thanks to Lesley– I recommend her online teachings for the daily medicinal quiet you may need and do deserve!