On and Off the Mat: Yoga for Life

Kevin Lo

As I ventured towards the office of Tamarack J. Reilly, one of the fitness center’s yoga instructors, I was unaware of what to expect. It seems as though everyone knows and loves Tami’s upbeat attitude and demeanor. I knew little about yoga and even less of Quinnipiac’s most popular and talked about yoga instructor. That was about to change.
I entered her office, sat down and picked the cleanest desk I could find- by cleanest I mean one that wasn’t under a mass of materials. The office shelves and floors were decorated with a vast array of books, folders, papers and shirts. Not exactly what I expected from a yoga instructor. Weren’t they supposed to practice serenity and calmness? I shared this idea with Tami and said I was expecting a desk, a mat and some music.
There was no yoga mat in sight.
She laughed and explained to me she was not only a yoga instructor but also a group exercise club director, in charge of work study positions in the gym, and an ambassador for Energy Muse, a gemstone jewelry company. I then realized that all of these positions resulted in the seemingly countless papers, shirts and folders that covered the walls and much of the floor.
Despite her full plate of jobs Tami remains focused on her duties by doing what she calls, “staying in the moment,” a concept that derives from yoga that she first picked up after her basic training as a group exercise club director.
She teaches yoga in the studio of the fitness center a couple times a week for a group of 25 to 40 students who come religiously.
Quite simply, yoga implies living in the moment and being mindful of your breath and movement in relation to your body. Tami stresses this ideology and refers to it as a practice or habit which she applies to every aspect of her life- whether it involves teaching yoga or filling out paychecks.
We began to talk about how fast-paced students of 2008 can be; doing their homework while simultaneously listening to their I-pod and watching T.V. “Students today aren’t in touch with their emotions and how they feel,” Tami explained.
“When you eat, you should commit to your food,” she says. “The same applies to whatever you do.” This mentality is displayed in yoga, where on the mat, the main focus is to move at your own pace and focus on exploring one’s own body and mind.
“Yoga should be your way of life,” she continued to explain. “Not necessarily the physical aspect of it, but more so the importance of remaining focused and diligent on one activity.” For Tami, the physical aspect of yoga is an essential part or her life.
As a self proclaimed “fitness junkie,” she says, “Fitness is my life.”
“Yoga completed something I was missing. If I don’t do yoga, I’m missing something in my body,” she continued to explain. “When I’m on the mat this is what I do for me.”
As much as she loves yoga itself, her true satisfaction is derived from the message it sends to hers students. “My goal is to motivate, coach and inspire students to think a little more and to stay in the moment,” she continues to preach.
“Yoga practices are what one should practice in their everyday life,” she proclaims. “Whether it may be trying to do the warrior two pose or even the warrior one pose, I try and maintain the same ideology I do on the mat, off the mat- being in the moment.”
Tami explained that it doesn’t necessarily mean focusing on one particular thing. It relates to life as a whole. As college students, it can be hectic trying to balance a full schedule of classes with countless other extracurricular activities in order to build a resume deemed for a job in the real world.
Tami’s view on life allows us to understand that it’s important to be in the moment and enjoy all life has to offer.