Yoga & More offers classical yoga classes with traditional postures (beginner, mixed level), meditation classes, crystal bowl sound healing classes, workshops with Kundalini yoga and specialty neck Yoga classes . Yoga & More also offers a Yoga Teacher Training program that was started last year. It is a 200 hour program that is registered and certified through Yoga Foundations. Yoga & More may be found at 139 Walnut St. Suite 101, Corning, NY 14830. Retha Cazel may be reached at (607) 962-YOGA (9642), through email at SpiritYoga@yahoo.com, and on Facebook (Yoga & More) and LinkedIn. You may also visit the website at www.SpiritYoga.net.
How long have you been in business and what has been the evolution of that?
I have had Yoga & More for the past 17 years. Prior to that I had been teaching yoga on a part time basis in town at other locations. I have been in Corning for the past 22 years. I would travel to Alfred and teach. I would travel to Sayre. I would travel with my yoga mats wherever people needed me to be.
How did you get involved in yoga?
I was inspired to try yoga 34 years ago. I had a miscarriage at 16 weeks. I was taking an art class to recover from the depression. Art has always been a fantastic therapy for me. I met a woman in the class who reminded me of my mom and she invited me to take her yoga class. I looked at her as if she had 10 heads and 20 toes.
I tried the class and I liked how I felt. In high school I was a cross country runner, softball and volleyball player. However, none of the sports made me feel good. I always felt lifeless after everything was done. Yoga was the first exercise where I felt rejuvenated afterwards. I had a really nice quality of sleep. The next day I would benefit from the yoga class in my mood and attitude. I kept doing it.
I took classes with my teacher for 2 years. I continued taking classes with other teachers as well. After 6 years, my teacher asked me to fill in for her as an instructor. It was her sly way of getting me to teach. I was doing the practice because I liked it with no intention of teaching. However, she saw the potential. A few years later, the Wilmington Athletic Club in North Carolina (where all this was happening) needed an instructor. They wanted my teacher to do it, but she could not fit it into her schedule and she asked me to do it. She told me the students would be in good hands with me so I began there. I taught 3-5 yoga classes at night and during the weekends. I cut out the TV and that allowed me the time to focus on my practice and meditation.
I had always heard that yoga was meditation in action and repeated this to my students. Then after 12 years, in 1995, I took my first meditation class. The lightbulb went off and the yoga practice was enriched.
I have a degree in Applied Math & Physics and was working full time for Corning, Inc.. I was transferred to Corning, NY and continued my day job. I began teaching yoga classes in Alfred, Sayre, Wellsboro and traveled to other places.
I eventually reached a turning point in my career. I knew that God had anointed me to be a teacher. I assumed that meant a math teacher. One night in 1999 I was traveling to Alfred to teach a Yoga class. It was a bad storm with everything icing up and I lost control of the car. In those few crisis seconds of heading to a deep drop into a ravine, I asked that I just not be hurt. In that very instant, my car STOPPED, grabbed the guardrail and did not flip over. I know the laws of physics. It should have flipped over. Within a moment, a State Trooper stopped. There was no reason why anyone should have been on that road. It was a huge storm.
After that, I had a conversation with God. I asked 2 questions. 1. What am I doing right? (I wanted the good news first). Answer: You are teaching. 2. What do I need to change? Answer: You need to teach full time.
In March of 2000 my development group at Corning Inc. was disbanded. Everyone had to go through a process of getting re-hired with another group. I had been planning a trip to India for 3 years. It was a sabbatical that had been approved by my boss in the now disbanded group. I had to apply well in advance (1997) and provide them with my teachers, (John Schumaker, Patricia Walden, Rodney Yee), my practice and a request to come. All I got was a letter saying yes, come in 2000 and bring this letter.
I was not willing to put my life on hold and could not in good conscience promise I would come back to work for anyone. One boss in another group told me we should just wait and see. In the meantime, a Math teaching job opened up at West High School for that September when I would be getting back. I thought, “Great! God wants me to teach math”. I had just received my NYS Certification in teaching. I interviewed and it went well. While I was in India, I received a letter they had hired someone else fresh out of school.
I am in India from May –September of 2000, taking yoga classes from these world-class teachers (BKS Lyengar, his daughter, Geeta and his son, Prashant). I had been taking yoga classes for 18 years and teaching yoga for 12 years. I am now asking God, “What do you want me to teach”? DUHH MOMENT. I said OK.
At the time, Corning Inc. Stock was at a record high. I cashed in 10 years of stock value. Everything was lining up to support me in a comfortable way. When I returned from India, I was in a calm place. 2 months later it occurred to me I had no job and no serious source of income. I had a foot stomping rage one afternoon in the woods of Woodhull. “What have I done”? The next morning, I received a call from CCC. They said our yoga teacher quit. Would you like to teach classes for us? First, I profoundly apologized to God and then I accepted the offer. Over the past 17 years we have added classes such as contemplative meditation, student support classes, etc..
The Yoga studio has taken off and we completed our first teacher training program. I focus on alignment and how to begin teaching yoga. In order to teach yoga, you have to evolve thru yoga in your own body. You have to be able to teach others how to evolve thru their bodies. Not everyone is a ‘gumbie’. Some people have bodies that hurt or have dis-ease or have emotional trauma. They need a sanctuary. There are different ways to work with all the emotional conditions. Yoga gives you a mental and a physical balancing. It is an evolution of you expanding into your greater good.
Are there any misconceptions about you and your business?
I am not sure if there are any misconceptions about me. I have not heard any. I had one person say they had not come because they heard my classes are very spiritual. After she took a class, she said she really liked it.
I had misconceptions about yoga when I started 35 years ago. I thought I would have to do something weird. I didn’t want to do anything that was contrary to my Christian upbringing. All I can say to that is yoga will enrich your faith no matter what it is.
What are your greatest achievements?
My greatest achievement was sticking with yoga – something I never thought I would do. I went thru cancer treatment a few years ago. It supported me a great deal.
I have always wanted to teach teachers. The Yoga School has been a dream come true where you can begin as a teacher and learn to honor the people in your community when they show up in your class. Yoga is not an exercise or aerobics class. We focus on how to be attentive to create unity within the lives of those in the class.
Community action has been another achievement that we want to build on. Each month we offer free yoga classes to anyone in the community. I co-teach them with some of the students in the Yoga School.
What have been your greatest stumbling blocks?
Myself. Stepping forward in to things that are not familiar.
If you could have a Do Over, is there anything you would want to change?
The truth is, I needed to evolve through my own life and everything I was experiencing in a way that was supportive. So no. I am exactly where I need to be at the right time.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Doing more outreach. More training with other teachers. Being a resource and educator for other teachers.