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Recently, after a generous student donation, we started the Satva Scholarship fund at Land Yoga.  The scholarship is set up so that committed, enthusiastic individuals who could not normally afford yoga will be able to participate at our shala.  Our first scholarship was awarded to Sonya Rani Choudhury, a nurse practitioner with an incredible spirit.  As part of the scholarship requirements, we ask the recipient to blog at the end of month one about their experience.  Sonya had so much to say that we had to split it into two blogs!  Here’s the first:

“ The times in your life that stand out the most are those
when you serve.” Albert Schweitzer
         I love this
quote, and for me it provides great personal meaning, having dealt with severe
anxiety,  depression and many challenges
in my life. Individuals always had advice, or would get angry but never were
solutions put forth. It was not till middle school, that I found one of my
greatest passion in my life, a teacher, mentor and now dear friend of mine 25
years ago introduced me to service explaining that if one is to get involved in
helping others, or to put others first, and try to live your life and everyday
with intention, it would help me to look outside myself and also at the same
time possible give me confidence in the skills I could offer the world!
            Almost 25
years later, service has saved my life, in some of my darkest hours it has saved
my life, taught me skills like leadership, the importance of leading your life
and all your actions daily with good intentions and kindness, and wonderful
life skills that I never thought I would ever be able to do including building
home with Habitat all over the world, or having enough leadership to run and
lead multiple team projects through NYCares or even captain a soccer team-
recently I had a humbling moment in that a teammate on my soccer team came up
to me., an excellent player who played in college she was a dynamic force on
the field but was frustrated as none of the other players would pass to her,
but it was her passes to them who scored the goal, what amazed me is she wanted
no credit for her amazing skills, she just wanted to be part of this team and
recognized.  I said you know what I need you to help and
lead the others- those who don’t know how to play and are struggling in our
defense like the Bad News Bears-  She
took over this role and became a 
beautiful leader and better captain than I could ever be, teaching the
novice defense players, giving them confidence and most importantly amazing
teamwork, which led the team to the playoff- it was all her leadership.  With some health setback in the past few
months I cant play right now, this women came up to me and said the best thing
you could ever do was bring out the best in me, I never thought I could be a
captain and people never told me I was a great leader!
            At Land
Yoga, I started a month ago
but I can tell you in that one month, in Lara Land-
and her most wonderful teachers- I have experienced when needed it the most,
individuals who are passionate about yoga, passionate about their dedication to
teaching, and in Lara’s case an unstoppable, non stop passion that goes way
beyond yoga,
it is a passion for the local Harlem community, a passion for
sharing her talents and yoga all over the world including traveling to Rwanda
to teach and live with victims of Genocide, to bringing this wonderful
beautiful art of yoga to individuals who might not have the opportunity for
many reasons, is no exposure, not financially feasible or just scared as like
me had awful yoga experiences in the past!
            Lara has
the beautiful ability in her teaching to do what is most necessary in life,
bring out the best in everyone, give confidence or encouragement to the scared
most novice individuals like me,
and furthermore with these teaching whether
she and her staff may know it or not, you are not only teaching yoga, and all
the physical benefits, but you are really influencing lives, changing them,
giving out confidence when individuals need it the most, and creating a
healthy, beautiful space and welcoming community for individuals of all
abilities, backgrounds where one feels comfortable these are the important
things in life!
            My schedule
is insanely busy- but as a new novice I still remember my very first practice
being embarrassed at how new I was, how little I was able to do and almost
ready to give up- once again if not for these teachers, and this Shala I might
have been tempted or to give in to my frustrations, luckily I am also one that
is usually determined to keep trying- but along the way all of us need
teachers, mentor and people like this! All of a sudden, I have found myself
scheduling or trying to schedule any free time I have around trying to get to
Land, and get my practice in
– and despite being still so new, clumsy and
awkward there is this feeling even at 6AM of looking forward to practice, or
leaving feeling so good about myself, despite physical exhaustion it is an
amazing exhaustion like an internal pride you are challenging your body and
mind- and doing it for yourself, and for once not feeling like you are behind
and also learning that thing are not always judged by how many miles you can
run, or how many hours you can keep working- but more so by the breaths-
someone who is used to burning the midnight oil, as mentioned I have or am
finding myself going to bed early because I want to try to make it to AM
or coming back from evening practice as I said with a clarity that
allows me to be even more focus and productive for the rest of the evening!
            I am as
mentioned the novice of all novice, again I have learned through all of these
people they live their life with intention, bring out the best in everyone- and
also that everyone can do Yoga never ever to late to start!
conclusion, I left practice the other day and one of the teachers said to each
student goodbye and we want you to keep coming back,
those simple words made me
feel so welcomed and so good- because you realize you are entering into a
community- and it is again something so vital for me-