Yogi in the Community: Cynthia Hall

Our Yogi in the Community this week is my dear friend and former trail-blazing business partner Dr. Cynthia Hall! Cynthia and I met while she was a PhD student at Georgia Tech, we practiced yoga together at the Hindu Temple of Atlanta, participated in a local yoga training, and started a business called Downward Cat Yoga, LLC in our early 20s.

African Street Festival, Brooklyn, NY.

As Cynthia mentions in her interview, we were so crazy about yoga that we decided to break out our yoga mats in the middle of Grand Central Station in NYC and practiced headstands, balancing postures, and back-bends (think flashmob with three people). Cynthia serves as an inspiration for pursuing the practice of yoga each time I witness the peace within her beautiful yoga practicing family.

Name: Cynthia Hall

Hometown and current location: Lawnside, NJ

When did you begin practicing yoga? I encountered the path of yoga at a local gym in Washington, DC, while an undergraduate student at Howard University. I was on a quest to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Becoming a vegetarian, exercising, in addition to other changes. Bottom line, I wanted to lose weight. So I was literally and figuratively running in place for a couple of years with respect to my diet and exercise routine. Then I woke up early one Saturday morning during my senior year and decided to walk about a mile and a half to the gym to take yoga. I was feelin it! This wasn’t typical “gym yoga”. We were breathing, chanting, really going in. But being a fickle college student, I didn’t keep up with it. It wasn’t until I relocated to ATL that I began my personal practice and became a student of yoga.

What has been your most influential experience while practicing yoga? I have had so so many memorable experiences with yoga. But I have to choose the photo shoot that I did in Grand Central Station, NYCwith none other than Chelsea “lovesyoga” Jackson, herself :). I guess because it was such an atypical experience. I am a very private person. I have pursued yoga on a personal level, for the most part, so it was very much outside of my comfort zone to be on display as we were in the train station.

Grand Central Station, NYC

It was cool to bust out headstands and other postures on a busy Friday afternoon and hold my center. The experience also taught me how to maintain the integrity of the pose in the midst of chaos. The experience was also quite memorable for me because of the impact we had on the vibrations of those around us. We were truly ambassadors of yoga that day.

How is yoga integrated into your daily life? Now that I have 3 kids, a PhD, and a tenure-track faculty position, my experiences with yoga are quite different than they were 10 years ago. I no longer have the time to integrate my “regular” yoga sessions into my schedule (i.e., rolling out the mat, putting on my music, lighting the incense, and having 1 1/2 hours to complete a well-rounded series). I have to fuse yoga into what I’m already doing. My children and I sit in meditation and chant om 3 times as a part of their nightly routine (when they misbehave close to bedtime, their punishment is not being allowed to meditate.

Cynthia's son meditating in the middle of rush hour traffic after a long day at school.

They get so upset:) I occasionally carve out that 30 or 45 minutes on my mat by myself; however, doing a nightly meditation with my children and seeing them take ownership of their practice is just pure joy.

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