Lee Edgren leads Michael Rebman into a triangle yoga position.

Yoga with Lee Edgren

by Barney Quick

“Most of us spend no time knowing how we really feel unless we have some glaring discomfort or prominent emotion,” says Lee Edgren, owner of River Light Yoga and Full Circle Studio. Not only do we not pick up on that, but she says we’re often not even “aware of our awareness.”

Yoga, a set of exercises that are first felt in the body, enables us to tune in to what’s going on mentally and spiritually as well.

“Everybody comes to yoga wanting something,” Edgren explains. It may be relief from a symptom or a sense of being loved. In the process of pursuing a specific goal, the yoga student discovers that he or she has attained a path for greater understanding of one’s entire being.

“The most important question in yoga is, ‘Who am I?’” says Edgren. She says that what we come to see is that underneath our personalities is a common essence. “I use the greeting ‘namaste,’ which means, ‘The core of love in me recognizes the core of love in you,’” she explains. “Everyone is born into a particular culture, at a particular time, with particular parents and genetic makeup. Yoga is a technology for seeing what else there is to you.”

River Light Yoga is her practice and Full Circle Studio is her facility. It is located in Suite 6 of Redbud Terrace at 146 East Main Street in Nashville. You can drop in on ongoing classes or take a private one. She also offers special topics classes. One recent class was called “Your Better Back.” Early in 2007, she will conduct a class on new year’s resolutions, drawing on the work she did writing her thesis on behavior change while pursuing her Master of Science degree in Wellness Management from Ball State University.

She opened her practice in Brown County after an adventurous three decades of travel and study. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Michigan. While working as a reporter for various newspapers, she began her serious inquiry into yoga. She spent time in Nashville in the late 1970s, taking yoga classes at the old Methodist Church from Cherry Merritt Darriau. A decade later, in 1987, she committed to daily yoga practice while taking care of her father. After his death, she traveled to India, where her yoga instructor pushed her into instruction. “I taught my first class on the banks of the Ganges,” she says.

This was an era when many Westerners sought out more rigorous approaches to yoga. “I left the Himalayan Institute,” she says. “I went from a meditative approach to a much more athletic one.”

In 1990, she was one of a handful of people who went to the first Unity in Yoga conference to be held behind the Iron Curtain. It was held in the soon-to-disintegrate Soviet Union and Edgren witnessed a tremendous pent-up zeal for yoga there.

At this point, she has somewhat moved away from the robust forms of yoga and back to modes that encompass more gentle movements. “You meet your body where you are,” she says. “If you’re sincere in your effort, you do tend to develop greater flexibility, strength and breath capacity.”

In fact, a recent specialty of hers is restorative yoga. This involves assuming poses and then remaining motionless. “It’s amazing how your body responds to that,” says Michael Rebman, one of her students.

The basis for hatha yoga is focus on the asana, which literally means “seat.” It has to be steady and comfortable. “I like to use the concept of ‘edges,’” explains Lee. “The first edge is the place where you start to feel resistance. The second is the place where you either can’t go farther or feel pain or fear. Edges exist on many levels—physical, emotional, energetic. The space between these edges is your personal space for yoga exploration. Rodney Yee taught me what occurs in that space is like a conversation. Working this way ensures pleasure and challenge that is personally appropriate. You ‘progress’ not through old-fashioned striving, but through awareness.” “You never want to create pain,” says another student, local business woman Julie Harris.

Harris and Rebman both wax enthusiastic about Edgren’s approach. Harris describes her as “very motivational” and Rebman says that she is “incredible detailed” and that her style of teaching is “personalized.” As Edgren herself puts it, “A good yoga teacher doesn’t have just one bag of tricks.”

She can be contacted at (812) 988-8220 or at <lee@riverlightyoga.org>. Her website is