Lee Edgren. photo by Jeanette Menter

River Light Yoga
Weaving Relaxation into Movement

by Jeaneatte Menter

What comes to mind when you think “yoga?” Often its images of sleek, gumby-like people, contorted into impossible, gravity-defying poses while looking peaceful. Or perhaps it conjures up a ‘Gandhi’ type person sitting crossed-legged murmuring “ohhhmmmm.” The most popular concept is that it’s a form of exercise.

Lee Edgren, owner of River Light Yoga in Nashville explains it as, “a way of getting to know and be who you are.” That’s a profound statement. How did she arrive at that conclusion? Her radiant green eyes were like windows into a story, and I wanted to know more.

While in Ann Arbor, Michigan in the 70s, Lee was introduced to yoga in an unexpected way. Her husband had a bad back and his doctor recommended yoga. As he began, Lee followed along. Rather than go to the local gym for lessons, she began teaching herself by using books. It wasn’t long before she noticed that her Type ‘A’ personality was softening. In addition, she started feeling joy in moving on her own. “The world was a brighter, more saturated place,” she reflects.

She found herself face to face with the much-studied Swami Rama during a trip to India in 1988. He advised her to become a teacher. “I taught my first class on the banks of the Ganges River the very next day!”

In the following years, Lee noticed that every time she began to experience a run-down, spun-out state of mind, the only thing that brought her back was yoga. Ironically, the girl who was always the last to be chosen for team sports in high school had found her calling and it was all about physical movement.

Lee moved to Brown County in the late 70s. It was during that time she heard a lecture by none other than the Swami Rama. His words still resonate in her head. “You don’t have to believe a thing I tell you. Test it on the laboratory of yourself.” So she did and has been practicing yoga daily since then.

Ms. Edgren compares yoga styles and philosophies to universities. “There’s not one kind of yoga just as there isn’t one kind of university. They are both very diverse.”
Her type of yoga asks the student to move slowly enough to increase inner awareness. She does not want people to go beyond their current physical limitations. In fact, in her opinion, many Western teachers and students like to focus on ‘doing.’ “They like the rush that comes with a lot of breathing and movement, but they neglect the element of relaxation, which I strive to weave into every movement, every aspect of yoga.” This particular method is known as Restorative Yoga. “I want people to have the joy of sensing the body opening up.”

Yoga is well known as a physical fitness discipline. While Lee believes good physical health is important, she also wants to get her students to step out of their ‘box’ to stop, breath, relax, and open up lines of energy.

“Anyone can do yoga,” Lee states emphatically. One of her students is in her eighties and just wants to gain more strength. Lee has been certified since 1991 and is listed as an ERYT500 by the Yoga Alliance (the highest level recognized by the organization). She is not about big movements or ‘yoga from the outside.’ Instead her goal is to increase self-awareness through physical flexibility and relaxed movements that enrich life on all levels.

However, if a rigorous yoga workout is more your style, Trish Rieke, a new instructor under Lee’s tutelage, will get you moving with her upbeat, accessible, and honest approach. She focuses on a relaxed flow of poses with attention to alignment and moving with the breath.

River Light Yoga, Brown County’s only dedicated yoga center, recently relocated to a building tucked behind the Sweetwater Gallery at 145 Van Buren Street (across from the Nashville Christian Church). Students can sign up for classes ranging from beginner to advanced. Each class is one hour and fifteen minutes. Drop-ins are always welcomed. No special clothing is necessary. There is easy access, parking, no steps, and bountiful light. The space has warm wood, many windows and cathedral ceilings, creating a sense of intimacy and safety. Classes are small, allowing for lots of personal attention. All props for your session are provided and are also available for purchase if desired. Personal sessions, mini-workshops, and full retreats are options as well.

For a full list of prices and more information go to <www.riverlightyoga.com> or call (812) 988-yoga (9642).

The traditional closing word in yoga is “Namaste” which means, “My core of light (or love) greets your core of light.” What better way to sum up the yoga experience?