The Escape

That place where you feel your shoulders release from your ears and your soul smile. Some people find their escape on a 5 mile run or perhaps a 500 page book, but my escape is a journey. It’s my journey through my practice of yoga – the easy and the challenging.

Many people are afraid to be judged when it comes to yoga, so they choose to not practice. They are nervous that they won’t do something right. Well, let me tell you something, I’ve been there before and its about time you get over yourself and let down your walls. That may seem harsh, yes, but at the end of the day the only one you are afraid of is yourself. As soon as you let those walls down and stop caring what other people think, you will find this feeling of peace. It’s up to you to simply show up; on your mat, a friends mat, a studios mat, any mat. Be present and you will escape into your journey.

I must say I am not one of those people who can just stop thinking about the million of things they have on their plate, but yoga has truly helped me with this. I’m not perfect and still catch my mind wandering in Savasana (the time where you are supposed to be most relaxed) from time to time, but practicing yoga has formed a journey in my life. My alignment is far from perfect and I can’t do all the crazy poses that you see on Instagram, but I can do one thing that I find the most important. I can flow. Whether that is to my breath, the music I feel vibrating my soul, or my neighbors flow, I have found the beauty in letting go, being present for myself.

You will not only grow significant mental strength, but you will gain incredible physical strength. The fitness aspect of yoga is underestimated, and it will not be easy your first time on the mat, but you can definitely do it. Just like we learn to walk when we are born, us yogi’s like to learn how to find the balance and strength to stand on our hands. We LOVE to go upside down – 1 second or 1 minute – gotta do it. Us yogi’s seem to live for the unordinary.

So, I invite you to stop worrying about doing something wrong and just let go. Allow your body and soul to flow as one. As cliche as it sounds, when you experience the moment, you’ll know it. STOP being afraid of going to a studio for the first time, or even a new studio, because at the end of the day you are only fearing yourself. I’ve been right where you are, I recently went to a new studio here in Nashville, and I must admit that I had the jitters before I walked in (you can read about my experience here). Then, as soon as I walked in…yes, to a room full of strangers, my jitters disappeared into the positive vibes and warm welcome. No matter how many years you have been practicing yoga, if you simply show up, you will be amazed by what your journey can become.

I hope you are inspired to try out the practice of yoga, here are some words of wisdom for the next (or first) time you get on your mat as a wildflower:

Listen to your body & give it what it’s asking. Speak kindly to yourself, and you will be amazed of how much strength you already have. Be playful in your practice & allow your body to thank YOU for showing up – plus this is the time you realize you have the strength to a hold a pose you gave up on 3 months ago.


Kazmira Eldaly has called Nashville her home since January 2015.  Currently she is living in the city working in a hi-rise downtown and sharing her life experiences on her blog, The Wildflower Words  She began her yoga practice in her hometown, Detroit, MI. Shortly after her first yoga class, at the age of 17 she began the search to find her yoga home. It wasn’t too long after she found her passion for yoga that she found her home at Citizen Yoga Royal Oak. The rest is history. Now at the age of 21 she still practices yoga daily in Nashville, Tennessee and continues to be challenged and blown away by the stillness and beauty of the practice. She aspires to teach across the globe one day and share the moment of getting on her mat, alone or with friends, escaping reality to fill herself with love and positive energy. One thing she feeds off most is human connection, and she loves to hear every single persons story, and answer any and every question she can. She definitely strives to make people happy by recognizing the best version of themselves, so never doubt reaching out to Kazmira. 

Right on Cue: A Guide for Yogis

Bring back curiosity and mindfulness into your practice, leading a class is more than just being right on cue. 

As intelligent, evolved beings we often find it challenging to take directions from others. Think back to the childhood curiosity that frequently found you pushing beyond the neatly laid out boundaries set out for you by parents and elders, questioning everything. If you spend long periods of time with young children in your day-to-day, you’re probably quite used to hearing the word “why?” endlessly repeated in response to basically any statement.

At some point in our lives, generally around the same time we found ourselves confined to a chair and desk for six hours a day, we started to lose that incessant desire to question; to explore beyond the surface of directions sent our way by others. We started to find it much easier to take directions without asking, and go through the motions on an autopilot of sorts.

In our modern yoga and movement practice, this lack of childlike curiosity and autonomy over our physical, mental, and emotional responses to our practice has become a (not-so) silent epidemic.

Right on Cue

Drastic words? Perhaps, but I fully believe that the consequences hold some pretty serious implications and impact. Let me back track by saying that I do not think this falls entirely on yoga practitioners unwilling to ownership of their practice, but also on the part of teachers who continue to repeat generalized cues without much conviction or thought put into how they translate into the bodies of practitioners in the room at that moment in time. And it’s this continuous stream of bland, non-personal cues for both the physical and subtle body that lead to practitioners tuning out, running on autopilot, and failing to connect on a profound level with what’s happening through their practice. As a growing community that has embraced the concept and practice of yoga, it’s time to tune back in to both our teaching and practice, and bring back that act of self-aware questioning.


Yoga Teachers

Let’s start by breaking down the difference between teaching and instructing, because they’re two very separate vocations. To instruct is to go through the motions, repeating words and phrases that are far too often not truly our own. An instructor leads with few modifications, and provides cues that do not allow much, if any, wiggle room, without questioning why he or she is asking practitioners to progress through a sequence of movements. A teacher, however, dedicates him or herself to moving outside his or her own definition of the practice in order to better serve the practitioners in the room, at any given time. A true teacher never defines him or herself as such (re: Yeah, actually I’m a yoga teacher. It’s pretty great!), but rather as a vehicle for learning.

The best teachers always question “why,” guide with purpose, and are always students themselves.

So “teachers,” let’s make waves and make changes. Instead of providing alignment cues in a tone that suggests everyone must follow suit, it’s important to provide practitioners with the space to experiment. Encourage everyone to feel out how their body responds to certain movements, to breath pattern, and even to different verbalizations and visual representations of instructions. Heel to heel vs. heel to arch vs. square your hips vs. toes at a 45 degree angle – there is no one or even two or three “right ways” for asana to make its appearance across a vast spectrum of different physical bodies. Let each practitioner determine what works and what doesn’t, and start to find your own voice in how you choose to verbalize your points of guidance.

Right on Cue

The best piece of advice I have been given was by a friend during our 300 hour training in Rishikesh. She observed me teaching our final “practicum” class, and when I looked to her for feedback, she told me that the best parts of my class were when I was being my authentic self. She suggested to me that I forget about turning to those overused, tired cues that we hear teachers repeating with a tireless lack of conviction. Be a little awkward, try to crack a joke or two, if that’s how you best connect and communicate with others. Even those practitioners that are new to your classes and teaching style will better connect with a teacher who carries with him or herself a sense of credibility and confidence, and doesn’t force a falsified presence. Finding your voice, as non-traditional as it may be, is so key to feeling fully comfortable as you strive to enable others to feel comfortable and find themselves through their practice.


Yoga Practitioners

Continue to ask “why.” This doesn’t mean that every single cue provided to you by an instructor or teacher needs to be followed up with that verbalization, but question the purpose behind the pose, behind the movement, and behind the cue. Leverage this to build a sense of awareness within your own physical and subtle body – identify how your reactions and responses change each day, and start to foster a deeper level of self-awareness. It’s incredible easy to move through asanas and through your typical flow without fully absorbing each subcomponent within your own being. Avoid the autopilot trap, bring a sense of awareness into your practice, and let that attunement permeate throughout other aspects of your life.

In its most raw form, pre-Instagram yoga challenges, before “Hot Power Flow” classes and “Yoga Bootcamp” classes were ever a thing, yoga symbolized union. It is the understanding that we are all one and the same. Yoga embodies the fact that nothing separates each one of us here; we do not coexist, we only exist as one collective. So let’s take steps towards breaking down the dogmatic teacher-student barriers that have come to be, and provide practitioners with the ownership to shape their respective practices, both on and off the mat.


Cassandra Cooper

Cassandra Cooper

Growing up with a background in competitive figure skating, Cass’ journey with yoga began at a young age. What started as a way of maintaining flexibility and mobility has since shifted to focus on building strength, by combining elements of functional movement into her practice and sequencing, helping to explore the different ways in which each individual’s body moves and changes shape. Since completing Octopus Garden’s 200 hour teacher training, and Rishikesh Yog Peeth’s 300 hour advanced teacher training program, Cass has pursued Barre and Pilates certifications through Stott Pilates, along with Essentrics movement training. The most important thing she’s discovered along the way is that you’re always a student – be curious, always question, carefully analyze, and continuously seek new avenues towards unexpected answers. ‘Yoga is the journey from cosmetic to cosmic beauty.’