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Yoga is an awesome activity that truly enriches your lifestyle. Recently, I’ve been taking classes at Collierville Yoga, a lovely studio in the Town Square area. My Yoga practices makes me feel strong and powerful, and keeps my mind off my worries for that hour. I really want to pass on the word of what Yoga has in store for our youth, so I contacted Troy Taylor, the owner to give us the scoop.

Sarah: How did you find Yoga, and what about it made you feel instantly passionate?

Ans:    Yoga was not something I sought out directly. Throughout my adult years my service in the military required me to be generally physically fit. For 25 years I did my best to stay in healthy shape. I mostly did that by running. As running began to take its toll on my knees I shifted to swimming, then lifting weights at the gym, back to running, elliptical equipment, stair masters, you name it. After a while each became boring and they only worked on one area of my body at a time. Each year no matter how hard I tried, I’d end up a little heavier and each year it seemed harder to lose weight. Normal stresses of raising a family and managing a career also took their toll. By the time I was in my mid 40’s, I was in pretty bad shape and began to experience serious health issues.

My wife Connie is the person who guided me towards yoga. I was tired of beating up my body running and in the gym. She encouraged me to take a class with a friend of ours. I did. Every Saturday morning for a few months we tried to keep up with videos of yoga practices. Connie kept practicing at a local fitness center. Then we joined a big fitness center. By that time I had experienced serious health challenges and 3 years after military retirement began to be considered overweight. Connie encouraged me to try the yoga at our new fitness center. I had nothing to lose.

I could barely get through 30 minutes of a beginner class once a week the first summer 6 years ago!
Connie became interested in a teacher training program. She practiced teaching on me and I slowly developed stamina for practice 2-3 times a week for about 40 minutes. Once I began to practice regularly I began to see my health improve. I started losing weight and getting stronger. I took a look at my eating habits and decided that if yoga was going to work I needed to make better choices about the type and amount of food I ate at every meal. I practiced regularly another six months and tracked everything I ate every day.

About 8 months after starting I had lost 50 lbs and was able to get through 3-4 hour practices per week and had experienced my first grueling 90 minute Ashtanga Vinyasa Full Primary series! I survived and never thought I’d practice that hard again!

During Connie’s teacher training she met a teacher from NYC who came to the fitness center to do a workshop. Afterwards she told me he teaches Ashtanga yoga and that he was doing an 8 month teacher training. She said I should take the course bc I would like his method. She joined me for the training! During those 8 months I became stronger and stronger and a tiny bit more flexible. I lost another 25 lbs or so (back to my high school weight). By the end of the course I was practicing 5-6 days a week 1-2 hours per practice.

I developed a passion for yoga because it addresses every part of us. The physical, mental, emotional and even spiritual side of us. I had regained my health after serious challenges with heart disease, stress, and the wear and tear of a long military career. Yoga taught me that I did not need to settle for disease and decline the second half of life. My personal transformation is an example of what others can accomplish. I teach because it is now part of my practice to do so. I give my knowledge and experience to others that they too can experience transformation in some way. Everyone comes to yoga for one reason. Those that stay discover that daily practice heals the body and the mind do that we can live happy long lives without unnecessary suffering and disease. Mine is just one story. There are many examples of others.

Sarah: How can Yoga change one’s lifestyle?

Ans: The purpose of yoga is to bring calmness to the constant chatter in our minds, our thoughts. Not stop them, but not be guided by them. The side effects of doing the practice are numerous: Healthy body, Calm mind, Able to handle stress, Make better decisions on a daily basis.

Sarah: What is your favorite part of being a Yoga instructor?

Ans: Two things really.

1. I get to share my practice with others. I’ve taught yoga in a large fitness center, a university, and in my studio. I enjoy sharing my practice with people of all ages who are looking for a holistic approach to peaceful and harmonious living on a daily basis. Teaching IS part of my practice. Anything that we learn or receive in life is really only good for us if we in turn give it away and/or share it with others!

2. I get to witness personal transformations in the students. I thoroughly enjoy watching people transform in mind, body, and spirit! It is not me who transforms them. I only hold up the light and share my experience with the practice. Over time with a regular practice each person “wakes up” to the realization that they have control of their body and mind and do not have to live withhold negative thinking or habits. It’s hard work but very much worth it. The earlier in life a person takes this journey, the richer their lives will be!

Sarah: What’s the best thing you can do to improve your Yoga skills?

Ans: As my teacher Manju Pattabhi Jois’ father Sri K. Pattabhi Jois the founder of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is often quoted saying to students who ask this very same question: “Practice and all is coming!”  This means that you just need to get on the mat 6 days a week and do the postures with good focus and strong breath. Everything else, calm mind, good health and peaceful living will follow!

Another quote of his is “Yoga is 99% practice and 1% theory!” Yoga is not learned by talking about it.  Yoga is a way of being learned by treating others with compassion, treating ourselves with good living habits, practice the physical postures daily, learn to breath to nurture the body and the mind, separate our truth from what our senses tell us (eliminate self gratification in all we do), learn to meditate and detach from the images we are inundated with and attachment and self criticisms, and as a result of all of these live at peace and harmony on a daily basis.

Yoga is an activity that will bring nothing but benefits to your mind, body, and soul. When you are practicing, it is just you on the mat and the rest of the world is just paused. It is not simply a competition between you and the others for who can do the coolest poses, it’s all you and you can only rely on yourself. If this inspires you to start the practice of Yoga, visit their website or email Troy at if you have any questions. Collierville Yoga’s mission is to reach out to the youth and pass these wonderful benefits on, so I’d definitely recommend signing up for their Teen Yoga Classes.