It Takes Two to…Yoga

When you see two yoga mats lined up in front, it's a good bet it's Tara and Jonathan.

When you see two yoga mats lined up together in front, it’s a good bet it’s Tara and Jonathon.

The yoga studio is home to many practicing couples.  Often they set up their mats in their own spots separately in the hot room.  Often they come to different classes because one has to stay home with the kids.  The rest of us look on enviously, saying “I wish I could get my (husband, wife, etc.) to come to class with me.”  Not Tara and Jonathon.  They practice with their mats right next to each other in friendly competition and because, as Jonathon says,  “We’re a good team.”  Obviously.

Tara and Jonathon, in addition to being Bikram devotees, are chiropractic physicians.  Their practice is Atlas Spinal Care, just a stone’s throw from the Eastside studio.  They met in undergrad at Auburn University.  (Just a hint of southern twang is detectable when you listen hard enough).  Beginning as running buddies, eventually theirs was a relationship borne of a mutual competitive spirit, desire to help others, a deep friendship and belief in hard work.   Also, Tara says, they have a matching “obsessive” streak in their personalities.  Having graduated from chiropractic school here in the Northwest, they decided to stay.  For the past 9 years, they have built a thriving practice specializing in headaches.  Their office is busy, clean and professional which clearly reflects their inspiring commitment and work ethic.

A friend initially brought Tara to the hot room.  During the class, Tara remembers thinking:  a.)  I’m going to die and b.) Jonathon will love this!  Apparently, Jonathon loves the heat, nostalgic for the sweltering southern temperatures he grew up with.  A day or two later, Jonathon too tried the yoga.  Both of them found themselves wanting to go back, despite the toughness of the class.  That was a year ago.  Today, you can find Tara and Jonathon joining studio challenges, finding alternate studios when out of town and vigorously recommending Bikram yoga to their patients.   These two are hard core, going to 3 to 5 classes a week!  What is it about the yoga that has made this couple so committed?  Many reasons, as it turns out.  Tara has gained a new love of drinking water.  Each is better able to do the mental transition from work to home with the benefit of the class.  Jonathon enjoys seeing himself improve.  Most of all is the friendly rivalry between the two.  Tara says, “sometimes I look at what he’s doing in class and think WOW.”  Jonathon counters, “Sometimes I look at Tara and think, she just raised the bar!”  Being around them, you can sense the respect they have for each other.  But you can also tell they gear themselves up for a smackdown.  Stay out of their way, trust me.

Each of them has their own personal reasons for their dedication.  Jonathon states that when he sees other people do postures that he can’t do, he thinks, “I’ve got to be able to do this pose.”  He loves the structure of the classes and the accountability provided by the instructors.  He is completely motivated to push himself each and every time.  For Tara, she feels similarly and is particularly buoyed by some neck issues which have improved with Bikram yoga.  As a chiropractor, with access to physical therapy, massage and acupuncture, it came as a pleasant surprise that the yoga what was finally helped resolve some nagging problems.  “I’m stubborn, I keep at it,” she says.  Hmm.  Sounds like someone else we know.

By far the most compelling reason for going to yoga for both Jonathon and Tara is optimum health.  Telling me about a patient who had come in with an 8 liter a day Mountain Dew habit, Jonathon emphatically states that people need to take charge of their health.  He is frustrated when his patients can’t find the wherewithal to take care of themselves.  To Tara and Jonathon, their goal is to have their patients need them less.  To that end, they encourage hydration (with water, not pop, by the way), regular exercise and most of all, personal responsibility.  “People hold their adjustments better when they are active and strong.”  Seeing them fully engaged in a life of health, it’s tough not to feed off their enthusiasm.  Really.  Just talk to them for 5  minutes sometime.

As far as the studio itself, Tara and Jonathon love walking in and seeing people they recognize from other classes.  It’s a feeling of community and family that is the gift of a regular yoga practice.  They have always felt warm and welcomed, a far cry from some studios they have visited where the feeling was stuffy or unstructured.  Having a clean and professional studio goes a long way to staying motivated to keep coming back.  Of course, there are always off-days. But this is one couple who doesn’t let each other off the hook.  When one is feeling sluggish, the other is there to encourage.  Jonathon’s one complaint?  Mat etiquette.  When they are all up and down and out of order, this is troubling to him.  Anyone wanting a lesson in mat placement?  Jonathon is your guy.

There are some days when the pair walk into the room and can’t find two spots next to each other.  Both Tara and Jonathan say that it doesn’t feel strange to be alone in class, but that it doesn’t feel quite right when they have to be separated for class.  So, next time this happens, move over so they can be together.  You will be rewarded with tons of positive energy.  Times two.

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