Ahimsa Berwyn Student Spotlight: Olivia Liddell
Meet Olivia Liddell, Age 34, Berwyn
What do you do when you are off the mat?
I'm a Cloud Training Specialist at Cloudbakers, a technology company in the West Loop. I also frequently speak at technology conferences on topics such as mentoring, communication, and personal development. When I'm not working or doing yoga, I enjoy distance running. I'm currently training to run my first full marathon (the Chicago Marathon) in October!
What brought you to Ahimsa for the first time?
I started going to classes at Ahimsa a little over a year ago. I've lost 100 pounds over the past few years, but I was still struggling with not being able to see this change when I looked at myself. Taking yoga classes helped me to find a lot of the inner peace I was looking for, in addition to giving me a way to see how weight loss wasn't just about a number on the scale. Over time, I started to see how my body was becoming capable of new things that I could never do before --- like actually being able to grab both of my ankles on my own in bow pose!
What's your favorite thing about this studio?
I love the warmth and sense of community in Ahimsa. That's the main thing that has always kept me coming back to class, since my teachers remember things about me and make me feel welcome in the studio.
What is your favorite type of yoga class (hatha, yin, vinyasa, etc.) and why?
My favorite type of yoga class is vinyasa, because of the extra challenge that I get from it.
What is your advice for someone coming to yoga for the very first time?
My advice would be to focus on yourself and try not to compare what you're doing to anyone else. As a beginner, it can be difficult to see how flexible or balanced the other students in the class might be, but everyone's journey is different. Keep coming back to class, and make sure to reflect on all the progress that you make over time. Even the small victories will add up!
What has your practice given you?
My practice has given me a lot more strength --- both physical and mental. It's helped me learn how to focus on the present moment, rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.
What is your favorite pose?
Sleeping pigeon pose! It used to be one of my least favorite poses, but now it's my go-to pose to follow up a long run.
What’s your least favorite pose?
Downward dog. I enjoy doing it after running, but I prefer to not stay in this pose for too long during a regular yoga class.
Tell us something unusual about yourself.
I speak Arabic and previously taught it at the middle school level in Chicago Public Schools. As-salaamu 'alaykum!
What 3 words would a good friend use to describe you?
Ambitious, genuine, creative.
What's your guilty pleasures?
Chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream. Yum!
Have you made any changes in your life as a result of your practice?
My yoga practice has led to a lot of improvements with my running. When I'm running, I have a tendency to hold my breath (not a good idea, I know!), but because of yoga, I'm now able to control my breath a lot better as I'm running. Essentially, I'm using all of the same breathing techniques that we use in class, while also remaining focused on the present moment in the race.
If you were having a dinner party and could invite anyone you wanted, who would they be?
My three nieces. They live in Maryland, where I grew up, so I don't get to see them nearly as often as I'd like. But I know that we'd have a lot of fun together at our little dinner party.