Kula Member Spotlight: Dawn Reser

My name is Dawn, and I live in West Des Moines with my husband, John. We have two adult children who both live in the DM area. I am a hospital pharmacist at UnityPoint, where I’ve been for more than 25 years. Outside of work, I love being in nature, bicycling, camping, and bird watching. I also enjoy doing crossword puzzles, reading, and watching sports with John. My favorite shows to watch are Ted Lasso, Downton Abbey, and The Amazing Race. What brings the most joy is spending time with our two-year-old granddaughter, Isabelle!

I’m excited to share that I’ve been on this yoga journey with Mary for more than 20 years! In those early years, classes were in a Sunday school classroom at Plymouth Church. On the wall in the room where we practiced, my eyes were drawn to a child’s artwork that said, “Love, Pray, Be nice.” I’ve held this mantra in my heart ever since. The primary yoga kula I’m part of is the Monday evening mixed-level yoga class. I’ve met many wonderful, like-minded yogis in this group. Whether we meet in person or on Zoom, in the few minutes before each class starts, there is an opportunity to foster friendships.

Since Mary transitioned to the online platform, my favorite additional class is “Strength and Balance.” This is a fantastic 30-minute circuit class held over the lunch hour. I am grateful for Mary’s knowledge, expertise, and training. She carefully prepares each class and has a knack for knowing just what I need! Mary always offers cues for modifications and reminders to “listen to your body” as it can be different even from day-to-day.

Through the highs and lows of life, Mary has encouraged me to bring yoga to all aspects of my life. She has taught and shared a plethora of tools including yoga, asanas, meditation, mindfulness, and gratitude practices. She has introduced the Insight Timer app, essential oils and art by Lori Portka. The readings Mary shares during class often seem to speak directly to me. Mary has introduced many amazing authors such as Brené Brown, Mark Nepo, Emily P. Freeman, Judith Lasater, and Danielle LaPorte. One of my favorite books (which I have on my nightstand) is Simple Abundance ~ A Daybook of Comfort and Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach. It is all of these combined tools that have gotten me through the last two years of the pandemic. Working in healthcare has been increasingly difficult, and I’ve leaned on these practices and tools. In fact, I have added a small oil diffuser to my office so I can diffuse peppermint. And as Mary has recently invited us to have a lighted candle during practice, I added an LED flickering candle to my desk as a reminder of the light that shines within. The light in me honors the light in you.

As I ponder the question What does yoga mean to me?, it means everything and every little thing. Yes, the asanas build strength, balance, and centering. More than that, it is mind, body, and spirit – the breathwork, mantras, and meditations I carry into each day. As I face difficult situations, I hear Mary’s voice saying, “breathe into your belly” and “lead with the heart.” Mary is amazing and I’m grateful to her for sharing her gifts. She has the heart of a teacher and it is these practices, meditations, readings, and resources that keep me grounded and allow me to take care of myself so that I am able to take care of others.