Student Spotlight: Michelle Sommer

Hello!  I’m Michelle Sommer and I live in Adel with my husband of 23 years. We have three adult children.  My stepdaughter, her husband, and their two children live in West Des Moines. My stepson and his new bride live in the Boston area. My daughter, who is engaged to be married, lives in Minneapolis.    I work for a concrete construction company in Urbandale and have been there for 23 years.  I plan to keep working as long as they’ll have me.

Dance has always been a part of my life in some form or another and to me, yoga seemed a natural progression with its graceful movement and breathwork.  I took dance from age four to twelve and later found dance again in college.  When my daughter participated in show choir and dance competition, I became a “Dance Mom”.  My degree is in art with an emphasis in painting and a minor in film study.  I utilized my artistic side by designing décor and lighting for her dance recitals for several years.  I also garden, paint, collect art, love attending dance performances at the Civic Center, and am a big opera fan

Last summer I was blessed to take a vacation to the North Shore with my daughter.  Lake Superior is one of my favorite places on earth.  It is truly magical and we were fortunate enough to go sailing. I also attended my stepson’s wedding this past summer in Cape Cod.  I love being on the ocean!

I became interested in yoga in my 20s and started practicing through adult ed at Roosevelt High School. Although I can’t remember the instructor’s name, I do remember thinking how beautifully she moved and how I wanted to look like her at her age.  I practiced off and on and finally got serious.  I joined a weekly group in Adel and also practiced with Robin Bourjaily at Radiant Om.  When that studio closed, Robin recommended Mary, whom I’ve been with ever since.  I love Mary and the community of dedicated yogis!  Her knowledge of anatomy and physiology is remarkable.  Recently, I had to stop exercising when my hips gave out due to arthritis and needed to be replaced.  Yoga was the only thing I could do without pain.  I attribute my quick recovery to my surgeon, Mary, and my practice.  With her guidance, I am feeling stronger each day.

I love Mary’s special retreats and in-person events.  She is truly a gifted teacher and imparts her knowledge generously.  I admire that she is well-read, embraces winter, and continues to improve and grow.  I am blessed to follow along with her journey into my seventies.  Yoga is not only beneficial to aging gracefully physically but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, as well. To me, yoga is a total body experience, a connection with my inner being, and a reverent prayer to my body.  It has also helped me to add meditation as a daily practice.  In the words of Monique Rhodes, I can “go gently in the world” because of yoga.