Stretch Yourself

The first time I practiced yoga was years ago at a spiritual retreat. I woke up at 5:00 a.m., hung over from too much religion the day before, dragged my guilty body to Conference Room 1A, and passed the next hour as though it were a minute. All day long, I felt taller, lighter. I vowed to continue practicing come hell or high water. The hell did come in the form of religious people who thought I was being brainwashed, the high water in the form of a demanding job that left me little free time. In spite (or perhaps because) of these things, I managed to keep up a somewhat reasonable level of practice until last year–when I became pregnant.

Having a baby has proven to complicate my life even more than being pregnant (while they’re cuter on the outside, they don’t exactly do things according to your desired schedule), so for the past few months I’ve been trying to participate in my beloved yoga catch-as-catch-can via Pinterest and Instagram.

Enter one of my favorite yoga instructors, Valerie Woodhouse. Val teaches yoga in my hometown, and yet I still have not managed to take a class with her (I’m working on it, though!). However, I HAVE managed to stalk her on Instagram, gathering yoga inspo and a good laugh or two along the way.

I cajoled her into answering a few questions for my readers, in case you need a good reason to hit the mat.


  1. Who are you and how were you drawn to teaching yoga as a profession?

That’s a tough one, who am I? Haha maybe you didn’t mean for it to be that deep. I’m a mom of two first, a wife and I teach yoga. I really love fitness and being active, so my first yoga class I took thinking that I would get in better shape and become flexible. I was a high strung, over scheduled mother of two and I thought maybe yoga would be relaxing, so win-win. I can remember laying in Svasana thinking I want to feel this way every day. I started practicing all the time and soon my practice was more than a physical workout. Yoga literally changed my life. I found myself more patient and able to juggle life more effectively. I wanted to be able to help other people feel that way. I did my teacher training and have been loving teaching yoga in Lakeland.

2. With 2 small children, how do you fit in time for physical fitness?

Having kids, getting to my mat whenever I want is difficult, but I’m lucky to have a super supportive husband that will hang with the kids if there is a class or workshop I wanna take. He will even suggest that I go in days where I’m not feeling the most “centered.” Haha!

3. What is your dream yoga wardrobe?

I’m not really stuck on any one brand of yoga clothes. Most of my clothes are yoga/fitness apparel so I think anything that transitions well from studio to street. I’m loving L’urv sportswear right now and the upside has an amazing range of leggings and sports bras. I’m really a sports bra and leggings or crops kinda girl, but I usually wear a flowy top or tank over before and after class. Oh, and Dry wick is so important so you don’t walk around with sweat all over you.

4. What are your favorite budget-friendly pieces?

Now that people are getting into  fitness and health there are a lot of budget friendly options now. Zara and Cotton On have some really cute options.


One thing I’d like people to realize it remember about yoga is that it is a practice. Your yoga practice kind of mimics your life. Some days you’re full of energy and need to push harder and challenge yourself and other days you gotta slow down and take care of yourself. Your practice lets you come into a place away from everything else and really observe and connect with yourself without judgement, without expectation. It’s absolutely an inward journey.

In case you need some ideas for what to wear when you hit the mat, follow Girl About Downtown on Pinterest and check out “Val’s Yummy Yoga Gear” (you know I’m going to need those smoke plume leggings). To check out some advanced moves, follow @valwoodhouse on Instagram.

To hit the mat with Valerie, visit Yoga Pointe Thursday from 10-11 a.m., Friday from 9-10 a.m., and Saturday from 9-10:15a.m.