This post is part of our Viewer Journeys series, in which we introduce you to a yogi or yogini from our community whose story has inspired us. We feel that sharing their stories will enrich your own journey. In this post, Namaste Yogini, Heather Gregory, interviews Whitney Subryanabout her Namaste experience.
A resident of Northern California, Whitney Subryan's favourite yoga pose is a toss-up between Warrior I or II. She is approximately four years into her yoga journey, a path that very much parallels her experiences with another form of artful, mindful practice: Shotokan Karate. Whitney appreciates the beauty, strength and discipline of both practices. She also enjoys that there is continual room for refinement and improvement in both disciplines.
"I am passionate about Shotokan and yoga is right up there with it," Whitney explains. "Most think of karate as violent, and of course it can be; but through my training I see the beauty in it, just like yoga."
Seven years ago, Whitney began her studies in karate through South African Shotokan Karate (SASKA USA). She and her husband both actively train through this dojo and actively participate in the martial arts community. Whitney participated and medaled in karate competitions for several years and earned a national championship in 2007.
"Our style of Shotokan is powerful, yet graceful, similar to yoga," Whitney explains. "Many of our katas [similar to poses] stand for fire, water, and other elements. My favorite kata, 'Gankaku,' stands for Crane on a rock."
In 2008, Whitney was honoured to receive her first black belt from Sensei Shihan Koos Burger. Sensei Burger taught Whitney's Sensei, and heads the original Shotokan school, which is still active in South Africa. 2009 brought a treasured new addition to Whitney's journey, the birth of her first child.
"My son was two weeks late, but I was able to train until the day before he was born," Whitney recalls. "I had to have a C-section, but I was back training within a few weeks, thanks to conditioning and cross-training with yoga."
Whitney's journey in some ways has come full circle: from student to assistant instructor. She volunteers her time solely to further the legacy of this tradition and to bestow upon others the gift of self-assurance that rises with the knowledge that they have what it takes to defend themselves should the need ever present itself. Despite having attained the stature of teacher, Whitney is secure in the knowledge that she will always remain a student, of both yoga and karate.
"I look forward to the challenge of both every day... knowing I will be chasing perfection, forever pushing my limits to be a better 'me' than I ever imagined," Whitney shares. "You are never 'there' in karate. As long as you train you will learn and evolve... like yoga."