In a way yoga is all about relationship. It connects us back to ourselves, challenges our ideas of our limitations and opens us up to our truest nature. When we begin to know ourselves better, how we relate to others changes and with that all our relationships can benefit. Yoga is also all about real life, it grounds us in reality so we want to explore some real life yogis! We chatted with mother and daughter yogis Leigh Coates and Bethany Milton and asked them how yoga has changed their relationship to themselves and each other:
Leigh Coates (L) & Bethany Milton (R), mother and daughter yogi team
We all come to yoga through a unique path and Leigh is no exception! Leigh was a successful professional snowboarder, when she was involved in a car accident and suffered a serious ACL injury that stopped her athletic career in its tracks. Around the same time has she was undergoing knee surgery, she was introduced to yoga through a friend who started teaching her basic sun salutes and gave her B.K.S. Iyengar's Light on Yoga to read. Leigh used yoga to help her body heal and also find a way to retune her life and find a new career path. That path took her to becoming a highly skilled helicopter pilot who tackles the fierce Alaskan climate. During the winter you can find Leigh basking in the warmer climes of Hawaii where she teaches yoga, surfs, freedives and continues to live a life of adventure and exploration.
Leigh with her chopper
Leigh practising in beautiful Alaska
Yoga has always been a part of Leigh's life however. Bethany, Leigh's mom, shares that her journey with yoga started in 1975 and she took a weekly class for two years but then as so often happens, yoga took a back seat to life. As a very young girl, Leigh recalls foggy memories of her mom practising yoga at a neighbor's house:
Maybe that's why I feel like I've known yoga my whole life and it just feels natural, like it's something that everyone does.
Beth says it was Leigh who encouraged her mom to take yoga back up:
I did not rekindle my yoga practice until 3 years ago! Leigh invited me into her “yoga world” and it was exciting, full of new connections, and it took some time, but I grew to love it.
Leigh’s encouragement from afar kept me going, and after a while, yoga twice a week started to grow on me. After a year of yoga, I actually began to look forward to it. Then Leigh took it to the next level by showing me how to sign up for Instagram yoga challenges. I had fun entering this world of yoga enthusiasts, connecting all over the world. Being able to continue my connection with Leigh was an added bonus.
Bethany sitting beautifully in Lotus Pose
With Leigh based between Hawaii and Alaska and Bethany based in California where she lives with her husband of 30 years offering life coaching services, Bethany says:
The challenge has always been to keep our mother/daughter love alive, well, and growing when we live such separated lives.
To close the physical distance, they make the effort to connect daily and use their mutual love of yoga and meditation to deepen their relationship:
Yoga has been the key to our magical connection. How many mothers get to hear from their daughters nearly every day and become inspired, no matter what challenges are going on in their lives. We started by letting go of the “conventional” ways that most believe a good relationship is built upon. At Leigh’s suggestion, we started with reading a wonderful book called “Meditations from the Mat, Daily Reflections on the Path of Yoga”, by Rolf Gates.
Leigh reading Meditations from the Mat when boat camping in Alaska and straining for cell service.
No matter where Leigh’s helicopter took her, she found the time and enough cell coverage to read or listen to the 365 daily writings on the philosophy behind yoga. It covered the eight-limb path of Yoga, so I learned more about where yoga came from before I began my journey with the asanas, or practices.
Leigh taking a break from work in a place with no cell service while her passenger takes this photo. "
Leigh always goes the extra mile literally to make sure she checks in with our Mom, as this time is so precious to her:
I checked my phone on this mountain top landing and actually had 2 bars so I called Mom for our daily reading. Otherwise I had to use the satellite system set up back at camp".
Leigh and Bethany also joined us at Namaste this year for our Namaste Challenge, 28 days of daily yoga practice, inspiration and motivation.
Bethany has been a star participant for us during the Challenge:
At the beginning of this year, I was ready to “up my game” by starting a practice at home. I wanted to add to my twice a week class. Leigh suggested joining The Namaste Challenge put on by NamasteTV. com. I am loving it and again, being apart of my daughter’s life through sharing our mutual love for yoga, keeping not only my body, but my mind and spirit young.
It is so clear that love and respect is at the basis of their relationship with themselves and yoga.
For Leigh her mom is everything:
I am so blessed to be born to mine! She's amazing and I can't imagine life without her. My Mom's advice to me has always been “follow your heart”...I've been very lucky to be brought up with an open mind and that anything is possible.
Bethany lights up when talking about Leigh:
If you knew my daughter, you would know without me having to say anything, why I absolutely adore and admire her, and to be able to express it through this article gives me great joy.
Leigh and Bethany are truly inspirational for their dedication, passion and commitment to their relationship. Yoga has become a central theme of how they express their love, it keeps their lines of connection open in a way that is special and unique to them. Most importantly, they remind us that yoga is truly for everybody, it is never to late to start, you don't have to look a certain way, be a certain level of fitness, have access to a yoga studio, just be willing to begin!
Leigh practising in her Hawaiian home
Leigh has a beautiful Instagram community where she shares her travel adventures, yoga, and her approach to life. Make sure to follow her and Bethany to feel motivated and and join them in their ever evolving yoga journey.