Skip to main content

Sugar House Journal

How to get your groove back: tips from a local yoga master

Sep 05, 2019 16h08 ● By Jennifer J Johnson

Mom and Me yoga classes are now taught in Lin Ostler’s backyard for private clients. (Photo Aria Rockwood)

By Jennifer J. Johnson 

It makes sense that a writer — one who has been honored multiple times by the Utah Arts Council for her ability to produce a poem a day over the course of a month — followed the advice of another prolific poet, to relieve herself from a deep funk.

That poet-yogini, Lin Ostler, seems to be following the advice of yester-century’s “ecstatic poet” and mystic, Rumi, who encouraged facing “a depression, a meanness” in a laughing manner, treating negative feelings as nothing more than “unexpected visitors.”

Ostler did exactly that when she recently had her world uprooted.

May becomes ‘mayday’ for poet and yogini

May is usually a time for rejuvenation. Its name comes from Maia, the Greek goddess of fertility. 

For Ostler, a yogini who specializes in prenatal and mother/baby yoga and is also a doula, May had always been a special month. (A yogini is a female yoga guru. A doula is someone, typically without formal obstetric training, who is employed to help a pregnant woman during labor.)

Two subsequent Mays, though, left the yogini deeply depressed.

May 2018 saw Ostler losing a teaching association she had with Salt Lake Community College, where she had taught as many as 12 yoga classes per term for nearly 30 years. She said she was—without notice—stricken from the schedule. She was officially terminated from employment with the college, which shared its adjunct hiring policy with the Sugar House Journal: “temporary employees hired on a quarter to quarter basis with no expectation or obligation for employment beyond their current assignment.”

May 2019 then saw her lose the yoga classes at a local studio she had patched together to replace her year-round “bread-and-butter” college classes.

Back-to-back years of losing classes was much more than a severe economic challenge. Infinitely more pressing was the aching, gnawing feeling of insignificance.

“They never said they were letting me go. They never said ‘thank you.’ They never said anything,” she recalled. “They just let me go.” As a long-term adjunct teacher, there was no pension for the 65-year-old yogini.

Ostler called the experience an “immense shock” to her system.

Suddenly, not being around students—young, vital, interested people—at least four days a week, she felt drained of energy and will.

She faced her depression straight on, even posting about it on Facebook.

It was a mayday call.

Shaking off the visitors of self-meanness, depression

“I stayed inside too much… I barely went anywhere,” she shared.

Ostler said her openness yielded more posts and messages than any other post she had ever made.

A pair of her private yoga clients sprung into action, hiring her to become their groundskeeper.

Her daughter, Aria Rockwood, who lives in the Avenues neighborhood with her husband and five children, began compensating her for “grandma time” for regularly caring for the couple’s children—ranging in age from five months to 7 years.

Other yoga instructors, sympathetic, sent messages of support. 

Two other yoga studios contacted her and dangled the possibility of engagement.

All of this helped buoy the spirits of the yogini. But what really allowed her to shake off the self-meanness and depression was a surprising factor: “substantive volunteer work” which is what made Ostler “feel so invigorated and whole, at last.”

Restorative benefits of hot springs

Bear Lake’s Maple Grove Hot Springs in Thatcher, Idaho is a nearly 160-mile, three-hour drive from where Ostler lives near the 9
th and 9th neighborhood. 

Ostler was so drawn to the need to be needed and fully engaged in a cause she believed in, that she used her own, limited resources to journey to what she deemed “sacred ground.” She dug ditches and hauled planks all on a volunteer basis. It is the kind of work that was hard labor “for anyone, let alone a 65 year old,” Ostler said.

She was rewarded with a 30-minute soak at the end of the day and delighted in “accessible stars—ones you can reach up to and reel in a constellation.”

Even the drive was considered a gift by the grateful yogini. “The drive there is fully invigorating and spectacular,” she said.

Ostler is comfortable living under the poverty level—like nearly 14.8% of Americans and 7% of Utah households headed by those over the age of 65. What she is not comfortable with is not being appreciated for the gifts she liberally contributes.

Yogini’s tips for getting one’s groove back

In addition to finding volunteering at a natural hot springs ideal for rejuvenation, Ostler recommended these ideas for showing Rumi’s visitors of self-meanness and depression the door:

1. Keep moving. “My downfall was that I only did a little yoga.”

2. Seek nature. “There is so much exquisite beauty one can see and so much restoration available in nature.”

3. Stay in touch with loved ones. “They are going to be your best resource for support.”

One of Ostler’s loved ones, her daughter, said of Ostler’s current yoga classes, which she is teaching outdoors, at her home: “I love seeing her in her element. She is really good teaching yoga. It is so nice seeing her so happy, really connecting with the women that come. She holds all of the babies all the time so all the moms can do yoga. She is so generous and so giving.”

Joslin Heyward, a wildlife biologist and mother of 6-month-old Rhys, said Ostler was an amazing resource while she was two weeks overdue to give birth. She said she originally met Ostler at the studio, then followed her to her backyard classes, which she attended while pregnant and after having the baby, while on maternity leave from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 

“I really appreciated how Lin made me feel at home in her classes—it was like visiting a friend. I really appreciated the community she created with other women who were going through a similar stage. I don’t know anybody else who offers Baby and Me Yoga. Lin is really filling a void,” she said.

 It was a case of a yogini getting her groove back.