top of page

Outside of my comfort zone - by Coach Leon

Recently, I spent an hour having a conversation with Derek Vanderwarker, a business executive and longtime yogi. Derek launched a podcast in 2021 to encourage more men to shed their preconceived notions on yoga.

I readily agreed to the interview/conversation without having listened to any previous episodes. After listening to a few episodes, I started to regret my decision. Who wants to hear me talk? I’ll sound stupid. No one is interested in my story. I indulged in the self doubt that I routinely allow myself to fall into. It sounded like a good idea, a cool thing to do but, now how the heck do I get out of this.

The recording process took a long time to come together. We both had

personal difficulties between the first time we spoke and actually recorded.

Derek made me feel comfortable and it was like having a conversation with an old friend I hadn’t spoken to in many years.

We talked about the path that brought me to yoga, and about my journey as a student, how I just kept showing up, through teacher training, and ultimately teaching classes. We talked about my initial difficulties in finding my practice, being in my practice, and the joy that being a part of the Empowered Wellness community brought me.

In the early days of my ever evolving practice, I was consumed with wh

ere I wasn’t. I would see what some other practitioners were doing and felt inadequate. I would stay in the back of the room and kind of hide out. Day by day, my practice evolved and I moved to the front of the room. I initially felt a little fraudulent but those feelings started to melt away. I started to focus on my practice. I found being in front of the mirror such a great tool in finding my way.

My practice still evolves today. I evolve through aging, I evolve through injury, I evolve through education, I evolve through my peers, I evolve through giving back.

I’ve been teaching now for over 6 years and every class brings me joy. During my teacher training, I began teaching a class for a local recovery program. This process is also ever evolving. We began at the Limen House in the living room. My first classes I used cue cards to help me through. We moved into a local church basement, and then with the blessing and encouragement of my teacher Johnny, we moved on to a practice in the studio at Empowered. The men that I teach are also evolving. They try hard, which is beautiful to see and, they keep showing up.

I recently had dinner with some family and the topic of the podcast came up. They all listened to it and were very impressed. One niece said she was particul

arly impressed with my speaking voice and how I seemed to use so few filler words…umm, like, you know etc. I was pretty jazzed about the whole thing and feeling pretty full of myself. I ran into Derek at the Empowered Wellness 20th anniversary party and relayed to him how impressed they were with my dexterity in public speaking and he brought me right back to earth. "Well, it was edited," he said.