My mom is the one largely responsible for all my yoga. I remember when I was a kid waiting
impatiently patiently on her bed as she finished her ritual morning yoga practice, occasionally jumping in for a headstand. Although I resisted yoga for a while in my teens because “mom did it,” eventually I came around. I caught up with my mom Lees Yunits, the lady who always told me to drink water when I wasn’t feeling good, to take deep breaths when life got hectic, and has shown by example to always keep growing.
LM: How long have you been doing yoga?
L: I’m embarrassed to say, 38 years.
LM:What inspired you to start?
L: A couple of things. I was in music school at Berkeley College of Music and I felt like there was more to life than just music and I needed something more in life, something physical I guess. I found an ashram in Boston and they taught me how to do yoga. No one I knew was doing it and I was just learning on my own. It gave me what I needed to balance all the music I was doing.
LM:You were doing yoga long before it was popular, how did you stay motivated to do your home practice everyday?
L: Oh my gosh yes. I bought a book. Richard Hittleman’s Yoga 28 day exercise plan. I began teaching myself yoga through that. It gave me things to do every single day and to learn it slowly and surely. It’s still, probably my favorite yoga book.
LM:Did you find it hard to get to your mat everyday?
L: Not really, although there was sometimes that I was busy with kids that I was not doing it everyday, but it was always something I looked forward to early morning or late evening. I just made myself do it because it made me feel good.
LM:Do you have any advice for maintaining a home practice?
L: Always keep your mat where you can reach it easily. Always keep a space where you can easily put your legs up the wall. Just keep coming back, even just sitting there will lead to the next step.
LM:Have you seen your style change over the years?
L: Yes, but I never went for power yoga. That just never made sense to me. I remember when power and yoga came together I thought “what? That is not yoga.” There is no power in yoga, its inner, this is your own personal thing. I guess I always took yoga so personally, it’s what you use to live your own personal life not to do yoga. Yoga has always been a way for me to live the real life, feeling better. So for me it was music, kids, politics, but yoga always helped me get through everything.
LM: What’s your favorite yoga book?
L: Insight Yoga by Sarah Powers. The 8 human talents by Gurmukh. I love The Yoga Bible by Christina Brown, Yoga For Wellness & Yoga For Transformation by Gary Kraftsow. Yin Yoga Outline of A Quiet Practice by Paul Grilley.
LM:What are your views on how yoga is in the modern-day?
L: It’s wonderful all aspects of it . I think there is something for everybody from young to old. Meditation is so helpful to so many of us including children.
LM: Looking back, how do you see that yoga has changed your life?
L: It’s given me something I love to do for many years. It was interesting because I was always torn between yoga and music and it turns out yoga has won. It’s enhanced my life so much because of the vastness of the information and the wealth of information out there, the books, CDS, DVDS, websites. Everything has grown and evolved so much it wonderful to see. It’s yoga and it has affected people in such a positive way.
LM:If you could live this life again, would you fill it with just as much yoga?
LM:If money were no object what would you do?
L: I would take my daughters with me to all the yoga retreat centers of the world.
LM:Do you have any advice for someone just starting to practice?
L: I would say, take it slowly and steadily. Don’t be too quick to rush into making it a physical practice. Always remember that it’s a mental and spiritual practice too.
LM:Any last words about yoga?
L: Just keep coming back to the mat there is something for everybody. Even the smallest amount of yoga, 5-10 minutes can be so helpful.
Thanks Mom for opening me up to the yoga world and continuing to inspire me and all those around you!