The Incredible Cindy Lunsford
Q: Thank you so much for taking the time to share your yoga journey with all of us today. Let's get started! So, I’ve seen your practice and you are capable of incredible things, how long have you been practicing yoga?
Cindy: I began dabbling in yoga around 2003-2004, but I never lived in a place that had a studio so my practice was very inconsistent and more of a supplement to my running. When we moved to upstate New York in 2005, I gave up practicing yoga altogether because I was a lawyer and there was no studio anywhere around. It wasn't until I went to teacher training in 2008 that I began a serious and consistent practice.
Q: When you decided to become a yoga teacher, was there an “ah-ha” moment?
Cindy: It's funny because I don't remember thinking too much about the yoga after we moved to New York, but clearly it was somewhere lying dormant in the back of my consciousness. When I got to an emotional breaking point with my job as an attorney, I had a moment at the office like a light switch being turned on and decided right then and there I was going to quit my job and go to the Bikram yoga teacher training. I called my husband out of the blue and told him I was giving the office two weeks notice and heading out for nine weeks to take the training. Fortunately, he was extremely supportive and we did not have our children at the time.
Q: Wow! What a big shift! You recently made another big life shift and moved from New York to Nashville. What brought you here?
Cindy: Quite a few things brought us to Nashville or perhaps I should say, away from New York. I owned a few yoga studios in New York and it was consuming my life. We lived in a relatively small town and because of the studios I knew so many people. While that can have its perks, it was also exhausting. In 2013 my youngest son was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma and overnight our lives changed. Treatment began the next week and for about four or five months our lives centered around his illness. We didn't have our families nearby and I think it was just an eye-opener for us that we wanted to be closer to our hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. I also cut some ties with the businesses I owned so I could be more present for my family. Thank God he is cancer free today, but it was a very transitional moment for all of us. It doesn't hurt that Nashville winters (despite this one) are much warmer!
Q: We're so glad your son is cancer free! What a journey! It must have been hard to leave New York and your businesses...
Cindy: I built a very strong community of yogis in Saratoga Springs and some of the outlying areas. It was and still is a second family for me, and was a very cohesive group of people. We did things to support the community and socially we were very active. But at the same time, it was also a big responsibility for me and sometimes I felt the added pressure of constantly keeping that flame alive, oftentimes at the expense of my family. I still have one of the studios in upstate New York and continue to go back once a month for teacher training, so I am able to maintain that tie but at a healthy distance.
Q: We're honored to have you as a part of our community, you make such a beautiful addition to our Fahrenheit family. Speaking of teacher training, we are so excited you’re leading the 200 Hour Vinyasa Teacher Training coming up at Fahrenheit in April! How long have you been teaching teachers?
Cindy: I am so excited to have this opportunity at Fahrenheit. I happened to stumble upon Fahrenheit because my son started going to school in Brentwood when we moved here. I really feel like it was a serendipitous encounter because Fahrenheit reminds me so much of my studio. I love what Nora has created and I feel honored that she has asked me to lead the training and be a part of the studio. I have completed three training's in New York and I'm currently leading a training in Louisville Kentucky.
Q: What do you love most about teaching teachers-in-training?
Cindy: I really love the idea of helping teachers connect to their Dharma even if that means becoming something other than a yoga teacher. Through the yoga process, and particularly the teacher training process, I am able to watch many teachers find where they are supposed to be and what they are supposed to be doing. It is a profound thing to watch as someone is able to take their yoga practice and use it as a means to inspire themselves and the people around them. Over the course of a training, even intensive ones, so many changes occur for students. It's so fun to watch people find their voice and become more embodied, in other words, begin to understand and utilize their physical practice as a means for expressing themselves.
Q: When would you say a student is ready to go through teacher training?
If yoga brings a passion to somebody's life, then I think they are ready for a yoga teacher training. I ask students who are doing the training to not even think about or even declare that they want to be teachers, but rather to use the training as a way to deepen their practice and exploration of yoga. Out of that deeper study, they will know whether or not they want to teach. If people approach teacher training solely as a means to become a yoga teacher I think sometimes the motivation is misplaced and it also creates an undue amount of pressure early in the process. Yoga teacher training's are about finding a deeper connection to the self and hopefully Dharma.
Q: What would you say to a someone who is scared to take the leap from student to teacher-in-training?
Cindy: I would ask them if yoga brings joy to their life. If the answer is yes, then I would ask them why they would not want to make a deeper commitment to their practice and study of same. Ultimately, they need to be comfortable with their decision but if they can understand that the goal of a teacher training is to grow and commit more fully to a life of Yoga, and not just to become a yoga teacher, then they can usually come to the conclusion on their own that they are ready.
Q: I'm sure people are wondering...what does a typical day look like in a 200-Hour Vinyasa Teacher Training?
Cindy: Typically, we practice twice a day. In between classes, we spend a great deal of time in posture clinics breaking down various poses and their alignment and modifications. We discuss the different aspects of sequencing a class and the students work on sequencing their own classes in the process. There is a great deal of peer teaching and feedback so students get comfortable finding their voice and practicing sequencing. In the evenings, we usually discuss such topics as yoga ethics, history and philosophy. Every training I have ever led, or taken for that matter, fosters a very supportive community, and ultimately family, of students. Training becomes a very safe space to explore the possibilities of who each person is and what they are truly capable of.
Q: I'm sure there are people who are going to read this who will be inspired to make this investment in themselves. Is it too late to sign-up for this upcoming training in April?
Cindy: No! The first evening is Friday, April 1st. There are some required readings but most of them will be referenced throughout the four-month period, so there is time to catch up. At this point, we have an amazing group and I'm so excited to get to know each of them better, but we would love for more people to join us! The more the merrier and the more to learn from everyone.
Q: How exciting! You'll have to keep us updated over the next few months! So, tell us...when you’re not teaching or defying gravity with your beautiful practice, what does your life look like outside of the studio?
Cindy: As spontaneous as I have been in my life in terms of major decisions when it comes to daily life I am quite routine. At this point my typical day includes a walk or two with my dog, getting my boys off to school and home from school, taking a yoga class and teaching one or two yoga classes. I lament the fact that I don't read as much as I would like to but when I get the chance I try to read yoga scripture and stay updated on any new debates circulating in the yoga community. I spend a lot of time working on my yoga materials for teacher training's so that I can continue to evolve as both a teacher and a trainer. I still own a yoga studio in New York so I continue to operate that from a distance and try to find ways to grow it. I don't really watch TV but occasionally I like to sit down and enjoy a good movie.
Q: What are some of your favorite books?
Cindy: Bhagavad Gita As It Is; The Great Work of Your Life; and You are a Badass
Q: And because no interview would be complete without shaking it up a little bit...what's your all time favorite comfort food?
Cindy: I know this sounds hoaky but I could eat kale salad all day every day but if I had to be completely honest, and I was being a bit gluttonous, I would also love a heaping side of salt and vinegar chips to go with it!
Cindy Lunsford is the previous owner of three yoga studios in upstate New York and she currently owns a studio in Queensbury, New York. She is a certified in Bikram, Yin Yoga, Vinyasa, and level II/III Barkan Vinyasa. She also completed the advanced Forrest Yoga teacher training. She completed her 500 hour training with both Jimmy Barkan and Rolf Gates. She currently assists Jimmy Barkan at his level II/III Vinyasa teacher training's. Cindy leads a 200 hour Yoga Alliance certified vinyasa teacher training in Louisville, New York and now Nashville! She is also an Africa Yoga Project Ambassador. Cindy recently moved to Nashville, Tennessee where she teaches at Fahrenheit Yoga Studio several other local studios.