• Jessica Sowers

Instructor Spotlight: LEAH HARTMAN


Get to Know Leah Hartman:

Q: What drew you to yoga?

A: Balance (physical). I had family members that had serious injuries from falls after losing their balance. I knew something could prevent me from meeting that fate, and came to yoga.

Q: At what point did you know yoga was a permanent part of your life?

A: I was on the fence with it when I tried it in college and with DVDs. I was fortunate to find a great studio … the kind that made you feel really, truly welcome with attentive instructors … a lot like BodyBLISS. I was hooked from my first class in that space, went from my new student intro unlimited pass to a monthly unlimited auto-renew pass and never looked back. The rest, as they say, is history.

Q: How has yoga helped you and when you started, did you realize that would be a benefit?

A: There are so many ways that yoga has helped me. Some of them I expected (like improving my physical balance). Others came as a complete surprise. Yoga has been the constant force in my life for the last 10 years. It’s been with me through my happiest times, giving me some of my greatest accomplishments. And in my darkest hours, yoga (and the yoga community) was there for me … always. I couldn’t possibly begin to complete the list of people that have helped me along this path, the ones for whom I am eternally grateful. None of them would have crossed my path if I hadn’t decided to take that first child’s pose.

Q: What is your favorite posture?

A: That’s depends on what’s going on in my body and mind. Half Pigeon (Ardha Kapotasana) is usually one that I don’t want to leave, and when I do want to pop out, it tells me I need to take a closer look at the mental & emotional distractions.

Q: How often do you practice?

A: Daily … but not always asana practice. Sometimes a physical practice that’s just for me only happens 2-3 times a week. Daily, yoga is every single part of who I am, the way that I conduct myself, the decisions that I make, how I interact with others.

Q: What is your least favorite posture?

A: Any arm balance (like crow, forearm balance/stand, handstand, etc.).

Q: What tip can you share for those starting out?

A: Try a lot of different styles of practice until you find the one that seems most beneficial or authentic to you. The one that you can’t get enough of may surprise you.

Q: What tip can you share for those growing their practice?

A: Be patient with yourself, know where your edge is and never go beyond it. Challenge is good, but injury can set you back for a long time.

Q: What is your favorite color?

A: Green

Q: What is your favorite food?

A: I honestly can’t pick one, so I’ll have to call it a tie between Greek, Indian & Italian.

Q: Can you share your favorite recipe with us?

A: Since I couldn’t narrow down a food, here’s a selection of recipes based on those 3 cultures.

Greek style green beans

1 t. oregano (or to taste)

¼ t. black pepper (or to taste)

2 T. extra virgin olive oil or more grapeseed oil

1 lb. Green beans (trimmed & washed if fresh, or use frozen)

2 T. water

1 T. grass fed butter (like Kerrygold) or grapeseed oil

¼ c. crumbled feta cheese or 2 T. chopped kalamata olives (vegan option)

Combine oregano, black pepper and olive oil or 2T. Grapeseed oil in a small dish & set aside.

Put beans in a pan with water. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp-tender and heated through. If water remains in the pan, drain it into a contanier and save to add to soup (it’s got vitamins in it, don’t throw it out). Add butter or 1T. Grapeseed oil and feta or olives and saute, stirring occasionally, until butter & feta melt (or everything is hot if vegan.

Remove from heat and transfer to serving dish. Drizzle the seasoned olive or grapeseed oil over the entire batch. Serve hot or room temperature.

“Lazy” Aloo Gobi (Potatoes & Cauliflower)

Traditional Indian food uses a lot of individual spices and can be very labor intensive. I love Aloo Gobi and don’t have time to make the traditional variation as a general rule, so I came up with this “lazy” version.

1 small head cauliflower, cut into small florets and stem pieces

3 potatoes, diced medium (I like to use pink or purple ones, but any kind will do)

1 large onion, diced medium

2-3 T. water (or more if needed)

3 T. grass fed butter, ghee or coconut oil (vegan option)

1 T. curry powder (mild, medium or hot – to taste)

(Optional) Salt, to taste

Combine cauliflower and potatoes in pan with water. Cook over medium heat until almost fork-tender, adding more water if necessary.

Add butter (or coconut oil) and onion and saute, stirring frequently, until vegetables are cooked through and beginning to brown. Sprinkle with curry powder and stir until combined. Remove from heat and salt (if using).

Italian Style Lentils

1 med. Zucchini, diced small

1 med. Onion, diced small

1 med. Bell pepper, diced small

2 T. butter or grapeseed oil

3 stalks celery, diced small

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 T. Italian herb mix (or use basil, parsley, oregano or a combination)

1 c. dry lentils (rinse & remove any stray items)

2 vegetable bouillon cubes

Water

1 can (16 oz) diced tomatoes

Black pepper, to taste (optional)

2 T. extra virgin olive oil (optional)

Heat 1 T. butter or grapeseed oil in a pan over med. Heat. Add first 3 ingredients and cook until just beginning to soften. Remove from pan and set aside.

Add remaining butter or grapeseed oil & celery. Saute until softening, then add minced garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until just beginning to change color. Add herbs, lentils, bouillon cubes and water to just cover. Bring to a slow boil and cook over med-low heat until lentils are just beginning to soften (about 1 hour), stirring occasionally & adding more water if it evaporates before lentils are done.

When lentils can be broken with a fork, but aren’t completely soft, add reserved vegetable mix and tomatoes. Continue to cook until lentils are soft. Serve topped with pepper and olive oil, if desired. Goes great with polenta, farro or crusty bread.

Q: Besides yoga, what do you enjoy doing?

A: Scuba diving and travel.

Q: What makes BodyBLISS a unique place to teach/practice?

A: BodyBLISS is focused on general well-being for all students and instructors. It isn't a “yoga gym”. From classes to suit all practice levels to healing arts & health coaching, it's a place where every student can find something that works for them, something to improve & enhance the individual's total well-being.

Q: Share your favorite quote.

A: “Be the change you want to see in the world” – Mahatma Gandhi


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