Columbus fitness enthusiast, Holly Robbertz
I work with Holly at Olentangy Orange HS and admire her commitment to her yoga practice. After chatting with her a few times and realizing how involved she is in the Columbus yoga community, I jumped at the chance to interview her for Living Fit Columbus! She has so much passion and wisdom to share, hope you enjoy the read!
Why do you love yoga & what is your motivation for LIVING FIT?
I am physically, emotionally and spiritually very drawn to Ashtanga yoga. From the age of 7 to 20 years, I was a competitive gymnast and dancer (ballet and modern). When I was little, one of my favorite things to do was to play a favorite song (on a record-lol!) and to freely create a dance that interpreted how my emotions and body responded to the music. Dance enabled me to use my body as a way to physically express my emotions.
My freshman year of college, I was a dance major wanting to become a dance therapist (The following year I switched majors to become an Early Childhood Intervention Specialist). My dance teacher introduced me to Bikram’s yoga in 1979. I started a daily Bikram’s yoga practice and loved it (it wasn’t hot yoga back then). I taught my father Bikram’s and occasionally we would practice together. In his mid 50s, 5’9 and with an endearing Buddha belly, it was very touching that my father would do yoga with me! Even headstands! These are such special memories.
I was fortunate to grow up in a very loving and supportive family. In my early 20’s my brother, a mountain climber was killed in an avalanche in British Columbia. The loss of my brother was heartbreaking. It took many years to work through my grief. My parents faced this loss with remarkable love and bravery. Three years ago, my mother sister and I traveled back to British Columbia to face our pain, to experience the great love we had for my brother and to look up at the grandeur and majesty of Mt. Robson (the mountain that took my brother’s life). We learned that the Native Americans called this mountain the “Spiraling Road to the Afterlife.” It was an extraordinary trip of healing. Throughout our travels, I maintained my daily Ashtanga practice. My mother at age 85 works in Hospice supporting others who have endured similar losses. As devastating as a loss like this can be, it also teaches you that love for your family and fellow human is all that matters. I feel that it is very important that I share this gift of love and support to my family members, friends, community members, colleagues and students.
Yoga not only is a good fit for the way my body likes to move, but also in the supportive, caring community that it attracts. Yoga provides healing and growth for the body, mind and soul. Getting onto your mat enables you to face and work through a range of emotions, establish a consistent breathing practice and to challenge yourself to take new risks. Yoga is a metaphor for life. If you can face a new asana (pose) challenge, work through it and see gradual progress, you can apply this approach to facing any obstacle that may come your way. I like Ashtanga because it challenges me. I love to try strenuous poses and find ways to gradually work through them.
I have learned many lessons on the mat. I have a tendency to rush, as a means to accomplish all the tasks life requires. My life is beautiful and complicated. I have three children ages 25, 22 and 18. Our oldest daughter has complex medical and developmental needs. She is 25 but her care requires the coordination of ongoing medical appointments with numerous experts and early morning/afternoon home health care, so that I am able to work full-time. On the weekends, I also have a private tutoring practice where I work with students diagnosed with Dyslexia. It is important that I am healthy so that I may care for our daughter’s needs, while also being attentive to my spouse, our other two children, my students and their families.
Yoga enables me to build reserves of strength and resiliency for my family. I am far from perfect. This is an ongoing restorative journey that requires daily vigilance on my mat. I pray that I am able to practice Ashtanga yoga for the rest of my life. Getting on my mat enables me to push a “reset” button. Yoga provides a sanctuary in which I can face and also let go of the stressors of the day.
What is your favorite FITness memory or accomplishment?
I am fortunate to have many favorite yoga memories. It has been a privilege to meet Ashtanga yogi Kino Mac Gregor as she annually comes to lead classes and workshops at Yoga on High.
However, my favorite experience is seeing my 22 year old daughter Abby practice at Ashtanga Yoga of Columbus. To give her a hug before or after our sweaty practice is an extraordinary gift. Our 18 year old son also practices yoga. He is a freshman at Savannah College of Art and Design. (SCAD). When we dropped him at college, my husband and I ended up taking a yoga class with Gabe. During shavasana (ending nap), I realized we would be saying good-bye after class. Tears were streaming onto my map as I acknowledged the good-bye. After class we hugged and cried on the sidewalk outside the yoga studio and Gabe longboarded off into the sunset. Doesn’t get better than that!
What does your typical weekly workout routine look like?
I practice Ashtanga yoga for an hour to an hour and a half daily. I try to run a mile 3X a week (to maintain cardiac health). Even when I am providing a full day of Orton-Gillingham teacher trainings at Central office (and I am unable to practice at the Shala) I bring my mat and practice during lunch.
What are some of your favorite things?!
Favorite way to sweat: Ashtanga yoga. It is very challenging physically. I love the challenge and the subsequent growth of body, mind and soul that comes from it. Every day it is a mountain to climb with amazing rewards. It is a joy to step onto my mat!
Favorite FIT place around Columbus: My favorite place to practice is at the Shala for Ashtanga Yoga of Columbus (AYC). The Shala is dedicated solely to Ashtanga yoga. It is run by Taylor Hunt who wrote the book, “A Way From Darkness.” Taylor’s book tells the story of how Ashtanga yoga saved his life from addiction. He has created the Trini Foundation which raises money to create yoga scholarships for individuals recovering from addiction. Taylor is a phenomenal teacher. He is very observant and sensitive to the needs of each of his students. All of the teachers at AYC are wonderful and bring different strengths and knowledge to our practice. I love the mission and spirit of the Shala, to reach out to others and to provide yoga as a mode of healing. It is a wonderful and diverse community. We are all humans with vulnerabilities and strengths that come together side by side, to practice on our mats.
Favorite food: I try to eat a balanced diet, heavily loaded fruits and veggies. My favorite healthy foods are salads with a variety of fruits, veggies, and nuts etc. My son is Vegan and I have considered becoming a vegetarian, but I have not made the leap yet. My “treats” include freshly baked bread with butter & Graeter’s Coconut Chip Ice Cream.
Favorite workout gear/apparel: lululemon “align pant” and “free to be me sports bra”-anything lulu! Also, Kino’s yoga clothing line “OM stars.”
What’s on your personal “fitness” bucket list? To complete the “second series” of Ashtanga yoga, to become proficient at hand stands, to travel to Mysore India to practice with Sharath (grandson of K. Pattabhi Jois).
Do you have any words of wisdom, favorite quote or other inspiration for others to lead a fit/healthy lifestyle? “Heart Rules Mind” by D.A.H
Lastly, we drink a lot of coffee… are you a coffee lover? Yes! I love coffee!
Thanks for sharing your “inner light” with us Holly! Namaste!