By: Joe Cardoso
Breakout those hoodies and sweaters as fall weather is here. While we sip and eat anything pumpkin and apple spice this is the time of the year where fitness usually takes a backseat. A BIG part of the holidays is great food and treats, and after this year, who couldn’t use a cookie or 12? The spotlight on fitness this month takes us to Indiana and we introduce you to a dope young lady who when not doing handstands she is jamming out to 90’s hip-hop and R&B. Let’s get to know Suzie Ray!
Joe Cardoso: Let’s go to the start. One would NOT think that Yoga would help with back pain. How did you discover this and how soon did you start to feel better?
Suzie Ray: So I have always struggled with back pain ever since I was a teenager, and when I was 14 I got diagnosed with minor scoliosis. Nothing too major, but definitely caused pain. My best friend’s dad used to teach yoga at a local studio here. He told me for the longest time how yoga would help and that I should come to a class sometime. This was when I was around 18-21 years old. I finally went to one of his classes when I was almost 23, and I fell in love. I started to be consistent, and that’s when I really noticed a difference with my back pain.
JC: When did it hit you that you wanted to get into teaching?
SR: I honestly never planned on teaching, but after about, a year or so of practicing it crossed my mind here and there. I then saw the opportunity of a teacher training happening at the studio I always went to, and so I decided to sign up and start that journey. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made!
JC: What are some of the benefits of someone giving Yoga a go?
SR: Yoga has so many benefits. A lot of the time people think of yoga and automatically associate it with flexibility and crazy poses. Although the fun and funky poses are a plus, the practice goes way deeper than that! I fell in love with yoga at first because of the physical benefits, such as less back pain and more strength with flexibility. I began to notice after a while though that yoga was helping my anxiety and depression too. I’ve dealt with both anxiety and depression for years and had been on antidepressants before just to end up wanting to come off of them. Yoga has helped me gain confidence in myself, and learn to control my thoughts and emotions in my day to day life, which has helped me tremendously. The time I have on my mat is sort of like my getaway from everything going on.
JC: Do you do any other types of fitness besides Yoga?
SR: I don’t go to a gym or anything. I always tell people yoga is my main form of fitness, but I sometimes do a HIIT workout prior to my yoga practice for 10-15 minutes to warm up my muscles. I also sometimes go on a 1-2 mile run prior, depending on the weather.
JC: Who are some of the people in or out of the industry that inspire you?
SR: Both of my parents are an inspiration to me. They have always been hard workers, and have provided me with so much growing up and even now. Within the industry, there are a few yoga women that have always been an inspiration for me. One of which is Jessica Olie.
JC: How have you handled COVID-19 in terms of your teaching and your own mental health?
SR: So I stopped teaching in-person classes and moved to online privates. I do some in-person privates for clients that are near me though. I also have started to transition to teaching online in general – I have something special coming out soon for everyone who wants to practice with me! As far as my mental health, being able to focus on yoga-related projects and my practice, in general, has been a blessing. I felt like I needed this break from ‘normal.’ I stopped working at one of my part-time jobs to focus on my goals of teaching yoga and so far it’s paid off.
JC: What are some stereotypes about the practice you would love to put to bed?
SR: That you have to be flexible to do yoga!!!! Lol, I think that is the most common thing I get told by women and men as to why they can’t practice yoga. I was not flexible at all prior to starting four years ago! Yoga helps you gain flexibility, you don’t have to start off being flexible! I also feel that people should know yoga is for everyone! There are so many variations and modifications out there for poses to make it accessible for literally everyone.
JC: Is it safe to say you are a handstand junkie lol? Why handstands?
SR: I am obsessed with handstands! They are a new obsession though, and apart of that is because I really never thought I would be able to do them. Even 3 years ago I felt that way. I have been practicing them with no prior background experience for almost 2 years. Whenever you achieve something you thought was impossible, it feels REALLY good, and that is why I am obsessed with them.
JC: If you weren’t teaching what would you be doing?
SR: I honestly am not sure. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life for a while, and I got a bachelor’s degree in Health Services Management. I would most likely have a job in the healthcare field. Finding yoga really changed my life in so many ways, and without that, it’s hard to say what I would be doing right now!
JC: Let’s talk about music!! Where did the love for 90’s hip-hop and R&BB come from? And how do you find Vinyl in 2020?
SR: I have always had a love for old school hip hop and r&b! In high school as a freshman I was introduced to Nas and Biggie, and that is where it all started. I also love going to vinyl stores and looking for records. Almost all of my vinyls are from local stores here in Indiana!
JC: Favorite hip-hop artist and why?
SR: I always say Nas is my favorite. I don’t like choosing ONE favorite of anything though!! He has a special place in my heart since he was the first 90s hip hop artist I really fell in love with listening to and started my whole journey of older hip hop.
JC: When not on the mat we can find you____?
SR: Eating LOL!
JC: Who is Suzie Ray?
SR: Suzie Ray is just a 27-year-old woman living her best life in this crazy crazy world, who is happiest when the sun is shining, doing handstands, and listening to her favorite hip-hop and r&b artists :).
A big thank you to Suzie for taking the time to talk to me and to quote Nas I know I can, Be what I wanna be, If I work hard at it, I’ll be where I wanna be.” Make sure to get some great yoga tips and advice by following her on social.