Maine YogaFest: Spiritual musings

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Photos by Lauryn Hottinger

Spiritual musings of cancer, yoga and why life matters

Kirsten Beverly-Waters started practicing and teaching yoga over 10 years ago when she was diagnosed with cancer. “It has evolved with me and taken on many shapes and forms,” she says.

Following her diagnosis, Beverly-Waters, 32, says her life perspective shifted. “The biggest thing I took away from that experience was how much breath could change a situation,” she says. “It could literally transport me anywhere in the world if I allowed my mind to follow, and from that point on, all I wanted to do was help others find freedom.”

Now she uses her yoga teaching and practice as a tool to facilitate change in other people’s lives. She’s the owner of THRYVE Fitness + Yoga + Wellness in Old Orchard Beach, and has been teaching in a formal setting for three years, but she began teaching informally to students, friends and cancer patients at Kent State University long before that.

“Movement is a universal language,” she says. “When you help others connect their body with their mind, true change starts happening—not only for them, but in the communities they work and live in—and there isn’t anything more rewarding than watching someone else come into their own and find their voice.”

Any time Beverly-Waters teaches, she hopes her students leave knowing themselves a little better and hopes to deepen their mindfulness while sharing some laughter. “I want each person to know that it is okay to smile, surrender your strength, fall down and get back up again.”

“Yoga is the most beautiful story of our lives. As the breath unfolds, the body tells a story of struggle, determination, perseverance and joy. To be able to see that story unfold in class with my students is the most beautiful experience and makes me feel so connected to everything that makes the human spirit amazing,” says Beverly-Waters. “I know that may sound too ‘new age’ for some, but it really lit a fire within me to find new ways to help others express what sometimes feels impossible to express.”

Originally from Akron, Ohio, Beverly-Waters lives in Old Orchard Beach and was brought to Maine by her wife’s career, but says the ocean, snow and Holy Donut had a little something to do with it.

During Maine YogaFest on July 7–9 at The East End Community School in Portland, Beverly-Waters will give a lecture: “The Yogi Anecdote: Spiritual Musings of Cancer, Yoga and Why Life Matters,” on Sunday, July 9, at 9:30 a.m. She will share how battling cancer in her twenties taught her breath is precious, movement is essential and laughter is really the only cure.

Attendees will learn, she says, how life struggles are a gateway to connecting to our highest selves and how to take lessons on the mat out into the world so they can really begin to thrive. She also likes to think of it as a “50-minute experience filled with dance, laughter, music, life lessons and of course yoga.”

Beverly-Waters says she is looking forward to meeting new people, learning from fellow students and soaking in all YogaFest has to offer.

“The bottom line is that because of all the amazing, curious students around me, I get to share my passion and love for yoga every single day, and that is a gift I cherish,” she says.

“The Yogi Anecdote: Spiritual Musings of Cancer, Yoga and Why Life Matters”
Hear more about Kirsten Beverly-Waters’ story during her lecture at Maine YogaFest at 9:30 a.m. Sunday, July 9. Or stop in and see Kristen at her yoga studio located at 4 Paige Ave., Old Orchard Beach. For more information on her classes and retreats visit youthryve.com.

Katie Bingham-Smith is a writer, shoe addict and mother living in Bowdoinham. She pays her kids to rub her feet and never turns down anything with caffeine.

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