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Surrendering to body’s wisdom

John HartKatie Carter teaches a yoga class at Wild Mountain Yoga on Searls Avenue in Nevada City last Monday. Carter's other interests include her family, community, and working in her garden.
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Class starts with a short meditation.

“Take a moment to come into your body, close your eyes, feel your legs and pelvis form a solid foundation, let your shoulders relax,” says Katie Carter, yoga teacher and director of the Wild Mountain Yoga Center in Nevada City.



The soft twang of a gong brings Carter’s students out of deep relaxation and back into the world and the more physical part of the ancient practice, which originated in India some 5,000 years ago.




“Breathe. Hear yourself get quiet and feel the sensations in your body. … Let your heart soften,” Carter persuades with a voice that could calm angry tigers.

The ancient art of yoga, Carter said after class, is about listening to the heart instead of the mind.

“It’s about quieting the mind and letting your intelligence surrender to the wisdom of your heart and body,” she said.

Judy Soldavini of Nevada City use to go to the chiropractor once a week for chronic neck and back pain.

Teaching the body to bend in certain ways can be difficult at first, Soldavini said while stretching before class last Monday.

“But the more you practice the more limber you become and the pain goes away.”

Soldavini said there’s many different approaches to teaching yoga.

“But there’s something very soothing about the sound of Katie’s voice when she’s teaching,” she said. “It helps you stay focused on your practice, listening to her voice. She’s a great teacher.”

Carter walks among the bodies of her students poised on hands and knees in the spinal flex, a warm-up position that stretches the spinal column in preparation for more difficult postures to come.

“As you inhale, tilt the tailbone up and draw the heart forward,” Carter says while going from student to student, running her hand down the backs of those struggling to release their tension and loosen up.

“Take a breath and a sigh,” she says.

The students give a collective sigh of relief as the tension leaves their bodies.

Carter said her approach to teaching yoga comes from a strong desire to understand the ancient Hindu discipline and pass that knowledge on to her students.

“I hope that I can say something or share a thought with my students that will inspire and deepen their own understanding,” she said.

Carter and her husband built a home outside Nevada City 27 years ago and raised two sons there.

When Carter’s not teaching yoga, there’s a good chance you can find her working in her garden.

“Gardening is a big hobby for me,” she said.

It’s not all yoga and gardening for Carter, however.

“Family and community, that’s what really nourishes me, and my connection to nature,” she said.

For a small town, Carter said Nevada City has a large yoga community.

Wild Mountain Yoga has 22 teachers who instruct 45 yoga and meditation classes a week.

“It’s a community that really wants to awaken and contribute to the collective community,” she said.


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