Yogis of Karma - Crystal Hankel

I can not say enough things about this amazing woman. Her friendship, her caring heart, her love for this town. Karma Yoga has brought so many inspiring individuals into our lives each day that I am so grateful for. Crystal has always been so supportive in Karma Yoga, our mission, and even in my own personal struggles. She is also an amazing Chiropractor and fixes me when I'm broken, one of our newest instructors, and I can't wait for to share yoga with this community. I hope her words inspire you in your practice the way that they have us. - Tiffany


“Yoga does not remove us from the reality or responsibilities of everyday life but rather places our feet firmly and resolutely in the practical ground of experience. We don't transcend our lives; we return to the life we left behind in the hopes of something better.” ~ Donna Farhi
I started yoga approximately 10 years ago, mostly looking for something to improve my training in other endeavors, increase my flexibility, and deal with my high stress lifestyle. I floated in and out of my yoga practice inconsistently, getting caught up with other things and when life started to derail I would always find myself searching for my mat. About 5 years ago I was constantly having chronic lower back pain due to muscle imbalance and overtraining, and my stress levels and lack of sleep were at an all-time high. I was completely overwhelmed, exhausted, and disconnected (although I didn’t fully realize the full extent of this at the time). Once I committed to a regular practice, I found a deep sense of inner peace, healing, and sense of self. Yoga truly helped me when I needed it the most and has taken me on a wonderful journey.
When I found Karma Yoga I had just opened up my own Chiropractic office in Denton and was looking for a yoga home in the community. I loved what they were offering; something that was community based, a chance to give back, and a strong sense of belonging to ALL people. Karma yoga is a welcoming home with no judgement and a landing place for so many people from different walks of life that would probably never try yoga in a studio setting. I believe that yoga really has the power to deeply impact your life and inspire changes.  I have developed wonderful friendships with so many people in the Karma tribe and when Tiffany asked me to write about how yoga has impacted my life I was truly honored. Here are just a few of the ways that yoga has impacted me:

IMPROVED STRENGTH, FLEXIBILITY AND BALANCE: as a former college athlete and complete workout junkie, I never thought of yoga as more than stretching before I started, but I have found so much strength and stability in my body from yoga. As a chiropractor, it is truly one of the number one things I recommend to my athletes and patients as a means of correcting muscle imbalances and postural issues that we all create for ourselves by all the constant sitting and driving that we do. The art of asana prevents joint and cartilage breakdown by taking your joints through a full range of motion, protects your spine by keeping your discs supple, and increases blood flow and lymph drainage. 

STRESS RELIEF: how many times a day do you actually consciously think about your breath? That life force that we all need to survive. I know for me personally it never really enters my brain until I hit my mat and the instructor cues me. Time spent on my mat has helped clear my mind from the chaos of the day, and makes me feel centered and calm. Yoga encourages you to relax, be in the present moment, and shifts us from the chronic sympathetic mode (fight or flight) into our parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest).  I can always feel a huge difference in the weight lifted off my shoulders just by taking the time out of my day to practice, set an intention, and consciously breathe. 

SELF-LOVE: I’ve always suffered from perfectionism and thought that internally beating myself up seemed like a logical way of keeping myself focused and gaining ground in the game of life. It has been through my yoga practice that I have learned that negative self-talk was completely debilitating and holding me back instead of projecting me forward. The more I’ve practiced gratitude, compassion, and forgiveness the more I have been able to cultivate serenity and inner peace. It has allowed me to be a happier person, and be the best version of myself for my friends, family, and patients. 

COMMUNITY: it doesn’t take long to realize that asana and poses are just the tip of the ice burg with yoga. The yoga community does not only embrace people with love, but for me it was so beautiful and encouraging to be around like minded spirits. The yogic philosophy emphasizes avoiding harm to others and only taking what you need. It is so encouraging to be surrounded by people that are also on the search for personal growth and betterment. Yoga has given me the feeling that I am part of something greater than myself.