Home » An Interview with Becca Howes-Mischel

An Interview with Becca Howes-Mischel

Off her mat, Becca is an Anthropology professor at JMU and a world traveler. On her mat, she’s an avid and dedicated yogi. Read on to hear how her relationship with yoga has blossomed over the years.

The Center: So how long have you been practicing at The Center in one of it’s various [incarnations]?

Becca: Since I moved here a year and a half ago, so August of 2012

TC: How long have you been practicing yoga?

Becca: I think I started taking classes in the fall of 2006 and then I dabbled for awhile and then started a serious practice when I got back from Mexico in 2010.

TC: Cool, you moved from New York, correct?

Becca: Yes.

TC: How do you think Harrisonburg compares, yoga-wise?

Becca: What brings me back to The Center all the time is that it’s a welcoming practice that’s about where [you are] now. I loved a lot of my New York practice [but] yoga in New York was often anxiety producing for me.

TC: How so?

Becca: I practiced in a studio in Soho, which was awesome because they had amazing student discounts and I could practice many, many times a week… but it was often [that] I didn’t know any of the teachers. Pros….  I took a class with Elena Brower in the marble atrium of the Brooklyn Museum with live cello playing and it was amazing, [but] there were also a hundred people and it was a little bit of, “show me” yoga…. I really like The Center for giving me challenging and enriching yoga but also being at the human level.

TC: What started your relationship with yoga? Why yoga?

Becca: I used to be an athlete; I was an awesome, and injured, athlete so I have an ambivalent relationship to pain and coaching. I like being active and I danced for a while but that [didn’t suit] me. Dabbled in Pilates, dabbled in spinning, and I have a friend who is a professor of religion at Smith College who has spent large parts of his time in Benares and is just an amazing human being. He told me, “you should do yoga” and I was like, “ I’m not going to do yoga. I like to be challenged, I need cardio, I’m stretchy anyways, and this isn’t for me.” Then, I got hit by a car and could no longer take my body for granted. [I had] rehab on my back [and] sort of lost whatever sort of core strength [I had]…and so I was like, “maybe I’ll try yoga” as a way of trying to get my back to stop hurting me all the time and maybe get a little bit of centering…. And I was like “wow, this is amazing and does amazing things in my life.”

TC: So what classes do you typically take at The Center?

Becca: I take [power yoga], I take Suzanne’s classes when I can, and I loved [the] core-centered class when I could make it. And I take Veronica’s classes.

TC: So more towards to flowy-esque side of things?

Becca: Yes, but I like the alignment focus…. I’m a nerd about those things

TC: How has [yoga] influenced things off the [mat]?

Becca: Oh God, it makes my life better, it makes my teaching better. My TA asked me, “how are you always so calm? I’ve never seen you flustered.” And I was like, “it’s because I do a lot of yoga and, also, I’m flustered far away from you”…. It quiets the manic monkeys a bit… I feel like it makes me a better person. Loving-kindness [and] mindfulness I find is like therapy.

TC: Do you practice at other studios in town?

Becca: No I haven’t, I keep meaning to but [The Center] is so close and I love all of the classes I go to… I cheat on [The Center] when I leave town [though] (laughs).

TC: We hope that you do! So what is it that has kept that consistency going? Why us?

Becca: I took a job at JMU… and then I moved and was a giant twisted up stress ball. The Center was four blocks away from my house, so when I saw that there was a class there one afternoon… I went and everyone was so nice and talked to me… The class was good and, you know, it’s the combination of the fact that I can walk and that it feels like it’s a part of my community… I think it’s that sort of openness that [says] “we’ll be where you are, and that’s ok.’ And that’s somewhat of a thread that I see across the classes that I’ve taken, to just “do you” and that’s supported. The Center gives off the feeling of “Be the Best You”.

TC: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Becca: No, I’m really glad that you guys do this. It seems like people at The Center are [really] committed at doing something together whether or not that’s articulated. It’s really appreciated.