Usha Shah

Usah Shah in tree pose

Name & Hometown:  Usha Shah –  but friends call me Shasha. 

Originally I am from Bombay, India, and have been living in Metro Detroit for the last 26 years. 

Who & What Inspired you to be a Yoga Instructor:

Growing up from early childhood, our monks were my role models.  Their knowledge of holistic wellness through yoga, mudra, acupressure points, and reflexology fascinated me to learn all these modalities.  A common phrase “Your health is in your hand” literally inspired me to learn and teach yoga.  Later, when I retired as a professional nurse, I studied yoga and graduated in 2016 from AFPA (American Fitness Professional Associates) School of New York.  

Describe your style of yoga: 

I started with Ashtanga yoga or power yoga, which are considered the most challenging, fast paced sequence of linked poses.  Subsequently with aging, my yoga practice changed.  Now I teach Hatha Yoga, and very slow paced restorative yoga. 

What is your favorite yoga pose?

Uttanasana (Forward Bend) is my favorite pose.  There is a yoga saying that  “you are as young as your spine is supple”.  The spine is our center of being.  This is the best pose for your spine.  

What brings you to the mat ? 

My intention for my yoga practice has changed over the years.  Early on, it was just as an exercise and having good physique.  So I started with Ashtanga yoga, and now at this age, “my practice on the mat is my medicine”.    My intention on the mat is to develop a mindfulness practice, cultivate steady breath, and still my constant wandering mind… and just listen to my inner voice.  

If you teach, where ? 

For my private clients, either I go to their homes, or call them to my place. As a community service, I teach chair yoga to seniors at Jain Temple in Farmington Hills, and Bharatiya Temple in Troy.  

How has being a member of YAGD helped your yoga career ? 

I just became a member, and then Covid-19 started.

Do you have a favorite yoga story from your teaching experience ?

I had one 25 year old African American student as a private client.  She was very aggressive, argumentative, always stressed out about small things.  She could not live without eating meat.  After I started teaching her yoga & meditation, I noticed that she was slowly but surely transforming.  She became very quiet, focused & made peace with herself.  When I taught her about the principle of Ahimsa (non-violence applied to all living beings) suddenly she became vegan.  She liked the theory of Ahimsa.  Her whole life has turned around.  She became so compassionate & considerate of other people’s feelings.  This is the power of yoga, which connects one to ALL living beings and Nature.  

Is there anything else you would like to add ?

I am a nurse by profession.  I have worked in nursing homes for almost 25 years.  I have witnessed so much pain and suffering of senior citizens.  

I want to create awareness of a healthy body and healthy mind in all seniors.  I teach chair yoga to seniors.  Whether one does yoga on a mat, or sitting on a chair, the benefits are the same.  I teach them that they should just move their bodies & stay active, so that these last few years of their life, they can live as independently as possible.  

My deep desire is to empower every senior, even every human being, to harness the body’s energy for healing, build vitality, relieve stress and anxiety, and boost self confidence. 

I have been happily married for 45 years, and we have 2 children. One is a son, who has his doctorate in bio information, and now works as a scientist.  Our other child is a daughter, who is a lawyer.  She is married, and we have 2 beautiful grandchildren:  one boy & one girl.