Tammy Werner

Yogini of the Month: Caryn Rowe Africk

Our Yogini of the month for January is Caryn Rowe Africk. Caryn is married to Jon Africk and is raising two boys who are 17 and 14 years old. She faces the challenges all busy mothers face—schedules, to do lists and budding teenagers. In addition, she says she deals with the "silliness" that comes from teenagers by just not “reacting” to what they do. “I have learned to be calm first. Historically when faced with a challenge at work or outside of work my first reaction was to tense and go into 'battle mode.' Now, I start with calm and approach challenges with patience. It sounds so cliché. My battle mode had served me well in my career. It was only after practicing yoga that I learned that calm would serve me and my career even more.”

Caryn had been a total endurance sports devotee and says that coming to yoga was all about the flexibility. Her hips were tight, she had fractured her heel, and was dealing with lower limb issues resulting from that injury. “I started yoga about seven years ago. I couldn’t touch my toes. I came to yoga as a balance to my running. I had some injuries and I was looking for a way to balance out my exercise. And, yes, at the beginning it was all about exercise. But after I found the right place to practice, yoga remains a form of activity, but it's not about the exercise. That commitment to the essence of Yoga is what I think differentiates North Shore Yoga.”

Caryn’s life is amazing when considering she is balancing the challenges of motherhood with a busy professional life. “I work with companies on their marketing, sales, and business strategy. I work with clients anywhere from startups to $700 million. I help them with marketing strategy, business development strategy and social media and how that helps them achieve their business goals.” Caryn may be busy, but her perspective on time is inspiring, “We rush, rush, rush, but if we stop we can realize that time is big, it’s when we think that time is short that it is.”

As a private consultant Caryn had given up her connection to the support network of the big company. “My biggest challenge when I left Corporate America was to let go of my self-identity, because that is how I defined myself.” Yet some of the philosophy she learned on the mat has contributed to her sense of fulfillment in her work. Caryn says, “The teacher arrives when the student is ready. Yoga helps me to find different ways of bringing my clients along.”

She says Yoga has helped her be more creative. Once she needed to revise a press release for a client. She had been making incremental changes to it. After returning from a Yoga class she rewrote it and the product was much more balanced and thoughtful. “The person for whom I was writing the press release said, 'Wow! You had a great Yoga session'”

Caryn said that one of the greatest gifts she received from yoga was how yoga taught her to make the emotional adjustments required when major aspects of her life changed. “Your teachers like Jenny Kaufman, Jenny Guzon-Bae and Sharyn don't just teach they point the way towards personal growth.” She says that the culture of transformation at North Shore Yoga has contributed to changes in her personal outlook on life and Yoga. “My shift in yoga has been from being about exercise to being about the yoga. That is what I find at NSY. It’s not about how hard you work, how many arm balances you do, or how hot the room can be. It’s about being on my mat, making the time for quiet. The monthly themes continue to help me learn about the philosophy and foundation of yoga.”

Her newest yoga endeavor has been to try Ashtanga Yoga. “I thought I would hate Ashtanga. I love the music. I love the flow. But, after the first class I took I left simply giddy. It was a new challenge and it continues to be a challenge.” When asked if she had advice to newcomers to yoga she offered that they shouldn’t worry about the poses or the performance. Particularly if they are tight or weak, “It doesn’t matter. You just do what you do.”

The one message Caryn leaves us with is a Universal one from Yoga, “We choose to be mad, angry, upset, etc. So we can choose to be happy, calm, at peace. It’s not easy, but it is a choice.”

Congratulations Caryn.