It could be your mother, a friend or a teacher. Have they expressed themselves artistically? Worked to better their community? Achieved academic success? Empowered others and embraced diversity? Share their stories here.
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Julie Babyar

San Francisco, CA, United States

To inspire. To lead, engage, motivate. To ignite light in others.

Tina Ward.

I have many connections with inspiring women everywhere. When I reflect on those who bring positive community impact in unique, individual approach, exceptional women come to mind.

One of these women I met long ago. In search of my true self, who I used to be and wanted to get back to, I sought new routine to my body and mind. I found myself in a weekly yoga class taught by Tina Ward. Her gentle reassurance became voice that whispered “just another step”. Every time.

Chicago winters are cold. Her class only brings warmth. Her consistent approach is not often found in yoga, though it’s invaluable. This approach allows for muscle memory, cognitive memory and eventually daily home practice that becomes part of everyday life. Exercise should be seen as just another part of daily life, anyway. Her classes reflect this philosophy inevitably, softly and without judgement.

I was taught by Tina for four years, and for four years her reliability, approachability, self and external energy awareness was invaluable modeling. During class, every movement, every thought, every philosophy was explained in detail, as it should be. This teaching is critical for those wanting to understand and build, not just in yoga but in all life avenues. Tina’s voice taught understanding and foundation, and her actions in energy awareness and life stories taught lessons that most could not do with such ease. From personal family stories at holiday time, to daily routines that shed an epiphany, to easy humor, Tina created a sharing, caring, warm community. A community that stays within, always.

Every yoga studio and teacher I have encountered since have been wonderful and kind. None, however, have held quite the same ability to connect. As a person and as a yogi, Tina is an exception in her ability to inspire.

As a social, people person, I build trust by demonstrating honesty, clarity and vulnerability. Tina practices this same approach exponentially. On dynamic and momentous levels, she reaches each individually. These characteristics are innate and she brings them out in her students. Instructors often share that they would like others’ light honored by their own. Her light not only honors, it ignites everyone else’s.

We so often hear and read eloquent attestations to those among spotlight, celebrity, fame or unsung hero lists. We feel them for loved ones. We know they are within ourselves. However, we cannot begin to express these sentiments nor understand love, forgiveness and the stickiness in between without light. It is a light many teach but only few are capable of reaching. Tina reaches it in every person she meets.

Sometimes it takes personal growth to get back to our best, true selves. Sometimes it takes a spark, even if a yogi ignites this tenacity. Once realized, this self must be maintained. Tina not only helps ignite, she guides through sustained maintenance. It takes patience, acceptance, interpersonal connection, dedication and trust. And inspiration.

Tina is incredibly inspiring.

Communities are best when each individual can get back to their true selves, with love and kindness that becomes so overabundant it flows into one another and reaches all. I can think of no better, more inspiring individual for any community than Tina. With every “just another step”, the impact that transformed individuals have on communities is immeasurable and forever.

I returned to and live my true, original, whole self because of Tina.

Thank you, Tina, for lifelong inspiration.

To inspire. To inhale. To breathe in.