The focus of Strong Women, Strong Girls is fostering mutual cycles of empowerment among women and girls of all ages. But after our days of formal education are long over, do we, as women, ever pause to recognize when we are actively being empowered?
Do we acknowledge how many forms empowerment may come in – whether it is a connection made through a mentor, a word of encouragement from a coworker, or…the moment of inner peace provided by a yoga instructor?
Enter Lee Anne (LA) Finfinger, yoga instructor extraordinaire.  She is (quite literally) a woman of action, as she has devoted her life to the practice of Vinyasa Flow Yoga.  Yet, in this installment of my “ Celebrating Women of Action” blog series, I want to highlight that as an instructor, LA empowers her students to take one step closer towards the ever-evasive balance of full lives, healthy lifestyles, and peaceful minds.
I have had the pleasure of taking many of her classes in Pittsburgh.  I have entered too many of them feeling tired, weary, distracted, downtrodden, angered at the state of the economy/the fact that there wasn’t a new episode of Modern Family on last night… and emerged a sweaty, reinvigorated, rejuvenated, inspired, goal-seeking, empowered woman.
Can some of this miracle makeover be chocked up to the endorphins?
The science-respecting part of me wants to say Yes, but the I’ve-tried-every-other-sport-under-the-sun-and-never-felt-this-way part of me says definitely No.  LA’s uncanny ability to make students laugh while they are twisted into outrageously contorted pretzel-y positions helps put everything in perspective in a way that a three-mile jog or a kickboxing class never could.

Her classes require control, self-discipline, and acknowledgment of discomfort without allowing it to overpower you.  She asks students to sink their knees a little deeper into a pose, causing a fiery muscle burn pretty much everywhere in the body.  She then asks them to see the symbolism between this act and the mental strain of a tough day at work, of running a household, etc.
The message is perseverance: “If you can handle this, taking two more deep breaths, you can handle anything.”  She empowers students to not let pressure (or lactic acid) knock them off of their track or distract them from their goals!
I want to offer my sincere gratitude to LA for the deep-conditioning treatment on my soul, and if any readers live in the Pittsburgh area and are interested in witnessing LA’s inspiration in action, check out her schedule at South Hills Power Yoga, Yoga Hive or on her personal website:
To wrap things up and bring this back to SWSG, I asked LA if she sees a future in yoga for children. “I think that yoga can help you know who you are and any help that any of us can get with that at any age is invaluable.  The physical practice of yoga (the asanas) provides a tremendous benefit on its own.  Combine that with a quieter mind and a sense of appreciation and control, and you’ve got one unstoppable person!” Amen to that, and Namaste!