Working Joe

Yoga brings balance to Rainey

Randy Rainey was on the road. As a marketing and sales rep for Kraft Foods in Knoxville, he was on a plane or in the car at least three days a week.

“My job was very stressful,” he said. “I had been a runner for years, but I wanted to do something more sustainable for the rest of my life, something that added a mental and physical component.”

So about 20 years ago, he walked into his very first yoga class.

“Yoga is traditionally taught by men in India,” Rainey laughed, “but I was in the minority in that first class.”

Now retired, Rainey is a popular teacher at Blue Ridge Yoga on the corner of Grigsby Chapel and Campbell Station roads. He teaches six classes a week there, a couple of regular classes for the YMCA, volunteers with American cancer support association in Bearden and works with athletes.

“I work with the UT men’s tennis team at UT and work with the Georgetown rowing team at the training facility at Melton Hill in Oak Ridge,” he said.

“I teach because I want people to learn the practice of yoga so they can learn to create a more calm and stable mind. Meditation in yoga [the studio has a meditation room] is an attempt to concentrate on your internal self.”

“I have to take a least two Randy classes a week,” student Margaret Murray-Evans said.

She called Rainey “a phenomenal teacher for body alignment.”

“He teaches a chair class that works wonders for arthritis and injuries,” she said, “or just to get your joints moving for the day. Two thumbs up.”

“Randy has a really clear understanding of body mechanics and his classes are very thoughtful and deliberately sequenced,” owner Jessica Mishu said. “I

was extremely impressed when I first met him.”

Mishu, 29, has had the studio for almost two years, and expanded it over the past Christmas holiday.

Twenty years ago, Rainey started with Iyengar yoga.

“It’s more alignment based, more static based,” he said. “It’s to build awareness. Yoga has allowed me to be more reflexive and more aware, have calmness in daily life, being able to understand and accept things a little bit better. I was very tight from running. I had issues with overuse from running and biking. In yoga, you use the entire body and it allows you to add more flexibility. It helped me dramatically.”

Rainey has kept running — currently about 30 miles a week. He’s also done 10 marathons and a lot of distance running. When he’s not running or doing yoga, he’s not reading or watching TV — he’s hiking. He likes to hike alone and may go three to four times a month or do a long three- to four-day hike.

“I think yoga is catching on more,” Mishu said. “Once you start doing yoga it’s hard to stop. You start feeling more limber. Life is hard and chaotic for everybody. Yoga is a way to stay joyful and peaceful and a way back to the wholeness that’s inherent in all of us.”