I haven't done yoga in quite some time, so this was such a refreshing experience! Louisa, the yoga instructor, was so helpful in helping me fix and align my poses. In large yoga classes, you're lucky if the instructor takes a second look at you, so I really appreciated the small class size and her attention to our postures. I also appreciated Louisa educating us on the five kinds of thought and the consequences of sugar. Through this yoga session, I really felt like I was able to give my mind and body a much needed stretch, realignment and the attention it needed.
The environment at the yoga studio is picturesque. It had such a great indoor-outdoor feel that was so calming and tranquil. I felt like I was on a different island, and certainly not on Oahu. What I experienced at the studio was very calming, soothing and pretty awesome overall! I recall lying on my yoga mat with my eyes closed and appreciating everything that I sensed in that particular moment: the cool breeze blowing through the warmth of the sunshine, the gentle wind chimes dancing with the wind, the sound of the wind swirling through the trees. Lying there on my yoga mat I was at peace. While lying there, I realized that this life is pretty beautiful and I am thankful every day to have these awakening experiences of appreciation. Thank you, Professor Tom and Luisa, for opening your studio to us and for educating us on so many levels. This was a great experience and I hope to be back soon!
This morning, a couple of classmates and I attended Lu DiGrazia's yoga class at Yoga Kailua. The invigorating two-hour session was, for me, an eye opener as to how intensive yoga can actually be, especially when the only exercise I really do is walking and climbing the stairs several times a day.
Truth be told, when I was much younger, people would marvel at how supple my body was – I could lie flat and touch my toes (my long arms help in this endeavor!). But not doing regular stretching has set me back somewhat and my knees still feel a little wobbly as I type this on Saturday evening. When Lu asked us to hold on to the rails and bend forward, I felt certain my back was straight but then she corrected my position and this time I felt awkwardly crooked. I then explained to her that the curvature in my lower spine (scoliosis) makes me stand and sit in ways to compensate for the curve, which of course, I don't realize I'm doing. Lu's emphasis on correctness of posture and lifting the spine while keeping the shoulders down is something I have to work hard at, especially since I tend to lift my shoulders instead of relaxing them, and my trapezius muscles tend to be very tight and tense (massage therapists have always remarked on this); after typing or sitting for a while, I start to slouch forward in what feels like a comfortable position for me. Lu's suppleness and dedication to her art were amazing and very encouraging.
I also managed to read her handout on Movements of the Mind and Five Kinds of Thought. I pondered some sentences, particularly that which said that "we humans get lost in analysis, the wheels of our own thinking" and that our thoughts "whirl around without awareness." "Wheels" and "whirl" are words which I'd use to aptly describe my thoughts and I try to be consciously aware of this now, even as I zip from task to task, checking off my to-do list and my thoughts race a zillion miles a second. Fortunately, I felt a little encouraged reading further and noting that the meditative mind can keep thoughts from becoming overpowering. As with my mediation skills, I have to work on my meditation skills! Fortunately, there are moments in my busy day when I feel naturally tranquil and that's when I find myself just sitting still and being reflective.
I continue to work on the mind-body connection during the yoga sessions in our Mediation class so that, in time, I'll be able to reap the benefits of inhaling and exhaling correctly (pranayama) in order to stay focused and calm, and less on my lack of flexibility and fear of pulling a muscle during our stretching sessions.
Here is what I was talking about last week Thursday in class with regard to my personal experience with yoga...
For me, life ceased on Thursday December 10, 1998 when my life went on hold for three years. Prior to that very day, my life went 90 mph all day, every day. Then, I broke three vertebrae -- L3, L4 and L5; I broke my pelvic bones -- superior and inferior rami; I lost a kidney, had my liver spit in half, ruptured my diaphragm and ruptured my pancreas all because a woman ran the red light and t-boned my car. I couldn't eat, walk, or breathe on my own. When I was discharged from the hospital in January of 1999, I was incredibly frustrated at how physically incapacitated I was. I couldn't walk for goodness sake and I used to jog at least 5-7 miles a day, everyday. I literally had to relearn just about everything one day at a time with respiratory therapy and physical therapy. For someone who was once super active, it was spiritually stifling for me to have to move at such an unfamiliar snail pace. Nonetheless, it was imperative that I started somewhere. That was when I started my long journey of recuperating and establishing some sense of normalcy.
Three years after intense physical therapy, I felt as though my physical and emotional progress had reached a plateau; I was not (and realized that I would never be) the same as before the day of that wretched car accident. That being said, I did some research on my own and decided to try both yoga and pilates and forms of therapy. Once fully engaged in these activities and on a regular schedule, I decided to forego physical therapy and that was when I saw the results. It all has to do with breathing, minimal physical movement and maximum results.
As a working business professional and a single mother, I have a full plate of things to tailor in each given day. These days, I can actually see situations with my mind's eye before reacting and taking on what is in front of me. I feel that Yoga has been a key player in how phenomenal I feel both physically, emotionally and spiritually. I breathe, meditate, and stretch each and every fiber of my being and it makes a world of difference in how I live my life and how I feel about my life. I know not where I would be had I not done the research and taken the initiative to my well being. Yoga tailors my entirety and for this I am grateful. There are still those moments that are more challenging than others, but it's amazing to see the dichotomy between my pre-yoga days and my life now. At the end of each day, I feel myself breathe, I am thankful that I can now walk and speak and therefore know that there is certainly hope.
Now I live a balanced life, a real life.
Marianne about friend she brought to class: George
Just got a call from George re: last night
Said he woke up 'stiff and sore' - uh, oh, I thought, not a good sign....
that was quickly followed by how well he slept, first time he slept through the night in 2 mos., etc. He 'soreness' was a pleasant - 'I've used my muscles in a good way" sensation. Yeah! He also said how much he appreciated the attention to detail, learning about the breath, and concentration on a few stretches, learning & executing them well.
It's a new convert!!! I think he 'got it'! Congrats -
C'ya next Monday - providing his schedule holds!
Here is a nice story: Yestereday at your place I took a posture which surprised and delighted me because I could tell that it would benefit my challenged sacroiliac area. I said something to you at the time--"aha, this is the one, this is the stretch I have been looking for." You said yes, this would be great for my back. I was in the posture pretty briefly although you said I could stay in it 20-30 minutes. It actually felt at the time that that posture had done something that I had tried to do myself for some time, with various twistings, turnings, and bends, but for months I had failed at it.
Immediately upon taking the posture yesterday, and ever since then, I have had no difficulty at all with my back/hip on the right side, a companion has fled who has gnawed on me for a year.. It is a phenomenon I have never experienced. The kind of thing chiropractors are supposed to do. It is truly awesome, a product of the wisdom of the body, the wisdom of Yoga, and/or your wisdom. Whatever, even a day of peace has opened my eyes further to the amazing possibilities inherent in yogic practice.
Thank you again!
Dear Lu & Tom.....I have thoroughly enjoyed taking your classes this past month. Together you have helped me remember what I was missing in my Yoga practice.
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