Our community members sharing their story of how yoga has changed their life…
I was in the eighth grade when my mom and I first came to yoga. At first, I didn’t like it at all. The hot room was hard to get used too and my attention span couldn’t last the ninety minutes. I kept coming though, maybe twice a week. My mom became addicted, and started going nearly everyday and in the precess lost about forty-five pounds. I was so proud and inspired I decided to come more too. I went from sitting in class the whole time to working the whole time. Now I have become addicted, and come five days a week. I love it. Its my sport, my stress reliever, my sleep aid, and a way to connect with my mom.
By the age of 44, medicine had become a substantial part of my life even though I didn’t think of myself as sick. Life was busy, stressful, and chaotic. While I knew I had some responsibility, I believed that this was mostly due to external forces beyond my control. I was taking two medicines for high blood pressure; a statin for cholesterol; anxiety meds, sleeping pills, and a pill that made my daily acid reflux disappear. I self-medicated with alcohol and tobacco. For years, I had wanted to stop tormenting myself for not doing better… for not stopping this and for not starting that.
In an attempt at a more peaceful life, I decided to try meditation on my own. I found it extremely difficult to tolerate my relentlessness and self-critical thoughts. I made a decision to observe what would happen if I committed to a regular yoga practice. I suspected that after a few weeks, the novelty would evaporate and I would be tempted to listen to my thoughts of abandoning ship. After four months of practice, even a 45-minute session seemed like it would never end. Within just a few weeks of hitting that wall, I persevered through the internal resistance and began to experience real change.
I gradually began to improve my awareness of my body moving through space, my breath, my energy, my weight, my strength, and my weakness. I began to recognize my anxieties and judgments as my own. I could actually feel them in my body. Not only did I begin to have the ability to experience my true emotions, I began to realize the value in experiencing them. Yoga has changed the way I relate with myself and others. Through yoga practice, I have regular encounters with the serenity of living in the present moment. I now know that any dissatisfaction I experience comes from my reaction to circumstances and not the circumstances themselves. This does not mean I live in constant bliss, it simply means that I am more aware.
During the first year of my yoga practice, I lost 30 lbs. I no longer find it appealing or necessary to eat large meals. Now into my fifth year, I have kept all of that weight off. I no longer find alcohol or tobacco even mildly desirable. I no longer take any medications, prescribed or otherwise. My blood pressure and cholesterol are normal. My weight is healthy. I generally sleep like a baby. I recently tested my body composition using a fancy body composition scale. The test showed my metabolic age to be 41. I turned 49 this year. During my first year at East Wind Yoga, my teacher was struck by how much my upright posture had improved. I am delighted to say that improved posture is only one of the many rewards that this extraordinary practice has helped produce in my life.
I began my journey with Eastwind just over 3 years ago ( Auburn ). I was looking for a really great workout and if I was lucky, a little relief from stress and joint pain.
I found the classes to be as challenging as I wanted them to be. I wasn’t a big fan of the heat but I’ve come to embrace it and even relish it. Each of the instructors brings their own flavor and flare so no two classes are alike. It’s clear that the instructor’s genuinely enjoy each other and they love what they do. This was important to me –I’ve had classes elsewhere where this was not the case and it totally changes the experience.
As time has passed, I’ve noticed that I sleep much better, my pain is mostly vanished and in general, I just feel really great. I’m handling Life’s everyday ‘workouts’ much better, for my inner self and for others. My friends and family have noticed and several have joined me at Eastwind. More importantly, a really great community has developed- an unexpected bonus!. New students find themselves welcomed and immediately enveloped in warmth and love. We have fun: some classes we rock out, some are peaceful and relaxing. The students have bonded, some passing though, most staying. There are events to support our local communities and opportunities to learn more about yoga and ourselves in practice. We are doing life together while we get healthy… supporting, challenging and celebrating each other in our own unique ways.
I came for the health and healing but I’ve stayed for the family and community. I am grateful to Scott and Ryan for what they created for us and the lessons I take home.
East Wind Yoga was recommended by Dr. Cari Thachuk at Buvonia. In May of 2009 I was diagnosed with cancer. I can distinctly remember my first class at East Wind. Realization struck me, that this yoga experience was an awesome GIFT to myself. Having had no experience with yoga and having the left side of my body impaired, I took on what i could do and left the rest. I was very wobbly at first, it was truly funny. Having come from Australia, I totally loved the heat and took to it like a duck to water.
What struck me over the years, was the sense of COMMUNITY that was created at East Wind Yoga. Instructors created methods of meeting someone new at most classes, so I grew to know all kinds of folks, young and old, advanced and beginners. That sense of “community” is referred to in the basics of BLUE ZONES. Blue Zones are areas around the world which have the longest longevity and have been studied intensely what common denominators create these Blue Zones. One of them is “community”.
Over the years, I’ve had several surgeries, chemo in both 2009 and 2012, loss of hair etc. my situation is quite evident. The yoga community rallied around me, bringing me food, prayers, good wishes, and even a hand made quilt, as I get cold a lot with cancer. Amazing. Then more amazing, is the message I get from others that I’m an inspiration to them, coming with no hair to yoga class, being only able to do half the class, yet soaking up all the blessings that come from classes. I laugh. Its they that inspire me.
Cancer teaches you a lot. Mostly its taught me gratitude. Each day is so precious. ZENHABITS.ORG has taught me to live in the present and how to live off my yoga mat. How to take those teachings into my everyday life. As you can imagine, I’ve changed a great deal both physically and more so mentally and spiritually. I would never have become the person I am today were it not for the cancer, yoga and zen Buddhism. Hey, it makes me smile, a blessing in disguise.
At age 59, I do know a thing or two, and would like to recommend you give East Wind Yoga a try – maybe become a life long habit. The benefits are enormous. The self responsibility and self discipline are part of it, but mostly one gets a lot of inspiration from yoga instructors who may suggest you look at life a little different. I’ve been awestruck by the wisdom that is imparted particularly by one instructor who is so young. Go find this person, and find out for yourself.