DR. LEPISTO: Buffet of yoga therapies offered in the Grand Valley; try it out
I remember the day in yoga class when my hamstrings first opened up dramatically. I remember it because I almost threw up.
Interested initially in the strength and flexibility payback, I had been doing yoga steadily for many years to work out the stiff body kinks generated from sports and sitting in classrooms, gently but consistently doing my practice.
That day it was in a class taught by my friend and mentor Anthony Bogart, the first Grand Valley yoga instructor who now teaches in Sarasota, Fla., (www.healthandfreedomyoga.com). We had a class dedicated to hip-opening. After 90 minutes, suddenly I felt light-headed, nauseated and had a metallic taste in my mouth. I remember drinking a ton of water and lying on my back in Savasana (the ever-popular pose which consists of laying there attentively like a corpse), feeling woozy but changed. In the coming weeks, I noticed the great difference in my leg flexibility.
Anthony noted that in everyone’s yoga practice, which is really a great life analogy, there comes a time when we either say “screw this” or we continue persistently in difficult moments through the inevitable transformation that occurs. He has had his own evolution, using yoga to heal from a serious neck injury suffered while surfing many years ago. This was a significant day in the healing of my body and I am using yoga currently to help heal a knee injury, as well as enjoying the mental and spiritual gains. There are many who have come to yoga for similar reasons. Dancers, athletes, couch potatoes, meditators, veterans, addicts and many more have discovered benefits.
The yoga that I am referencing so far is focused heavily on the recovery of the physical body through a series of poses called asanas. A deeper, more classical meaning of yoga from the hatha tradition (exercises, breathing control) is really a path of self-exploration. Doug Keller, author of “Heart of the Yogi,” describes it this way:
“Yoga has a purpose unlike other fields of learning and practice; we delve more deeply into our yoga not just for the sake of knowing more about yoga, but really for the sake of knowing the one who is doing the yoga — our own self — all the more deeply and profoundly, and in a way unlike any other form of self-knowing.”
While I am not a yogic scholar, I will describe some of the classical practices as attributed to the second-century authority Patanjali and his popular Yoga Sutras (literally, texts). Distilling Keller’s narratives on Patanjali, yoga combines breath work (pranayama), poses (asanas), meditation (dhyana), forms of behavioral self-restraint (yamas), internal observances regarding one’s care for oneself (niyamas) and other fulfillments. In this regard yoga may be taken as far as one wishes, both as a therapeutic journey and as a deepening of one’s entire life.
Because yoga came over from India having an already-eclectic tradition, the forms in which yoga presents itself are as varied as flavors of ice cream; a few basic flavors with many new creative ones. In this valley alone I’ve heard of Christian Yoga (fitness for the witness!); yoga for golf/skiing/biking; momma/baby yoga; yoga for people with MS; Ashtanga; Vinyassa; Kundalini; Iyengar; Anusara; Hatha; Para; Tantra; hot; energizing; restorative; therapeutic yoga and more.
PICKING YOUR YOGA STYLE
So how do you find a form of yoga that’s right for you? Well folks, you knew it was going to come down to this … you’ve got to start trying. You could begin with a gym class or a DVD, but I’m inviting you to step right into the realm of the experts, like getting acupuncture from Debra Cahill, LAc, a licensed acupuncturist also assisting me with my knee recovery. To this end, I have an alphabetical list of some of the excellent yoga teachers in this valley with whom I am familiar (apologies to any teachers that I have missed.)
• Academy of Yoga — http://www.academyofyoga.com, Monica Zielke-Cullinane E-RYT 500, focusing on Iyengar Yoga. Monica was one of the first instructors in the valley.
• Create Mindful Movement — http://www.createmindfulmovement.us, Suzi Potraz’s classes are often full.
• Everyday Wellness — http://www.evrydaywellness.com, Sarah Hutchinson Yoga, R.N., Demi Garner, Debra Weller – Ayurveda, Anusara, Para, Restorative Yoga. Lots of combined experience here from these ladies with great weekend workshops and supported cleanses.
• Movement Therapies — Deeply healing classes stemming from Analii Cunningham’s dance background, movementtherapieseducation.com
• Vine Yoga — Andreya Krieves. Grand Junction’s newest studio; I’ve enjoyed four Hatha classes with Andreya, who skillfully emphasizes balance for all levels.
• Yoga Junction — http://www.yogajunctionheatedstudio.com. Josh and his instructors have heated, prenatal and restorative classes.
• Yoga on the Park — Heidi Ihrke. Self-described as “therapeutic” yoga, she teaches classes up in Glade Park.
• Yoga Vinyassa — http://www.yogavinyassa.com. Tess McInnis and her instructors offer Vinyassa, a heated power yoga.
• Yoga West Collective — http://www.yogawest.org. A nice variety of instructors including (but not limited to) Libby Collins, Dea Jacobsen, Abbie Moore, Chi Yun Takaki. They offer Hatha, Iyengar, Anusara, meditation-inspired classes and yoga for MS.
Remember that any new practice takes time and dedication to learn. Anthony put it well by saying, “If you do yoga once a week, it will be your first class every time.” Now that the kids are back in school, how about that yoga class you’ve wanted to do for you?
Dr. Christopher Lepisto graduated as a naturopathic doctor (ND) from Bastyr University in Seattle, Wash. He is a native of Grand Junction and opened his practice here in 2004. Previously, Lepisto lived and worked in New Zealand, where he developed a special interest in indigenous herbal medicines. For more information, visit http://www.grandjunctionnaturopath.com or call 970-250-4104.
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