by Rick Rost
Recently, I was speaking with our Club Manager Russell Goshi on the subject of yoga and how it had positively affected our lives. We both agreed practicing yoga had significantly impacted our lives to an extent that it could be described as “life-changing”. Russell suggested I share my thoughts on this subject with the membership and that is the genesis of this article.
Several years ago I was diagnosed with a degenerative arthritic condition of my right hip. This was disturbing news as I had been an athlete my whole life and was still participating in Makule basketball and Senior softball leagues. My doctor prescribed physical therapy and after two weeks without much improvement I was told by the physical therapist an artificial hip was likely in my near future. My response was “I don’t think so” and I started looking for another approach.
We are extremely fortunate at our Club to have a number of excellent activities for our members. I decided to try yoga in the hopes that I could forestall the deterioration of my hip and hopefully increase my overall flexibility. I started with Sammy Seriani’s classes. Sammy is a wonderful teacher and very encouraging and patient with beginners. She takes into consideration the physical limitations of her students and gives them exercises to help with those limitations. I never felt embarrassed because I was unable to do the poses as beautifully and precisely as Sammy demonstrated and as her advanced students achieved. I was satisfied to plug along with her positive reinforcement.
During Sammy’s classes I met Tommye Jones who was taking Sammy’s classes but was also teaching his own classes. Tommye was also encouraging and positive with advice and demonstrations. Eventually, Tommye agreed to come to my home where I have a gym facility and teach a class to a small group of students. We have been doing this for several years once a week and I work at it on my own several times a week. I can’t say enough about how great Tommye is as a teacher and a human being. He always offers enthusiastic encouragement and our one hour sessions fly by. He is amazing in his physical yoga skills and a constant inspiration to his students.
Instead of getting worse, my hip problem has gotten substantially better. Overall, I am more flexible and able to do many poses now which seemed impossible when I started. My posture has improved because I learned how to stand straight. By no means is yoga a miracle cure. It is a process which may, but does not necessarily involve a philosophical approach. Learning to breathe properly during the practice is important. Otherwise, as Sammy says, without proper breathing “you’re just doing calisthenics”. The breathing techniques are useful outside of yoga as well. A couple of relaxing yoga breaths just before crucial putt on the golf course can improve your chances of success. You won’t make all them but no one does.
Like most things in life you get out of it what you put into it. I am still a novice just scratching the surface of this wonderful endeavor. I encourage all who read this article to give yoga a try and it may be just what you need to help cope with the frenetic pace and pressures of modern life. Check out Sammy’s and Tommye’s classes. You will be glad you did and so will your body.