Interview with Jim
YDM: What brought you to Yoga Del Mar?
Jim: I came to yoga for the exercise. I have been a long-time competitive cyclist. I often heard that yoga would be good to augment my cycling and increase general flexibility (which can facilitate increased strength). I had tried yoga a few times, but it never fit well – either the location, or the schedule, or something did not fit. Three years ago I looked for a local studio and saw Yoga Del Mar on the internet, and on a Friday afternoon, I mustered the courage to attend what I call my first real yoga class, with Josh Vincent. And the next day I went to Geri’s class, and thus started my yoga journey. I was struck by how accepting and even inviting yoga instructors are, from the first class I felt I was part of the group. Yoga was so different than the competitive world I was used to – it is not a competition, it is about what you are doing for yourself today, and how you are connecting with yourself. After miles and miles and hours and hours of cycling over the years, I thought I had the foundation for a connection to myself, but in just a short time, I found that connection to be much deeper through my yoga practice at Yoga Del Mar. That “connection” translates to self awareness, self confidence and contentment, and openness in relationships with others. Just few months later, I completed Anusara Immersion 1 with Geri, and that deepened my knowledge of Anusara yoga and my yoga practice far more than I expected.
YDM: How has practicing yoga changed your life?
Jim: Shortly after completing the Anusara Immersion 1, I suffered a very serious cycling accident when on a ride in Palos Verdes; I rode off the road on a downhill stretch and into a tree with my face and chest. My helmet saved my life, and it was more than six months before I was able to get back to the mat and back on the bike. But most importantly, yoga never left me. In those months when almost every movement was painful and I was struggling to do simple things like walk, I could come home from work, sit, do some pranyama, some meditation, and allow the distractions of the day to fade away, and accept myself for what I was that day, pain and all. And, as corny as it might sound, I embraced the pain; it was part of me that day. Yoga gave me the tools to deal with a difficult challenge in a positive way. Yoga gave me a connection to myself, the self confidence and perseverance to endure and heal. Yoga taught me to open my heart, and allow people to help me along that path as I healed and got stronger. And the healing did come, albeit slowly. Now completely healed, the accident and recovery is just a memory. I am having fun with my yoga practice, with my cycling, and even with my work. I came to yoga for the exercise, a whole world unfolded and I became a better person.
YDM: What new beginnings/openings have you found through the practice of yoga?
Jim: Anusara is often defined as “flowing with grace” or “following your heart”, and it’s also about opening your heart. I have no doubt that because of Anusara yoga and following its principles, I was able to open my heart more than I ever had and allow people to help me when I needed help and be grateful for that help. I have had an opportunity to experience a long recovery in a positive way. I got a rare chance to start over again after that recovery – to begin my yoga asana practice again, to start my cycling again, and by looking at many things with a fresh view, I am appreciating them more. More than just opening my heart, through a better connection with myself, yoga gave me a better awareness and appreciation of people with whom I interact. And yoga gave me a more conscience contact with my ego, engaging my awareness of my true nature as a being.
YDM: What would you say to someone thinking of trying yoga for the first time?
Jim: Do it. Do something positive for yourself – set your attitude and take action (go to that class). Because I work regularly in Los Angeles, I have been able to attend yoga classes at several studios. I am fortunate to practice regularly with a number of skilled, generous, and compassionate instructors. I have found that all of the yoga instructors I know are accepting and have something worthwhile to offer – they truly want to help students get the most out of their practice. But it is far more than the instructors. The kind, compassionate, and very real people who attend yoga practice are wonderful people to share a community with. Sometimes after a long day at work it is hard to go to class and get on the mat, but every time I do, I’m glad I did – every single time. So (as the athletic shoe add says), just do it!