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Yogi of April - Cynara

When I started working, life was full and busy. There were many overtimes with occasional night outs. Later life became only about the office and the gym. That lasted till I started practicing yoga, and it easily became a part of my everyday life. A few years ago when I became a full time mom, life was then all about kids without much time for anything else, but my body’s need to do yoga persisted. To many women who loved to do yoga before pregnancy and motherhood, but can’t keep up the frequency of their previous practice is a huge change and adjustment.

Due to some unknown injury that occurred during pregnancy and giving birth, I had hurt my lower back. Through MRI, you can see the muscles around the lumbar spine started to atrophy. The back pain made it hard for me to get back into the practice. My legs and my back always felt weak and numb. Even a distance as short as a block seemed hard to manage nor can I manage standing for too long. Carrying kids or heavy items all caused my back to ache. My body was off balance and I didn’t know how to properly work it. The only reprieve I had was lying down breathing. With my poor physical condition, and being a new mom, not being able to get enough rest and always doing, but not enough exercising, I felt stuck in a deep trench of fatigue.

Was it because I didn’t prepare my body enough beforehand? Why was it so easily broken? By the time my child was big enough not to use the stroller when we went to the zoo, I was wondering if I should borrow a wheel chair for myself instead. The desire to take yoga classes and get back to nature was stifled by my injured body. How do I live with this pain? As my time was limited, I decided to take a class nearby. I also started to do some relaxation practices before falling asleep, using the breath to relax the muscles around the spine to improve circulation. I even tried using my awareness to bring my fifth lumbar vertebra back to alignment.

Wanting to explore farther into healing, I took a special mind/body workshop. The course took us back to the many “firsts” that we experienced as a baby, the first breath, first rollover, first crawl, first step and so on. The imprints that were made by every small movement we have ever made are the results of how we have used our body. I came across some really serious cases during the class, which made me realized there is always a way to awaken even the most injured body. I told myself, so I can’t walk well now, then let’s start learning from very beginning. There must be a way.

Later I suffered two more injuries and was back to bed rest for some time. It made it difficult to get back to yoga classes because I had hard time getting rid of worries and the emotional baggage of getting hurt again, not to mention the time pressure of taking care of kids. All kinds of thoughts ran back and forth through my mind. At the same time, I did experience some therapeutic benefits of yoga through my own practice. So at a time when I wasn’t sure if I was ready, I decided to step into SPACE. I wanted to take a step ahead to see what will happen…trusting that it will be better.

Every practice was like having a dialogue with my own feelings and I was enjoying these precious moments in class. I wanted to try every type of classes because they teach you a different perspective in observing the body. It was such an eye opener when I first tried Universal Yoga. In a familiar yet somewhat fresh and new class format, many poses were new to me. I had to get back zero, back to the very beginning and start fresh.

Like the unique crisscross mats they use, Universal yoga is multidirectional, focusing on both progressive stretching and strengthening. Its sequencing is flowy yet calm, combining both strong and soft elements. It expands with the breadth of the study and improves concentration. Every time I would go into class with a crocket body to be readjusted and I would always come home feeling subtly balanced. I’m still living with my pain, but it is getting better and the fear and resistance has lessened.

I’m very thankful that SPACE offers such an integrated, deep and all around class. I’m also thankful to Teacher Yifen for her professionalism and insistence, along with her sweet voice and warm demeanor, bringing us courage and stability, while expanding the student’s comfort level. It is perfect for someone who is conflicted like me who likes a challenge yet worry about getting hurt.

Now I can do yoga, I can take my child hiking and walking. On a nice evening, I also like going for a fitness walk; I really treasure this renewed ability to simply walk. I don’t even feel tired when practicing yoga, because the energy and vitality it brings is real. It happened to me!



Each month we will honor a SPACE student for his or her passion and dedication to the practice of Yoga. May their stories serve as inspiration to us all!
Asana of the Month
We will focus on a different Asana every month and delve deep into and explore all its inherent possibilities!

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