Location, location, location.
Or what I might call synchronicity, plain damn good luck or the Grace of the Guru.
So my neighbor, who lives downstairs with his wife and his dog, is an awesome guy. He is a mentor for individuals with spinal cord injury and works with the city, as well as other public and non-profit sectors to develop and create supports, education, housing and quality-of-life programming for this community both here in New York and Nationwide. He’s also a subscriber to my YouTube channel (like I said, awesome).
So George invited me to design and implement a Yoga Program for a new wellness center. The Axis Project is the first center of its kind, offering this community an array of supports and services all under one roof. And fortuitously that roof is just 2 blocks from my home.
Our open house launched to a full house of key supporters and service providers including the Commissioner for Disability from the Mayor’s Office.
Victor Calise is the first ever Commissioner of this recently created position and I was thrilled to meet him.
Kiki: Commissioner it’s an honor to meet you. I hope you’ll come up and participate in our Yoga program.
Commissioner: Yes, Kiki, I look forward to that. So, you teach adaptive Yoga?
Kiki: No, Commissioner. I don’t teach adaptive Yoga. I teach Yoga to the individual. Furthermore, I have a unique training where I teach Yoga to the individual within a group setting.
Commissioner: Kiki that is the most refreshing and meaningful thing I’ve heard for some time.
As we moved away, George laughingly admonished me, Kiki, in the future try not to contradict the Commissioner.
I have to agree, honestly, who says no to a Commissioner? Especially one who is responsible for providing quality of life initiatives for the City’s large, diverse and underserved communities?
Well, I did. Because I can’t fathom what adaptive yoga actually means. Adaptive sounds to me like “less” than, when my Yoga understanding is that it is more, more, more. Limitless.
Over a 20 -year period, I received a rare education from my beloved teacher Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. He assured his students countless times, that this Ashtanga Yoga is a universal system, that everyone can do it. Except lazy people. And I can assure you the individuals I’m teaching at Axis exhibit extraordinary discipline and are keen to learn and practice.
At the end of each class, I ask each student to share insights or experiences of this class, or the yoga program since they began. The responses are incredible. Most students report that ongoing pain in the neck or back or shoulders is gone within a few minutes of beginning Ujjayi Breath. One student reports that after her first class she slept through the whole night for the first time ever, to which the group responded with cheers and applause. Another has gone off a prescription medication that kept his throat moist so he could sleep; after 11 years, he no longer needs it. Less stress, more calm, awareness of using yoga breath throughout the day, more strength. The list goes on.
After reporting his increased feeling of ease, a student asked, “Excuse me, but I hope you don’t mind, but I just want to know, do you have experience with people like us?”
Yes, I replied, I have similar experience with the MS community and the elderly with extreme mobility concerns.
But my expertise is in teaching Yoga to the individual.
The very definition of Yoga is limitlessness.
The Yoga Sutra, the Yoga philosophy text, defines Yoga as an experience of limitlessness.
Yoga citta vrtti nirodha.
Yoga techniques are transformational and create freedom from suffering, releasing the consciousness from the limited scripts, views and ideas that keep the mind in turmoil.
The limits are in perception. Not Yoga. Not the student. But the mind.
And with Yoga, we remove these limitations benefitting body, mind and being.
George confessed he’d been searching the city observing “adaptive” yoga classes and was disappointed with what he saw. He apologized for not coming to me right away and timidly asked if I would be interested in creating the yoga program. I did not hesitate and had a proposal for him the next day.
I went all over the city looking for a director and a teacher, George said, when a global teacher is right here in my building.
Location, location, location.
I’ll keep you updated on this Yoga Wellness project and everything else.
Experience the power of Ujjayi Breath any time and place.