This article is re-posted from Jill’s List. Kelly has been a dear friend for over 30 years. Her spirit and enthusiasm for life simply amazes me, despite her total loss of vision. Linda Furiate
In this fast-paced, high tech world that we live in, finding a balance of mind and body is a challenge but also a necessity for good health. Yoga is a perfect way to bring these two entities together.
Being a forty-nine year old woman, wife, mother and business owner, I have my share of challenges. In addition, I am blind which requires even more determination to find a balance between health and success.
I am one of those people who found out the amazing benefits of a regular yoga practice the hard way. In 2006, I hurt my back and was in physical therapy for six weeks, and still was not even close to 75% mobile. I have always been very active and maintained a weekly work-out routine, so you can imagine how frustrating this was for me.
In the fall of 2006, I received a call from a friend of mine at our local YMCA informing me of yoga classes starting soon. My first thought was that I couldn’t move very well, so how was I going to do yoga? I had heard that yoga was based on meditation and spiritual connections. Being very close to God and very spiritual myself, I thought I should give it a try, and if I couldn’t do the poses at least I could learn how to cope with my pain through meditation.
As it turns out, I loved yoga and it helped my back as well as my whole body tremendously. Being a blind student was a challenge for me and also for my teacher, but I took the initiative and hired my teacher for private instruction. During my sessions, my yoga instructor would tell me how I was helping her to be a better teacher and she encouraged me to become a teacher myself.
I took her advice and practiced for another year before I applied for RYT 200 certification classes in 2008. I had major challenges in achieving this goal but nothing was going to hold me back. I started adding meditation to my prayer time, and breathing exercises throughout this process. This was an incredible combination of mind and body balance that helped me focus on my goal. I wish I would have had this balance of mind and body when I was a part of corporate America and its pressures for 25 years, but in saying that, I know that I am who I am today because of what I accomplished in the past.
Opening my home studio in September of 2009 was a dream come true for me. Creating the name was easy. Yoga One on One, which was exactly the path I was on. I have had the honor and the pleasure of introducing new students to the wonderful world of yoga and its many pathways to a stronger and more flexible body, and a sounder and more productive mind. I also encourage my students to focus on their strengths, not their weaknesses. I am a hands-on teacher. I use the eyes I have in my ears and in my hands to be the best yogi I can be. There is so much you can learn about your students by listening to them. How they are breathing, how their body is moving and what, if anything, they are saying during the practice. Placing a hand on their spine can tell me a lot about their alignment. I always ask permission before I place my hands on their body.
Sometimes I think that I have an advantage over a traditional teacher. I can’t read a class plan so everything comes out of my head based on the presence of my student that day. I have a sequence planned but it may not be fitting for that session, so I just go with the flow. If you have never taken a yoga class before, I encourage you to try one. I would also recommend that you do your homework and find the appropriate class for you. Yoga classes vary in levels and styles. Find the one that is right for you. If you can afford it, I suggest doing as I did, and arrange a private session, or practice beginning poses and body alignment before your first class.
Never give up on your goals and dreams, there is always a way to achieve them. I would like to share with you the mantra that I wrote in Yoga Teacher Training that my students and I say to close our yoga practice.
“With each breath our heart expands, With each breath our spine extends, With each breath our mind opens, With each breath our body mends.” Namaste!
Kelly Konopik James is a RYT 200, and the owner of Yoga One On One, LLC, a yoga studio in Elkridge, MD specializing in one on one yoga classes. She is also an Usui Reiki Master, who feels strongly about the power of the human touch, and the positive effects it has on the body. She is a very spiritual person with a thirst for learning and commitment to continue to build her practice. Kelly has faced many challenges in her previous careers, but she feels empowered and strengthened from all experiences both good and bad. She feels these experiences will make her a better practitioner as she moves towards the next fifty years of her life. Being a woman, wife, mother and business owner, she feels very blessed to be the person she is today.
By Kelly Konopik James
March 18, 2013
To contact Kelly, e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org