We Don't Have To Be Broken

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I had only very recently started doing any type of yoga and found The Kaiut Method serendipitously while on vacation in Boulder only two months into my yoga practice, so thankfully I’ve not had to unlearn a lifetime of injurious behaviour. What I have had to unlearn, however, was the misperception that I have to be broken.

As one who has to deal with the daily challenges of old injuries and chronic autoimmune disease, I battle with a sort of unhealthy self talk that’s a snap to slip into. It’s very easy to wake up and to simply say to myself “I can no longer do this or that, because I have a disc herniation” or “MS took away full use of that part of my body so I won’t ever be able to move or perform in the same way as I used to.”  Unfortunately, it’s also completely acceptable in today’s society to succumb to physical decline, allowing our bodies to progressively stop performing to their greatest possible potential simply due to age.

Self talk - those things we tell ourselves both consciously and unconsciously - can really impact how we feel from day to day. It can also totally get in the way of the much healthier conversation we can and should be having with ourselves.

Francisco Kaiut and his yoga method have shown me a way to reopen a healthy dialogue with those parts of me that have been long ignored, misused, or neglected due to a lifetime of injuries, repetitive stress, and more recently chronic illness.  This healthier conversation isn’t always easy - poses can be very challenging and may even be painful at times; but, just as in everyday life, if you simply ignore an uncomfortable situation, relationship, or conversation, healing will never take place and the situation will progressively worsen. Only by facing these difficult situations and moving through the adjacent restrictions can we ever really approach healing and touch that “Golden Layer.”

The Kaiut Method has not only offered me the opportunity to get reacquainted with these injured and ignored parts of myself, but it has also opened up a world of wonderful people to meet and beautiful places to visit, and most of all it has provided a supportive and nurturing community of positively-focused individuals. A zillion thank you's are owed to Francisco, Yvonne, Susie, and of course all my fellow teacher-trainees: your guidance, friendship, generosity of spirit, and acceptance mean the world to me, and I feel blessed that we have had the fortune to cross paths.

Namaste.

Margie Bertram, Teacher In Training, Tallahassee Florida USA

Aha Moments

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In my 20s I was all about Iyengar yoga. I travelled and studied with some of the premier senior Iyengar teachers at the time. In my 30s I lived and breathed Ashtanga Yoga with Pattabhi Jois in India. In my 40s I opened an Ashtanga Yoga Centre. In my 50s I quit all Yoga and started dancing, gardening and hiking, while nursing my many yoga injuries. As I neared my 6th decade, I felt as though my body was prematurely aging. I wanted to return to Yoga and find something I could wholeheartedly teach and practice for the next phase of my life.

When I tried my first Kaiut class, I got that rare feeling of a full body “Yes”. It felt pretty straight forward I thought, a simplified version of old folks yoga, perfect. I jumped in with both feet, moved from Oregon to Colorado. I started the training 2 modules late, but what the heck I, had all this experience, and I am a Rolfer/anatomy buff, I understand it better than they do... or, so I thought. My injuries, chronic hamstring tears, osteoporosis in the lumbars from chronic flat back movement, reverse cervical curve causing constant neck pain from years of imperfect headstands, not to mention all those drop over back bends that I was never built for, tightening the top of my psoas muscle causing chronic hip flexor pain, began to all feel better within 6 months. What was all this Kaiut stuff?  Maybe it wasn't just an old folks yoga. I began to see it’s brilliance and see that it could actually heal bummed up bodies. Yet when I returned to Oregon and taught a few classes, I realized something was lacking in my teaching, thus my understanding.

During the 7th module of the 10 module year long teacher training, I decided to pay better attention and come with a beginners mind. It didn’t take long to realize the problem, my knowledge was getting in the way of my ability to learn Kaiut. I had gathered all this information about the “how to’s” on each pose over the years, and I was superimposing it onto Kaiut. That weekend, I had several crucial “aha” moments.

The big “aha” was realizing that we are moving from the bones and not the muscles. This might sound simple yet it made a profound difference for me. When we tell a student to tighten the quad to make the knee straight, they turn on the larger muscles. But if we just say straighten the knee, the body will figure it out without solely firing the larger muscles groups. This then allows the  smaller groups to intrinsically begin to fire which stabilize the structure. If the bones are in the right place, and we ask for compression on the joint, the body’s intelligence will turn on. This is true especially if the vagus nerve is activated, and they are drifting in parasympathetic mode. Then just enough energy will be exerted and the whole body system has the opportunity to stabilize.

Another “aha” moment for me was realizing my words were getting in the way. I wasn't allowing my test students to drop deep because I was filling the space with philosophy and “correct” alignment technique.  All I needed to offer was succinct instruction and some carefully placed words allowing the nervous system to drop deep for the method to work.

My last realization was that my perfection streak was overly interfering. The direct experience of this came in a public class when the man in front of me was doing the pose completely “incorrect”. At that moment Francisco, teaching the class, walked between us and walked all the way around this man, seeing his posture, yet he didn’t correct him. I was flabbergasted. Suddenly my theory that Francisco always had too many students in the room to correct their poses was washed down the drain. There weren’t many students that day.  He was allowing what the man had integrated from his words to be the perfection of the moment. Wow!

Well, I am humbled and heartened that I get to sit in class 15 more days with Francisco Kaiut this year. I have a little more space in my psychology then I did a month ago, my ego around yoga has quieted and most importantly, I have a newfound excitement around Kaiut. My hope is that the “aha’s” keep coming for us all so we can be the best representative’s out there for this timely and needed method of Yoga.

Melanie Lancaster, Kaiut Teacher Trainee, Portland Oregon

Kaiut Yoga Is Full Of Surprises

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Telluride, Colorado is one of the most incredible places you’ll ever explore. Mountains and the mesmerizing leaves of Aspen trees are everywhere you look. Playful pups splashing in cool, trickling streams alongside the walking trails are a pleasure to watch. Waterfalls, meadows, and lakes are hidden like gems on hiking paths. Clear nights filled with stars brighten the sky. Bright lights showcase the main street highlighting restaurants, apothecaries, people, and fun. Something special connects everything here.

If you’ve never been, you don’t know this. How could you? How could you really know?

I didn’t.

One sunny day in July 2017, Yvonne Mosser’s Kaiut Yoga classes in Telluride came highly recommended. “You have to check this class out! Yvonne teaches 10 classes a week and they are all full.” As a recent yoga teacher graduate, I had to find out what she was doing so I could fill my own classes! Sure enough, the class I went to was full. There were at least 40 people in class from 16 to 70 years old. What I found was not what I expected. I had never been to a Kaiut Yoga class. So, I couldn’t have known.

The first thing Yvonne said was, “Lie on your mat, bolster under your head, soles of your feet on the mat, and knees pointing up toward the ceiling.” I thought,  “Wow! This is nice. We get to rest!” Over the next few poses, Yvonne said, “Keep the bolster under your hands, reach your arms back along the floor, and straighten your elbows.” Now, there were MANY thoughts going through my head, “What??!!, Why can’t I do this?! Why aren’t my elbows straight? Why don’t my arms touch the floor? This is why I can’t reach my arms toward the ceiling in a “flow” yoga class!, Why haven’t I ever seen this pose?” As the minutes in the pose increased, I started FEELING the pose. My thoughts stopped without effort. I was feeling and experiencing my body in a new way. All within a system that was calm, unhurried, and quiet.

As a former springboard diver, this pose spoke to me. Well executed dives are judged equally for aesthetics and technical completion. Clean alignment, from the tips of the toes to clasped hands upon entry score, the best points. So a few things became clear to me through this pose, “I have either lost or never had full mobility for a perfect splash-less dive. I don’t currently have the range of motion in my shoulders to stand in a “flow” yoga class with my hands over my head.” And, finally and perhaps most importantly, “There is hope. I can actually feel my shoulders release as gravity and a sense of calm access a very different part of me.” The intelligence of my own system.

I expected to find entertainment, exhaustion, and fun in Yvonne’s class. Instead, I found my own physical reality, a place beyond my personality, and hope. Something special connected every part of me. That “thing” knows what I need to heal, increase mobility, and reach my potential. And, Yes! I do want to still have the ability to blow-dry my hair and put the dishes away on the top shelf as I continue to age.

And so it is. Iff you have never been to Telluride, or the intelligence in you behind your own personality, you will never know that both are worthy places to spend some time.

Renae Molden, Kaiut Yoga Teacher-in-Training

Austin, Texas, USA

 

P.S. After practicing The Kaiut Method regularly for 7 months now, my arms have found the floor and I can straighten my elbows. Working within a calm nervous system is an effective way to increase mobility, heal, and work through trauma. It makes sense and yet I have never seen yoga practiced in this way in any other method.

The Source Of Our Trauma

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On day two of the Telluride teacher training I was feeling quite down about my lower back pain. I chose to observe instead of practice during two of the evening classes and I was really starting to doubt if I should have signed up for this training, given that only a month ago I had finished 8 days of the Toronto teacher training and in between I had been practicing daily, camping, hiking, and doing everything except resting. The back pain seemed to be a result of overuse leading to inflammation (in this case, doing too much of a good thing) and not allowing sufficient rest for the changes in my body to integrate.

On day three, Francisco asked me if I could remember any trauma or any specific injury to this lower back area. At first I said, “no.” I wasn’t intentionally lying, but I had forgotten that there was a story. Then, it hit me.

“Well, it’s not any serious trauma, but when I was younger my best friend pulled my bent knee to the back of my head. I felt a strong zap in the same spot I have the pain now.”

Francisco acknowledged my story without paying too much attention to it, simply asking “How many years ago did this happen?”

“We were just starting high school so about 15 years ago…”

In the middle of my response Francisco was already walking away with a smirk on his face. I laughed and then analyzed intellectually what was going on. I started comparing my story to other stories. My trauma was not real trauma. Sure, I was scared in the moment when it happened and I had lower back pain throughout high school and during my college years playing tennis competitively. I self-medicated with Advil on a consistent basis. Nevertheless, I minimized my story. Others have faced much more serious trauma, and I am young so I have less to clean up.

The next day Francisco put me on the demo table in front of the class and had me in a version of Virasana I had never done before, with my feet flexing outwards and heels in. Given my fears and delicacy towards my knees I was so pleased to arrive in this pose without thinking about the knee sensation. Rather, my focus was on the clear feedback I received from my system regarding the source of my low back pain. My hip was speaking to me: “I am responsible for your back pain. Your work is to dissolve me, approaching me with intensity, but in a kind and loving way. Allow yourself to feel me and feel the memories and stories attached to my existence.”

I released the Virasana after what felt like 15-20 minutes and walked around the room with a relieved back and most importantly, a deeper understanding of the emotional connection to this pain. I allowed myself to feel the memory and instantly I was flooded with a realization.

You see, Tyler, my best friend  who caused my back pain, passed away last year. Emotionally, I have spent the last year feeling the impact of losing him. I wrote a song honouring him and have discussed the meaning of his death to many close to me, often breaking down. However, I realize now that I never dealt with the physical restrictions or blockages that were stored inside me because of Tyler and my life connection.

I decided to reframe the whole story. The so-called pain I now perceived as Tyler manifesting inside of my body. He would have absolutely loved this style of yoga and his personality would shine bright at the teacher trainings. So long as I was at the Telluride training, Tyler was right next to me. Moreover, his manifestation in my hip actually helped me become more present and have a deeper understanding of my body restrictions. For that, I am so grateful for Tyler’s companionship, Francisco’s guidance, and the safe space held by all the teacher trainer peers in Telluride.

My takeaway to share with you all is the following: How can we expect to clean out/dissolve restrictions in our bodies that are so intimately tied to emotional charges in an aggressive or rapid fashion? The approach must be soft, just like the way I would embrace Tyler with a big hug and then slowly release him. The approach must also respect the time component. We cannot speed up the pace of progress, nor do we want to. I embrace Tyler and all of my restrictions. I am so grateful for his presence in this training. We sure learned a lot.

Naveed Heydari, Teacher In Training, Denver USA

Changing the next 10 years

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I’m 84 years old and I took the Kaiut Teacher Training two weeks ago. Now I'm thinking of a new schedule for my life. I have started to do my yoga every morning and it is taking me about an hour, starting with my legs up on the wall as my warm up.

It is amazing that my circulation is much improved. I am naturally breathing deeper and my internal organs seem to be more content. The rigidity is slowly becoming less and less in my back. I can stand straighter and it is nice to see the environment I’m in from a more upright viewpoint. I still have the back pain but the rigid back muscles are no longer as rigid so the pressure is less and it takes stress off of my body.
Currently, my goal is to recopy my notes from the training and practice the sequences presented in the book. If I am unable to do a certain position, I am trying to figure out the step before the final step. I will practice teaching my neighbour but need to have this program more in my head before I go further.

I would not have been able to tell you the change in my body that the training has done for me. My stress level is so much lower due to less pain in my back. I'm standing taller, breathing deeper and walking easier and my internal system is functioning better. I did not realize this until this week. The Sunday group that meets at Panera told me that I look terrific. I thanked them and came home and looked in the mirror and saw that my face didn't look strained. My body and brain are really working together and it will make the years ahead much more enjoyable, day by day.

My next 10 years be different. Or maybe those 10 years will be 15… 20…

Namaste.

Sondra, Kaiut Teacher-in-Training, Altanta Georgia USA