Yoga as self-care and restoration
Six months following the retreat, Francisco came to Porto Alegre. I decided to meet him and attend his classes. In the first one, tears ran freely down my face. This was because we engaged with the hands—or, as he says, the human paws. The work immediately made sense, connecting with everything I had studied in recent years and my hypotheses about what had happened to my left shoulder. I recognized the Method as something I had been seeking for so long. I knew it was the way back to health, not just my own but others, as I saw it as a resource and a way I could care for others.
The two-hour class with Francisco was an incredible experience. In one of the postures where we had to open our hands and, sitting down, place the whole palm on the mat, I found that I could not support spread my hand well on the ground or support much weight due to pain, sensitivity, and rigidity. The posture revealed how the rigidity in my hand was connected to the tension and stiffness in my arm and the pain and rigidity I experienced in my scapula and shoulder. I could see that with consistent and proper engagement with this posture, I could neurologically reconnect areas and work through the layers and layers of rigidity until I regained full movement in that whole region of my body.
At this point, I had been studying different approaches to health for seven years and knew that our body (and mind) is one—not separate. This contrasts with how traditional medicine often relates to the body, fragmenting the human body to treat it. In my area of medicine, endocrinology, and diabetes, the loss of functionality of an area, such as the foot, would often have patients on the operating table to receive a surgical intervention to restore and rescue what has been lost, with mixed outcomes. However, yoga has been a tool to rescue the body’s functionality for a long time.
Over time it became clear that the postures were meant to nourish my whole body—the bones, soft tissue, organs, veins, and more. It does this by making up for what we don’t do. Our ancestors of tens of thousands of years ago used their hands and arms intensely each day as they gathered, hunted, planted, or crawled on the ground. Comparatively, today, we modern humans use our hands and arms in more limited ways, raising our arms and using them above our heads much less and rarely flattening our hands entirely.
That first class I had in the Kaiut Yoga Method also brought me into a pre-meditative state. Although I had meditated before, I had not yet experienced the same feeling. It was such a state of comfort and well-being that I had no desire to talk to the other students after class for fear of ending that feeling.
In September 2017, I attended a teacher training Francisco held in Gramado. I decided to do the training to deepen my understanding of the practice for my own use; after all, there were no teachers of the Method in Porto Alegre. My daughters were older, which made it possible to take off one weekend a month. I saw it as a retreat, something pleasurable and a kind of gift and act of self-care.
During the training, I asked to speak with him, looking for more guidance about how to work with my pain and physical issues. We started working, and in three months—from September to January—the crises and pains in my shoulder diminished. I confess that the speed of the healing process surprised me; after all, I had spent the last ten years pursuing treatments without many results. Four modules into training, I decided that I needed to share what I had learned with my patients. I would tell everyone: you have to see what yoga is all about! The benefits I had obtained so far delighted me.
One day, during class, Francisco asked if anyone wanted to open a school in Porto Alegre. I kept quiet, but my heart was racing. In my mind, I remembered that I wanted to retire and not take on a new activity, but it was something stronger, and I ended up answering that we could talk. We went for a coffee, and in 2017 we held our first workshop together.
Cure through consistency
Before I started practicing Kaiut Yoga, I had weekly bouts of shoulder pain, so much so that I could barely lift my arms. As I progressed in the practice, the time between one crisis and another increased. First every fifteen days, then every month until I reached a point where I can’t remember the last time I felt pain in my shoulder.
Another evolution that I noticed is related to my arms. I couldn’t lift them in the first class, and today I can, with ease. When I close my eyes during the arm postures, I can envision and feel the restrictions, but rather than viewing it as a problem that I want gone, as I did in the past, I view it as a compass, the direction, the path back to health. The shoulder crises are gone, just the remnants, these restrictions remain.
My diabetes patients follow a special diet to lower their blood sugar. I often tell them that they are free of disease only if they don’t abandon what has kept them stable—the diet. If they don’t follow it properly, the disease will come back. It is the same with yoga: you must maintain consistency to ensure your health and mobility.
A student asked me one day how often she should practice. At first, we guide ourselves to practice more consciously, ensuring we regularly attend as is appropriate for our bodies, with the guidance of a teacher. Over time we learn to listen and know the needs of our bodies and attend class accordingly. At some point, with an accumulation of positive results, our needs become clear, practice becomes natural and organic, and simply a part of our day-to-day life.
I can only say that the practice gets better and better. Through the Method, I found a deeper understanding and meaning for everything I studied over the years. The practice delivers physical health and well-being and creates a state of presence, calm, and peace, even with the world falling down outside. I encounter problems and have issues to resolve, as everyone does, but I live all this in an incredible state. I attribute this to the practice of Kaiut Yoga.
The healing potential of yoga
Everything my friend learned when she decided to take a sabbatical to heal herself she now shares with her students and patients. Today, besides teaching the Kaiut Yoga method in Porto Alegre, she dedicates herself to integrative medicine. When her patients arrive at the clinic, they go through a consultation that includes Ayurveda and yoga, the latter as a resource to stimulate the development of the state of presence.
Her involvement with yoga and Ayurveda goes beyond the limits of the clinic, she worked on the implementation of the first integrative health clinic at the Pontifical Catholic University (PUC) and is engaged in a post-doctorate in neuroscience to test the method. Her new academic life focuses on proving the benefits of yoga. She knows the power of the practice for the body and mind in modern society but believes it is essential to prove it using numbers and statistics based on other success stories.
Just like me, she is committed to letting others know about the possibility of health through yoga. In addition to the Kaiut Yoga Method, she cares for health through natural means—food, oils, and massages—and does not need to take medicines for anything.
To me, her example shows us that mistaking fitness for health is perhaps the biggest misconception in our society. For years, I saw students come into my classes not understanding why their bodies had so many issues—stiffness, immobility, and pain on many levels. Through yoga, we can restore the body and rescue its potential from the damage caused by the underutilization and specialized use of the body and our habits of modern life. Once we are willing to acknowledge and address the issues we each hold in our bodies and minds, yoga is an efficient tool and the ultimate source of human health.