Searching for a new path toward health

Without the routine of work, I had the opportunity to deep-dive into books about yoga, Ayurveda, and authors such as Padma Samten, a Brazilian Buddhist Lama, and Roberto Crema, a leader in areas of anthropology and transpersonal psychology. At this time, I was also still seeing my psychiatrist. I tried to share all this new knowledge I was gaining with him, but he did not take me seriously. And as I got to know more and more about the transpersonal and alternative paths to healing, I ended up abandoning the psychiatric consultations.

The new knowledge I encountered was an invitation to deconstruct everything I thought I knew, including my medical training. It took me about three years to integrate everything into a new way of life. During this period, by chance, I saw an article about yoga and decided that I wanted to practice. I called a friend and asked if she could recommend a school in Porto Alegre.

Surprised by my request, she took me to a school. It was a 7 am class. The door opened, and I saw the teacher, who seemed to float as they moved about the room. At that moment, something changed, and I started to practice. However, that approach proved unsuitable for me because, in the fifth class, I experienced another pain crisis.

With my fitness physique and mentality, the teacher thought she could demand more from me, and I responded with an inflated ego, seeking to overcome limits. In one posture, I lifted my leg, contorted myself to the extreme, and injured my spine again. Unsurprisingly, I gave up that style of yoga. However, the studio also ran Iyengar yoga classes, so I started attending those classes, which seemed more suitable for me.

In parallel to yoga practice, I continued to study everything I could find about health, continuing to look for new perspectives different from what I had learned in traditional medicine. At the end of 2010, I delved into Ayurvedic medicine and the teachings of Dr. José Ruguê Ribeiro Júnior, a doctor from Uberlândia, in the state of Minas Gerais. I did not want to return to the intense traveling routine, but I signed up for the course since I could take the classes remotely and go to the ashram only for the internships.

Dr. Ruguê is regarded as one of the most important teachers of Ayurvedic medicine and panchakarma—a treatment designed to cleanse our bodies of toxic elements from disease and poor nutrition from food and emotions. With a broad background in yoga and Ayurveda, Dr. Ruguê is currently president of the Sri Vájera Foundation and Kalayasa Ayurvedic Clinic, consulting and leading courses in Brazil, India, Italy, Portugal, and other parts of the world. I respected his perspective in part because he also had a medical degree, specializing in Intensive Care Medicine and working as a clinical director of a major hospital for some years, yet he advocated for these alternative approaches to health.

The course made a lot of sense to me as I didn’t want anything with an esoteric orientation due to my background as a scientist. I dedicated myself to four years of training with him and continued treating myself with Ayurveda with another doctor from Rio Grande do Sul. In 2015, I set up my own practice and started working with everything I had learned since the beginning of the sabbatical period.

While I did experience a great deal of change in that time, my body continued to have some issues. My lower back had improved a lot, but I experienced a lot of pain from a shoulder syndrome. This syndrome causes pain that varies from moderate to severe and can radiate to the arms and chest, making it impossible to raise your arm. Despite practicing yoga, that pain didn’t get better. I went to the osteopath, studied, and did somatic experiencing sessions—an approach to psychotherapy for working with trauma developed by psychologist and biophysicist Peter Levine, but it persisted. All I was looking for at that time was some therapist or therapy that would unite neuroscience, meditation, and somatic work, but I couldn’t find anything.  

Around 2016, in the middle of studying, I was reading Yoga Journal, and on the back cover was an article about the Kaiut Yoga Method. One of Francisco’s comments caught my attention. It was about him having fragmented the Iyengar yoga postures to arrive at the function of each aspect of the movement. I was curious and wanted to meet Francisco, but I postponed the meeting since his clinic was interstate, further up north.

That same year, my daughters went to the beach with their father, and I decided to go on a retreat in Canela, a city about 110 kilometers from Porto Alegre, which had yoga on the program. My main interest was not the practice but the opportunity to spend some time in the middle of nature. However, when I arrived, I learned that the classes were the Kaiut Yoga Method. In conversation with the teacher, I found out that she wanted to bring Francisco to Porto Alegre.

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