There was something about Yoga that clicked with me early on. I was 10 years old when I started doing before-school yoga with my father in our living room. It was just a few poses each morning, and I got to make interesting shapes out of my body. What’s not fun about that when you’re a kid?
I didn’t really practice Yoga consistently until three decades later. I still enjoyed making interesting shapes out of my body, in fact, that is what it was all about for me. I quickly realized that the more difficult the poses one could ”perform”, the more recognition you received. As I progressed in my ability to perform, I had many experiences where teachers aggressively adjusted me into poses or gave poor advice to the point where I ended up with multiple injuries over the years.
I still loved Yoga, but was clearly unable to practice in this fashion. I was elated when I was able to find a Yoga teacher training that supported a different type of philosophy about being in the poses. I remember thinking, now I will begin to heal the pain from all the injuries. Three and a half years later, not only was I a certified Yoga Teacher but a certified Yoga Therapist as well. Sadly, that did not mean I had alleviated my pain, or felt very capable in helping potential students/clients. In fact, I felt I knew very little about the mechanics of how the body worked. I certainly knew a bunch of poses, how to sequence them into a practice as well as how to modify them in case the full expression of the pose was too difficult for a student, but this would not serve me in helping someone.
I was disillusioned and undereducated. I would remain that way for five more years. I taught very basic poses fearing I might hurt my students and had all but stopped practicing Yoga myself. I began to deeply question why this would be so.
It seems Yoga teachings rely on ancient philosophy, which is all-wonderful and beautiful… except when it ignores that people are continuously to getting hurt by practicing Yoga. Too many times, I have heard the dogmatic response from the higher-ups of the Yoga echelon say about the practice of Yoga poses, “That’s the way it has always been done.” Staying in this comfort zone is hurting people, turning potentially new students away, and ignoring the basic science of muscles, movement and the biomechanics of the body.
Enter –into my life- Lauren Eirk, founder and owner of Yoga Integrated Science Wellness Center. She has created a science-based approach to doing Yoga (as well as Pilates, Barre classes, etc.) that builds strength while encouraging the healing of injuries. Most importantly, Lauren’s philosophy augments and honors the ancient Yogic philosophy by taking it to another level using scientific principles of biomechanical movement that allow each body to be safely in its best expression of any given Yoga pose.
Since meeting Lauren and participating in her Yoga teacher training courses, I have not only erased my pain, but I feel stronger in my 6th decade than I ever have in my life! I am still making interesting shapes with my body, but now it is in a safe way that not only supports healing but the continued building of my strength and optimum health. Yoga can be a lifetime practice as long as it is done safely and guided by a teacher who understands the biomechanics of bodily movement.
Lisa Bauman, DMD, C-IAYT