• Congratulations Pat and Lilian!

    Grace Yoga (GY): Please describe your journey to yoga--your personal reasons for beginning (and continuing) to practice.

    Pat and Lilian (P&L): Several years ago and over the course of several years I (Pat) tried some yoga classes but didn't feel any connection. So I quit. Then, when we moved back to the Bay Area two years ago and I was looking for a sustainable exercise program, Lilian convinced me to try yoga again. She had been doing it for years, really liked it and seemed to benefit from it. So we joined Grace on the 1 month intro thing and wow, it was great,  I was hooked after the first class. I still can picture that class in my mind. Dana had us with our backs flat against the wall learning how do side-angle pose, to get the alignment right by experiencing how it should feel when everything is in the right place.  I did not know it at the time but, that class set the right tone for me going forward in yoga-get the alignment right and you will get the benefits, it’s not a matter of simply mimicking what others are doing. 
    I am not particularly flexible, nor strong and have skier's knees and a funky neck. Over the past two years all of that has improved tremendously. Certainly, I am very much still a beginner and have a lot more to learn.  But I feel very fortunate for all the adjustments, advice and help I have gotten from the teachers. Sometimes I laugh to myself and wonder what things must have looked like as they (kindly) introduced me to props, made adjustments and (many times) gently pushed down on my shoulders to remind me to relax them. Every teacher has taught me something and continues to do so. One final help has been Lilian herself, since she has practiced yoga much longer than I, she has been very instructive in how important it is to get the alignment right, not simply to do the pose, right or wrong. We often talk about this after class. All of this together, the teachers, the props, the discussions has help me be more thoughtful and observant while in each pose. In that way I have been able to ease into proper postures and get a deeper benefit from each practice. 
    In terms of the practice itself, I have seen myself go through several phases. Starting with trying to mimic the teachers and other students, then learning some basic breathing, starting to use props, then working on alignment, gaining flexibility and strength, learning ujjayi breathing and how to recover energy during more intense classes to learning meditation and starting to meditate during practice. This seems to occur in a circle, having progressed along only to return to the beginning, but with a new understanding and then cycle through again.
    GY: What additional benefits have you gained from your yoga practice that may not be offered in another form of exercise?
    P&L: We have learned many things from yoga as it is more than just doing a bunch of exercises. It is more about gaining focus and coordinating breath with movement as well as stretching one group of muscles while strengthening another at the same time. It can be very physically demanding. Woven into this is gaining mental stillness during practice. 
    The one thing that has been most transformative though, is that I have so much more energy all day. I think this has come from learning to breathe deeply and slowly, and especially with ujjayi breathing, that I have cleared my lungs, gained lung capacity and get more oxygen into my body. 
    GY: The Yoga Sutra we're focusing on this month is 2.5: Avidya (spiritual ignorance) is regarding the impermanent as permanent, the impure as pure, the painful as pleasant, and the non-self as the Self. What are your thoughts on this sutra, and how has your yoga journey helped develop your understanding of these concepts?
    I am a geologist and I have spent my adult life studying impermanence.  When most of us look at mountains, a cliff or rocks we see something solid and lasting. What I see is the result of the most recent change. Where there are mountains today was once flat land or the sea and is in the process of becoming flat land again. Nothing is permanent. Through yoga I am gaining a deeper understanding of that on a personal level, especially with the meditation classes. Things come and go and that’s okay.
    GY: Please tell us a little about yourself: career, family, background and anything else interesting you would like us to know.
    P&L: After working and living around the US, Europe and Asia for the past thirty years, we returned to the Bay Area to retire in 2015.  Pat is a native San Franciscan and we have many family and friends in the here, so coming here to retire as an easy decision. Pat and I both have technical backgrounds and worked mainly in the energy sector. We raised two sons; one is working on orthopedic residency at Duke in North Carolina; the younger one is an engineer working in Southern California. After so many years of “never having enough time of our own”, we are now masters of our own time. There is no more Sunday night blues and every day is a TGIF day for us. We now focus on LIVING - capturing and appreciating the joy of the moment. We are very grateful to all Grace yogis for making our time at the mat such joyful experience.