Mind Body Flow Yoga’s Very Own Ann Marie Gajewski and Her Life-Changing Experience with Yoga
My first experience with yoga was back when Buffalo welcomed its fourth ever T.V. station, Channel 29, when I was a preteen (Oh dear, I’m giving my age away).
There was a woman who did a 30 minute yoga session which aired after school. I’m not sure what kind of yoga it was, but boy oh boy did I get flexible! Over the years I did a little bit of yoga here and there, but never a serious practice. I also got into aerobics. Who could forget those Jane Fonda videos (VHS was cutting edge technology at that time!)?
I did cross training for awhile, then got into running, etc. (all cardio centered) – that is, until about 3 years ago. I had a desire to get back into some type of yoga. I had been frequenting a local Bikram studio; however, I didn’t love it.
I can still remember the feeling of jubilation when I saw the MBFY ‘coming soon’ sign go up in the plaza around the corner from my home! I was ecstatic!
I rushed home, looked it up online and purchased the living social deal as a trial run. I met and connected with Marina, who has a beautiful nature and an infectious smile, learned about Baptiste Power Yoga, and have been practicing with her since. This is not your grandma’s yoga practice! I love how this practice gets my heart pounding, my blood flowing, and my sweat glands detoxifying and yet still manages to help calm my crazy Italian type A personality. It’s almost a combination of several different types of exercise. You use your own body weight, along with proper breathing techniques and “aerobic-like” movement, with a smidgen of your grandma’s yoga all rolled into one positive, uplifting, detoxifying, and stress relieving workout.
This practice has taught me about the need to slow down and seek wisdom, especially when I’m at a loss on a situation. It has showed me the way to focus on breath to calm myself when my aggressive nature takes hold. I have learned to let things go that cause me grief. I have become a ‘yes’ person, but oddly enough, that has translated into sometimes saying ‘no.’ Yes, it’s OK that I don’t want to run this committee, and yes, it’s OK to say “I don’t have time” for that task. It has helped me to become aware that my way is not the only way and that I’m not in charge of everything (disclaimer: work in progress here!). I believe that yoga has helped me to become a person who is more focused on what’s truly important and necessary, rather than worrying about everything else.
I very recently had hand surgery and have been unable to be on my mat for several weeks. I miss the routine profusely. I miss Marina and all the instructors, I miss the other yogis, I miss the workout, and I miss the serenity and happiness that this studio and the practice have given me.
I’m looking forward to getting back on my mat, but in the meantime, I’ll jump around my family room with Jane, rocking to the beat of the Go-Go’s!
Leave a comment below. What breakthroughs have you experienced in your yoga journey? What initially held you back?
What’s Ann Marie’s Pose About?
This is a classical seated pose, which stretches the thighs and ankles. The resulting shape is a deep opening and stretch in these areas, as well as the knees and groins. Watch Ann Marie enter into this asana from Mountain Pose (Tadasana). She will exit the pose and land back in Mountain Pose (Tadasana) as well.
Here are a few things to keep in mind, if you decide to try this pose, or if you have already started to experiment with it.
- Begin kneeling on the floor. Place a block or pillow under your seat. Your inner knees should be together and your thighs should be perpendicular to the floor.
- Open your feet slightly wider than your hips, keeping the tops of your feet flat on the floor and your big toes angled in toward each other. Press down evenly across the tops of both feet.
- With an exhalation, lean your torso forward slightly as you sit your hips back halfway. With your hands, reach back and draw the skin of your calf muscles toward your heels. Your back will round slightly as you do this.
- Sit down between your feet, resting weight equally across both sit bones. Keep your heels and shins alongside your hips and upper thighs, with your feet directly in line with your shins. Do not let your feet either splay wide open or turn inward.
- Allow your thighs to turn inward slightly. Press down on the tops of your thighs with your hands.
- Sit up straight and draw your should blades firmly against your back ribs. Broaden across your collarbones, drop your shoulders away from your ears, and lengthen your tailbone to the floor.
- Lay your hands on your thighs, palms down. Gaze downward toward your chest or up towards the ceiling.
- Hold the pose for up to one minute.
- To release the pose, press your palms firmly on the floor and lift your buttocks. Cross your ankles and shins beneath your body, and then extend your legs straight out in front of you in seated staff pose, or come into child pose. Hero Pose stretches and increases flexibility in the knees, ankles, and thighs. It teaches practitioners internal thigh rotation, and it also helps to reduce tightness in the legs. Additionally, the pose strengthens the arches of the feet. Because of the upright spinal alignment in the pose, Hero Pose improves posture and helps to relieves asthma.
- Stretches and increases flexibility in the knees, ankles, and thighs
- Teaches practitioners internal thigh rotation
- Helps to reduce tightness in the legs
- Strengthens the arches of the feet
- Improves posture and helps to relieve asthma
- Do not practice Hero’s Pose if you are currently suffering from heart problems or headaches.
- If you have a knee or ankle injury, only attempt this pose under the guidance of an experienced and knowledgeable instructor.
- Always work within your own range of limits and abilities.
- If you have medical concerns, talk with your doctor before practicing yoga.
How has your yoga practice changed your life? What initially held you back?