Please meet James LoVallo. He is Mind Body Flow Yoga’s featured student for this month’s newsletter. He has a strong yoga practice and was generous in sharing it with us, as he demonstrates Plank Pose (Phalakasana).
James Shares His Yoga Journey
In 2017, my doctor told me that I was obese! What? How could this be? My whole life I have been very athletic. I was the quarterback for Williamsville South and we went to Rich Stadium (30 years ago)! I don’t feel obese, I have a good self-Image (unless I saw a photo of myself). But, my doctor said my blood work revealed some bad results and if I keep this lifestyle up, she was going to put me on medication for my cholesterol and blood pressure. I asked her if I could have another chance and said, “Give me 3 months to try to get back in shape and I will take another blood test and see what the numbers show.”
That week, I started the search for the workout program I would use. I have been working out on and off my whole life. I used to lift weights and go to the gym, so I knew how to do it, but something always stopped me from getting a cold to hurting my back. I’m 50 years old, thinking I should do that kind of work out. So, I tried the free 3-day trial at a gym close to my house and decided I should go early like 6 am in the morning, and really get into a cardio and light weight work out. Day two, I already felt bored and leaving the gym, I saw the place for the blood work on my way home and saw some people leaving with yoga mats. Mind Body Flow Yoga was right next door to Quest Diagnostics where I would be going to get my blood tested after my 3-month challenge to get healthy again. That was a sign. I looked up the website and saw they had a 10-day deal. I signed up immediately and day 3 of my rebirth, I’m signing in for my first yoga class. I went to every class every morning for 10 days.
I had done yoga in the past. I even did the really hot Bikram style of yoga. So, I was familiar with some of the moves, but trust me when I tell you, even if you have never done yoga, it’s okay because the instructors are so good – you will catch on. My yoga practice was off to the races and I even used my independent health credit card to buy the monthly unlimited package. Now, at first, I was a sweaty mess and was slipping on my mat that I borrowed from my daughter. I realized I had to upgrade the mat and stick with this routine because I noticed after I left the mat each morning, the day was brighter and my energy level was increasing. People that I would run into during my day were starting to ask me what’s going on – you seem different, brighter, happier, what’s your secret? I would smile and say, “Yoga,” and on occasion add a tree pose to my response.
I am so grateful to Marina and all of the teachers at Mind Body Flow Yoga. My yoga journey continues and every class brings a new insight into the energy that the practice can provide. On those days that seem to be heading in a bad direction, whether it’s a tough real estate transaction or a difficult client, my yoga memory from my mat that morning, lets me approach the solution with patience and love. When you make the choice to come and join us on the mat, don’t worry – the love and light that flows in that room, will not judge you. It will not make you feel uncomfortable because you don’t do a pose perfectly. You are encouraged to push yourself, take time for yourself, to be okay with loving yourself, and to shift the dialogue that we have in our minds to start to say, “Yes I can.” And soon your practice will be flowing on and off that mat and the results are priceless.
After my three months were coming to an end, I had lost 30 pounds. My prescription was going to class every morning, Monday through Friday, at 6 am, and not changing my eating and drinking habits that much. It was time for the blood test and one Monday, after class, I was going to get that done and realized that the Quest blood test place had closed down next door. I got the blood test at another location and went to my doctor for the results, which yielded a perfect level of cholesterol and triglycerides across the board. My doctor said, “What did you do?” I smiled and said, “Yoga!”
Being asked by Marina to be the Student of the Month is such an honor and I am so proud to share with the yogis out there my journey, and my beautiful wife, Julie, was even more excited as she tells everyone, “Guess what? Jim’s the student of the month,” in a proud motherly way. And our three children Josie, Jimmy and Jessie are also very supportive of my yoga journey, as they have noticed my transformation and healthy attitude adjustment since I have been practicing. I have even taken my kids to class with me on occasion.
I have already described that the physical aspect of this practice has helped to reverse my health, so now, I will share the mental or the MIND of the Mind Body Flow Yoga. My story is not so simple. Back in 2012, I had some sort of spiritual awakening. It would be easy for me to just say that this yoga practice has changed how my mental state is, day in and day out, and prior to doing this routine I was short-tempered or lacked patience, but that is not the case. You see back in 2012, I was awakened by some spiritual essence that called me not to the mat, but to my meditation practice. I had learned how to meditate back in college from a required course at Canisius College and started to dabble in the practice and back then really had some amazing results.
Back in 2012, at 4:11 am, I opened my eyes one morning and tilted my head up to look out the window that was in my bedroom, up to the sky. A star or something was twinkling up in the sky and I tried to fight it and close my eyes, but my curiosity got the best of me and I pulled myself out of bed and went downstairs out on my back deck and looked up at this star-filled night and at this particular star that was changing colors. It was something big. It was a moment that I will never forget and from that night forward, I began my meditation practice being awoken at 4:00 am each night by this energy, and going downstairs and sitting in lotus pose and doing my breathing technique that I had learned and allowing all of the thoughts to rush in and out and eventually seeing and understanding that all I was seeking, was already inside of me.
Every night, same routine, and the energy and focus of my mind became stronger and I went deeper and the messages that poured in were amazing like I was an antenna picking up signals from some energy source. I eventually started a journal and in December of 2012, I had a series of deep meditative sessions each morning that brought me this beautiful compilation that I now have coined my Spiritual Clock. I even collaborated with my daughter to draw this clock that came from those meditation sessions.
Sharing this openly for the first time is a bit difficult for me, because it can come off as kind of bizarre to some, but the reason I share this is because I want to point out that the mental health benefits of my meditation practice are tremendous and I would encourage anyone to meditate, to help bring mental clarity, love, and happiness into your life. Yoga, to me, is the union of the mind, the physical body that we have been given, and the energy source that connects us all. It is important that we don’t forget that the creator put our soul into this earthly flesh and that we should respect that.
So, I guess I would say that from a mental state, I was on my way prior to the yoga practice with Marina, but now, the union of the physical and mental state, has really been a nice balance. I consider that 6:00 am class my meditation and if you ever notice me in Lotus pose, prior to the start of class, yes I am breathing in and out and going through each station of my spiritual clock.
What I realized more than anything, is that this practice, going on a year now, has allowed me to center my focus on myself and by doing so, focus more love, attention, and patience with my family and friends, that I have been blessed with. Thanks again, Marina.
Sincerely, your yogi realtor, James
Leave a comment below. What stood out to you in the testimonial? What significant experience have you had in your yoga journey?
What is this Pose About?
This is a grounding pose that stretches your arms, wrists, and spine. The resulting shape is a deep toning of the abdomen. Watch James enter into this asana from Mountain Pose (Tadasana). He 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 and play around with it.
- Press your thumbs and index fingers into the floor. Firm your shoulder blades against your back. Spread your collarbones wide.
- Press your front thighs up toward the ceiling, but resist your tailbone toward the floor as you lengthen it toward the heels. Lift the base of the skull away from the back of the neck and look straight down at the floor, keeping the throat and eyes soft.
- Hold this pose and stay anywhere from 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- Strengthens the arms, wrists, and spine
- Tones the abdomen
- Avoid this posture if you carpel tunnel syndrome. Consult with your instructor on modifications.
- Have you tried this pose before? What has been your experience?
Have you tried this pose before? What has been your experience?