Please meet Tori Gajewski. She is Mind Body Flow Yoga’s featured student for this month’s newsletter. She has a beautiful yoga practice and was generous in sharing it with us, as she demonstrates Lizard Pose (Utthan Pristhasana) with a bind.
Tori Gajewski’s Life Changing Experience with Yoga
I never thought that I would become a yogi. I played ice hockey from middle school and into college, and I couldn’t even touch my toes for most of my life. I started taking yoga classes here and there in 2011. However, it was not until I started regularly practicing at Mind Body Flow Yoga later in 2012, that I really understood what yoga was all about. Marina’s light and energy was so inspiring to me, and it made me want to be a person like her.
I played ice hockey from middle school and into college, and I couldn’t even touch my toes for most of my life.
I am a “Type A” personality. I am anxious, organized, a multi-tasker, and I am usually extremely uncomfortable with quiet and stillness. I see everything in black and white. I am judgmental and I am a perfectionist. I am the kind of person who gets panicky when my phone battery is below 90%, and I have to make sure that all of the cabinet doors in the kitchen are closed all the way before I can go to bed. In fact, because of the way I stress over anything and everything, I have been suffering from chronic headaches and migraines since I was 19 years old.
Yoga does not allow for this “Type A” personality, and that is what I love about it. It forces me to open my mind and my heart, and to step outside of my comfort zone, by being still and present. Yoga coaxes me into letting it all go. At the end of class, it is common for the teacher to say a calming passage or story, and when I first started yoga, I’d be internally rolling my eyes at how “cheesy” I thought it all was. I was thinking, “Do people really buy this stuff? I don’t belong here. I don’t get this. This isn’t for people like me.” But now I see that was just a hurdle I had to jump over in my yoga journey, and everything has changed for me since I let go of those negative thoughts.
“It forces me to open my mind and my heart”
It has taken a lot of time and thought for me to get to where I am now, mentally. I have noticed a reduction in my headaches and I feel as though I am able to manage my stress through my breath and by bringing myself into the present moment. My family, fiancé, and friends have all noticed a change in my demeanor over the past few years, and I attribute a large part of that to incorporating yoga into my everyday life.
…I feel as though I am able to manage my stress through my breath…
My yoga journey has really taken off in the past year. It seems the more yoga I do, the more I crave. In November 2013, my mom and I took the plunge and traveled to Washington, D.C. for Baron Baptiste’s Full Day Immersion. In May 2014, I attended the Art of Assisting weekend here in Buffalo (talk about stepping out of my comfort zone). Despite the fact that I am a nurse, I am a huge germaphobe. Art of Assisting is revolved around adjusting sweaty yogis, to get them deeper into poses. It took me the entire first day to wrap my head around the fact that we weren’t hand sanitizing between each person we touched. Maybe that is so ingrained in me because of my job at the hospital, where I wash my hands a few hundred times a day, and I wouldn’t dream of touching a sweaty person without gloves on. Again, all of those stressful thoughts piled up for me. After accepting the sweat and germs, I opened up, let it go, and had an amazing weekend with a group of incredible people whom I learned a great deal from. I would do it again in a heartbeat.
…I am a huge germaphobe. Art of Assisting is revolved around adjusting sweaty yogis…
Level One is in my future; I just don’t know exactly when. I do see myself teaching one day, when life allows. When the time is right, I am there. I am a yes, I am ready now, and I am ready to give up what I must. At the same time, I am a NICU nurse, I am in graduate school, I am buying a house, and I am planning my September 2015 wedding (I told you I was a multi-tasker). I know that I am able to handle it all because of my yoga practice. I aim to be in class three times a week, and if not, I practice at least a few minutes a day on my mat at home.
The MBFY community is amazing, as is the Buffalo yoga community as a whole. I feel at home at MBFY, and I encourage everyone to step through those doors and let yoga change your life for the better. Whether you are in need of a physical challenge, emotional relief, or just a community to be a part of, MBFY is the place for you. 2
“I encourage everyone to step through those doors and let yoga change your life for the better.”
What’s Tori’s Pose About?
This is a versatile hip opener pose, which opens the hips, hip flexors, hamstrings, and groins. The resulting shape is a deep opening in these areas. Watch Tori 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 and play around with it.
- Start in downward facing dog
- Step your right foot forward and come into low lunge
- Take your right hand and set it on the inside of your right foot
- Heal ball toe your right foot to the right edge of your mat
- Spill onto the pinky edge of your right foot, so that your right knee if facing the right side and your right sole of the foot is facing the left side
- Lower your left knee down to the mat
- Stay on palms of the hands or lower forearms down to the mat
- If going for a deeper stretch/opening, with the left knee on the mat, you can bend your left leg and reach back with your right hand to catch hold of your left ankle or the top of your left foot towards your left toes. Draw your right shoulder up and back and breathe deeply in and our through the nose, holding for 3-5 breaths
- Slowly make your way back into low lunge. From here, step back into high plank and take a vinyasa, or simply step back to downward facing dog
- Repeat on the left side
- Opens the hips, hamstrings, groins and hip flexor
- Strengthens the inner thigh muscles on the front leg
- Opens and releases the chest, shoulders, and neck
- Prepares the body for deeper hip openers such as Pigeon Pose and Hanuman Pose
- This is an intense hip stretch and should be avoided if you have low back pain or severe sciatica. Enlist the help of an experienced instructor with Crow Pose if this is your first time trying it.
Have you tried this pose before? What has been your experience? Let me know below.