Chapter 1- Colorful Beginnings
Greetings friends, and welcome to this blog series. As I approach my 70th birthday, I thought it would be fun to reflect and share the gifts I received from yoga during each decade of my yoga practice. I hope you will be entertained as well as find affirmation and support for your own yoga journey.
My yoga Journey began in 1973 when I lived in Boston as a graduate of Ithaca College with a Bachelor of Science degree and a minor in physical education, still trying to decide who I was going to be when I grew up. I was 25 years old, working as a waitress. I spent my free time enjoying the social bar scene, listening to music, dancing, and meeting boys. My body soon told me something had to change: “casual” drinking was affecting me badly and I ached all over. One of my boyfriends took me to meet Mayo Kaan, a chiropractor, healer, Japanese prisoner of war survivor, a body builder, and model for Superman animations in the 1950s.
This was my first big blessing. Mayo Kahn had the magic gift of not only moving bones, but also clearing your emotional and energy body at the same time. He was a giant of a man who told amazing stories. I went to see him often. Sometimes I would hang back just to watch him work his magic on patient after patient. His treatment room was large and open, with six narrow weight-training benches, each with large, suspended, infrared heat lamps he would move up and down your spine before making an adjustment.
It turns out that Mayo’s wife Gloria was a yoga teacher who offered a style of yoga practice that was popular in the U.S. prior to 1974. She followed a method similar to the one in the book, Yoga for Beauty and Health: Look Younger and Be Relaxed, by Eve Disken. While I loved the simple, traditional pranayama Gloria taught, along with learning how to stretch my throat to avoid gaining a double chin, I longed for more.
My first real yoga teacher was a healer…
Gloria and Mayo introduced me to David Carmos, a leprechaun of a man, who had learned some of his yoga tricks from books and circus performers. A graduate of the New England School of Acupuncture, David taught corrective exercise using therapeutic aspects of yoga at Boston University’s School of Allied Health Sciences. David had a gift of integrating yoga poses with acupressure massage, diet and nutrition, for health and healing. Shortly before I met him, he had been a patient at Boston Hospital diagnosed with hepatitis C, which he contracted after traveling out of the country. The doctors agreed to monitor him as he applied his yoga, self-massage using the principles of Oriental medicine, and specific foods. Without any Western pharmaceuticals, he healed himself.
David was now my second big influencer. He not only taught me yoga, but how to therapeutically touch others to promote and support their healing. He also introduced me to Chinese medicine and Macrobiotics so I could learn about food as medicine. In 1975 I received my first Natural Healing Certification from David thru the East West Foundation in Boston, Ma.
You can catch a glimpse of David with his most recent book, The Power of Ancient Healing and Natural Health, combines all his wisdom and understanding in one location as he continues to defy the aging process. Because of his inspiration, I moved to Miami to become a licensed massage therapist, where I continued my pursuit of yoga with other teachers.
My first professional License
In 1977 after one year of schooling from Lindsay Hopkins Technical training school, I had my Florida massage license and began a private practice. I was in much better health at this time with the help of yoga, good nutrition, and massage. Yet, I had a new problem: my arms shoulders and back were aching for a new reason—the stress of offering 29 hours of massage each week!
The yoga styles I had known up to this point just did not cut the mustard. They were too general—stretch a little here, a little there, whatever you felt was okay, just breathe and be happy. After each class I still hurt, sometimes even worse than before I got on the mat.
Enter the Iyengar yoga method … See you in the chapter 2!
To recap the gifts of my colorful beginnings:
- I learned that yoga was for the whole person
- That food is our best medicine
- And that the lifestyle choices we make have the power to change our future.
Namaste, Lillah —- Meet Lillah