Updated: Nov 1, 2019
This year I have officially been doing yoga for over half my life.
I still remember my first yoga class. It was the summer of 2002 and I had just turned 15.
The studio was located in the upstairs of one of the stilted buildings that line "Creek Street", one of the main downtown drags in my hometown of Ketchikan, Alaska.
Knowing nothing about the subject, I decided to check out a library book about this "yoga" thing before attending the class. It looked weird, and the take home message as far as I could tell was not to drink or eat in the 30 minutes prior to class.
I was working at KetchiCandies at the time, selling handcrafted chocolates to tourists,
and I remember anxiously following just those instructions leading up to my first class, which I walked over to during my lunch break. Perhaps I remember this so vividly because it interfered with my already engrained coffee and truffle habit. Who knows.
That class we learned about "Uḍḍīyana Bandha", and I left sort of baffled. Despite finding the whole experience odd, I kept going back during my lunch break, for the rest of the summer.
Fall came and it was back to high school. I was a junior and for my elective that year I took "vocational medical science", a class geared toward students entering the health fields. I really was most interested in becoming a dance teacher at the time, but it looked like a good class, so I decided to sign up.
As part of the class, we had to choose 2 medical professionals in the community to shadow for the semester.
After careful consideration, I selected one of the towns most prominent orthopedic surgeons as well as a woman by the name of Joann Flora: accupressurist, Qigong teacher and nutrition guru.
I spent my afternoons in surgical attire behind plexiglass watching the ortho doc wildly drill into people's joints with power tools, and evenings meditatively moving my Qi around as Joann taught Qigong in that same little yoga studio.
So if any of you wondered what I was doing at age 16, now you know.
Seven years later entering the University of Washington School of Medicine Class of 2012, one of my high school classmates in that vocational medical science class was at my side, and is currently a nephrology fellow at OHSU. I do want to take the opportunity to give a shout out to the amazing educators in the Ketchikan Gateway Borough School District public education system. I am thankful for your investment in me.
There were actually 20 people in my UW medical school class from Alaska, and after our 1st year we all got together and wrote on little pieces of paper which specialty we thought our colleagues were most likely going to match into. We sealed them away and opened them 3 years later on match day.
On that fateful day in 2012, I learned that most of my friends had pegged me as an OB/Gyn, except my friend Katie Senter, who had literally written "yoga teacher". Despite my initial irritation with her joke, it turns out we ultimately had both guessed right for one another; she is now completing her fellowship in trauma surgery.
I did manage to finish my Family Medicine residency first, though, before shaving my head and traveling to India to complete my yoga teacher training at Samyak Yoga, located just outside of Mysore.
This school was recommended by one of my favorite teachers, Jess Frank, who had completed her training there prior, and is now program director at the nonprofit Yoga Behind Bars.
As the month long 200 hour program came to a close, my three teachers, Arvind, Rakesh and Trupta, recommended a particular yoga text published by the Bihar school of yoga, to be purchased for further study. They warned us though, this book would likely not be available in the United States. My dear teachers arranged for me to tour the university and hospital the Indian Institute of Ayurvedic Medicine and Research in Bangalore, after finding out that I was a physician in the United States. I managed to purchase my copy of the text at the University bookstore before departing.
I treated the 958 page volume like a precious artifact, and the information has been an integral part of my practice since.
You can imagine then, the joy I felt in 2017, when, casually strolling the aisles of Amazon, I FOUND it, AVAILABLE, for everyone!
Dr. Kayla's 2018 Booklist Pick #2:
A Systematic Course in the Ancient Tantric Techniques of Yoga and Kriya
By: Swami Satyananda Saraswati
Considered the most comprehensive text ever published on yoga, this book is not a quick read, but an amazing resource for anyone navigating self-healing with yoga. It is organized into 36 structured lessons, each designed to be practiced for a minimum of 1 month; so a 3 year program at best, but most likely a lifetime journey.
This book is designed for beginners though, and is written in a way that a reader of truly any level should be able to pick it up and start implementing a home yoga program.
One thing I like to remind people about yoga though, is there are actually 8 limbs, and the physical practice or "asana", is just one of them. As a student of this text, you can be prepared to start learning about all of them. For some, the practice may not meet your initial expectations when you think "yoga"; at least for me that was the case.
If any of you have read this book, have questions about this book, would like to discuss it further, please leave comments on this blog!
I do want to give you, my readers, patients and friends, one more YOGA resource for your 2018 toolbox!
Today, one of my favorite yoginis and host of the wonderful FREE youtube channel Yoga With Adrienne launched Day 1 of her brand new 30 day yoga series.
It’s 100% made with love and it’s 100% free.
As soon as I complete this post, I will be doing this video and invite YOU to join me!
If you have specific questions about using yoga to improve your health, you can always schedule a private consultation with me via my website.
Would you prefer not to pay and just win a visit instead? You are in luck! We have a special going on right now and it is SUPER easy. All you have to do is share your TOP BOOK PICK FOR 2018 with us on our clinic Facebook page here.
Everyone who shares, will be automatically entered into a drawing to win a FREE visit ~ $300 value!!!
Winner will be chosen NEXT FULL MOON January 31st, 2018!
Thank you for reading and HAPPY YOGA everyone!