Just let your ego go
Some folks believe Yoga requires flexibility, strength and an optimum body weight.
That’s nonsense, says Jim Holleman, a general surgeon and chief of staff at St. Luke’s Hospital in Columbus who regularly attends a variety of YAM’s Yoga classes at least six times a week.
“Flexibility is not at all a prerequisite and indeed those who are less flexible (me) often obtain the greatest benefit – if they can leave their ego at the door,” says Jim. “If one can overcome the ego, listen to their own body, use some common sense and avoid competition, each asana provides endless expressions of the pose suitable to any constitution, particularly with the group of qualified teachers at YAM.”
Jim, a former football player and weight lifter, began practicing Yoga in the early 90s to relieve stress during his surgical residency. He would practice in the call room while on duty at the hospital. His Yoga practice continued for many years, but mostly self-taught because he had no access to a real-life Yoga instructor and had to rely on videos that focused mainly on Ashtanga and Power Flow Yoga.
He still practices these more vigorous styles, but has become enamored with Yin and Restorative Yoga, which seem to be helping him recover from knee pain related to old injuries from years of weight training.
“My goals currently are to continue to overcome the injuries that have evolved from weighing 300 pounds and being a former football player and weight lifter as well as attempting to achieve a more optimum weight within the limits of my very strong kapha dosha,” Jim says. “I rarely, if ever, lift weights anymore as sun salutations provide plenty of strength training.”
He says as he continues to practice, the spiritual and philosophical aspects of Yoga are becoming more important to him. Meditation, pranayama and other breathing techniques are helping him relax and calm his mind, allowing him to feel revived once he returns to his hectic physician’s schedule.
“The Yin and Restorative classes really help slow things down and help me enter into stillness and calm the ‘monkey mind’ and develop the ‘mind of the forest deer.” Jim says. “I must, however, admit that I sometimes fall asleep because I have not had a good night’s sleep in over 20 years.”
Jim says he enjoys the heated classes, and was never apprehensive about entering a hot Yoga room. “In fact, I have attempted to heat a room in my office and in my home with some success, but find it better to practice with others for moral support.
“From a physician’s standpoint, I feel that asana practice, meditation and pranayama breathing are some of the best approaches combined with proper diet for overall health,” Jim says. “All of this can lead to improvement in blood pressure and stress response as well as improving joint and balance problems at any age and fitness level.”