From Drug Addict To Yoga Instructor

Vinnie Marino

Vinnie Marino

Vinnie Marino grew up in the 1960s in New York. He was naturally drawn to yoga and practiced it in his teens. But in high school he also found drugs and his yoga practice fell away. His downward spiral continued when he dropped out of college and moved to San Francisco. His first week in San Francisco he was “introduced to shooting cocaine”. On his web site he says, “Enlightenment doesn’t come that easily. Experimenting with chemicals to find different levels of consciousness ultimately left me trapped. The freedom I found from drugs became a prison.”

In his late twenties Vinnie decided to break free from his addiction. He started cleaning up his act and began working out at a gym and jogging around a park. It worked and soon he found himself sober. When he moved to LA in the early 90s he found his way back to yoga. He found that yoga had changed from the one he practiced in school. This new yoga was hot, sweaty, hard, and intense. He loved it, and he felt energized and alive. He found relief and release in yoga. There was now no need to head back to the life of drugs he had left behind.

Soon he was doing yoga every day of the week. Then he took teacher training at Santa Barbara at White Lotus to increase his knowledge of yoga. Here he discovered that he had ways to go both in his yoga expertise and knowledge of the yoga system. Amazed at how much he was learning he subsequently took up an advanced teacher-training program in Iyengar Yoga. Continue reading

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Never Too Old To Live Your Dream

87 Year Old Rose

The first day of school our professor introduced himself and challenged us to get to know someone we didn’t already know. I stood up to look around when a gentle hand touched my shoulder.

I turned around to find a wrinkled, little old lady beaming up at me with a smile that lit up her entire being. She said, “Hi handsome. My name is Rose. I’m eighty-seven years old. Can I give you a hug?”

I laughed and enthusiastically responded, “Of course you may!” and she gave me a giant squeeze.

Why are you in college at such a young, innocent age?” I asked. She jokingly replied, “I’m here to meet a rich husband, get married, and have a couple of kids…”

“No seriously,” I asked. I was curious what may have motivated her to be taking on this challenge at her age.

“I always dreamed of having a college education and now I’m getting one!” she told me.

After class we walked to the student union building and shared a chocolate milkshake. We became instant friends. Every day for the next three months we would leave class together and talk nonstop. I was always mesmerized listening to this “time machine” as she shared her wisdom and experience with me.

Over the course of the year, Rose became a campus icon and she easily made friends wherever she went. She loved to dress up and she reveled in the attention bestowed upon her from the other students. She was living it up.

At the end of the semester we invited Rose to speak at our football banquet. Continue reading

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The Invisible Problem

Anyone who has experience with care giving knows that this is no easy task. But what if a child is burdened with this responsibility? In an advanced country like the US it is estimated that there are at least 1.3 million children who are caregivers. This gives us an idea of the scale of the problem worldwide. The problem of the child caregiver is an “invisible problem” as it happens behind closed doors. There is reluctance by both the parent and the child to discuss the problem with outsiders.

Connie Siskowski has first hand experience of care giving as a child. At the age of 11 she found herself being drawn into the responsibility of providing care to her beloved 82 year old grandfather for the next two years. She learned to check on his edema, put on socks over his swollen feet, and make food for him and help him eat. Though he was tall and big, she found a way to help him get out of his chair. She would also cut his hair, shave his beard, and trim his mustache. In addition she spent time with him to give him company. They would listen to the radio, read, or play cards. When the doctor changed his medication that needed to be taken round the clock, she decided to sleep in the living room so she could be close to him. One night when she woke up at 2 am to give him his medicine she found out that his body was cold and he had already passed away.

This experience of care giving stayed with Connie and probably guided her towards a nursing career. She became a RN (Registered Nurse) in 1967 and worked in Florida’s health-care community for decades. But in 2004 when as part of her doctoral research for her PhD, she discovered the problem of child caregiving as something that was more widely prevalent than previously thought, she felt she had come a full circle. She founded the American Association of Caregiving Youth a charitable non-profit organization. Her work has given voice to the problems faced by young caregivers. It has also helped hundreds of young caregivers. Her work shows that when service to others becomes a central aspect of one’s existence then there is no limit to what one can do.

Related:
American Association of Caregiving Youth
Encore- Second acts for the greater good
CNN Hero Connie Siskowski

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Cancer Recovery And Yoga

Yuko was practicing yoga before she got an aggressive form of cancer that grew in her mouth. She now says that she did not know how valuable the yoga practice would be to help her heal. Yuko has used art, yoga, and meditation as supplements to her regular cancer treatment. She believes that these have made a big difference on how her recovery from this aggressive form of cancer has proceeded. Her story is very inspiring and is worth watching and sharing.

Related: Eddie Stern’s Yoga Studio in New York

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Herniated Discs

Sara Curry

Sara Curry

I injured my back in the fall of 2001, shortly after I had started practicing yoga. I had spent my youth playing sports, and most recently rugby, running and weight lifting. A lifetime of aggressive and contact sports culminated in two herniated discs in my low back at S1/L5 and L5/L4. They caused acute low back and sciatic pain radiating down to my left knee.

I was in pain constantly, even in my sleep. The pain was so acute some days that my husband had to put my shoes on my feet. It was excruciating to go to work, to rest, to sleep, to walk, to drive. My doctor told me I had three options: live with the pain, undergo a discectomy or take cortisone shots for the rest of my life. At this point, I had begun to practice at a wonderful studio in Burlington, Vermont under Bikram Certified teachers Kelley Lyons and Amy Nietzberg. I decided see if Bikram Yoga would help first.

It was no miracle cure from the start. Classes were hard and uncomfortable. I had set backs regularly. At the time, my job only allowed me to attend 3 to 4 times a week. Some days I didn’t think I could go through the pain and challenge of a class, but I always felt better (increased range of motion, better sleep, less pain and an ability to participate in more) after attending.

Over eighteen months, I saw slow progress. The miracle happened when I started practicing two times a day. It took me 10 days of doubles to be pain free. I kid you not. PAIN FREE. I could sit without a back support. I could roll over at night. I could put my pants on standing up. I kept it up for two months, resting on Sundays. I had a few set backs in the first couple of years. Under extreme stress or after moving or shoveling snow for hours in the Vermont winter, I have had times where I get sore again. Once, I threw my back out. I have found that the quicker I get back to yoga and the more classes I can take, the faster I recover.

Now, five years out from the initial bad spell, I live a free, active life. I hike, water-ski, shovel, stand on my head. There are no yoga poses that I skip or avoid. I haven’t thrown out my back in over two years. I am nine months pregnant and have experienced no back problems at all in the entire pregnancy. I recognize that double classes are not possible for all of us. With less frequent practice, the healing (and strengthening) will simply take more time. Be patient with yourself and your students. Be strong and work hard. All you need is your body and this yoga to heal yourself.

Credit: This is written by Sara Curry. Prior to attending the Bikram Yoga teacher training in Spring 2003, Sara worked for years in Special Education with students with emotional and behavioral disabilities. She holds a degree in Plant and Soil Science from the University of Vermont. This story has been reposted with permission. You can find the original here.

You may also like: Yoga Has Transformed My Life Inside-Out!

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