The Many Ripples
Heroes can be found all around us. They are the ordinary people who understand that we are intricately and invariably interconnected with every other being on this planet. They show great courage in opening their hearts to share a piece of their struggles and triumphs with others. They create hope in the possibility that through these small every day acts of caring and listening, we might find a cure for this terrible disease of loneliness that plagues our current reality.
This page is dedicated to them.
The everyday, extraordinary heroes that continue to inspire!
Jeanine Goranson - #Yogaheals
Jeanine is a brilliant teacher, a wife, sister, and mother of two boys, and probably one of the most thoughtful and selfless people you will ever meet. She started practicing Ashtanga Yoga as my student in 2011 and eventually made her first trip to Mysore three years later. She was Authorized to teach by Sharath Jois in 2017, and continues to teach Mysore in Calgary. Her dedication, determination, and devotion always moves me, and inspires me to overcome any obstacle.
This is her story:
After two miscarriages and almost losing my first son at birth, and then again two months later, due to some breathing problems he developed, I took to running for an escape and a place I could let my emotions go. A couple years later I again was fraught with another high risk pregnancy, and advised to stop all activities and take it easy. After my second was born I was looking forward to getting back to running, but only two months after delivery, I returned home from a run to discover a lump in my neck.
To make a long story short I was diagnosed with Thyroid cancer.
After having two surgeries to remove the entire thyroid due to the cancer spreading, I then underwent radiation treatment.This was the most challenging time because during the radiation treatments I had to be separated from my family because of the high amounts of internal radiation I had been administered.
I began practicing yoga to help me navigate through this illness and heal during my recovery. I found it extremely beneficial for coping with the emotional roller-coaster I was on. In truth, it seems Yoga found me, and for that, I have an abundance of gratitude. It has empowered me to explore the inner workings of my body and mind, both 'on' and 'off' the mat. Through the practice of Ashtanga Yoga, I have learned to trust the system, and have found comfort in this deep and rich tradition.
David Knee - #Yogaheals
One of the many inspiring students I’ve been blessed to teach over the past 16 years of sharing this practice is David Knee.
I’ll never forget his first few classes and how far he has come since those days! Students like David are what keep my faith in the beneficial effects of this practice firm. I’m always grateful for their stories of healing and recovery to keep me passionately involved in continuing this lineage of teaching and motivated in my own practice on the mat!
This is his story:
“A requirement or desire of a basic healthy human life is a future. A diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis (MS), for most of us, will put that future in doubt. It did for me. At 41 that was my future.
By 58, I was overweight, weak, and pre-diabetic. I decided to try Ashtanga.
I was fortunate because this -- my first exposure to yoga -- was introduced to me by knowledgeable, amazing, and caring teachers. I later discovered that it was a Beginner Mysore class.
As I progressed through the asanas, I gained strength and flexibility, lost 32 pounds, and lowered my blood sugar. As I progressed through the practice (I’m now 63), I gained a future. Through the practice, I experience successes, failures, and incredible peace…all of which I look forward to each day.”
Emma is one of the hardest working women, and Ashtanga Yoga teachers that I know! So this month, I wanted to highlight all of the incredible work she is up to!
I was able to catch up with Emma in Toronto last month when she asked me to come and teach a workshop.
I asked what first brought her to this practice and she told me that she had always been into fitness and health, but was getting bored just lifting weights and doing cardio, so decided to try yoga to compliment her gym workouts: "My first teacher was 79 years old, paralyzed on one side from a stroke, and she basically handed my ass back to me at the end of class! I was in pain for days after! I was hooked."
Her first trip to India took her to Goa where she unknowingly met Nancy Gilgoff. Without any idea about who she was, Emma just saw her as “a cool lady with a long yoga history.” She asked her if it would be worth going to practice at “the source” or should she stay in Goa?
Emma recounts, “I was hoping she’d say Goa... lol! But she didn’t. She said, “I’ll never tell you what to do. But if you’re going to follow this lineage, you should at least meet the man who gave it to you.” I’ll forever be grateful to her that I did.” So at the end of 2003, she made her first visit to Mysore and practiced with Guruji (Sri K Pattabhi Jois) and continues to go back again and again.
Over the years she has had to over come some pretty big challenges with different injuries and the realignment of her physical structure. Her practice has helped her to slow down the onset of osteoarthritis, and heal her body in many different ways.
She writes, “I was born with “knock knees” and flat feet. I wore braces on my knees and corrective shoes as a child; but there was nothing resembling Physiotherapy to help correct the muscle function -- back then they just tried to adjust the bones! Because of that, my knees have always given me trouble. I have oblique tears in both medial, posterior meniscus horns, which is very painful when walking or if I do too much deep flexion of the joint.”
I'm pretty certain that her regular practice does a lot more then keep her body from falling apart - because I've seen her in action, and she really just doesn't stop!
First of all she teaches a regular six day a week (Mon-Sat) Mysore program in the heart of Greek Town on Danforth Aveune -- You can find her schedule and all the details at Mysore Toronto. She has a particular interest in anatomy and helping students to maintain healthy movement patterns so that they can practice without pain - which really is a very important part of this practice!
Secondly, she makes the most beautiful jewelry and sells it online - Malas By Emma. She custom makes special orders, as well as teaches workshops on how to make your very own. I just adore the bracelets and rose-quartz mala I have from her collection - they are just gorgeous! These would make an amazing Christmas gifts - just say'n.
Thirdly, she is busy working as a Voice-Over actor for commercials and videos and as a result has also learned to be somewhat of a sound-editor on top of it!
Every morning, bright and early, she offers an inspiring or encouraging message to her community on Instagram: @mysoretoronto @emmaoneill @malasbyemma - and her words are very motivating!
Start following her if you don't already!
Although I don't know where she finds the time for it - Emma is constantly seeking out continuing education courses in fitness, health and osteopathy. She said that becoming a teacher of Ashtanga Yoga has encouraged her ongoing study anatomy, and reignited a passion for learning, "My goal as a teacher is to help people use this practice to move and live without chronic pain."
I wanted to celebrate her as a woman, a friend, and a teacher in this lineage, because to me she is a huge Wonder Woman in our community - with her hands in all kinds of different pots - and I'm constantly inspired by her dedication and commitment to living life to the fullest!
Kate Sawford- #YOgaheals
At the age of 11, Kate Sawford had a radical and unusual leg amputation following a life-threatening cancer diagnosis. Her surgery was successful, but her survival was still not guaranteed. Only after five years was she declared cancer free.
Today, now, Dr. Kate Sawford is a veterinarian and epidemiologist working in Australia. She has not only traveled the world but is an avid rock climber and Ashtanga yoga practitioner. Having a prosthetic leg has profoundly shaped her experience, but it most certainly has not held her back!
I first met Kate when she walked into my Mysore room in Calgary, AB in 2007. She was a student of mine over the next decade both in Goa India, and Victoria BC. Although she humbly says she is "a slow learner when it comes to drop backs," she has inspired me greatly with her dedication, tenacity, and unwillingness to give up!
She recently started practicing Advanced A series, and if you think she was given a "pass" for any of those troublesome Intermediate Series postures - you would be wrong! This video shows the value of persistence over time - and the smile at the end says it all.
Thank you Kate for sharing this video and for being a huge inspiration not only to me, but to everyone who meets you!
This is her story:
“I was diagnosed with bone cancer in 1993 at age 11. My medical treatment consisted of a year of chemotherapy and a rotationplasty, a salvage procedure that involves removing the knee joint and replacing it with the ankle joint. I am fortunate in that the treatment was curative.
I started practicing yoga in 2007. Like many, I was seeking something. In my case, I was hoping to find relief from years of chronic hip pain that stemmed from the imbalance inherent to having 1.5 legs. It took more than a year of consistent practice, but now the chronic pain is a distant memory.
I have found more through my yoga practice than I ever thought I would. The discipline to get up at 5:15 a.m. (most days of the week), rich friendships with teachers and yoga students, who I’ve met at various workshops and classes over the years, a perspective on my mind when, on occasion, it rattles in its cage. I found a tool for learning to remain present, and a deeper acceptance of my body—something that I struggled to embrace in its altered form for many years.”
In the Ashtanga Community, raising children and taking care of a family is affectionately called "Seventh Series." This is because it is truly the most difficult practice, and it tests our maturity in yoga on a daily basis. This my little boy, Jediah, who inspires me every day to become a more compassionate, patient, and understanding human being. His sense of humor is priceless, and his boundless energy is awe inspiring! He is most certainly a Jedi. I have learn more about myself (good, bad and ugly) from his precious seat in my life than I have ever ascertained from any asana. I am ever grateful to him. His presence awakened the inner experience infinite and boundless love... and isn't this really the experience of Yoga?!