I was rollerblading over the Brooklyn Bridge in the spring of 1995 when a long thin blonde fellow passed me on his bike.
It took me a minute to realize that this was a friend of mine and another minute or two of skating and shouting to catch up to him.
“You look great!” I said.
“I’m doing yoga.” He said.
“I’ll be there tomorrow.”
Clearly, I wasn’t a physical mess as rollerblading over the Brooklyn Bridge; and skating around New York City was my main mode of transportation.
But on another level I was an aimless 32 year old waiter/carpenter with lots of drive to do, but little ambition to accomplish.
Maybe yoga could provide some insight.
Long before that, at the tender age of six my mother would drop me off at the Canarsie Y in Brooklyn, for a weekly yoga/tumbling class.
My main memories were being able to do splits to the amazement of the teachers and doing back flips while tied into a harness…
...and... I didn’t really want to be there.
I would have preferred to be playing in the park with my boyfriends (pre-puberty) rather than be stuck in a room with a bunch of girls in leotards.
Almost 30 years later, walking into the Jivamukti Yoga Center on Second Avenue in Manhattan that weekend after seeing my friend on the bridge, it was a different story—
I was home.
It wasn’t the incense or the chanting, though I did feel an odd affinity for the monkey who was on display in many pictures around the center…
...but a sense memory of an innocent childhood that was left behind but clearly not forgotten.
Not to delve too deeply into my neuroses and the source of what turned my world upside down but the long and short of it is I quit school and left home around my 16th birthday…
... setting off in search of action and adventure fueled by the literature of Hunter Thompson, Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs.
I travelled the country selling T-shirts at rock concerts and did my best to live the way my hero’s did.
It made for a very fun adolescence followed by a mellowing that included writing the two worst novels ever committed to paper…
...running a theater company without any prior experience (it didn’t go so well)
...a successful stint as a horticulturist and the aforementioned food service and carpentering.
In the end it took some suffering for me to find my calling for there is no better teacher than suffering.
I was moving through second series ashtanga (an advanced form of yoga) when my knee pain began.
You see, I was born with very loose joints and was always able to hyperextend my knees.
Hyperextension is when you take a joint beyond its normal range of motion.
And no one told me not to do that in yoga.
Arguably, I went deeper in many poses at the expense of integrity and alignment. Which was cool in a way.
But it also brought the pain.
And the doctors appointments.
And physical therapy.
And finally surgery.
Now, it might have been nice if I learned my lesson from one surgery but I have never been a fast study.
After three surgeries and a year and a half of physical therapy I stepped back and took a longer look at what I was doing to my body.
Leaving school early was no accident for me as my Mother told me I even hated kindergarten.
But I never hated learning—it just had to be at my own pace on my own terms.
So following those surgeries I bought a library of anatomy books...
Signed up for yoga teacher training...
And met my future wife!
We finished teacher training hungry for more learning and we were lucky enough to hook up with an amazing teacher who taught yoga therapy trainings…
...which were the springboard for a great deal of my learning and subsequent understanding of the deep subtleties of the body.
We opened a yoga center in Brooklyn, NY, and lucky for me there was a long hallway that students had to walk to get to sign in.
It was there that I started noticing how people walked. And to be more specific, how badly people walked.
But here was the interesting part.
They did what I told them in yoga, aligning their body's correctly...
... and then I would watch them return to the same bad walking pattern to leave the studio.
How crazy is that?
This in turn led me to start watching the way people moved outside of class as well as inside.
And I realized something incredibly profound:
No One Knows How To Walk!!!!
Walking became an obsession of mine as I sought to help people take yoga off the mat into their daily lives.
That's why I created the CoreWalking Program . To take yoga off the mat.
But something more interesting happened.
People started finding pain relief of all types by changing the way they walk and stand.
And without knowing it, my life's work appeared in my 40's after years of wandering and wondering if it would ever arrive.
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