by Mark Wheat
Many of you might know me from such radio stations in the Twin Cities as KFAI, Radio K and The Current. But what I never talked about on air, between all the cuts of great music, was my yoga practice. It started to germinate when I met my wife Maren, just after the turn of the century. She’d been doing Vinyasa for many years and took me to my first class at the St. Paul Yoga Center in 2001. But I wasn’t ready to begin the journey then, I stopped going regularly after acknowledging the great physical benefits, and yet not realizing the spiritual potential of the practice.
STARTING AT THE YOGA CENTER OF MINNEAPOLIS
By the time I was fifty in 2010 I was in need of some help, both physically and spiritually. Because I lived in downtown Minneapolis, it seemed logical to start weekly classes at the Yoga Center of Minneapolis, then in the second floor studio above Martin Patrick in the North Loop. I loved the huge arch window looking at the Monte Carlo across the street. It was there that my eyes were opened to the wonderful connection between my own body and mind that is possible through yoga. By the time that space closed and moved to the corner of 1st Ave. and 2nd St., I was doing 2 or 3 classes a week, mainly with my longest standing teacher, Cheri Hannigan. She’d introduced a lot of the spiritual and philosophical background of yoga to me, reading Rumi, doing short meditations and even singing to me in class once, on my birthday!
To deepen my practice, in 2012 and 2013 I took two weekend workshops at Kripalu Yoga Center in MA. Stephen Cope led the yoga class and Sharon Salzburg taught her Loving Kindness method of meditation. At Kripalu, when you took the regular Vinyasa classes, they would always end with 10 or 15 minutes of meditation. So it was there with Sharon’s help that I really connected with the art of sitting and realized that I should try to create a daily practice, to help deal with the stress of my career and prepare me to be more PRESENT on the radio!
When the Yoga Center of Minneapolis closed in 2018 I followed Cheri to Kula Yoga in Linden Hills to continue taking her Saturday classes. It was there that I added some Vinyasa classes during the week taught by Kim Tatum. In 2018 she spent 6 weekends in Boulder, CO for the Avita Teacher Training course with its creator Jeff Bailey. When she started her Avita classes at Kula Yoga I was immediately impressed with the potential to use it, not only to continue gaining its physical benefits but because of the meditative quality of it. Now that I’m in my sixties, it’s the only style of yoga that I do. It provides regular exercise, stretching and lots of lovely work on the joints! And the amount of time I meditate has increased significantly too. It works!
coming full circle
During the Introductory Workshop on Feb .18th I will detail some of the personal benefits that I’ve experienced, and retell some of the wonderful stories that the students in Boulder have now passed on to me, during the year I have spent training with Jeff. It really is a style that is more approachable both to long-term yoga students who now need a slower more restorative modality and to students who have never done any yoga at all, but who might have issues with aging, especially around the joints. It’s up to us to explore ways we can gracefully enter the mature years of our lives, without losing the flexibility, balance and peace of mind that a regular Avita Yoga practice can help sustain.
You can register here for Mark’s Intro to Avita workshop on February 18th. He will be begin teaching Avita yoga every week starting in March 2022.