By Gayle Perry, interviewed by Marlene (Matrikaa) Gast
“When I was in 8th grade, I got my first pair of glasses and could see what I hadn’t even known was there before. Similarly, Svaroopa® Yoga Therapy has given me new glasses for looking inward. I can see into my mind and heart as well as my body. I see what I didn’t know I was missing,” recounts Gayle Perry.
Gayle started private sessions with Yogaratna Atmananda (Valerie Light Trautlein) last January. These in-person sessions have continued, even during the pandemic. Both client and therapist follow CDC guidelines, wearing masks and using hand sanitizer throughout sessions. Thus continuing her process, Gayle has experienced full-spectrum transformation.
She explains, “I’ve always put other people first. Ignoring my body, I just pushed through work and family issues. I’ve had back pain and muscle cramping since playing high school softball. Plus, since a car accident 25 years ago, I’ve had neck and shoulder tightness and pain. Neck vertebrae have been fused. I’ve seen a chiropractor twice weekly for several years. Relieving the “pain of the day,” those treatments kept me going from week to week, but just barely. I also tried physical therapy.
“In my generation, ‘no pain, no gain’ was the mindset. I knew my life was stressful, but I could keep it in check by just pushing through. Learning to ignore my body, I took advantage of my youth and athletic strength. I’d never realized that I had a racing mind. But in my first Svaroopa® Yoga class, December 2019, I couldn’t turn my mind off. It just kept going: ‘What about this work problem? Oh, I need to do this.’ As I lay there, I thought I was relaxed but couldn’t really tell. Yet afterward I felt improvement in my neck and back.
“So I realized I must focus on myself first, instead of others. I decided on self-care.”
A month later Gayle began private sessions. Atmananda taught her the Ujjayi breathing practice and gave her Embodyment® Yoga Therapy sessions. In a Spinal Walkup, Gayle recalls, Atmananda described feeling no difference between vertebrae bone and back muscles. They were that tight.
“Then I did a 10-day overlap healing process,” Gayle describes. “In the daily-session phase, I experienced radical improvement. We wrapped up the overlap healing in late March. I continued with yoga classes, then online because of the pandemic.”
However, stress mounted because of the pandemic and family issues. Major relapse (re-tightening) set in. Gayle couldn’t sit without excruciating pain. To take care of basic personal needs, she had to use a walker. So Gayle and Atmananda decided on a second overlap healing series to resolve the crippling hip and back pain. Gayle describes, “Starting at the beginning of May, it took 16 consecutive days to get to the point where I could maintain my opening long enough to move to the every-other-day phase of treatment.” Now, in mid-August, her final step-down phase is concluding.
She says, “Half-way through the overlap, I could tell I was softening as a deeper layer of tension unraveled. I would ask Atmananda about the theory behind certain therapeutic poses. She explained the tight muscles affected, including their location and how they pulled on other muscles and bones to cause my painful spasms.
“Then one day, I had gained a major understanding. Feeling much better and sitting comfortably, I got a call from a family member. After the call I couldn’t move. I hadn’t changed how I was sitting. So I grasped the connections among mind, heart and body. I added vichara (guided self-inquiry) to my healing journey. I did vichara sessions every morning. In the evening, I saw Atmananda in person for physical Svaroopa® Yoga Therapy. I got to a point of looking inward and delving deeper. I got to my own knowing, below the outer issues of life.” Gayle then also enrolled in Downingtown Yoga’s Meditation 101 course online.
“That combination of modalities brought everything together,” she says. “I am out of pain, and I have learned how to stay pain free. My daily practice includes three hours yoga. I do Ujjayi Pranayama, Gurudevi Nirmalananda’s free Japa Club phone calls twice daily, two sequences of Svaroopa® Yoga poses to release my spinal tension, meditation and listening to one of Gurudevi’s free recorded discourses online.
“I no longer stay up late watching TV, crafting or cleaning. Now I make a point of being in bed by 10 pm. I am getting the rest I need. On days when my mind still races, I can get to the place of calm more easily.
“I see the importance of quieting the mind. I recognize the dynamic of the mind and emotions playing in core issues. Aware of my body, I can focus on softening shoulders, neck, back and legs. I’m learning to know when my body has had enough before it’s too much. Now I know I come first. Whatever needs to be done will wait until after I’ve rested. “I don’t exactly know how Svaroopa® Yoga Therapy works. But I believe in it, because I believe what I see.”