You don't know people until you talk to them.
It has been a blessing to me that Byron and Gwen Holler have been attending my yoga nidra classes for a couple of years.
It wasn't until recently that we had time to strike up a conversation. I thought it was very cool that this couple would attend yoga nidra regularly. Many students do come often. They discover the very tangible benefits of conscious deep sleep – the ability to "let go" and connect with the healing core of their being.
Yoga nidra is spiritual, physical and practical. It's a guided meditation that offers great healing powers. We don't move. In fact, we remain as still as possible while journeying through the body until we are in the space of "turiya", what the ancient yogi's call pure consciousness…fully present, yet in deep rest. There are many positive effects from a yoga nidra practice. i.e., physical and emotional healing, better awareness, a relaxed and calm disposition, deeper rest and more energy to name a few.
Often after attending yoga nidra, Byron and Gwen will stay for the next class, a level one yoga class designed to engage people in the fundamentals of yoga. It occurred to me that it was kind of special that they would stay for another hour or so to expand their practice and even expend their energy after a nidra session.
One day recently, we started talking. They told me that they not only do yoga often, but also have a massage every other week. Both of them! Together! In fact, they've been having massage therapy for 20 years. It started as once per month and now they have it every other week. Byron eventually built a couple of massage tables, so they often massage each other on the perfect apparatus.
When I learned about this serious commitment to self-care, I had to ask them some other questions to see how they had arrived at this point.
Byron and Gwen just celebrated 30 years of marriage. To celebrate, they are going to Italy in October for a yoga retreat.
It was Gwen who first started a yoga practice and Byron followed several years later. Gwen has scoliosis and from the time she was young, suffered with back problems and a lot of pain. She learned early on that certain physical movements such as exercise were helpful in the management of her pain, so she has always stayed active.
She started practicing yoga 15 years ago at her office and found that it helped her back and gave her some peace.
Byron had his own health issues. He has been a house renovator as a master carpenter and master cabinet maker since the early 70s. He suffered a lot of injuries. In addition, he contracted Lymes disease and dealt with chronic fatigue. Back in the 70s, Byron practiced Transcendental Meditation to cope with some of his issues. It helped him deal with life and gave him peace, but he quit after about eight years.
Slowly but surely, through the practice of yoga, they have adopted a healthier lifestyle. They no longer eat meat – except for fish. Gwen walks three to four miles per day and attends yoga classes four to five times per week. She is 59-years-old and feels better than ever.
Byron said that yoga nidra, in particular, has been a tremendous help to him. Gwen affirms that when Byron is consistent in his practice, he is calmer, nicer and less reactive. He credits his practice of yoga nidra for getting back to his meditation practice. He feels he's a better person and can deal with situations in a calm manner. It also helps him to get a deeper night's rest and let go of worries or concerns.
He uses a mantra that was given to him back in the 70s by a master meditation guru. He doesn't know the meaning, but continues to use it and he's confident it's assisting him in his spiritual journey. Since re-igniting his meditation practice, Byron has become keenly aware of certain things like receiving special messages from beyond. He's a very practical guy, but he also listens to his deepest self to determine what his actions will be. At 65, he is fit as a fiddle!
While most people view massage as a special treat, those who are educated on the subject know that it is more of a therapeutic tool, much like yoga. Gwen and Byron both used to see a chiropracor regulary but don't anymore. Yoga and massage have been the tools that help keep them pain free. Gwen feels her back "self-adjust" while doing yoga and credits the practice with keeping her back healthy.
The couple are looking after Gwen's mother who is older and needs a lot of care. They are motivated to stay well so they can be care givers (in addition to working) and remain healthy and happy as long as possible.
I asked them how they have stayed together for so long. They both agreed couples need to keep trying. Keep working at it. Gwen's philosophy is to always be willing to use these three words: Please, Thank you and I'm sorrry. Byron's philosophy is to always communicate, compromise and treat people with respect.
This self-care couple is an inspiration to me. I will be sticking with my yoga and getting more massages for sure!