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jen yoga beach
Dave Gerlits

Dave and I first met when I gave him a bodywork session at Kripalu in Healing Arts. Dave then signed up for the newsletter and has incorporated it into his life ever since. He is so kind, open, relaxed and sincere, and when I met his wife, Bobbi, she was the same. I wondered how they lived their lives to embody these beautiful qualities, and asked Dave if he would share a little with us. And isn’t it about time we had a man in the Spotlight?

“In 1977 I graduated college and began to practice Transcendental Meditation — seated meditation on a sound or word. I had a strong practice and meditation gave my mind a way to relax tension and anxiety. But I still could feel it in my throat, chest and diaphragm. And when I hold tension in my body,it also affecting me mentally and psychologically. At that time in my life, I was less confident and more fearful. I joined the Navy to see the world and then saw it through a periscope! In the Navy I studied nuclear power. I always had a desire to cultivate both sides of myself — the mystical and the scientific.

Growing up, my father was an alcoholic. I learned to hold everything inside. I was in a state of flight or fight and would freeze, retreat. I wasn’t breathing. I would try to disappear. It was when I began practicing yoga postures that the avenue opened up for real communication to occur between my body, mind and heart. My wife Bobbi and I have been going to Kripalu nearly every quarter since 2007. I’ve found the reflective atmosphere parallels my inner process of evolving.

Kripalu is a community of self-selected people who come really wanting to be there. What is so powerful is that I hear my own story coming out of someone else’s mouth every time I am there. I am looking for a way to evolve where I can open up to all of life. Yoga has allowed me to get out of my head and into life.

Yoga has been a miraculous doorway to rediscover my body. Now I take a nurturing and understanding approach with myself and use yoga to self-sooth. I react less. I no longer retreat, withdraw, or hold a ball of anxiety within. When I am triggered, I am able to witness the process of how my body is responding. And from this place of witness, I can decide where it goes from there. This is not an intellectual thing – far from it. It comes from a place of body, mind, and heart.

Yoga allows me to go inward and reclaim parts of my body that I had exiled, parts of myself and things I liked to do. I had lost touch. Yoga has allowed me to build resilience and bounce back. I can be who I want to be and return to that calm locus of control. The result is that I more quickly and easily untie knots of anxiety that happen from work and living life. I feel more confident and at home in my body.

All of this has helped my work for a new generation of safer nuclear power. I had to give a speech/testimony about plant safety in Washington, and had I been younger I’d have wanted to hide! I told myself “I’m going to take good care of myself and I will do yoga right before if I need to calm myself.” And I did just that. I found an empty room and practiced the moon salute yoga flow over and over again until I calmed down. A guard looked into the room while I practiced, and I told him I was doing yoga. He said “Cool!” I felt the knots untie and felt more myself. I felt like the “Warrior Mystic” bringing my yoga practice right into the heart of technology. I am learning not to be shy or hide my yoga practice, but embody it, share it and love it out loud.

I love- love- love Jennifer’s newsletters. Radiant Being is so densely packed with information that I use to assist myself day to day. I’m always digesting the newsletters. I keep them in the Evernote program on my computer and sort the topics out so I can quickly pull them up. I liked the theme of the Five Elements and going through one at a time was a powerful experience for me. The last Student Spotlight with Sue Keane was so moving.

The Radiant Being newsletters have become a good resource – a library of wisdom. I’ve begun using some of the practices and I save some for the future for when I will be ready for them. That feels good – to have a direction and a roadmap of practices I can do at home to keep me tuned in and dissolve the tension away.

Jennifer’s newsletters have opened me up to new and different kinds of experiences – seeing energy flows and feeling new things in my own body that Jennifer wrote about on the elements. I have been doing an energy healing practice called Therapeutic Touch my whole life and am part of a healing circle at church offering free energy work. After the ‘Fire Element’ issue of Radiant Being, the things I read and learned washed through me, and then I had a felt experience of my own fire element during our healing circle. It was amazing how it came up as I was working on someone and felt an internal map and points of heat, fire element, and I could control it by moving my body slightly. It gave me a new understanding about energy, elements, yoga, healing and how it’s all related.

I really enjoyed practicing Yoga Nidra with Jennifer when she led a session during “Afternoon Yoga” at Kripalu and I look forward to sharing it with other members of my family.

These practices help me to stay integrated. Yoga gives a quiet mind and allows my body to relax, and I am able to move into my body and experience life with greater compassion.”