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Yoga Is The Key To Unlocking Trauma with Aine O’Regan
We’re going to talk a little bit about Yin Yoga since we got into that.
Taylor, you’re an expert in this. You teach it and you’ve helped me with it. I want to say a couple of things. It’s a yoga practice that helps. It’s based on the floor, so if you have vertigo issues or you have trouble getting up and down a lot like myself, it’s a practice where my weak side, my left side doesn’t have circulation. It causes more blood flow to my left side and gets me into a pose that would last for several minutes and helps me to breathe in and breathe through it. I started with Yin, I moved into some more flows. Why don’t you explain what Yin is?
Yin is going to be a slower paced yoga class. If you are working with any terms of mobility impairments, doing a regular fast-paced yoga class probably isn’t going to land in your system the best. On top of that, what they do in Yin is they use a lot of props, straps, blocks and bolsters to help support the body. You can take a little bit of time to get set up and make sure you feel supported. Then you’re going to sit in a pose generally between three and five minutes, which in a normal yoga class is unheard of. What this allows you to do is to start to feel the benefits of a stretch and release in areas where you might be tight or tense or sore. It allows you to connect with your body on a deeper level than they make time for in a normal yoga class. I like the Yin Yoga class for anyone, especially people with mobility impairments because the world needs to slow down a little bit in yoga class.
It’s a great point, but my left hip was so badly injured because of what’s happened to me. Now I can do a pose and the pain is still there, but it’s gone from a seven or an eight to maybe a two or three sitting in this pose as a high knee. On my knees, scar tissue has built up and it allows the blood flow. It’s like WD-40 in a machine that the lubrication is not there. It lubes my body.
It probably helps too that we’re doing it in a hot room because that’s going to help soften up the tissues and increased circulation. It opens up any of those parts in your body that might get stuck.
When you atrophied like myself or like others who have done, you get down on a pose and then all of sudden you start to feel your spine adjust all by itself. You feel your ribs adjust, you feel everything start to move. The crackling in the ankles and in the wrists. It’s such a beautiful thing because all of a sudden, you’re getting to a pose and you make that one move and go, “I feel so much better now.” I go there to heal. What’s so great is that at Hot 8 Yoga here in Los Angeles, we had an instructor who’s our guest for the show. Aine was teaching us. This instructor is so wonderful because she came by and she gently puts her hands on me and helps me with the stretch. She’ll come behind, she’ll push my back forward. She’ll push my legs a certain way and help me to get into it.
When she did that, it was like getting a deep tissue massage in a short time, but I felt a release. That release allowed me to do a lot more movement, a lot more flow. When I moved throughout the practice in that hour and fifteen minutes, in hot yoga, she made it so much more comfortable. When she moved my body into position, I was like, “I want more of this.” Just talking to her and seeing what her practice is all about. Her practice is all about recovery and restorative. I adore her and she’s a beautiful girl. Her hands are filled with white light.
I would say what you’re getting at is being able to get in that room and move in some capacity and get movement in your body. That tends to be so vital to our recovery and to our health. It’s one of the things I recommend to everyone is find some way to invite movement into your body on a regular basis. That’s going to help you to heal. If you’re interested in that and a few other tips I threw on the website, we got eleven tips, you can go drop your email address over in the website and you’re going to get the eleven tips. One of them is movement, but then there’s a whole host of other ones that you’ll be able to start taking action on.
His tips are incredible. I learned to meditate in restorative Yin Yoga. I didn’t understand it, but imagine you go into a room where you’re cut off from the outside world. Cellphones, computers, technology and you’re allowed to be with your breath. It sounds frightful for someone like me who is type A and who’s an Alpha male and always needing to go. Sometimes you need to chill out and relax and let the body heal. My brain and my stroke are healing faster with Yin than about anything else because it takes a combo of so many things from stretching, to meditation, to breath work and everything that Taylor is talking about. It’s awesome.
We’ll read one of our five-star reviews over on iTunes. It’s called, “Great Podcast, Truly Inspirational” by Lion54LB. “Sean and Taylor talk to amazing guests who have overcome some incredible hardships and are living life to the fullest. Every story is inspirational and they make it fun to listen to. Definitely start listening and you will get hooked.” If you haven’t had the chance, jump over to iTunes and press that subscribe button. That’s the easiest way to help support the show. If you want to go that extra mile, give a five-star rating and review because that’s going to take it that extra step to make us visible to anyone out there in the world who might need to hear us.
Go into Taylor’s email subscription list because what he is doing, Thai Starkovich, our sniper on board here, he is validating it and it works. It’s free. All you got to do is put your email in and you can get his tips sent to you, Eleven Days with Taylor Smith.
What else do we want to say about Aine?
She is young but she’s wise. The girl has been through so much in her life. She has another ship, but if I could someday, I want privacy with her three times a week. I think she would open up my heart and get me focused and centered. We live to go to her classes in Los Angeles here because I know when I go there, I’m getting a massage, I’m getting circulation and I’m getting on a sweat. I’m getting three components all in one. I feel great for at least that evening and it carries me for the next days until I get to go back again.This is what I am supposed to do, give people the chance to be pain-free; whether that is from cancer, stroke, or anything, that doesn't matter. Everyone, whether you are an able body or not, deserves a moment to find freedom from pain. This is… Click To Tweet
One thing that she does well in her practice and the way she teaches is she starts to help people understand how their emotions are tied to what they’re experiencing in their physical body and how the mind and the emotions and all that interconnects. When you start to connect all the pieces, you’re going to get even more benefit out of doing the practice.
When you look in her eyes, she’s connecting you with not just herself, but so many other things. She’s wonderful. I can’t get enough of her. Let’s bring her on.
Aine, welcome to the show. How are you doing?
I’m good. Thank you.
Seany, how are you doing up there?
Aine, we know you from the yoga studio. You are one of the wonderful instructors at Hot 8. Let’s start off with why did you get into teaching yoga?
I started taking yoga probably consistently during early high school years, fifteen and on. My brother at the time was heavily using and going through his addiction and things like that. It was right in his height of using where I kept going to my mat more and more. One day, after high school ended, all my friends went to college and I was alone in LA. I had that feeling. My mom said, “Why don’t you teach?” I laughed in her face and I’m like, “I can’t teach anything.” I get way too nervous. I’m sweating, knee shaking and the whole thing. She said, “You know what you’re doing. You have that natural ability in your body.”
Because movement has been a part of my life forever. I run track and field for about nine years. I played soccer for fifteen. Moving is what I know how to do best and it’s my natural ability. A couple of days later, we kept talking about it and I was sitting outside, she comes up to me and she hands me her credit card and she said, “Do it, sign up. Call right now. I’ll pay for it.”
I was like, “Okay, sure.” I called and I said, “I’m going to do teacher training.” I signed up. I only learned in my last year of high school that I had quite a lot of learning disabilities as well. I only then figured out like, “This is why the school was even harder for me.” Then I got into this yoga learning environment where all of your senses are involved. I had this understanding and everything seem to make sense. Sooner or later it all blossomed. Even when I did my first teacher training, I didn’t think I was going to be teaching Yin. I was just happy to be somewhere that fit and that let me figure out who I was in the long term.
How old were you at the time?
I was eighteen.
You jumped into the teacher training at eighteen and anyone who has never been to a yoga teacher training, most people don’t end up teaching. That’s the statistics on it. From the teacher training, I went to three or four people or maybe five max out of seventeen people end up teaching.
Yoga: In a yoga learning environment, all of your senses are involved.
It takes them a lot longer to get there. They’ll do it and then another five years down the road and they’re like, “I want to teach.”
Right after training, did you jump right into teaching?
No, I got even hungrier for more information because I first started at Core Power. I did their HPF 200 hour. I did their extensions program back to back into Power 200 hour. I did that extensions program. I do level two and then after that I was like, “I’m ready to take this on even more.” Then just as I was still eighteen but about to turn nineteen. I auditioned, started teaching and all that good stuff.
What was your first class like?
It was a crap show. When I had my first audition, I don’t remember my first audition. I completely whacked out. The first class, I remember my manager at the time comes up to me and he’s like, “I don’t want to teach my 2:00 class tomorrow, so you’re going to sub it for me.” I was like, “That can’t be right.” You got to throw them into the gauntlet sometimes. Shooters got to shoot.
I only asked that question because I know the first class is always a crap show. I remember I was teaching my first class and I had memorized the sequence from my teacher. I’m just going to teach this because at least I’ll be able to get through an hour and be successful. I remember I got to the very end, the sun had already gone down. It was dark outside, but I had all the lights on in the room. People are laying down and trying to relax, trying to be quiet. I have hip-hop, pop music playing with all the lights on. I got to the end and I was like, “I made it to the end,” but I didn’t stick the landing. It’s funny because I don’t think anyone ever had a perfect first yoga class.
No, and I don’t think you’re supposed to.
Tell me if you get this feeling, especially at nineteen. I was 22 when I first started teaching, but especially at nineteen, there are probably people who are all much older than you in the room and they’re looking at you to tell them what to do.
I literally had multiple therapy sessions going to my therapist. I am like, “Who is going to listen to an eighteen-year-old girl, small and skinny? What do I know?” It took me a lot of convincing myself that I knew more.
I lacked that for sure. It’s only now 25 and many years into teaching where I’m like, “Now, I can take control of the room and I can understand that seat of the teacher type of thing.”
This was my experience and maybe you can relate to this, is it takes a while for you to find your authentic voice. What I mean by that is I spent a good part of my first experience teaching yoga, playing the role of a yoga teacher. “This is what I’m supposed to do, so I’m going to show up to class with an inspirational quote.” I have people do this, that and the other. Because you see other people do it and you’re almost playing the role but when you step outside of playing the role and you honestly do whatever you want to do in terms of your own teaching style, that’s when people start to go, “I loved your class.” It’s not because you’re playing the role, it’s because you brought your authentic voice within the practice and that’s what people are looking for.
Sometimes still now, there are times where I might struggle with that, but that’s exactly what it is. Through teaching, I found myself. You do all the things that you’re supposed to. Instagram was obviously rolling up there as well at the same time. I made a yoga account that was separate from me. It would only be posting about yoga pictures and things like that. I ended up deleting it because I was having this huge issue inside. I was like, “I’m not just a yoga teacher. I’m more than that.” If I’m trying to brand myself, “I’m not just a teacher in LA.” I feel like I have more to offer than that. My interests are far more than just yoga. Yoga was the launching pad into other things. I ended up deleting that account because I was like, “Maybe if I change the handle, I will feel better.” Because it used to be Redheaded Yogi, but it was like, “I’m more than that. I’m not going to put in a bio everything that I am so I’m going to use my name because that’s all of me.”Just because your physical body might find relief in something, it doesn't mean that your mental body has caught up with that yet. Click To Tweet
You are so funny because as a student who’s handicapped, we’re frightened. We’re scared beyond anything and you guys are at the center of the room. I came in with you, Taylor, the first time and I was like, I’m coming back to my mat. I look at you and go, “This girl’s going to think I’m limping. I can’t use my left arm and I will be a pain in the ass.” I have to be accepting of my body and you’re so gentle on me and you took the time to help me to get into position. Everybody out there who reads this blog, whether or not you’re injured or not, we’re all frightened to step into the class. Once you do it, once I did it for three weeks, it’s like my home now. That mat in there, the heat and listening to you and everyone else, it’s my peaceful time. It’s my hour. There’s no cell phone, there’s no outside craziness and chaos. Aine, your hands, your eyes, your touch helped me and inspired me to say, “I can make it through this.” That’s what’s so sweet. You may not think yourself as a yogi or a healer, but you’re much more than all of that because you look at the body or you’re looking at people and is just nice.
I feel like only within the last few years since my mom’s death that I’ve figured out what I want to do. I went through Yin teacher training and there is a part in one of the reading books that we had to do. It said coming back to wholeness. That along with my experience with my mom when she was sick.
I got two things there. What is Yin? Explain to the audience what is Yin in your words or what you teach. It’s restorative yoga.
No, because restorative yoga deals with the nervous system. I did restorative teacher training a few years ago as well. In restorative yoga, you try to prop up the body in a way that muscles are disengaged, but with the shape that you’re in you still get the physical benefits of a posture without having to put any effort into it. The idea is to get into the nervous system to dive into trauma in the body, whether that’s living in the muscles, living in the nerves, mind all that stuff and allowing the body to feel supported that it can then go into that deeper level of healing. Yin yoga is a little bit more active healing. Sensation isn’t everything. When you’re in a posture, you’re going to find a sensation in your shoulder, in your leg, in your hip flexor or whatever we are working with because you get into deep tissues, deep joints, ligaments and things like that.
If I were to sum it up, what you’re getting at is the restorative is a little bit more about the mental, emotional and nervous system side of healing, versus Yin gets a little bit more into the physical, muscular and deep tissue work.
Healing can be done that way as well because at least for me, I definitely believe all forms of trauma live in the body and you have to revisit them in the body and they manifest in different ways.
How did you come to that conclusion?
Experience and intuition. I believe that your body’s response to illness or death or whatever, how can it not manifest in your body? I don’t know how to describe it. That’s just something that I believe.
I’ve always found that it’s helpful to think about it in terms of how your body is used to moving and then based on that, the way I perceive it is what’s your stress state in terms of your mind and your state of being. Depending on what part of your body you’re physically exercising out while you’re in a state of stress. That stress tends to be accumulated in that part of the body because it’s almost like you are weakening it in the state of stress. You’re creating these cascade of physiological responses, whether it be hormonal or chemical within the body. Then those tend to settle into an area of your body that’s weakened.
The example I would give from my own life is I used to ride a bike to and from work for many years. I would ride a bike 50 miles a week. For me, my legs were always beat up physically. While my legs were being beat up physically, I was also going through very stressful times in my life. Only in hindsight did I realize that those two factors combined into my legs were physically weakened and then I was stressed out. Then that stress was starting to accumulate in these habitual physical patterns that I was creating.
I stopped running after high school. When my mom passed, I was like, “I want to be like Forrest Gump. I just want to run away.” I ended up getting into long distance running and ran away from grief and all that stuff. Funny enough, I got a piriformis injury that happened a few weeks ago.
What’s the piriformis for everyone who doesn’t know?
Your piriformis is a tiny little muscle, deep within your glutes. It helps your legs move laterally. It touches to your hamstring, it can get up into your groin and all that good stuff. I took a yoga class and in the yoga class when the injury happened, I had this huge popping sound and you’re thinking my legs are the strongest ever been. I run all the time. It popped. I laid down on my mat and I got enraged. I’ve never felt so much anger, not being able to point on a cause. I wanted to explode and that’s my experience of emotion being stored in mine.
The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma
It was the grief, frustration and anger of your mom passing and then you’re running. It got built up. Then in the yoga class it released because you are working through those past traumatic injuries.
Like how you were saying, it stores in the weakest part and they are saying in the yoga world, your emotional life lives in your left hip. What happened is it’s all in my left hip.
With people like myself who are handicapped, we store so much of our pain in our joints, our muscles that it’s hard for us to get through it because once we start thinking about, “We’re handicapped and this is what happened.” We go back to the trauma of the event of your mom. I lost my mom too after my stroke. It lives in you because she’s part of who you are, of who I am and it the compounds. The body is made of memories and energy. If you don’t work through that energy, it’s going to store, it’s going to cause more anger, it’s going to cause more rage. I’m the king of rage. I’m sure you understand that. You work with people all the time. That is part of the outer body. As you say Taylor, it’s on the heart. If you can help heal the heart through yoga and through the breath work, then you’re much further along.
I believe that because the heart has a huge influence on the body. They’ve done tests on this. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of this, but they’ve done like electromagnetically your heart produces the biggest energy field. If you’re putting your heart in a state of ease, a state of harmony and a state of health, it’s then communicating that to your whole body. You can do that with any organ system, but the heart tends to be the most impactful directly because it has so much influence on the rest of the system. Another thing I’ll bring up in terms of like emotions being stored in the body. Have you ever heard a book called the Hidden Messages in Water?
No, but I’ve heard of The Body Keeps the Score, which is a great book.
The Hidden Messages in Water was the research of a Japanese scientist who was testing the effect of the written word on paper to water. The way he would do this is he would take a pure water sample and he would put them in different containers. He would write different words like love, gratitude, hate, fear on pieces of paper and he’d tape them onto the bottles of water. What he would then do and you can look this up if you search it on Google, the visuals are what matters, he would then freeze the water and essentially making snowflakes.
He would take a macroscopic photo. He would use a microscope to blow up the image of the snowflake. What he found was that words that were associated with positive emotions created these beautiful crystalline structures in the water. Then words that were associated with negative emotions didn’t structure at all. What it was is it was a scientific study of effectively these different emotional content on water. If you think about yourself as mostly water. They would rationalize that your emotional state has a huge impact on the way your body is constructed. I’m sure people have also heard of studies they have done on plants where they play classical music versus heavy metal and the plants grow better when there’s classical music. The scientist also studied the effects of music on water and pictures and all sorts of cool and interesting stuff. If anyone Google it, check it out. What was the book that you mentioned?
The Body Keeps the Score, I’m only touching into it, but it’s that same idea that we’ve been talking about. It’s that all levels of trauma live in the body and how do you dive into that. How do you let the body release those traumas and come back to wholeness. It’s written by a psychologist, I believe.
In your opinion, is yoga a good way to release?
What’s the difference between hot yoga and regular non-hot yoga?
Nothing, the heat brings a mental challenge to it. Naturally, you’re going to detox more. Also, if you think of your muscles like a sausage, the sausage is encased by this clear film. So are your muscles, which is called fascia. Once you stop in the heat, when fascia gets hot, normally in the cooler yoga setting like we did room temperature, you have to warm the body a lot more. You’re doing a lot more Sun As and things like that. That’s where the breath work becomes so important in a non-heated class to warm the muscles up from the inside out. When the muscles get warm, the fascia, the clear encasing of the sausage gets sticky and gooey. When you’re in the heat, it happens faster. Therefore, you can get into deeper postures sooner because of that.
My back was killing me. I went to Erin’s class of Yin at 7:30 and after that, my back was fine, but I came outraged. I came out pissed off and angry. I was ready to kill Taylor. I was ready to kill Erin. She put me in a posture where literally my left leg was over my right and I felt the spinal twist. She says, “Everything in your body right now, everything dark or whatever, it’s going to now jump off your body onto the mat.” I literally focused on my third eye and saw this darkness leave. It left me so unsettled and unclear because I’m like, “What just happened?” I walked in with pain in my back, but now my brain’s going. Is this common? Do you see that?Yoga is who you are. It's an experience all the time. Click To Tweet
100%, I see that myself all the time.
Explain this to me because I’m still battling with it. I love yoga, but I’m like, “Am I going to come out happy? Am I going to come out sad? Is it a state of mind?”
Your body is trying to process your life experience and just because your physical body might find relief in something, it doesn’t mean that your mental body has caught up with that yet. I always talk that my head says one thing and then my heart says another. Sometimes you have to wait for them to get on the same page.
Taylor, how do you connect to both, the mind, body and spirit? How do you connect the mind and the heart?
My biggest belief is you connect the mind and heart through meditation and a single point of focus. If you train your body to find the single point of focus rather than running around, you create synchronization, you create harmony in the system. If your mind is racing all around and you’re not connected within your own body, you’re going to have disharmony within your own system.
That’s brilliant because in my mind, in the old me before the stroke and still now, if I keep running and going and going, I’m chaos. Then I’m at peace, but I’m not at peace. I am adding more stuff to my pile of trauma.
In a sense, it’s a single point of focus. Running is great. The reason why running is good is because it’s a distraction and in my mind, that’s associated with a state of fight or flight. By running, it’s biologically a state of fight or flight because most of the time when you’re naturally running, you’re running from something. The reason it’s soothing and calming on the mind is because in a state of fight or flight, your mind is biologically wired only to focus on running. You can get out of your emotional state, but you still haven’t addressed the core issue.
I used to run a lot. I missed that runner’s high. Now, that I can’t run, I can get that same high in the Yin class and in the fusion just watching. Because I came to your class a few weeks ago and you guys were doing a lot of stuff. I was having a hard time but Taylor said to stick with it and visualize myself doing it. That was more of a challenge for me to staying in the class and watching because my brain’s going to rewire. Someday, I will be able to do all those moves and I can get into a deeper posture. I’m sorry if I was in a bad space. I was finding my moment in your class.
It’s funny after class, Taylor come up and I was like, “Is Sean okay?”
What does Taylor say? He probably said something profound.
No, he was like, “He’s good. He just needs to figure it out on his own body.” He’s like, “That’s half the practice,” which is true.
I came out and Sean was in the bathroom and Aine goes, “Is Sean going to be okay? I was so concerned that I couldn’t help him more.” I look at her and I smiled and I go, “Half the practice is figuring out how to work within your own body.” As much as it’s hard for you because of what’s going on, it’s good because if you don’t figure it out yourself and this goes with anyone. If you don’t work at understanding your own body from within, you can have people help you, but you’re not integrating and you’re not growing because it’s not happening from inside you.
It’s intimidating. I watched you, Taylor, and you’re doing handstands. You levitate off the ground. You’re doing planks with your pinky. Your down back hits the ceiling and you come back and I got to realize that that’s you and this is my body. I have to accept myself for who I am at this moment in time. What you do is you bring the piece to all of it.
Yoga: Whether you’re an able body or not, you deserve a moment to find freedom from pain.
I got a tough one, Aine. We’ve been hinted at it, but we haven’t gone all the way in. Would you mind sharing with our audience about your mother and what she went through and what you went through in the process?
My mom got diagnosed with lung cancer stage 4 on April 29, 2015, and by November 22, 2015, she passed. I remember a couple of weeks. One of my mom’s sisters lives in Ireland. The other two, she was one of four that ended up coming here and living in America as well. When the news happened that she was sick, family comes in. My Aunt Rachel and my dad, I remember come home from seeing my mom at the hospital and I had just come back from teaching. My dad doesn’t even cry. He is very stoic and I could tell that something heavy was weighing on him. He said that her cancer is terminal. Even to this day sometimes it’s still hard to process because I remember at one point that there was hope. You latch onto that as hard as you can. Quite quickly, once my mom got diagnosed, she started doing radiation and chemo. Then when she went into one of her radiation treatments, she was like, “I don’t feel well. I feel light-headed.” She started having heart palpitations.
They took her across the street, did a scan on her heart, “Your heart is encased by some type of sac and within that was fluid. We have to go into immediate heart surgery to empty out this fluid.” It was her right lung, I believe, that had cancer. What they would normally do is go through over the right lung to the heart, but they didn’t want to do that because it was already having trouble as it is. They went into the left, basically collapse the lung to get to her heart to empty out the fluid. I remember seeing my mom coming out. She was there smiling and was like, “Am I okay?” I was like, “You look good.” I see this guy with this huge jug with this winey color fluid. I was like, “That’s toxic. I don’t know what that is, but that’s not good.” After that she was fine. They put her on oxygen and all that stuff. Shortly after she couldn’t breathe on her own, so they had to put her on life support. She was on life support for two weeks.
I remember being at the hospital at one point, they were like, “We’re going to dial back the life support if she doesn’t start breathing on her own. This is it.” I was like, “What just happened? What do you mean this is it? We didn’t even get the chance to fight back.” She comes out of it on her own, but I remember that it was hard because she was still there. I remember going in to visit her and she would write notes like “I’m hungry.” I’m like, “I can’t do anything. You have to take control and get this life support off of you. We’ll feed you, but you have to do it.” She did. She started breathing on her own which the doctors didn’t think is going to happen at all. We got through that hump. She finally gets home and because she was on that for two weeks, she lost all her muscle mass, all that stuff. She started doing occupational therapy and she was in a wheelchair and she had to use the walker.
We also had in our house a hospital bed for her because she refused to lay in her own bed. She’d never wanted to lay flat because she was too scared that if she laid down like that would be it. Anytime she was sleeping it was propped up. The bed was always at an angle. I remember going into her after she had a nap one time, she was uncomfortable. I was like, “Let’s fix this because you’re physically uncomfortable, which is causing you anxiety, anger, depression, all those things that happen.” I went in there and I was like propping her pillows. She was like, “My feet are starting to swell” because she wasn’t walking as much as she used to. I’m like, “Yoga drain, legs up the wall pose, drain the fluid from the legs.” I was like, “Let’s prop your legs up, prop your arms up so you feel supported, get your chest up.”
A restorative yoga pose in a hospital bed is what I gave her. Similar to you, my mom trusts me through and through. Once I got her there, I saw her energy changed. She let go a little bit. It was in that moment where I was like, “This is what I’m supposed to do. Give people the chance to be pain-free.” Whether that is from cancer, stroke or anything, it doesn’t matter. Everyone, whether you’re an able body or not, deserves a moment to find freedom from pain. That was for me when I saw my mom, I was like, “That’s what I’m supposed to do. That’s why I’m here.”
You got it. That’s what I felt when you touched me in Yin and you helped me adjust my body. I’ll say this to the audience. It wasn’t just you. I felt your mom almost come down and through your hands because it’s very hard for people to understand people like myself, if you’re not experienced what they say, which to me is crap. You have a gift and that gift is wonderful. That gift also came because you watched and you helped your mother pass.
Thank you so much for having the courage to share your story and be vulnerable. You said it was that a-ha moment in that where you realized this is what I’m supposed to do. I’m curious to hear after that moment, how did your personal yoga practice shift and how did the way you started teaching yoga shift?
Less is more.
I hate you because I always think the more I go, the more I do, the better I’ll be, but it’s not true. That’s what Taylor and Gloria and everybody have been saying to me, “Slow down. Take it down from 125 to 55.” It’s true.
After my mom passed, I went into restorative yoga trainings that were my first learning experience. I’m taking classes, but we get caught up in that yoga is postures. It is a thing that you do. Yoga is who you are. It’s an experience all the time. I’m in yoga right now sitting here on a microphone. Doing a posture is one tiny square in this immense universe. That for me in particular, I needed the movement a lot. I needed that heavy Vinyasa Practice. I needed to move and I needed to be vigorous. When I was dealing with my brother and that addiction, that’s what I needed. That was the taste of what launched me forward. As I continued, I was like, “I can still do yoga and be yoga without having to always burn myself out the type of way.” It’s a state of being. It’s not necessarily posture all the time.
I have a funny story to tag on to that when I first started doing yoga. I didn’t do much yoga until I moved to LA. I was a chef and I had a degree in film and television. I left it all behind and started doing yoga. I remember when I first moved here, I didn’t understand the practice. I barely knew it, but I was dead set. This was my attitude. I was dead set. I’m going to do every posture 100% relentlessly. I’m going to go to two or three classes a day. I remember I got to a point in my own practice where I went to a class and I was in a chair pose, which your legs are together, you’re squatting down while you’re sitting in a chair. My low back was killing me. I went to the teacher afterwards and I go, “I’ve been practicing, I’m learning but my low back is killing me. How do I modify and adjust to relieve that in this pose?” He looks at me, he laughs. He goes, “Have you ever tried not trying so hard?” I was like, “Nope. I haven’t tried that one.”
That is huge because our show is about giving someone a chance at their house or wherever they may be. We have people from all over the world and everyone’s always asking me, “What do you do next? What’s your next therapy?” What you just said is less is more, stop trying so hard, find your third eye or find your breath.Be the best that you can, and everything else will fall into place. Click To Tweet
I’ll finish this story, which is how that evolved me. It didn’t happen overnight, but where it evolved me was a deeper understanding of the yoga practice, which in my mind is about creating a relationship with yourself. Understanding when you need vigor, when you need to push it because sometimes you do and when you need to lay down on the floor and do nothing. Understanding that relationship with yourself and when you need this versus that is core to the practice.
It’s having that open conversation with yourself, that open line of communication and being honest, “Do I need to do 5,000 chaturangas which is like a triceps pushup?” “No.” Do one really well and move on that. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing all the time.
My practice nowadays, I’ll skip a lot of chaturangas. I’ll skip a lot of push-ups. I’ll do things from my knees. For a longest time, I thought that was a sign of weakness to like, “I’m going to go to my knees, but I should be doing the push-ups because it’s manly and it’s strong,” and when you separate your ego from the equation.
Your ego is not your amigo.
My ego fights with me all day long.
It is the same thing as creating a relationship with yourself, but you are creating a relationship with your ego. You are creating a situation where it is working with you instead of working against you. For me, at least it was a long time that it was working against me. I thought more is more. If I do 1,000 push-ups, eventually I will be able to do a handstand. I found honestly that visualization and slowing down and paying attention to the small details of the movements and what is happening inside your body is more impactful for progression than slamming your head against the wall.
It goes back to that connecting mind and body, heart and body and all those things. It is coming back to this idea of wholeness.
Your mom passed in 2015. I know you said that you found like, “This is what I want to do is help people get out of pain.” How do you teach a class now that that is like more encompassing and embodying of that philosophy?
I think I’m still figuring that out. With you Sean, I remember the first time you stepped in my class because I haven’t had that experience before. This is going to be a learning experience for me. I don’t know if you remember, but for the first couple of classes I left you alone. I need to see where you are physically and mentally. Do you want my help? Do you not want my help? That’s how I read the room because all the time we’ve got different people. Every time you step on your mat, it’s a new body. It’s a new mind. I don’t know what I’m dealing with. In that one particular Yin class, I couldn’t tell you why I was like, “I’m going to rub his feet.” It’s just something that I went to like, “If you’re spasming, this is not comfortable. We’re not going to let you sit here.”
You took away all the pain in that class. I’m coming back. Afterwards, we got in the car and I said, “She is a healer.” I think I knew about your mom, but I said “Those weren’t just her hands. There were several hands touching me at the same time.”
Which is interesting because you guys don’t know this, but in 2015, I lost my mom. 2016 January, I lost her older sister, my auntie Barbara. Then in 2017, my dad’s youngest brother passed as well. I think they’re all with me.
I noticed a shift in you from when we first met to that class where you were helping Sean. It seemed like you were more grounded, more centered, more at ease than I had seen in a while, which was cool to see. I remember, he said, “She’s a healer.” I was like, “Something has shifted within her and there’s more showing up than there ever has been. It was awesome and beautiful to watch. Almost like the progression of your practice as a teacher and as a yogi developing. In anyone’s practice, being able to see them evolve is very fun.
Even though I had that a-ha moment in 2015. It has taken me three years to be like, “I know what I want. How do I go get in? How do I bring this to the community, the people that need it?” Just over time with you guys coming into my class and building that simple relationship of trust. I was like, “Now I can show up for you in a way that I couldn’t,” because as a teacher it’s very draining energetically. If I’m not feeling good, I’m not going to touch you. I’m not going to adjust your body. I’m not going to give you that crap that I’m carrying. I have to be in a state of ease or a state of calm or groundedness this to be able to approach another body.
Yoga: Every time you step on your mat, it’s a new body. It’s a new mind.
We’re coming up on the end of our time. We had a blast talking to you, but I have a question we ask everyone, what’s your inspiration?
My family and my mom.
I figured that would be it, but I wanted to ask anyway just to give you that. Do you want to elaborate on that and like how they inspire you or do you just want to leave it?
You got to fight for what you want, whatever your dreams maybe. Go get them 110% and the rest will fall into place. That’s how my mom always lived her life too. She was like, “If you want to grow potatoes for your life, grow the best potatoes you can.” Be the best that you can, everything else will fall into place and living by that. As I said, everyone deserves freedom from pain. That’s my motto.
“Here’s my credit card, go do a yoga teacher training.” She began it all for you. It’s amazing to see how much influence and impact she’s had on you and how that carries into your practice and carries into how you interact in the world. In my opinion, she lives on through you and through your family, but especially you, because she was so integral in helping you become who you are.
We had Mark Nelson who is a psychic medium. His belief is that the consciousness survives the body, whereas the body is almost just a physical vessel for the consciousness and that goes on and it lives on in spirit.
I would have to agree.
Thank you so much for coming on. It was amazing to talk to you.
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About Aine O’Regan
Aine O’Regan began took her first Yoga teaching class at the age of 18. In November 2015, Aine’s mother lost her battle to cancer. Aine was faced with her grieving while teaching Yoga to others. She shares her experience and intuition on how all forms of trauma live in the body and how one must re-visit them because they manifest in different ways.