Join us in a conversation with James Kwako, MD, family physician, integrative medicine practitioner, Instructor at the Center for Lifelong learning and author. He has served on the boards of the American Holistic Association and...
Middle of The Road
Every year, I try to give my studio a little perking-up in some way. It can be as simple as just a thorough cleaning to refinishing the wood floor. This year, over our winter break, I decided that after five years it was time for some fresh paint on the walls. Now, this task is kind of a stressful one for me because I am always so indecisive about colors, and I never seem to be able to get it right even after I’ve decided on a color. It is either too dark, too light, too…something. This time was no exception; the first color that I chose mimicked a Mylanta bottle, so then I moved on to a lovely shade of what turned out to be hospital green. None seemed to work.
After washing out my paint brush and roller half a dozen times, I finally sat down, took a breath, and started thinking about what type of energy I wanted my studio to project. I teach hath a yoga — ha (sun), tha (moon). That prompted me to think about how I wanted the stimulating energy of the sun and the calming energy of the moon. The choice became obvious — gold. It is also a powerful color for the third chakra that is closely associated with our personal empowerment. Perfect! Back to the paint store, where I found a stunning color of gold. But after painting a small patch on the wall, I realized it was not going to provide the energy I had in mind; in fact, it looked a little like a school bus! However, after toning it down a bit, I found the perfect gold!
It was stimulating, calming, and empowering all at the same time.
A few days later, I was looking for music for my first hatha class after the winter break, and again the indecisiveness came back to visit. I wanted something to complement the new color and energy of the room. Smooth jazz, I finally decided — stimulating, calming, powerful.
At this point, I realized that this was way more than just choosing paint colours and music. This was where I was in my life, walking a line between stimulating and calming, and finding this powerful energy there!
For years I have taught classes that range from restorative, quiet and calm to strong, vinyasa flow. This was because I was the only yoga teacher for miles, and I have realized that I have always been somewhere in the middle of the road with my yoga practice. Perhaps it would have been different had I been strictly restorative, or strictly vinyasa, but out of necessity I have had to learn and apply both. As a result, I have gained strength in every aspect of my life.
Years ago, my little yoga studio was a feature in Fit Yoga magazine, Hometown Yoga. In the article, one of my students made the comment that my classes were relaxing and rejuvenating at the same time. I was flattered that she felt that way but really didn’t fully absorb what she was saying. I get it now. Yoga is about balance, and when we can live in this stimulating “push me, pull me” world, and balance it with that moment of calmness in the middle between “push me, pull me”, there is an empowerment of body, mind, and spirit. Like the rest stop between our heartbeat or the pause between the inhale and exhale. These are all examples of power in the middle. So powerful that if one is hit in the chest between heartbeats it can kill.
My practice and teachings have always been about balance. About empowerment. About accepting where you are — and, as it seems, for now I am somewhere in the middle.