Yogi योगी Insight (part 2 in a series)

If you are coming here for the first time, you have entered part 2 in a series about aspiring and experienced yogis’ journeys. I hope that you enjoy it and follow along. Namaste!

I met Gina in college up north when I was working at an alternative rock radio station. I looked up to her and thought she was very cool, which still holds true today! Fast-forward a few years (alright, more than a few years  :/ ) I learned that Gina became a yoga instructor with a faithful following.

Gina Galli

Photo by Gina Galli

Yogi: Gina Galli
Studios: Antigravity Yoga Lab in Emmaus, PA | Steel Fitness in Bethlehem, PA | The Center for Better Bones

Q: Who or what influenced you to take up yoga?
A: 
Yoga has been in and out of my life for several years. My first so-called “yoga experience” came when I was in college and I was taking a Modern Dance class and the instructor said today we are going to do yoga. I thought it was kind of weird, but I sort of like how I felt afterward. I don’t think I did yoga again until I was in my mid-20s when I went to Sedona, Arizona, with my brother and we took a yoga class. I remember having a strong spiritual and euphoric feeling. In my 30s I took a regular yoga class when I started competing in long-distance road cycling events. The trainer and another friend recommended hot power yoga classes as part of my training. I started to incorporate a Baptiste Style practice and I fell in love with the physical aspects of yoga.

Q: How long have you been practicing yoga?
A: I would say regularly for about 14 years.

Q: You shared through social media that you have a new beautiful dedicated yoga space in your home. Who or what influenced you to create it?
A: I was teaching a couple of private yoga students. My boyfriend decided we were going to finish our basement and that he wanted to build a small yoga space for me so that I could teach private sessions and small classes.

Q: How long have you been teaching yoga?
A: I have been teaching yoga since 2012 and AntiGravity (Ariel yoga) for a year and a half.

Q: What is your favorite style of yoga to teach?
A: I love teaching very physical, sweaty hot yoga classes. I’m trained in Hatha yoga and I love when I have the opportunity to connect a physical practice with the more spiritual side of yoga. However, AntiGravity is a totally different experience altogether. It’s my “playtime” where I get to feel freedom in my body in no other way I can feel it in any other place in my life. ex. aerial yoga/silks

Q: What is your mission as a yoga teacher?
A: My mission as a teacher is for my students to move in ways physically and mentally in which they feel stronger — empowered to move through fears and/or anything that may be holding them back. I love when one of my students says “I got what I didn’t even know I needed” out of your classes. I am blessed to be able to pursue my passion for yoga and help people in my professional job. I work for Dr. Susan Brown, a nutritionist, and we treat clients who have low bone density and bone health conditions like Osteoporosis. Yoga is a form of exercise they can do to help stretch, strengthen and build stronger bones. They are fearful and my mission is to help them overcome their fear. In addition, I want to connect, create and be part of an amazing community of like-minded people through yoga.

Q: What aspect of teaching yoga are you most passionate about?
A: The healing benefits of yoga — when students come to a class and they are physically struggling through illness or an injury and they find relieve and release through the teachings.

Q: What aspect of practicing yoga are you most passionate about?
A: I love how yoga can be ever changing. I personally embrace the spiritual journey of yoga and incorporate components of it into my daily life. I read the Yamas and Niyamas often and try to stay true to Patanjali’s eightfold path.

Q: What is most challenging for you as a teacher?
A: I am devoted to teaching yoga and I look forward to every opportunity I have to lead a class. It is a privilege and an honor. When the room is filled I shine, but those moments where nobody shows up to class or you have one person and then you never seem them again are rough. I try not to let it get me down or take it personally. Even if I only have one person in my class, I make sure that one person gets the best class!

Q: What is most fulfilling for you as a teacher?
A: Seeing a yoga room filled with students and then at the end when they come and talk with me and share how they feel is great. It is very rewarding to know that you were able to provide your students with a release, relive and relaxation. I love teaching yoga — the helping and healing aspects fill my cup!

Q: How do you come up with your themes, intentions, sequences?
A: I consider myself a continuous student in developing my own self. I’m always reading, journaling and studying. I often bring my studies into class for themes. I have a life coach and we talk about many areas of development and she often inspires my teachings.

Q: Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years in the discipline of yoga?
A: I hope to still be teaching. I’m 50 years old and I have some limitations and injuries that do not allow me to move in ways I did in my 40s. My personal goal is to stay active into my 90s! I started teaching at retreats with Dr. Susan Brown and focusing on the many benefits of yoga for the aging body. In the fall we will roll out the Better Bones Exercise Evolution channel where you can subscribe to our videos on Better Bones Exercise Evolution. I’m looking to expand and travel to help women age gracefully and comfortably, and inspire them to keep moving!

Take It to the Limit … One More Time

VA Momentum: SUPTri (first annual), Bridgewater, Virginia
25 Miles Total  
140 Participants
Bib #46

The day came for me to participate in the last of the three big races I set as my healthy comeback goals for 2017. My mind was in overdrive thinking about the bad weather, the nervousness of doing my first triathlon, and a sadness that the major fitness ambitions I had been working tirelessly to achieve were coming to an end. My friends Beth, Sarah and Leslie were with me to also compete in the triathlon. We arrived at the starting point, and got our bikes and other gear situated in the transition areas. Then, we put timing bracelets around our ankles (which looked like house arrest devices).

Beth, Sarah and Leslie had an earlier wave, so they got on their paddle boards and lined up at the starting point for the first leg of the race. The Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) portion was one mile on a section of the North River in Bridgewater. The flash floods the previous night caused the water level to be high. I did my best to focus on paddling my arms off, instead of being distracted by the intimidating rough waters.
SUP Completion Time: 16:22, 1 Mile

I hustled to the transition station to dry my feet, put on my socks and sneakers, and hop on my bike as fast as I could to start the cycling portion. This leg of the race was described as a “beautiful ride through the countryside”. The scenery was indeed beautiful, BUT the hills were arduous and the rain was relentless. I never biked for that many miles in that bad of weather before. It truly tested my spirit. At one point I saw a massive brown cow along a fence line and I swear it was giving me the side-eye. That’s when you know you’re tired! Finally, I saw a woman waving in the distance, and as I approached, she yelled: “good job, you’re in the homestretch!” I felt like crying tears of joy.
Bike Completion Time: 1:30:09, 20 Miles

I made my way to the transition station, threw my bike up on the rack and started running. It felt like an out-of-body experience; my legs were still in cycling mode. This final portion of the race was a technical run, described as a one-of-a-kind run on farm property with switchbacks on rough, hilly terrain. The rain finally stopped and I tried to take in my surroundings and appreciate the experience. I kept repeating to myself, you did it, it’s almost over! When the finish line was in sight I booked it with every last bit of energy I had left. As I reached the end the announcer said, “here comes Kimberly Evering from Fairfax, Virginia, way to go!” Then a girl placed a medal around my neck. Beth and Sarah were there waiting, and greeted me with big smiles and hugs. The best way to end a tough race is to have great friends by your side!
Technical Run Completion Time: 45:16, 4 Miles

My overall finish time for the race including transitions was 2:35:58. I am very proud of my time, given the country hills, pouring rain and fact that it was my first triathlon. There was a charming building on the property called Valley Pike Farm Market, where we could go inside to claim our free finisher beer. I opted for a huge hot chocolate instead. We hung out in the market for a little while decompressing and being goofy, before making the drive back home.

Remain fearless and never say never! My big planned races for the year may have come to an end, but I am not one to say no when my friends invite me to join them for a physical challenge. Sooooo I signed up for …

  • Philly 10K, Aug. 27 
  • 13 Colonies Ride, Sept. 9 
  • 2017 National Capital Region 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb, Sept. 16

I hope you will keep following my journey and that you are encouraged to live a fearless life, doing healthy things outside of your comfort zone!

OrthoVirginiaWestfields Dental

Back in the Saddle Again

40th Anniversary TD Five Boro Bike Tour, New York City
40 Miles
5 Boros [Manhattan, The Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island]
4 Bridges [The Madison Avenue Bridge, Queensboro Bridge, Pulaski Bridge and Verrazano-Narrows Bridge]
1 Day
0 Cars
32,000 Cyclists From 43 Countries
Bib #10492

For the past 40 years on the first Sunday in May, riders from every state in the nation and around the world descend upon NYC for a bicycling experience unlike any other, the TD Five Boro Bike Tour. I found out about the event through my friend Marisa’s Facebook post. Intrigued, I looked it up online and immediately registered for the event after reading the description!

I completed some Spartan challenges, 5K, and 10K races, but never a bike race. This event went beyond the first-time aspect for me. Last summer, on June 29, I flipped off my bicycle and was pinned under it when I hit a camouflaged raised gravel section on a path. I got major road rash down the entire right side of my body and broke my right wrist. A kind-hearted stranger named Gigi picked me up and took me to an Urgent Care. In July, I was put back together by Dr. Daniel Laino, who permanently screwed a titanium plate to my wrist. I then attended regular Occupational Therapy sessions with Karen Popovich, an amazing certified hand specialist at Ortho Virginia.

In February of that same year, I had half of my body cut open for another surgery. I was determined to make a comeback from these two surgeries instead of allowing them to bring me down. I set three major fitness goals for 2017. It seemed fitting that the first event involved cycling. My family and friends were not thrilled by this news, but they supported me none the less because THEY ARE AWESOME. I trained the best I could leading up to the race, fitting short and long bike rides in whenever possible. I also kept up on all the Bike New York Facebook posts and email updates.

I was very nervous going into the event. I had just passed the one-year mark for the first surgery and it had only been 10 months since my wrist surgery. Was I in over my head? Would it be painful? Would I be able to successfully complete all 40 miles?

No. A little. Yes!

I was placed in the first wave of cyclists, which was ideal. I could feel my body shaking as I approached the starting location. I asked a stranger in front of me named Alyssa to take a photo of me for posterity because I’m horrible at selfies. We started sharing brief background stories and the conversation helped to put me at ease. It was Alyssa’s second time doing the bike event. She turned out to be one the coolest people I have ever met! We stuck with each other throughout the race and she would give me heads-ups about what was coming. Aware of my health journey, the fact that it was my first bike race, and my first visit to NYC outside of the Times Square area, Alyssa insisted that I stop at a few key points to take photos for my Instagram collection.

The TD Five Boro Bike Tour was my first big healthy comeback goal for 2017 and my first bike event ever. My aim was just to complete the event, although, in my mind, I hoped to finish it in four to five hours. I am proud to share that I completed it in 3 hours and 40 minutes!

Event Fun Facts:

  • You are required by law to use a bike bell when riding in NYC.
  • Whenever we crossed into a borough people from that area would shout with pride,”What up Brooklyn!”, etc.  Alyssa is from Queens, so when we approached her borough I joined her in an enthusiastic shout-out.
  • People would yell and point “water bottle”, “bike chain” “pothole” in an effort to save someone from getting into an accident. Surprisingly, there were a lot of random water bottles scattered along the route. A seasoned racer told me that it’s common for people to knock their water bottles out of the holders.

The second big healthy comeback goal I set for the year is fast approaching. I hope you will continue to follow my adventures as I attempt my first Tough Mudder Full taking place at one of the top toughest venues, Whistler, BC, on June 17!

No one is truly an island unto themselves on the path to success. These names may not resonate with you, but I could not achieve my goals without the emotional and financial support of Alicia, Jenny, Rita, Gigi, Aunt Linda, Gina, Chad, Beverly, Lito, Angela, Marisa, Tonya, Linda, Robert, John, Melissa, Kim and my first-ever business sponsors OrthoVirginia, Westfields Dental and Flyte Fitness. THANK YOU for believing in me!

OrthoVirginia

Westfields Dental

Unexpected Inspiration

Power Your Happy

My good friend Chhayal randomly sent me a book in the mail because she was thinking of me. Yes, I am lucky to have such a friend! The book she gave me titled Power Your Happy by Lisa Sugar is autographed. Bonus! I have a treasured autographed books collection. I know, e-books are convenient, etc., but there’s something special about a hardcover book. I scanned the teaser on the back of the book and was intrigued to start reading it. I began with the Introduction and related to the content so strongly, that I was unable to put the book down! 2016 was a bummer of a year, to say the least having two significant surgeries. Friends recommended a variety of uplifting books for me to read, but I just wasn’t in the mood or open to sunshine and rainbows subject matter. I am not sure if it was the topic of the book, timing or a combination, but I am very happy that I didn’t set it aside. Lisa’s words sparked a fire in me! I readjusted both my personal and career goals, and I now have a fresh outlook and plans for how to achieve these new goals. I didn’t want to mark the book with a highlighter since it’s autographed, so I tabbed all my favorite parts. As you can see from the photo, there are A LOT of tabs!

I recommend you buy and read Power Your Happy, but here are a few excerpts…

“…what you find yourself doing in your spare time is the passion you should pursue. Don’t decide what you want to do with your life; let your life tell you what your path is.”
[This statement helped to take the pressure off the question family and friends frequently ask me — what is my dream job? — by shifting my focus on my passions as a guide to the answer instead of an overwhelming black hole of possibilities.]

“S*** happens — to everyone! You don’t deserve special treatment because you are having a bad day. … It’s how you grow from these catastrophes, big and small, that shape you into who you become.”
[Reading this tough love statement helped me snap out of my pity party.]

“May we walk forward with compassion in our hearts and may we replace jealously with joy. And at the end of the day, always remember that all that you need is vision to see where you are going, strength to get you there, and faith that you will end up exactly where you deserve to be.” – Ian McAndrew, Lisa’s SoulCycle instructor