Ahimsa Oak Park Student Spotlight: Rainer
Meet Rainer, 63, Oak Park
What do you do when you're off your mat?
For the past 34 years I had been teaching math at Triton College. Dr. Schochat is now retired and put out to pasture while I try to find Rainer. I have so much more time now to stress out about the meaning and purpose of my life. When I’m off my mat I may as well be off my rocker.
I do have more time now for my hobbies. I feel free and my spirit soars when I can run outside. Running is my moving meditation. In addition to regular runs around the neighborhood, I also finished 25 races last year, everything from several 5Ks to three marathons.
I like to work with my hands and build furniture. I can spend endless hours trying to bring out the beauty of a nice piece of wood with a hand-rubbed finish.
I like to think of myself as confident, often overly so, in maintaining, repairing, and modifying older cars as long as they have a stick-shift and plenty of power.
What brought you to Ahimsa for the first time?
I started practicing at Ahimsa about three years ago after the Bikram Oak Park studio where I had been a student closed.
What's your favorite thing about this studio?
I sense a deliberate creation of a sacred space, a space of peace inside and to project into the world. I love the wide variety of carefully crafted classes, caring and gifted teachers, and styles of yoga and teaching.
What is your favorite type of yoga class (hatha, yin, vinyasa, etc.) and why?
That changes constantly. Sometimes I feel the need for a vigorous vinyasa workout, sometimes I want to close out my day with a restorative class, sometimes I want to just indulge in the luxury of a gong bath or drum meditation, and sometimes a classic hatha class is what to body craves.
What's your advice for someone coming to yoga for the very first time?
Come on inside. Nobody is “good” at yoga, and nobody is “bad” at yoga. Experience your body and your mind as they are and as you gently push and nudge.
What has your practice given you?
My yoga practice has put a new and lively spring into my step, both in my physical body and in my mind.
What's your favorite pose?
I gain something from every pose. Some of the gains are more easily attained; most of them require struggle. I especially enjoy long-held twists such as Twisted Roots Pose when I can feel my very tight-knit body slowly and deliciously relax and release. I like to practice headstands so I can keep them in my repertoire for a neat party trick.
What's your least favorite pose?
My body does not want to forward fold. In Uttanasana I can’t straighten my legs and I feel light-headed and sometimes nauseous. In Paschimottanasana I need a strap just to keep from falling over backwards. I’ll keep trying.
Tell us something unusual about yourself?
I lived the first twenty-three years of my life in Southern Germany where athletic opportunities were different from what I would have found here. I used to swim and dive in lakes and rivers in the summer and ski in the winter. My sport throughout my teenage years was Judo. That, and probably reading too much Hermann Hesse did prepare me for the more spiritual and meditative aspects of my current yoga practice.
My job as a college professor did give me an unusual amount of control over my time and allowed me to be Mr. Mom to my two sons. By far the best gig of my life. They are both grown and engineers of various flavors now (one mechanical, one chemical.) Maybe one of them will make me a grandparent eventually.
What 3 words would a good friend use to describe you?
Compassionate, thoughtful, kind
What's your guilty pleasure/s?
A chunk of robust cheese with a glass of red wine.
Have you made any changes in your life as a result of your yoga practice?
I would like to change my reptilian brain, but I haven’t reached serenity. I still feel rage swell up whenever I am behind the wheel and confronted with inconsiderate drivers. I am not acting on it, though. I can breathe and talk myself down now.
If you were having a dinner party and could invite anyone you wanted, who would they be?
Terry Gross to help pull my answers to these questions out of me and the bubble I live in.