STUDENT OF THE MONTH: The Wayyyyyy Cool ABIGAIL GUZMAN!

abigaillargefinal

KB: WHO ARE YOU?
I AM a Daughter…the middle child of 6!
I AM a Sister
I AM a Wife
I AM a Mother
I AM a Beach Lover…I LOVE the Outdoors! In fact, I got married on the beach!
I AM a Yogini
I AM Abigail Guzmán and I teach Spanish, Beginner’s Brazilian Portuguese and Latin American Studies at COSTAATT!
KB:  HMMM…I GUESS YOU LOVE THE OUTDOORS, EH?  *GRIN*

KB: WHEN AND WHY DID YOU START YOGA?
I started doing Wai Lana yoga when I began studying at UWI in 2000.  I loved the flexibility of the instructor and the apparent ease with which she went into and held each pose. At first it seemed quite challenging but with time the poses became easy.

KB: NOW THAT YOU ARE INTO YOUR YOGA PRACTICE, WHAT CHANGES HAVE YOU SEEN?
I feel more toned, relaxed… I am learning to let go. It’s amazing how easy it is for you to feel like everything is great until you are urged to do a scan of your body and it is only then you realize how much you are holding on to mentally and physically. I used to suffer terrible back pain from mild scoliosis and now, the pain is a thing of the past.


KB: WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGEST SURPRISE ABOUT YOGA?
Now that I have started yoga at The Sangha Trinidad I can say that my whole concept has changed. I always thought that yoga was about holding poses tightly and having the entire body taut. I wasn’t even aware of how my alignment was totally skewed. So now instead of trying to exercise for longer periods of time, I try to correct the base that I had messed up for so long. Thanks Sangha!
KB:  AWESOME!!  THOUGH I WOULDN’T SAY THAT YOUR BASE WAS “MESSED UP”.  THE THING IS, WITH YOGA, WHEREVER YOU START IS A GREAT PLACE.  THE THING IS TO START.  WHATEVER YOU LEARN IS ALL A PART OF THE PROCESS AND WHAT YOU ARE MEANT TO LEARN AT A PARTICULAR TIME, YOU WILL.  CHANCES ARE IF YOU CAME TO US FIRST, YOU WOULD NOT HAVE BELIEVED IN THE “LESS IS MORE” CONCEPT.  YOU WOULD HAVE TRIED TO BE PERFECT IN EVERY CLASS.  IT’S ONLY NOW THAT YOU ARE MORE THAN LIKELY APPRECIATING THE PRACTICE AS YOU SEE THE DIFFERENCES.  IT’S ALLLL PART OF THE JOURNEY, BABE!  JUST ENJOY THE RIDE!

KB: WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE YOGA POSE(S)?
It may be easier for me to say the one I really don’t like but here goes…

  • Shoulderstand Pose (SALAMBA SARVANGASANA)
  • Bridge Pose (SETUBANDHASANA)
  • Pigeon Pose (EKA PADA KAPOTASANA)
  • Fish Pose (MATSYASANA)
  • Camel Pose (USTRASANA)
  • Dancer’s Pose (NATARAJASANA)
  • Toppling Tree Pose (PATANVRKSASANA)
  • Plow  Pose (HALASANA)
  • Crow Pose (BAKASANA)

Ok I need to stop.
KB:  WHOA DAT IS A LIST!  

KB: WHAT’S YOUR LEAST FAVOURITE YOGA POSE(S)?
I really hate the chair pose. Didn’t have to think about it at all
KB: NOTE TO SELF…MAKE SURE TO STAND RIGHT NEXT TO ABIGAIL FOR CHAIR POSE (UTKATASANA) *EVIL GRIN*…*LOL*!  AFTER ALL IT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE YOU NOT LIKING ONLY ONE POSE…I FEEL OBLIGATED TO HELP YOU LOVE IT NOW *WIDE GRIN*!! AND NOTE TO YOU, ABIGAIL…YOU SHOULD READ WHAT FOLKS SAY IN THESE INTERVIEWS AND YOU WOULD HAVE SEEN WHERE ROSHAN MADE SURE NOT TO TELL ME HIS…HAHAHA

 

KB: HOW ABOUT SOME DEEPER PERSONAL STUFF….
When I started yoga at The Sangha Trinidad, I was going through a lot of turmoil. It seemed to be everywhere, things seemed to be spiraling out of control. Fortunately yoga brought a certain level of peace and a healthy avenue to vent while getting in shape.
KB:  UHHH…IS THAT IT?  GIVE ME SOMETHING TO INSPIRE OTHERS HERE…GIVE ME THE SH*T…
Hmmm…not sure how to put it without overexposing myself, but here goes…
Growing up, I always felt like the ugly duckling.  I am the darker one in the family…darker than my relatives, my friends.
KB:  OH GOSH, THE USUAL WEST INDIAN CRAP, EH?
Yeah, in fact, I was actually referred to as “the ugly one” and it really hurt.  I still struggle with self-acceptance.  So I started studying to be an image consultant.  I wanted to help other women overcome image issues, to empower them.
KB:  WOW!
As it turned out, my recent turmoil showed me that the same help I was eager to give, was the very same help that I needed myself!  Self-acceptance in the midst of external rejection.
KB:  AWESOME!  NOW…TIE THIS TO YOGA…HOW DID YOGA HELP YOU HERE?
This is when I walked into yoga and realized that  my centre was skewed.  So it is helping me to shift focus.  When I heard you say, Karen, “scan your body to see if anything is off”…for me that is physical and emotional.
KB:  YOUR CENTRE?  OR YOUR IDEA OF WHAT BEING “ACCEPTED” MEANS?
Yes!
KB:  SAWEEET!
I learned it isn’t about overdoing it, it’s about balance.  Ya see why it was hard to give you a story?  So many areas in me are tight!  My emotions are like that…in a tight knot.  So yoga is helping me calm down…to listen to my body.  I am learning to throw out the foolishness like no pain, no gain.  If I listen to my body, if I am kind to it, it will be kind to me and that includes relationships…keeping the balance…and that is true acceptance!  That’s 3 months of The Sangha!!
KB:  IT’S FUNNY HOW YOU ARE SPEAKING OF YOUR BODY IN THE THIRD PERSON…FUNNY HOW FOLKS DO THAT ALL THE TIME…”I’M TRYING TO DO SO AND SO, KAREN BUT MY LEG WON’T DO THAT…”IT” WON’T DO THAT”…HAHAHA!  BUT SERIOUSLY, THE REASON I MENTION THAT IS BECAUSE YOU SEPARATED YOUR BODY…YOU FROM YOU…AND RELATIONSHIPS.  BUT REALLY THE BOTH GO TOGETHER, NON?  YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOU IS CHANGING…IF I AM KIND TO ME, I WILL BE KIND TO MYSELF…I WILL AND ONLY NEED TO ACCEPT MYSELF AND I DON’T NEED TO GET THAT FROM ANYONE ELSE.  THAT’S SOME DEEEEEP SH*T FO SHIZZLE!  BUT YA KNOW, THIS IS WHY I DON’T REALLY LIKE TO PLAY MUSIC IN A REGULAR CLASS.  I HAVE MET SO MANY TRINIS ON THIS JOURNEY OF MINE AND SO MANY SUFFERING WITH ANXIETY AND PANIC ATTACKS.  EVERY DAY WE ARE BOMBARDED WITH MUSIC AND NOISE…WE ARE A LOUD SOCIETY.  SO I FEEL LIKE WE RARELY GET A CHANCE TO TRULY “LISTEN” TO OURSELVES.  SO HOW CAN OUR VARIOUS RELATIONSHIPS CHANGE, IF WE NEVER LISTEN??  AND FOR SO MANY THEY WOULD JUST RATHER NOT FIND OUT WHAT’S LOCKED UP INSIDE SO THE EASY WAY OUT IS TO BLAST MUSIC.  HEY FOLKS…JUST CLOSE YOUR EYES FOR A BIT AND JUST INHALE SLOWLY AND THEN EXHALE SLOWLY…YA HEAR THAT?  DAT IS MUSIC…YOUR OWN BREATH!  AHHHHHH…

KB: YA GOT ANY STORIES?
My first trip to Peru… it was quite an experience! Being the only chocolate coloured person for miles, I was the centre of attention. I was being photographed without my permission, people were asking for my signature, asking about my sexual prowess based on whatever stereotypes they knew. It felt very strange. I remember visiting a craft market in Urubamba, Cusco and people were running to see what a black person looked like. It was so hilarious because they were all running past me looking for me…they were so short.  I was happy to be back home to see our rainbow of people.  The irony and really sad thing is I find we don’t appreciate that enough.
KB:  I HEARZ YA GRRRL!  WE ARE REALLY HUNG UP ON WHO IS DOUGLA AND WHO ISN’T…WHO RED AND WHO ISN’T…WHO HAVE NICE HAIR AND WHO DON’T…INSTEAD OF WHOA…WE ARE JUST FABULOUS ALL AROUND!

KB: WHAT’S YOUR BIGGEST FEAR – IN GENERAL, IN LIFE?
My biggest fear is failure. When I give, I give my all and for that reason failure seems like I have lost all…
KB:  SOOOO MUCH I COULD SAY, BUT DAT IS ANOTHER STORY FOR ANOTHER DAY, YES!

KB: WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER TO BE YOUR BIGGEST ACCOMPLISHMENT?
Graduating with the Masters in Spanish was quite an accomplishment for me. I felt as if I would never complete it but I am happy to say that that phase is over and I am ready to take on new challenges.

KB: WHAT ARE YOU MOST HAPPY WITH OR ABOUT?
I am really happy to have my son and my family. They are really an amazing support system

KB: ANY OTHER THOUGHTS OR WORDS OF WISDOM YOU’D LIKE TO PASS ON OR SHARE?
I recently read this story and found the message was so simple yet pertinent…

Greatest Gift is Love:
A woman came out of her house and saw 3 old men with long white beards sitting in her front yard. She did not recognize them. She said, “I don’t think I know you, but you must be hungry. Please come in and have something to eat.” “Is the man of the house home?”, they asked. “No”, she said. “He’s out.” “Then we cannot come in”, they replied. In the evening when her husband came home, she told him what had happened. “Go tell them I am home and invite them in!” The woman went out and invited the men in. “We do not go into a House together,” they replied. “Why is that?” she wanted to know. One of the old men explained: “His name is Wealth,” he said pointing to one of his friends, and said pointing to another one, “He is Success, and I am Love.” Then he added, “Now go in and discuss with your husband which one of us you want in your home.” The woman went in and told her husband what was said. Her husband was overjoyed. “How nice!!”, he said. “Since that is the case, let us invite Wealth. Let him come and fill our home with wealth!” His wife disagreed. “My dear, why don’t we invite Success?” Their daughter-in-law was listening from the other corner of the house. She jumped in with her own suggestion: “Would it not be better to invite Love? Our home will then be filled with love!” “Let us heed our daughter-in-law’s advice,” said the husband to his wife. “Go out and invite Love to be our guest.” The woman went out and asked the 3 old men, “Which one of you is Love? Please come in and be our guest.” Love got up and started walking toward the house. The other 2 also got up and followed him. Surprised, the lady asked Wealth and Success: “I only invited Love, Why are you coming in?” The old men replied together: “If you had invited Wealth or Success, the other two of us would’ve stayed out, but since you invited Love, wherever He goes, we go with him. Wherever there is Love, there is also Wealth and Success!”

The greatest gift is love…
KB:  SELF-LOVE = SELF-ACCEPTANCE!  BOOM BANG!

First off…WOW!  Sometimes you never really realize how much is going on with a person, eh?  When Abigail first walked into class, she was “just cool”.  No fuss or nothing.  She said she did yoga before…worked with YouTube so she wasn’t completely new.  What I noticed though is that she didn’t have any attitude about it…she was just making a statement.  Once she started class, she would barely talk…a smile here and there…but no serious reactions…not even when I went over to her to adjust her into a pose.

One day though, she did a V2 class with me and as we broke down certain poses, she was finally aware of her shoulders and how perhaps, over time she may have hurt herself from straining and struggling.  It was a challenging class and it was then that she understood how amazing and important and very basic class can be.  You build and you build…you refresh and you refresh and hey, if you end up learning all the fancy stuff…that’s just the gravy!

Abigail, I’m sorry that you had to hear that stuff growing up, but based on your pictures above…based on your awesome personality and energy, one could say you did a lot of self-healing!  There may be more work to get done, but you are mos def on the right path!  In so many ways, yoga is like a key and with that key you can unlock so much stuff.  You have your key, baby…ya just need to keep using it!!!

I feel truly honoured to have met you!  I feel honoured that you trust me enough to continue with us.  I feel blessed to be able to share practices with you and I am thankful that the universe made our paths cross!!! 


Here’s to many more yoga days filled with tons of love and plenty more healing!
Oodles of goodness and hugz of sunshine!!!
KB and The Sangha Trinidad

KB
My name is Karen Blackman. I'm the author of most of the material found on this website. When I write, you will find that my words are as if I am speaking to you directly. I try to be funny, straight to the point and simple. Here's hoping you enjoy! Oodles of Toodles and plenty Hugz of goodness! KB
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