"There is nothing more frustrating than the internal struggle between mind, body and soul. If I exercise, I could lose weight. If I could just lose some weight, I would be ok to exercise. I should go to the gym, but those work-out junkies dominate the space and are so intimidating to those of us just trying to make our unguided way through the maze of lines waiting to use machines, weights, bags, and floor space.
During my military service I was injured in a way that my ability to walk was put into question. While deployed I found my limits truly embarrassing. I didn’t want to be seen as a weak link on the team, or as someone lazy and unwilling to work hard. I looked to anything I could find to regain my edge. I tried running, but the pain was affecting the entire day if I ran in the morning, and would prevent me from sleeping if I ran at night. I needed something I could do in a small space, without the judging eyes of those people at the gym, or the embarrassment of being near tears after only five miles of running. I tried P90X in my containerized housing unit (CHU) in Iraq, but got complaints from other people in the unit because my 04:00 workout would shake the rest of the people awake an hour before anyone wanted to wake up. P90X was a great workout but you needed to be in decent shape first. I returned home from the desert in the worst shape of my life, to the news from my doctors that I could soon be in a wheelchair for the rest of my life.
Although my injuries were properly documented, and assistance had been requested from the Military, and the V.A., I had already gone nearly years without any help. I had reached out to the wounded warrior program, but without a decision from V.A., I felt bad asking for resources that could be used to help those with more severe losses than what I was facing. My Civilian insurance, after numerous appeals, finally agreed to offer assistance in paying for my rare, complicated surgery at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. My surgery was successful in preserving my ability to walk, for now, but left me struggling to recover on my own at home. After a few months, I attempted to dust off my DVD’s to get back in shape. This was even more painful than my overseas attempts, and the on-line coaches kept saying “just do your best and forget the rest”. I was quite frustrated, and needed something that would work for me.
My wife was doing Pilates and Yoga at a local business called “The Zen Zone” (zenzoneyoga.com). She asked me to go with her and give this a try. Skeptical, frustrated, and still in pain from my most recent P90X session, I reluctantly agreed. I arrived to find people from 12 to 80 years of age, male and female doing what they could to make themselves better. This place was not the hippie filled, incense burning, Berkley rejects you see on TV… This was middle-American family members from every sort of background working in unison, but with each person focused on their own practice. The instructors each have their own style but take the time to know you so they can help you achieve your goal.
The workouts are as challenging, or as easy as you chose to make them. Each movement is demonstrated in varying levels of difficulty, and they teach you how to focus on which ones best serve your own body‘s needs. After a year of personal focus a few days a week, I have gotten myself to a healthy balance I haven’t experienced since High School (25 years ago). I now weigh what I did in Junior High School, my endurance and strength allows me to complete the military’s physical training tests above the 80th percentile. My mental state of mind has improved too. My physical progress has given me a much more positive outlook on my daily activities, and allowed me to sleep more soundly at night.
One of my instructors, Debra O’Bryan, has followed my journey from near tragic disabling daily physical and pain and mental conflict to my current state of health. She is hoping to help others get the same level of success by offering her classes online. This option is a true benefit for others that, like me, were not able to get the help they needed from the more traditional channels such as the V.A., the Military or an inherited trust fund. I travel frequently with my career, and having her affordable classes available online will enable me to progress on my path to better health. Best of luck."
"Debra is a fantastic instructor. She always comes to class with a smile and is upbeat. She makes you feel that you can accomplish all that she is teaching. I am in better shape for going to her classes. She is one of the best."
"I am 68 years old and have had several training instructors. Debra is one of the best. Her knowledge of yoga and physical well being is amazing. Her classes are always challenging, but not too difficult for you to complete. She has you trying new things often, so her classes are never boring. She is attentive and helps if she sees anyone having a problem. She is energetic and lifts you up with her enthusiasm. It is always a fun time and a great workout. I am grateful that I joined her classes and look forward to many more."
"To say Debra brings an unsurpassed energy to her classes would be an understatement. Her ability to motivate and inspire her students is fueled by the pure joy she feels in teaching what she loves. Debra has personally given me motivation, courage and the understanding that yoga is not an end sum game but a journey into one's physical, mental and spiritual well-being. For me, every class with Debra is another step on that journey and I'm blessed to have Debra as my guide."
"When Debra O’Bryan says “you are awesome, you can do this” you know you can. She makes you feel like you can conquer the world, one yoga posture at a time. Her positive attitude and energy is so infectious. You just want to be around her to absorb as much of it as possible.
I am 58 years old and when I first met Debra 4 months ago I found our personalities meshed immediately. I am an upbeat person generally and tend to gravitate towards people like me. When she began talking about yoga and it’s health benefits I immediately became interested because I am about 30 pounds overweight. I tried the high energy exercise classes but was intimidated by the speed and choreography of the classes. It wasn’t for me. Yoga offers me a program that is tailored to my age and abilities. Every class that Debra offers can be modified to MY strengths and weaknesses. She is a master of making you feel like any posture you can achieve is a milestone in your journey to better health. I feel better on and off the mat after 4 months thanks to Debra’s influence and constant reinforcement. She is one in a million."
"I decided to try yoga in my mid forties because my body was tiring of high impact aerobics and running was bothering my knees. My initial practice made me feel invigorated. I noticed that I readily stood straighter and felt like my spine was becoming elongated and more youthful. I enjoyed using my mind to focus my energy as I strengthened each area of my body.
Then I met Debra and discovered a whole new way of being. Debra harnessed not only my mind and body to the practice of yoga but my spirit as well. She taught me to lead each movement with breath and invited me to open my heart to the abundance of blessings flowing in my life. I moved from a (fairly) steady state of happiness to daily joy. Each of our spirits seeks the company of those from whom we can grow. Debra's spirit imbues and enlivens my own. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to practice with her and call her friend."
"Hello Yogis! My name is Gary and I am 62 years old .I was introduced to yoga several years ago at a meditation retreat .When I got back home I was fortunate to have met Debra .She really ‘gets it ‘ and is a blessing in my life . I feel that yoga has literally changed me in many ways .I believe you can get from it whatever you want .If you want exercise and fitness or if you want meditation and calmness and if you want to be a kinder ,more compassionate ,more loving human being you can get that too .Debra has a gift and she loves what she does. She deserves to be called ‘Teacher’. Namaste!"
"Most of my hours are spent intently focused composing on a computer screen or inside a board room. Time vanishes in both of these places. Thus, it’s always been an effort, albeit an important one, to optimize quality time with my wife as well as attend to my physical health. Frankly I viewed my introduction to yoga as an opportunity to appease my wife while I also worked on staying in shape. Efficient!!
What I received in return for this investment in time was so much more than I could have imagined. I am in better physical shape at 52 years old than I was at 25. This, however, is inconsequential to the many other benefits I receive from Yoga. I feel that Yoga and the mediation used to become centered has heightened my sensitivity and awareness of my surroundings and the effects that I have on others.
I love being around individuals that pursue their own excellence. Debra is one of those people and she expresses this to me through her Yoga instruction. She preps for each class in a thoughtful and thorough manner. Highly observant, she channels the energy and poses needed to challenge me physically as well as mentally while always inviting me to access my spirituality. Practicing Yoga with Debra has helped me reclaim balance in my life."
"Debra’s high-octave energy will light up a room, any virtual space, and the inner space of your being. Sold on the benefits of Yoga, I was dedicated to a Yoga practice four years before meetingDebra, but in hind-site, I realize that the primary missing ingredient was the JOY that Debra provides. Her Joy ignites the possibility in each of us to come back to our own joy-FULL nature. Your body, mind and spirit will respond to this world-class instructor because she has the gift of teaching from her high-heart to yours."
“For the past 2 years I have been a part of one of the most overlooked aspects of fitness…flexibility. Yoga has proven to be an integral part of my continued fitness. From balance, and flexibility to core strength as well as improved overall strength yoga is now a staple of my day. In addition to all the qualities previously spoken about yoga, it has also helped to prevent injury. Having build long lean muscle and improved flexibility soft tissue injuries have become a thing of the past for me. I would encourage anyone to become involved in yoga, practice it for both your mind and body and see how it can help you.”
"Why do I do yoga? I don't do it for peace of mind, it doesn't bring balance to my life. What it does do, is gives me focus. Focus on something internal, focus on something external, these two focal points align mind and body so that I can silence the chatter, background noise, emotional roller coaster that is daily life. With focus, I can heal! With focus, I can connect to the divine! With these continual focal points, my mind & body can align, I can then begin to exist in a state of peace that resides within all of us, the peace that is blocked out, de-focused, by our lifestyles. Healing can begin and peace can exude from within! This I do not claim to exude 24/7, however, the glimpses of this peace with, this balance, this connection with divine is what brings me back, wanting more like an addict!"
"I started taking yoga classes about 8 years ago. Being very athletic and active my entire life had left me with extremely tight hamstrings, lower back, hip flexors, etc. At the encouragement of our gym’s fitness director, I added a couple of yoga classes to my regular workout routine. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t run with open arms to these classes. I went with all the preconceived notions most people have about yoga. But what kept me there was not the increased flexibility which I originally sought. What kept me going, week after week, year after year was so much more.
I immediately gained incredible core strength, developed my triceps, back and shoulders, and gained balance. Yoga also helped improve my posture. It allowed me an hour a day to quite my mind from its endless thoughts and chatter. I learned breathing techniques I now use without thought to calm myself in stressful moments. When my children were infants, I used my yoga breath to calm them and put them to sleep. When I was gravely ill with pneumonia, I laid in my hospital bed consciously taking one yoga breath at a time minute by minute, hour after hour. It helped me open my lungs and remain unruffled from the anxiety of being so sick.
The most important success factor related to any yoga class I’ve taken has been the instructor. I’ve been taking classes at least three times a week from Debra for over 3 years. Debra has more enthusiasm and glee than anyone I’ve known. She takes time in every class to welcome each person and offers personal words of encouragement to all her students throughout her class. I can always count on Debra to put joy in my heart and a smile on my face and give me body a tough workout!
Debra began teaching 3 yoga classes at my office just over a year ago. Before we began yoga, the turnover rate for the last several years had been around two-thirds! Since adding yoga, only one staff member has left in the last 15 months!! We have over 75% of our staff participating in our classes. Aside from some dramatic weight loss, most of us find the greatest value in the incredible reduction in stress. In the past, most of the staff worked through lunch, never taking a break the entire day. Now, even on busy days, we walk away from our desk to attend yoga during lunch and come back refreshed and ready to tackle our tasks and challenges. The reduction in stress levels and anxiety has been incredible not to mention the increase in flexibly and strength we’ve all gained."