With all the continued unrest in the world, each day I am filled with gratitude for our wonderful yoga community. Each student brings their uniqueness to the mix and as a result we have a beautiful blend. One that truly cares and supports one another.
This month I am pleased to present Dan Olshansky as our August Student Spotlight. Dan is one of the founding members of the Transitioning from Level I to Level II LAB. The exploration and “laboratory” atmosphere appeals to his curious mind and openness. I often marvel at his willingness to give anything a try. Most importantly, Dan inspires all of us with his “tapas.” He never shys away from a challenge yet stays grounded and upbeat. He is equally pleased with successes and challenges alike. His warmth and caring nature invites his fellow students to share with him the wonders of this practice.
Tell us a bit about yourself – I was born in Detroit Michigan but reared in New Jersey, exit 109. After graduating from undergrad and then obtaining a social work degree from University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, I moved to Northampton. That was the end of 1983. I have worked in social work since that time in about 10 places in both Massachusetts and Connecticut. About half of the time I did clinical work, with the second half focusing on data systems and quality functions in behavioral health.
What is a little known or surprising fact about you or your work? When doing clinical work, I took many courses in hypnosis and used it frequently.
What led you to Iyengar yoga?
I was drawn to teachers who practiced Iyengar yoga. I was impressed at how they are always learning from other teachers and bringing that mindset that into their own classes.
How long have you been practicing yoga?
I think I have been ‘doing’ yoga for about 20 years, but I feel I am practicing it in the last 7-8 years.
What keeps you on the mat?
The knowledge and experience that I always feel better after yoga. More centered, calmer.
What keeps you off the mat?
Being ‘too busy’ and tired, not having the physical space to ‘do’ yoga. I bought a travel yoga mat so I can do it whenever I travel, am on vacation or visit family. Having the mat gives me the space to do a practice.
What poses do you love?
Sarvangasana, Sirsasana (especially with blocks) and Adho Mukha Svanasana.
What poses do you find challenging?
Dhanurasana (bow pose) and Urdhva Dhanurasana (wheel pose)
What do you like to do when you are not doing yoga?
I like to bike, swim, talk or be with family and friends, read or learn about the people around the world, work on house projects.
How has practicing yoga impacted your life?
It is one of best ways for me to lessen stress and dissipate emotional intensity. I find I am more present when I practice.
How does yoga show up in your everyday life?
I am aware of posture, presence, and the need to show empathy to others.
How are you dealing with the COVID-19 crisis? Does your yoga practice help you in any way?
It is a surreal time; every day is Monday. I have been taking a lot of walks, and enjoyed the openness of people in the midst of this. Yoga practice helps me be present, and see more options.
How does our yoga community contribute to your practice?
I enjoy seeing the faces of so many wonderful people. When you have allies, there is hope.
Any advice for beginners?
Find a yoga teacher and community that resonates with you. The practice is as much internal as it is external.
Any thoughts on how yoga can help someone navigate these challenges of the COVID-19 crisis?
It is one way to take care of yourself, physically and emotionally.