April 2014 Student of the Month

Rick Cioppa

rickPlease tell us a little about yourself.
I’ve been retired for the last 6 years, married to a gorgeous woman for 35 years. We have a daughter, 29 and a son 32. When I stopped working I was a little concerned that there wouldn’t be enough to do, but have found that the day isn’t long enough. I became sort of a gym rat and lost 30 lbs. The afternoons are filled with volunteer work which started at the N.E. Baptist hospital holding babies, then being on the board at the San Antonio Library and currently I am on the board at the Healy Murphy Center downtown. Healy Murphy is an alternative high school that focuses on young parents. It’s not uncommon to have a 16 year old student already with 2 kids trying to get their diploma or GED. Carlos from Yoga Day put on a weekly yoga class there last semester. The rest of the time we travel as much as we can (just got back from sailing in the British Virgin Islands), my son and I share a sailboat up at Canyon Lake and in between I restore vintage motorcycles.
What brought you to the yoga practice?
I was looking for something that I could do for the next 30 years and it was clear that although the gym was great for now, I didn’t think I had the discipline to tone it down so I got certified as a personal trainer in an effort to learn more about what to do and not do. Along the way in an effort to try something different, I tried, Pilates, Zumba, Crossfit and all sorts of classes at the gym. This is what you do when you’re unemployed and have a lot of time. On a whim, I stopped into the Hollywood studio to get some info and Claudia told me about the 10 day for $20 thing and 30 minutes later I was in the hot room taking my first class. I thought, “I like this”.
How often do you practice?
I’m there 6 or 7 times a week, except when we travel. Never done a double or a challenge.
What specific physical issues, if any, did you have before taking you first class?
None to mention other than being of Medicare age.
What are the greatest benefits of your practice?
To me the best part about Yoga is the community. Sure I’m more flexible than I used to be and I haven’t had an injury since I started 2 years ago, but what Lisa and Steve have created in the studios is priceless. The staff and instructors make you feel like one of the family. They are without exception always genuinely welcoming and sincere. Going to the same class everyday you get to know the regulars, there is a silent camaraderie in the hot room. A nod of the head, a wave of the hand, a smile is exchanged that makes it a great place to start the day. Most days begin with these people, and although we may not exchange words there is a connection.
How has this practice changed your health and life? Any emotional or other benefits?
I spend less time at the gym. No more chiropractic problems.
What is your favorite part of the yoga?
Aside from community I like the heat, always have been a sauna guy and when you put it together with Yoga it feels good. I especially like the detail of the dialog. Basically I can zone out and just follow instructions. It gives me an opportunity not to think. Although I’m still trying to figure out how the instructor knows when I close my eyes in rabbit. When I stopped trying so hard and focused on breathing, everything became a lot easier. Unfortunately that took about a year, I’m convinced it’s a guy thing.