Allen Sykes

Yoga is an important part of my wellness framework. As a youth I experienced my mother participating in yoga regularly. Its relationship to her improving health was evident for all to see. However, being youthful, it never occurred to me to participate in yoga at a time when it really could have made a difference to my long-term health. Such is youth I guess--or more especially, such is Ken! Instead I commenced a regular routine of yoga practice in my mid-60s. The back story to this is interesting. I had been experiencing chronic pain in my Achilles tendons. No matter what I tried by way of remediation; I tore muscles in both legs. Not surprisingly the injury was painful and more than inconvenient. One day I read a book by Kelly McGonigal entitled yoga for pain relief: Simple practices to become your mind and heal your pain. Kelly is a daughter of Judy McGonigal, a former doctoral student of mine. She and her twin sister Jane already have had amazing careers. In any event, as I read the book I realized just how important it would be for me to participate in yoga--not so much for exercise but for wellness. Furthermore, in this book I first read about the research relating breathing patterns to emotions. Reading Kelly's book catalyzed highly significant changes in my research agenda in urban science classes. Thank you Kelly!

My yoga teacher in South Amboy is Allen Sykes. He has taught me a great deal, not only through his words of wisdom, but also (and especially) through his actions. As he enters the studio Allen always follows my introductory greeting and query, "How are you?" with a remark, "I'm always good." Very early on Allen ingrained the idea that yoga practitioners should honor their bodies. "No competition, no judgment, no pain." Whenever he says that I always insert parenthetically – and no showing off :-). It is important not to become overconfident for a vast majority of reasons. The other important aspect of Allen's teaching is its connections to meditation and paying attention to the yoga sutras – there is more to yoga than just poses.

Kenneth Tobin 2015