The yogi and the rookie
By day, Kathleen Randolph is a certified public accountant. By night (and some parts of the day), however, she’s a certified practitioner of yoga, as well as a co-owner of The Yoga Center, 519 Forest St. Randolph is single and has lived in the Reno area since 1970. While she teaches a variety of classes, including popular family yoga classes, one of her specialties is “Yoga for the Special Child,” which is yoga specially crafted for disabled children. The 50-year-old Randolph, who graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno, in 1978, has practiced yoga for more than 30 years. She also serves as a firefighter for the Verdi Volunteer Fire Department. For this special expanded 15 minutes, I asked Randolph—who is also known for her sense of humor—to show me some yoga basics. After the hour-long session, I asked her about it. If you have any questions for Randolph, she can be reached at 322-4600.
How the heck did I do?
Extremely well. The path to self-awareness is through your body. You got in the fish [a yoga position], and at a certain point, you said, “That’s enough.” That is yoga. That’s self-awareness. You have a fairly exceptional awareness of your body, especially for a big guy.
That sounds kind of dirty.
Why, yes. It kind of is. I am sure that, upon reading this, many people will call you up and want to get to know you better.
You mentioned I did well for a big guy. Do big guys struggle with yoga?
It’s the self-awareness. In a lot of cases, because they rely so much on their strength, they’re accustomed to pushing themselves too hard. And if you’re really into pushing too hard and hurting yourself, not being self-aware is kind of a good thing.
Well, I stopped because it hurt, and I am a wuss.
Being a wuss, in a sense, helps with yoga. Instead of calling a person a “wuss,” we call that an acute sense of self-awareness. Instead of calling you a wuss, we’d call you an “adept"—a natural talent.
After all the weird positions, we did some breathing exercises, including one where it sounded like we were coughing up furballs.
That’s kapalabhati. It’s self-cleansing, a kriya. I don’t suggest doing it at a table in a classy restaurant, though. I suggest you excuse yourself and go to the restroom.
It sounds pretty horrible. Couldn’t you start doing that to scare off, say, potential muggers?
Kapalabhati as self-defense? What an intriguing idea! There are other parts of yoga that would make more sense for that, though.
Really? What are they?
Well, there are a whole series of kriyas. Like tongue cleansing.
Tongue cleansing? How does that work?
That’s when you clean your tongue. There are small implements you can buy to do that, but most people use a coffee spoon. Some people brush their tongue with a toothbrush, but that doesn’t work very well.
Simple tongue cleansing is a form of yoga?
Well, then isn’t something like toenail clipping yoga, too?
Yes. We’re all yogis when you get into the various behaviors, and cleanliness is one of the niyamas.
If we are all yogis, then why do we have to pay you?
You don’t. It’s a license to steal.
For business, that doesn’t sound like a very smart thing to say.
OK, then leave that out. What I teach is the physical postures, and while they are gaining that self-awareness, they need someone to tell them to keep their back straight. I am there to help them find that self-awareness. That’s the difference between sadhana, spiritual practice, and satsang, which is good company. Getting together with like-minded people and having fun—that’s what a class is.
Final question: Give me your philosophy on yoga in 75 words or less.
Yoga is a series of mental and physical disciplines to bring the body, breath and mind into balance and preparation for living a spiritual lifestyle.
Wow. That sounds kind of deep.
Well, if you’re going to live a spiritual lifestyle these days, you’d better be pretty physically fit, as well as emotionally and mentally stable. And a physical life is now. In the words of those great philosophers, yoga helps you "get back, get back, get back to where you once belonged."