Pineapple Yoga Kaua‘i celebrates 20 years of daily “Mysore-style” ashtanga yoga practice with instructor Eagle and his students on the North Shore.
Eagle, the yoga instructor of PYK and a former professional racquetball player, considers teaching yoga for 20 years on Kaua‘i a tremendous honor.
“It’s really a privilege to be able to share something that I hold in very-high regard,” Eagle said. “When I was 20 years old, I was in the midst of a professional racquetball career, and had the unfortunate circumstance of having a car accident which dislodged a disc in my lower back. I had won the world championships at 18. I turned pro in my sport at 19. And I found myself paralyzed in a hospital bed at 20.
“It was a very challenging contrast,” Eagle said. “Because I was so active and I literally won the world championships in Miami, I played in the state, regional, national and world championships and 25 other tournaments every single year from 12 to 29.”
With a new obstacle to overcome, Eagle decided to switch his eating habits to a 100% vegan, plant-based diet, 29 years ago.
“And then I started doing yoga two to four hours a day and, making it a very consistent, disciplined process, I was healed to such a degree that I made a decision to return to professional sports, and I played seven more years of racquetball,” Eagle said.
Now paying it forward by teaching on Kaua‘i, Eagle has about 25 students. Studio doors are open from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. every day except Sunday and New/Full Moon days.
Students can show up any time during that window and stay however long they need to practice (not past 9:30). A class runs for about 90 minutes.
According to student Lucy Wilson, a jewelry designer and freelance photographer and writer, Eagle’s healing success inspired him to seek out the most experienced masters of yoga. Eagle traveled to Mysore, India, and lived there for up to six months a year for 10 straight years to learn the traditional method of ashtanga yoga, passed down by the late lineage holder, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois.
Wilson said the yoga method is now carried forward by his grandson Sri R. Sharath Jois. Eagle then found his way to Kaua‘i 20 years ago, and now at 48 years young continues to share his knowledge and experience with local and international students in his Kilauea yoga shala (school).
“Eagle is a very intuitive teacher,” Wilson said. “He is patient with his students, and also gets to know everyone well regarding how much they can be pushed physically in their ashtanga practice, as well as philosophically in day-to-day life.
“He is not only an incredible yoga instructor but also a subtle mentor. He shows the importance of the most disregarded gift we have in life — our breath. Eagle also goes in-depth with each posture and magnifies micro-movements/adjustments that help improve your practice tremendously.”
She continued: “It has helped my body open up and gain strength — hamstrings, hips, shoulders. No mental or physical issues. I want to continue practicing to maintain physical and mental health.”
Another yoga student, Starling Faaron, has been practicing for six years now. He clearly remembers his first year not being fun at all.
“I couldn’t even do a basic sun salutation for the first two months, but I kept pushing myself to attend Pineapple Yoga Kaua‘i because I was motivated to gain more mobility so I can surf for life,” Faaron said.
This practice is not limited to athletes. Individuals who suffer from any mental trauma, body dysfunction or dis-ease will likely reap the benefits the practice delivers.
Martha Harkey, a local ayurvedic practitioner, pharmacist at North Shore Pharmacy and student at PYK for 16 years, practices ashtanga yoga daily at the age of 72. She believes yoga is critical to health, as it is much more than exercise.
“It is the mental and spiritual aspect of yoga that I come to love the most,” Harkey said. “You walk out of practice and, all of the sudden, the sky is bluer and birds are singing. This practice heightens your senses and increases your awareness. It’s amazing to me that something so simple can have such a profound effect. I can do things that I couldn’t do when I was 30, and I feel 29.”
The benefits of Eagle’s personal practice have continued to deliver consistent, ongoing healing, which has inspired his intention to make a one-tournament return to the U.S. Open Racquetball Championships in two years, at the age of 50.
Ashtanga yoga develops the potential for athletes to compete, move and practice with greater efficiency, preventing bones and muscles from getting rusty, he said.
w Info: pineappleyoga.com