Kripalu Guest Stories: Ron A.

A Yogi at Heart

Growing up in my family, every single emotion was tied to food. If you were happy, you ate. If you were sad or frustrated, you ate. If you were celebrating, you ate. There was a strong family history of poor eating habits and a sedentary lifestyle.

Four years ago, when I was 38, I had a heart attack. My wife was eight months pregnant at the time, and we had a two-year-old. I improved short-term with diet modification, exercise, and medication, and I got to a point where I felt I was in a safer place. So I started slipping back—eating poorly, not exercising, skipping my medication sometimes. The Saturday before Thanksgiving last year, I thought I was having a second heart attack. We called 911 and the ambulance took me to the hospital.

I hadn’t had a heart attack, but they decided to keep me over the weekend and do a cardiac catheterization. The cardiologist told me he didn’t anticipate finding anything; he just wanted to make sure everything was okay. What he thought was going to be a 15-minute procedure ended up being a two-hour procedure. I had a 90-percent blockage in my left anterior descending artery, and a 70-percent blockage at the back of my heart. It became quite apparent that I needed to make wholesale changes, not just for me, but for my wife and children. I needed to pass new, good habits on to them so that they don’t run into the same things I was up against.

When I found out about the Preventing and Reversing Heart Disease program, I struggled with whether I could be away from my family for a week and whether we could afford it. The more important question was, Can I afford not to go? The wealth of information that doctors Mark Pettus and John Bagnulo gave us in a matter of days is easily three months’ worth of material. I now have all this incredible information and resources to improve my whole family’s life going forward.

Before Kripalu, I didn’t lend much credence to what they refer to as the “yogic lifestyle.” I’d thought about doing yoga for the flexibility, but I never considered the breathing, the meditation, or the healing aspects. I’d been dismissive of meditation, but my mind-set has shifted 100 percent. It’s about being able to take things that previously were stressors and convert them into something innocuous. During one meditation session, it was really windy outside, and instead of being irritated by the noise, I envisioned myself as the wind, going up through the trees and over the lake. Integrating the yogic lifestyle into everyday life at home is going to be awesome.

—Ron A., Morris Plains, New Jersey