Anusara Yoga

Ocean Breezes for Navy Lady

Paula Puopolo in old flight suit in her Florida garden  Photo Credit: Mackenzie Stroh

Paula Puopolo in old flight suit in her Florida garden

Photo Credit: Mackenzie Stroh

Phew, this one's heavy--with a happy ending.

From the Wall Street Journal. In the early 1990s, Paula Puopolo was a trained anti-submarine helicopter pilot rising through the ranks in the Navy. Impressive.In September 1991, she accompanied her boss to a military convention at which 200 fellow aviators---as a part of a sketchy hazing ritual---ambushed her as she came out of the elevator. They passed her from man to man, groping and fondling her in a drunken, testosterone induced hysteria. (Oh no!)Puopolo's complaints did not see justice done---in fact she was transferred and ignored until she went to the press. This was the early 1990s, remember. The military wasn't so willing to deal with sexual harassment and assault. Paula Puopolo meditating in her Florida garden, wearing her old flight suit. Military career ruined, Puopolo sued for damages. Though she ultimately won the case and a respectable settlement, Puopolo spent much of her life in tears, taking prescription pills. She suffered the defense attorneys' slanderous accusations as well as the hostility of her home town and naval comrades. That's when she started doing yoga. “I figured if I could trade 10 seconds thinking about my hamstring for 10 seconds worrying about the trial, it was a good swap,” she says. As the trial progressed, her yoga sessions grew longer: “It became a 90-minute window in the day when I didn’t cry," says Puapolo, in the WSJ.

Eventually, in 2008, she used money from the settlement to open Ocean Yoga whose mission is "to empower our students to find and explore their path to health and well-being so they may feel better through safe, compassionate yoga teachings. "Something she knows about first hand, I'd say.In fact, she says yoga---inspired by John Friend's Anusara Yoga---helped her stop taking medication and eased her anger at the attackers.  “The philosophy opened me up to the idea that I could really stop hating so much stuff.” “Everybody’s got a story, everybody’s got something that really deeply informs the way they move for the rest of their lives,” she says. “In yoga you can work through the story to your benefit, you can use it to rise up. But in the Navy, those events? Tough s—, keep moving.” "In teaching yoga she says she does much the same thing as she did in the military---strives to be "a good leader and to get the best  from the people around her."A tough row to hoe, but lucky students of Ocean Yoga.Hari Om Tat Sat, Paula.