Don Maxwell considers the world his classroom. A filmmaker and avid traveler, Don has decades of his life abroad, exploring the nuances of various philosophies and world cultures.
When he started yoga, it was upon the recommendation of a doctor. Meaning it was a modality that would relieve back pain and be a compliment to his swimming regimen. Don embarked on a journey that would not only change his body, but change his life.
He says, “Yoga was challenging. My initial classes were trials of focus, determination, and perseverance. Focus was especially important for me. My body was being challenged, but so was my mind. Later I came to see that the boundary between mind and body is a convenient demarcation, but not an absolute one.” Don devoted himself to practicing the Ashtanga Primary Series daily at Maya Yoga. As an independent contractor, Don scheduled morning Mysore-Style Practices in to his weekly routine. But still, it was difficult to focus on the yoga practice when his mind was distracted by other worries and thoughts. The dedication of the daily practice eventually won out, and Don began to find his practice less and less challenging– more relaxing and invigorating.
“The yoga sessions became more meditative and I began to have insights into my life,” he says. “At times these insights arose spontaneously as I pushed beyond my perceived physical boundaries. In addition to relaxing the body and mind, the moving meditation of yoga relaxed, what are called mental ‘defenses’.”
“It is very hard to know you have an active defensive mechanism because, that’s what a defensive mechanism does: it hides from us something we cannot admit to ourselves. But a relaxed mind/body engaged in a moving meditation can help us to see around corners.
One day, Don had an epiphany while practicing at Maya Yoga. “I came to the inescapable realization that there was nobody in the world who could do me as much harm as I could do to myself. Seeing this changed everything.” After this, Don found that he was not as reactive or quick to anger as he had been in the past. He found that he had far greater control of his mind than he thought possible.
His practice continues to bring opportunities for mediation, growth, and self care.
“I am grateful for all my teachers and fellow students who help along this way. I look back at the great tradition of yoga with reverence and awe. Along with art and science, yoga is one of the great gifts of humankind.”