When a mass transit bus speeding at 50 mph rear-ended Shawn Selk’s car in 2003, Selk suffered such severe whiplash that all the ligaments in his spinal, pelvic and tailbone regions stretched significantly.
It wasn’t until he began practicing alignment-based yoga, after three years of enduring ineffective rehabilitation, that he found lasting relief.
“The yoga practice is really what brought me sustained relief and eventually a symptom-free life,” said Selk, vice president of accounting at Wangard Partners Inc.
Within two years of starting alignment-based yoga classes, Selk had kicked all of his residual symptoms from the accident and wanted to share the benefits of therapeutic yoga witah others.
Today, Selk is a certified yoga instructor and teaches group classes and extensive workshops at the Delaware House in Bay View. His courses serve a range of students, from beginners to individuals struggling with addictions to patients dealing with stress or physical pain.
Alignment-based yoga uses long, static holds on poses, as opposed to fluid transitions between poses. Through these poses, yogis aim to bring the body into near-perfect alignment, often relying on props to assist them in maintaining their form.
In practicing and teaching alignment-based yoga, Selk follows the traditions of his mentors, Bryant Mascarenhas of Santosh Yoga in Wauwatosa and Rev. Fr. Joseph Pereira, an internationally-known professor in yoga philosophy and psychology living and working in India.
Their therapeutic approaches to yoga are “a work in as opposed to a work out,” Selk said, and it’s “almost medicinal.”
While participants reap fitness benefits, “it’s also an internal awareness, and we bring more of a meditative focus to our yoga positions,” he said.