Yoga Bent: A Path to Health
Apr 29, 2011 10:55PM
By Peggy Malecki
“We both have our beliefs, and our beliefs coincide,” explains Mary Farhi, M.D., who, along with her husband, Miguel Latronica, ERYT, own Highland Park’s Yoga Bent Studio, which opened in January 2011.
Farhi is a practicing gynecologist, who maintains her practice in Wheeling and Hoffman Estates. She also holds a master’s degree in public health and epidemiology. Farhi practices allopathic medicine while also incorporating alternative modalities, and has also developed her own personal yoga and meditation practice. Along her path, Farhi realized her passion for helping women learn to prevent illness rather than waiting to treat disease. Farhi is a certified menopause practitioner through the North American Menopause Society (NAMS). One goal of this affiliation is to promote the health and quality of life of all women through an understanding of menopause and healthy aging.
Latronica calls his yoga training “esoterically based.” Growing up in a family that specialized in civil engineering and construction, he eventually managed the company, learning to fabricate products and helping to run a multimillion-dollar business. While in his 20s, he discovered yoga (a “stream of light”) and shifted his focus. He was certified by Suddha Weixler in 1996. Latronica recalls having had an insatiable appetite for eastern thought. Intensively he studied Indian philosophy, anatomy and physiology, and developed a deeper understanding of how thoughts and conditioning affect subtle nerve energy. Many of his deeper insights of life, he says, are based on the tenets of Tibetan psychology.
Together, Farhi and Latronica bring their base of experience and knowledge to serve the local community. Yoga Bent’s daily offerings include Hatha, Warm Flow, Yoga for Seniors, Incremental and Mighty Body Band classes. “Our classes allow people to explore what is within them as it relates to their health, while also exploring yoga,” explains Farhi.
“We are not just offering yoga to a certain profile of people or body types,” explains Latronica. “We’ve provided an intelligent platform on which our yoga school models are based. We continue to do our research, and together we learn about how the body and mind functions as it relates to the eight limbs of yoga. Yoga Bent offers continuing educational classes. We are a safe haven where anyone can come and gracefully work through their tapas [fires of self-transformation].”
The Yoga Bent studio encourages community members to open themselves up and, through monthly workshops, learn from different types of practitioners, including yoga therapists, allopathic physicians, energy healers, Native American ceremonial practitioners and sound healers. This opportunity to collaborate brings people together to educate themselves on self-healing. Yoga Bent’s initial workshop in April, for example, was Part 1 of an exploration of various aspects of menopause as a natural progression in a woman’s life rather than simply a medical condition. The focus was to educate women about their bodies and how to achieve wellness in mind, body and spirit. Part 2 in this menopause series is scheduled for May 15.
“I don’t believe anyone has the power to truly heal others,” say Latronica. “People heal themselves! It’s got to come from within, like a seed. A seed can sometimes lie latent in the ground, perhaps for thousands of years. And when the conditions are right, that seed will germinate. This is the very seed that carries us through the fruition of healing.”.
Farhi believes their collective years of experience are now culminating in Yoga Bent’s educational direction. She says that many of the practices they offer—yoga, meditation and educational workshops that include alternative modalities—are all tools that people can use to better understand themselves and their bodies.
Stress reduction is also part of Yoga Bent’s mission. Latronica points to busy lives and the collective impact of world tragedies on our bodies. “Stress leads to somatization—stress manifested in physical illness,” he explains. He strives to help students learn to de-stress through yoga by whatever means is accessible in their lives, be it a studio class or a daily, 10-minute routine at home. “Yoga causes psycho-neural-immune responses, which help to balance the chemicals and hormones of our body and mind,” he adds. “Yoga and mindful movement equate to balance. Balanced emotions help to provide a feeling of being at ease within our skin. And I believe this is the spiritual component in which many of us are deficient.”
Through yoga, Latronica seeks to improve flexibility, for men as well as for women. “Many men believe that flexibility makes them less strong, that it takes their ‘strength away,” he says. “My goal is to obliterate that notion through scientifically documented data. Greater flexibility leads to fewer injuries and promotes a more balanced endocrine system, which encourages one to become more open to different possibilities.”
Toward that end, Latronica developed and patented the Mighty Body Band (MBB), which he uses via the Latronica Method to increase flexibility and range of motion. The MBB, he explains, is a Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (or PNF) based device that allows students to stretch at angles not normally allowed by the laws of gravity. This, he says, stretches muscles and fascia in a dynamic way, allowing new neural connections to form, and building muscle mass that increases strength and endurance, agility and flexibility.
“The MBB is the culmination of many of the things I’ve studied and designed over the years, in one product,” says Latronica. “It’s very exciting to me!” In addition to the MBB, Latronica makes and sells other yoga products in-studio and online, including the Upryte posture device, bolsters, mats, and yoga and travel bags, in addition to wood-based products. Many are made from repurposed and recycled materials in the couple’s Highland Park manufacturing facility.
Tools, education and awareness are how Farhi and Latronica combine their unique backgrounds into a new studio that offers many options to help people focus on self-improvement and deeper living.
“We love yoga,” says Latronica. “We believe yoga is an art and science that allows people to craft a space deep within the core of their being. An ancient set of tools for spiritual growth and development. Yoga is about expansion. Yoga allows for a more kind and simple universe.”
Yoga Bent Studio, 1630 Old Deerfield Rd., Highland Park 60035. For more information, including class listings and available yoga and posture products, call 847-831-1515 or visit YogaBent.com.