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My morning with an 87-year-old yoga teacher
Geralda is a former nun, yoga teacher, and body therapist focused on people's health. Her method uses nature's resources to balance the body: salt, ice, hot and cold water.
Looking back, can you connect the dots that brought your life to where you are now? And somehow, does this release the fear of the uncertain and open the door to chance? Dona Geralda would know—her presence echoes that of a person who has sought to live their deepest truth.
Upon entering her clinical center for the first time, I was struck by the way she touched my hands as she greeted me. I got the feeling that she was already sharing some important information, which I later discovered to be true. She works with touch, observation, and movement. My morning with her was a reaffirmation of life, and I can still feel the warmth of this encounter filling my whole chest.
What made you become a therapist?
I worked as a pharmacist at Hospital São Francisco [Concórdia, Brazil] until 1973 and taught Child Care and Biology. During the classes, the idea arose among the students to do social work, teaching the basics of hygiene [which at the time were practically nil]. This movement caught the attention of the community, which started to help the village. The project became a landmark for the city because it was structured and supported by society.
At some point, we received a lady to help us offer more natural food to the children. She came, and also introduced us to some Yoga practices—I was blown away by her knowledge and postures. Then, she said: "When you can, come and visit me. You're exhausted." Once the work was going well, I spoke to my superior and asked her to let me stay for a year at the farm where this lady lived. At first, she said no, but then the answer became a yes.
In 1974 I arrived at the farm, which was a true monastery. Discipline, work, and study. I managed to regain my physical strength, and I realized that my health had improved as a whole. I went back to the convent, but in my soul, I knew that I wanted this way of living in simplicity.
Four years later, I officially stopped being a nun, and, as I already practiced Yoga, I started teaching several classes. I ended up becoming known in the city, and people started coming to me. They arrived with physical pain, depression, etc., and after a while they were fine. So I ended up getting into it, not willingly, but because the students made me. I took several courses, and I started aspiring for something that would give me a clearer view of health and illness; that's when, in 1982, I got to know Traditional Chinese Medicine.
How would you define the act of creating? And how does it relate to nature?
I didn't create anything, I just watched nature.
I observed that when it doesn't rain, the land dries up, produces nothing and everything dies. When the rain comes, the earth is moistened, and everything is renewed and born. In practice, I said: "I'm going to do what nature does, but in the human body." How? If the person feels cold, I will warm them up in the form of heated water; if they feel warm, I will refresh them in the form of cold water. After many years of study, I understood how to circulate energy in the meridians of the human body, and I improved the method. Today, I understand much more, and so I am able to restore people's health much faster.
How does a person's environment affect their physical and emotional health?
Each person creates their environment through the thoughts and emotions they project. If they are spiritually weak, they live by what others think. Thus, their organs lose strength and any current of cold or hot air penetrates the body causing pain and illness.
What was the most surprising experience with a patient or student? Any case that you can share with us.
A doctor in a state of depression once told me during our session: "I used to call people who sat in the squares bums, but now I see that they were right and I was the one who was wrong".
The treatment we did included going to my farm to climb trees, see the mountains and watch the birds. I got his family involved and even convinced him to buy his own farm. He had returned to practice and, one day, in the operating room, he felt such a panic that he ran away. He immediately came to me and said that his profession was over. I reassured him to go back and talk to his colleagues. In fact, he did it.
What do I want to teach with this? We all have problems, but we must look for stronger people who can push us forward in difficult moments. He completed his treatment and became a much-loved doctor.
What kind of exercises can we do at home when we feel a creative block?
We have a noble body part, the chest, which contains two vital organs: the heart and the lung. I call this region "Yin", and it is extremely subject to emotions. We receive external stimuli through the senses, and as they happen, we can feel joy, sadness, anger, and so on. There is a simple way to expel emotions: through screaming. To do this, start by opening your chest and gesturing all the vowels A-E-I-O-U, jumping, and expanding. Then, breathe and go back to retreat. This will rebalance you.
Finally, 3 things you do every day for a good life.
I get up at 6 am and do joint and breathing exercises added to some Yoga poses. Then, I meditate, I pray, and I study. Everyday.
Thank you, Geralda!
You can find her and learn more about the Hot and Cold Method at the CEE (Centro de Equilíbrio de Energia), located at Myltho Anselmo da Silva St., 777 - Curitiba, Paraná, Brazil.
Sala is SCHARF's newsletter, an invitation to the curious ones.