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updated: 8/22/2014 4:12 PM

Libertyville man shares his love for yoga with 'breath of fire'

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  • Video: Moving picture: yoga teacher

  • Damasius, center, instructs students to hold a boat pose at Independence Grove Forest Preserve.

       Damasius, center, instructs students to hold a boat pose at Independence Grove Forest Preserve.
    George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

  • Damasius sits in the sleeping turtle pose during an Ashtanga yoga class at Independence Grove Forest Preserve in Libertyville.

       Damasius sits in the sleeping turtle pose during an Ashtanga yoga class at Independence Grove Forest Preserve in Libertyville.
    George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

  • Linas Damasius balances flyer Rosie Vondrak, both of Libertyville, while participating in acrobatic yoga during a yoga solar jam hosted by Damasius at Cook Memorial Park in Libertyville.

       Linas Damasius balances flyer Rosie Vondrak, both of Libertyville, while participating in acrobatic yoga during a yoga solar jam hosted by Damasius at Cook Memorial Park in Libertyville.
    photos by George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

  • Jennifer Richard of Grayslake balances on Linas Damasius' back with their hands in a Namaste pose during an acrobatic yoga solar jam at Cook Memorial Park in Libertyville. In yoga, Namaste is often used as a greeting and as an expression of respect and goodwill.

       Jennifer Richard of Grayslake balances on Linas Damasius' back with their hands in a Namaste pose during an acrobatic yoga solar jam at Cook Memorial Park in Libertyville. In yoga, Namaste is often used as a greeting and as an expression of respect and goodwill.
    George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

  • Even though acro-yoga appears difficult, Linas Damasius says he can teach new students to perform simple flyer poses during their first class admitting it's more about bone stacking and proper alignment then strength.

       Even though acro-yoga appears difficult, Linas Damasius says he can teach new students to perform simple flyer poses during their first class admitting it's more about bone stacking and proper alignment then strength.
    George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

  • Damasius greets Susan Nash of Mundelein, who rode her bike to Independence Grove Forest Preserve to attend Damasius' free Ashtanga yoga class.

       Damasius greets Susan Nash of Mundelein, who rode her bike to Independence Grove Forest Preserve to attend Damasius' free Ashtanga yoga class.
    George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

  • A free ashtanga yoga class is held for a second season in front of the water fountain in the native garden near Millennium Plaza at Independence Grove near Libertyville.

       A free ashtanga yoga class is held for a second season in front of the water fountain in the native garden near Millennium Plaza at Independence Grove near Libertyville.
    George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

  • Damasius balances on a slackline in Libertyville's Cook Memorial Park.

       Damasius balances on a slackline in Libertyville's Cook Memorial Park.
    George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

  • Damasius' sandals, timer, Tibetan singing bowls and Ashtanga yoga position sheet sit nearby during a class.

       Damasius' sandals, timer, Tibetan singing bowls and Ashtanga yoga position sheet sit nearby during a class.
    George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

 
 

They call it the breath of fire.

It sounds forced and desperate, like a Canada goose gasping for air after running a marathon.

Linas Damasius of Libertyville calls it "kapalabhati body breathing."

"That's the breath of fire," Damasius said, "a very forceful breathing technique that we use at the end of class to let the last energy out of our bodies."

Damasius, 48, teaches free yoga classes at Independence Grove Forest Preserve in Libertyville. The class meets Mondays and Wednesdays from 10:30 a.m. to noon, rain or shine, under the pergola in the native flower garden.

It's the second summer he's taught the class.

"Teaching the yoga classes has allowed me to meet other people and share something I love," he says.

During the Ashtanga yoga class, Damasius directs his students to perform such poses as sleeping turtle, downward-facing dog, warrior, boat and tripod head stand.

If done correctly, Ashtanga yoga will lengthen and strengthen literally every muscle in your body, Damasius said.

"I can feel muscles I never knew I had, definitely more strength and flexibility."

Damasius uses Tibetan singing bowls (the rim vibrates to produce sound) to deepen students' relaxation. "The singing bowls emit an alpha frequency that helps the brain enter a restful state of meditation," Damasius said.

He says people have many misconceptions about the practice of yoga.

"They think it's about chanting or gently stretching," he said. "Yoga is about proper alignment of muscles to maintain strong postures."

Damasius hosts yoga "solar jams" every couple of weeks at Cook Memorial Park in Libertyville. There he practices acro-yoga, a combination of acrobatics and yoga with members of his yoga Kula (a group of yoga friends).

"Acrobatic yoga has allowed me to develop my communication skills," he said. "Balancing someone who is trusting you, you need to have clear communication, both verbal and nonverbal."

Damasius says balancing a person in the air draws his focus to a single point, which enables him to support a student, called a flyer, while performing acro-yoga poses the flag, front bird, throne, side star and highflying whale.

"People think yoga is about emptying the mind, when it's really about learning to focus the mind," Damasius added.

For more, find Damasius and information about his free classes and solar jams on Facebook.

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