Rhythm of the Maui Yoga Path
South Maui Instructor Exudes the Groove to Move You
By Trisha Smith, South Maui Weekly
Whether on the surface or deep within her soul, a gamut of lessons and experiences has shaped the extraordinary journey of Deni Roman of the Maui Yoga Path. A natural leader in athletics and communication, this longtime holistic student embodies a rhythmic flow of life, which allows her to connect on many levels. After more than 30 years of practicing yoga and dedicating herself to teaching body, mind and spirit cultivation, Deni exudes the groove to “move” you, whether physically, mentally or spiritually.
A former Fortune 500 ergonomics company consultant, this certified Iyengar teacher travels frequently, making yearly treks to India to enhance her own practice. (She returned just recently from Pune.) Her guru is the highly respected Yogacharya B.K.S. Iyengar, who has appeared on Time Magazine’s most influential people in the world lists.
Yet no matter where the gentle winds blow, Deni finds most comfort within the sanctuary of the Maui Yoga Path. The “auspicious space,” she said, was “too perfect to pass up.”Since Deni “planted the seed for” her studio in 2001, the modest room has grown into a warm environment described as “a place to come home to relax, rejuvenate and discover your true."
"Maui is one of the world’s chakras, and our space flows right along the line between Haleakala and the ocean,” she said. “Wonderful, natural vibes here.”Students—usually a mix of visitors and residents of all ages, beliefs and skill levels—settle into the comfortable, low-light studio adorned with eclectic art, Sanskrit tapestry, tie-dye and spiritual messages. Senses come alive with plumeria breezes that waft through the open doors as the waves crash upon Keawakapu Beach. The vibrant energy is undeniable—heavenly, in fact—excluding the curious pedestrians who frequent the studio’s entrance.
Among other healing arts, Maui Yoga Path celebrates Iyengar’s method, a form of Hatha (or the physical practice of yoga) based on giving eminence to the body’s physical alignment in its poses, paying close attention to spinal health and breathing. As “balancing the body will then, in reflection, balance the mind,” Deni compels students to hold the positions correctly. She’s tough, but kind in her demeanor, supplying props and encouragement to those not yet comfortable with yoga.
Deni also emphasizes the sadhana of yoga, the spiritual practice that unionizes body, mind, and spirit. For her own practice, Deni incorporates meditation, strength training/movement and yoga, and “lives yoga all the time, throughout the day.” “Each time you walk in here, it’s a chance for renewal,” she said.Using her holistic health expertise,
Deni integrates the importance of diet, sleep and exercise with the yogic philosophy to create fun and physical classes called Yoga Core Conditioning. This “smorgasbord of yoga” is a series of movements she’s combined from nearly 35 years of practice, including dance positions that “get you moving in a celebration.”
Deni’s 27-year-old daughter, Evan, joined her along this divine path, calling her a “chip off the old block, but different.” “Evan’s wise for her age—she’s my teacher, my friend, my soulmate,” said Deni. “Evan was able to deepen her practice, yoga has been there with her.” Evan has taught yoga for eight years as a “preventative means to participate in all activities of life.” She also sings in Los Angeles band Plum, returning to Maui when her mother is away.
Deni never pushed yoga onto Evan, allowing her own desire to build and instilling a deep trust to follow her own instincts. Evan said as a teacher, her mother lets you taste the calmness, clarity, and confidence that comes from yoga, but explained the real work has to be done by the student.
Deni graciously guides students with commentary and studio props, if needed. As students become aware of their “present condition,” she challenges them to release pent-up pollutants and move forward onto a path of healing.
Deni’s enthusiasm for life is contagious. She’s open for any toxic challenge. “That trembling is your ego… let it go,” said Deni. “Trust yourself. No worries of the past, for the future—live in the present and let go.”
Becoming a good employee has taught Evan how to be a respectful daughter. Appreciating her mother as a teacher helps her “show up for her as a friend. “We truly love and relate to one another,” said Evan. “We dance the dance. We push the boundaries… we show up for one another so that the legacy lives on.”
Maui Yoga Path offers a variety of classes daily, including Yoga Core Conditioning and Iyengar Yoga. Deepen your practice at the upcoming “Maui Yoga Path New Year Iyengar Retreat” from Friday through Sunday, Jan. 14 to 16, where Deni will share her recent studies from India.
It’s been said that a well of love resides within all of us. Tap into some of this beauty and reward the world around you by advancing your resolutions through the Maui Yoga Path, located beachfront at the Mana Kai Resort at 2960 S. Kihei Road
Path to Peace
Is there a better place than Maui to unify your mind, body and soul? As you speak with Deni Roman, you realize that she really listens. She hears what you’re saying and replies thoughtfully. This may appear simple, but it’s a difficult skill to cultivate. Her consistency and dedication, along with her empathy and innate pedagogical ability, make her a fine yoga instructor. Roman runs her own studio, Maui Yoga Path, at the Mana Kai Resort in Kihei.
She has been practicing and teaching yoga for 27 years and has taken pilgrimages to India and around the world to deepen her understanding of this now ubiquitous practice which melds the mind, body and soul. Upon entering her studio, you realize that she cultivates a friendly, warm and welcoming environment.
Her doors open to the clear and shimmering Hawaiian water. Her voice is unwavering, but never unduly harsh. She wants all her students to reach a little higher. Students are students. People are people said Roman. I love them all. And yoga doesn’t exclude anyone. We can be connected to the divine. First, you have to connect with that higher power whatever that higher power is you choose. Yoga in Sanskrit means union. It is a union of the mind, body, and spirit.
Roman attended Emerson College in Boston, where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Speech Communications. She taught in a lower-income school for a year and then worked as an ergonomics consultant for Fortune 500 companies.
When I first started teaching, I was seven years old. I started my own dancing school. There was nothing else which inspired me.Teaching incites the fire in her. I wanted to be like a bow and arrow. I had clarity and I knew my target, she said. Roman looks to teach only what she really knows and lives. You can’t teach something because someone else told you to say it, she remarked.
In addition to teaching, Roman always strove to take care of her health. She played competitive racquetball, was a body builder, studied dance and ran marathons.
She knows how much discipline it takes to be an athlete, and she applied this discipline to her yoga studies. It was like I was born knowing the importance of health, Roman said. She emphasizes sadhana of yoga, which is the spiritual practice which includes the mind, body and soul. A vegetarian since the age of 27, Roman lives the yogic practice of ahimsa or non-violence. This must be adhered to throughout the practice of yoga. This practice is thousands of years old for a reason, she said. I know how this changed my life.
Her preferred path of yoga is Iyengar Yoga, Movement and Meditation. A few years ago, Time Magazine named her guru, Yogacharya Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja Iyengar, one of the 100 most influential people of the year. That same year, Iyengar became a word in The Oxford English Dictionary. I just fell in love with the Iyengar way, said Roman.
It’s a very strict, classical way of teaching. If your ego is too big, then you won’t be able to handle it. You have to think: I want to see my true self. Some poses are deceptively easy. The corpse pose (savasana) is actually an advanced pose in Iyengar yoga. It’s about trusting your surroundings and letting go.
In yoga, ego is an obstacle, said Roman. It’s like saying to yourself, Can I get out of the way so my life can flow? She believes that it is essential to find a yoga teacher with whom you connect spiritually. You must connect heart to heart, she said, touching her chest.
The word guru in India means a person who will liberate you from darkness and remove ignorance, said Roman. That person must have walked that path before you. Trust is important in all relationships and it’s especially crucial when looking for a physical, mental and spiritual teacher. The guru must guide properly. Every experience is needed, said Roman. The key to all of it is to live through it consciously and with integrity.
In 2004, she traveled alone throughout India and found this to be a life-altering experience. She said that she enjoys going to Pune, India, the center for Iyengar yoga, because she has a chance to shed her role as teacher and become, once again, a student. I asked the biggies, she said. Who am I? What am I searching for? She always wanted to go straight to the gurus in her reach for a greater understanding of the yoga path.
I couldn’t have picked a better location than Maui for my home, said Roman. For her, Maui offers the chance to let go of materialism, to have paradise as your home, to have open air and a large room. It’s really one of the world’s chakras because of Haleakala. My dream is to live half of the year on Maui and the other half traveling.
Chakra is the Sanskrit word for wheel and refers to the seven energy centers of the human body. In her yoga sessions, Roman reminds her students that they are being rewarded for past good deeds by having the chance to practice yoga so close to the ocean, in such a heavenly location.
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