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One day at a time, resident reaches yoga milestone

Ain Roost set a yoga challenge for himself while recovering from injuries. He credits the practice with improving his strength, balance and flexibility.
Ain Roost set a yoga challenge for himself while recovering from injuries. He credits the practice with improving his strength, balance and flexibility.
( / Courtesy photo)

One day after 68-year-old Ain Roost reached his goal of doing yoga for 1,000 days, he set a new goal: Do it for one more day.

“Today is 1,001. There’s no point in quitting,” he said on July 16, a day after completing his personal challenge. “My new goal is 1,002.”

The local resident, psychologist and former Canadian Olympian took his first yoga classes in Marrakech, Morocco, after arriving there on the Marrakech Express from Casablanca in 1969.

Along the road to 1,000 days, he said there were “lesser milestones” like 100 or 500 days. He even got a bit of a kick out of day 666, when — conceding that he has a strange sense of humor — he acknowledged what is known as the “number of the beast” by quoting the Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil.” (Some interpretations point to a passage in the Bible book of Revelations, calling the number a symbol of the Antichrist.)

With meditation and a focus on mindfulness a part of his personal life that crosses into his professional life, he said one of his philosophies is to “be present a day at a time.” But sometimes his goals go a bit beyond that.

He was already a practitioner of yoga and a gym regular until a combination of injuries to his knee, shoulder and hip sidelined him. Once he felt well enough to return to his yoga routine, he said, he challenged himself to do yoga for 30 days straight.

“When I got to 30, I just kept going,” he said in a press release about his adventure. “It’s become a habit, regular part of my morning ritual.”

Part of the challenge, though, was “about more than yoga. It is about setting intentions and following them.”

He also noted that yoga and meditation are part of every day — kind of like showering and brushing his teeth.

Roost was born in Sweden. His parents, who left Estonia in the face of the Soviet presence, moved to Toronto, Canada when he was 5.

As a young boy, he grew interested in track and field.

“Boys like to run and jump and throw stuff,” he said, so it was a good fit.

Initially he tried decathlon — “there’s a lot of running and throwing stuff” — but when he realized he wasn’t cut out for all the events, he focused on throwing. So discus, javelin and shot put became his sports, earning him a college scholarship.

“I was most successful at discus,” he added. Using that talent, he spent “a magical” 10 years on the Canadian National Track & Field Team that took him to two Olympics, the Pan Am Games and other international competitions.

As a young teen, he thought he wanted to be an architect, but as he got older, he became interested in “the mystery of people — why we do what we do, what are we doing here …”

The combination of philosophy, spirituality and psychology became a “continual fascination,” which pulled him towards a degree in psychology. He received his Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota and worked in a variety of clinical settings before choosing private practice more than 10 years ago.

He has offices in Carlsbad and La Jolla, with a lot of his clients coming from UCSD and the scientific and medical communities. He also uses his athletic background in performance enhancement work with athletes, writers, musicians and artists.

He sometimes uses the principles of yoga and meditation in his practice as well as his own life, in which he strives always to be “mindful and present.”

His wife, Amy, is executive director of the Solana Beach nonprofit Silver Age Yoga that offers classes around the county (www.silverageyoga.org). The classes are supported by a grant from the City of Encinitas and the Mizel Family Foundation.

She, too, is a yoga devotee, though she hasn’t been at it quite as long. When she first met Ain seven years ago, she didn’t care for it, preferring more active exercise like swimming and gymnastics.

But because she wanted to have something in their relationship they could share, she started yoga about five years ago.

Her husband’s challenge inspired her to “get into a different groove” with her yoga. She said she’s done 30-day challenges on her own and cited research stating that it takes about that long for a new habit to be “hard-wired.”

They both point to the benefits of yoga in one’s physical and psychological being — from reducing hypertension and back pain to improving flexibility and strength.

Amy said it’s a particularly effective practice for seniors who often cite “fear of falling” as one of their greatest fears.

Ain added that for him, the flexibility he gained is perhaps the biggest plus of practicing yoga. He said that his strength and balance are also “clearly improved,” as is his mental balance.

The press release about his accomplishment reflects the humorous outlook of this 6’4”, 215-pound man.

“It’s tough for a big guy like myself to kiss my knees with my forehead in a forward bend or do a full lotus, but that doesn’t ultimately matter. It’s not about how good you are at it, or how pretzel-like you can make yourself. I just do what I can, and because I feel the benefits I keep doing it” — day after day after day.


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