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Delilah Eakman – Big Sky-based yoga instructor

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By Emily Stifler
Delilah Eakman sets me up laying on
blankets folded lengthwise, with my
shoulders tilted down onto the floor
on a yoga mat. My head and neck are
cradled with a soft bolster, and my
arms are out to the sides, enveloped
in blankets, elbows bent. I’d told
Eakman my back and neck bothered
me, and she left me in this restorative
yoga pose where my entire body was
supported and comfortable. She asked
me to focus on my breathing and then
left the room.
At first, I worked hard at my breathing,
physically exerting myself. After
a couple minutes, I felt as if someone
was holding their hands over me, and
pulling a pressure from the inside
of my body out through my chest.
When she returned in ten minutes,
I told her about the feeling of the
invisible hands.
“You were totally relaxed,” she said.
“That was your inner healing energy.
In India it’s called Prana. In China it’s
called Chi. Life force energy really
gets activated when you’re in a totally
relaxed state. You were feeling
the energy in your body moving to
where it needs to be. Also, you felt
tension releasing.”
Eakman has lived full time in Big
Sky 12 years and vacationed here
for over 35 years. Originally from
Anderson, Indiana, Eakman and her
husband Jack raised their three sons
in Bismarck, North Dakota. She has
instructed Amrit Yyoga, integrative
relaxation (Yoga Nidra), prenatal and
senior yoga for six years and now
teaches three to five days a week.
After more than two years of study
with yogi Amrit Desai, she is also a
500 Yoga Alliance certified Instructor
and a certified Integrative Relaxation
Facilitator and Reiki provider.
Restorative yoga is designed for people
who have had injuries, surgery or
prolonged physical conditions such as
high blood pressure. By using props
and deep relaxation, this kind of
yoga focuses on therapeutic healing.
Eakman is one of only seven certified
Relax and Renew® Restorative yoga
instructors in Montana and the only
one between Missoula and Billings.
She studied for this certification with
Dr. Judith Hanson Lasater, Ph.D, a
physical therapist.
While Eakman was finishing the
certification, she learned first-hand
that Restorative Yoga allows the
body to heal from within. One of her
students was having recurring knee
problems, so Eakman set the woman
up in supportive poses every day for
a week, and soon after she stopped
taking ibuprofen.
Eakman came to yoga during a difficult
time in her life. Her stepmother
had passed away, and she and her
husband brought her 91-year-old
father to Montana so they could care
for him for the rest of his life.
“It was trying to handle the stress in
my life that led me to yoga. I began
to practice consistently in Big Sky.”
She began studying yoga and says, “It
made my life much happier.”
Several times Eakman has volunteered
to teach yoga and integrative
relaxation to soldiers suffering from
PTSD and other stress related disorders
at the behavioral health inpatient
ward at William Beaumont Army
Medical Center in El Paso, Texas.
“The soldiers with PTSD are so
revved up with fight or flight, all the
cortisol in their sympathetic nervous
system keeps their heart rate system
up, and their digestive track from
working. One real antidote for that
is total relaxation. But when you’re
revved up, you can’t relax.”
Working with the soldiers has been
rewarding for Eakman. She says after
just one class, some soldiers have
reported sleeping through the night
for the first time in two years.
Eakman says total relaxation is a very
effective way of reducing the cortisol
and other hormones, and that
people in everyday life also suffer
from PTSD. “You need not be in or
near a combat zone to be effected.
A traumatic event can trigger all of
the same responses. In all of us, it is
prolonged ‘stress’ that creates many of
our physical difficulties. A wonderful
solution is to create a life with less
stress through, Yoga, Restorative Yoga
and Integrative Relaxation.”
Eakman also teaches integrative
relaxation: “In [that practice], we go
to a quiet, calm. It’s beyond the sleep
state. It’s beyond the dream state, but
you’re still awake and alert and able to
follow directions. It’s in that deepest
relaxed mind, where solutions to life’s
problems can begin to arise.”
She says it’s the “ego mind” that tells us
how things should be, shouldn’t be, or
should have been, and through integrative,
we can transcend it.
Quoting Albert Einstein, she says:
“The mind that creates the problem
will not be the mind that solves the
problem.” Integrative relaxation is her
solution to this.
For Eakman, yoga is “not about flexibility
of the body as much as it is
about flexibility of the mind.”

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