By Jan Austin
In the early morning hours of June 12, 2016, three yoga friends, Jody Emerson Quintana, Lance Wright and Gina Puccinelli will undertake the Sprint Distance events of the 2016 Triathlon at Pacific Grove as a team.
“This is an adversity story of three friends from yoga,” said Puccinelli. “None of us are really in our element. Jody doesn’t have the kind of shoes that you would think someone would use for this event. She’s going to wear her Keds. Lance will be swimming without a wetsuit, and I’ll will be riding an old bike with a cargo pack and a cushy seat. I won’t be looking like a triathlon biker.”
“One of the principles of yoga is austerity,” said Emerson Quintana. “Lance swims in the ocean three days a week without a wetsuit. I think that’s pretty austere.”
At 7:30 that Sunday morning, Wright will enter the ocean for the quarter-mile swim. Puccinelli will follow with a 12.4 mile bike ride, then Emerson Quintana will take on the two-mile run/walk.
“The best way to get to know people that you like is to do something together that is difficult and challenging and pushes your personal limits where you find you need a little help and encouragement from the other people involved,” said Wright. “So the shared adversity is the rewarding part of doing this triathlon. None of us are interested in competing. We’re just interested in the experience.”
“We just want to finish, we really don’t care about our time,” said Puccinelli.
So why are these three yogis expanding their comfort zones and becoming triathlon competitors? They want to raise awareness for the upcoming International Day of Yoga.
The trio is planning a free community event at Lovers Point Park for International Day of Yoga on Tuesday, June 21, from 5:00-7:30 pm.
Live music by local musicians will accompany 90 minutes of yoga instruction by experienced local yoga instructors, including Emerson Quintana and Puccinelli.
Wright, accompanied by Puccinelli and Emerson Quintana, will present Yoga Dancing as a new way to experience yoga. He has meticulously choreographed yoga poses and flowing transitions set to music so that participants will move with the music and each other. He calls his dance “Friends.”
“You do this dance together,” said Wright. “It’s a way of moving from an internal focus of yoga to start to move outward by dancing with fellow yoga practitioners. Dancing is just a way to be more connected with each other.
“Yoga is that simple, it’s a way to interact with yourself, others and the world, to be good and do good.”
“Lance has been working on this yoga dance, sequencing it to music,” said Puccinelli. “ It’s brilliant how he takes the passion that he feels for yoga and for music and creates something beautiful out of that.”
The event theme is peace and “peace flags” designed by local artist Gwen Marie will be available for purchase at a special price of $10 each. Funds raised will help pay for the park rental.
“Yoga is about peace within ourselves and taking that out into the world, peace among people, peace among countries,” said Emerson Quintana. One of the principles of yoga is non-violence. Peace is a natural outcome of non-violence.”
“This is a global event, along with 177 other countries,” said Puccinelli. “As we gather in community and do the practice of yoga, we take it into the world. We’re going to set a vibrational energy from this park to be part of this collective consciousness of peace and love and oneness without separation.”
Puccinelli has been teaching yoga since 1990. She currently teaches at the Monterey Sports Center, Yoga Center Carmel and Carmel Valley Athletic Club. She occasionally teaches at Seaside Yoga Sanctuary and leads retreats. She is also a certified massage therapist, medical exercise specialist, and mother of Buddy Om, a very special therapy dog who often accompanies her to yoga classes.
“I love and value community,” she said. “My yoga group is my huge extended family.”
Emerson Quintana began taking yoga classes because of health challenges with her back.
“After a lifetime of back problems, when I do yoga regularly, it keeps them at bay,” she said. “I was taking Gina’s class at the Sports Center when realized I wanted to be a yoga teacher.”
She completed her training in 2014 and currently teaches at the Sports Center, the Carmel Foundation and at the Mount Madonna Center. She is also a certified massage practitioner and certified nutrition consultant.
All ages and experiences levels are welcome at International Day of Yoga. It is recommended that you bring a yoga mat or towel.
“Help us be the light of consciousness in the world through our actions of peace and love,” said Puccinelli.