When I first walk into his office, Abbas Rakhshani offers me a warm, generous hug. “Hugging communicates and transfers energy,” he says. I immediately feel comforted by his calm, compassionate presence. And by the end our interview, I feel like I’ve had a healing session myself.
Rakhshani opened the Yoga Wellness Center in South Asheville in June, with offices and a yoga therapy hall that are simple and uncluttered. It’s not a yoga studio, however, nor does it host large yoga classes. Instead, it’s a healing center for lifestyle change via several channels, one of which includes yoga therapy.
Rakhsahni uses the Eastern Vedic approach to healing. He earned his doctorate in Vedic Sciences at SVYASA University in Bangalore, India. From 2003 to 2012, he trained and conducted clinical research in yoga as a mind-body therapy at St. John’s Medical College and Hospital in Bangalore. One of his main areas of clinical research includes the effects of yoga in low- and high-risk pregnancies.
At the Yoga Wellness Center, he now offers one-on-one lifestyle coaching that derives from the spiritual roots of yoga.
“Whereas Western medicine looks at your physical body, Eastern medicine sees you as an onion, with layers and layers,” says Rakhshani. “You have a physical body, a subtle body, a mental body, a wisdom body, and the bliss body. Vedic science focuses on all of these bodies. The symptoms appear in the physical body, but the root cause may be anywhere along the path in these other layers.”
After exploring the root cause of an ailment, Rakhshani formulates a coaching plan that may include breathing techniques, yoga postures, guided imagery, meditation and other lifestyle changes that are tailored to the individual. “Every person’s condition is different,” he says. “If you are well, a certain practice can be very good for you. If not, it can have an adverse effect.”
Lake Lure resident Ann Gilbert Logan, who had been diagnosed with scoliosis, says her doctors told her there was nothing she could do. “I was feeling very dejected when I visited Dr. Rakhshani,” she says, “not to mention skeptical about whether he would be able to help me. After my initial consultation, I felt very comfortable with him. After my first session I was quite impressed, to say the least!”
During her hour-long sessions, Rakhshani gave Gilbert Logan a series of exercises that she continued to do at home. “They stopped all the hurting in my back. I’m 70 years old and have never done yoga before. I was skeptical,” she adds. “But after taking away years of pain and pills it would make anyone a believer. [Rakhshani] is such a patient person, a very kind person. You can talk to him about anything.”
Rakhshani emphasizes individualized, caring attention for each client. The center also offers meditation classes, educational workshops and massage therapy. Plans call for small, therapeutic yoga classes to address particular health issues such as hypertension, arthritis, back and neck pain, anxiety and depression, gastrointestinal disorders and PTSD.
“But these,” says Rakhshani, “will not be a replacement for one-on-one therapy that clients receive initially. Clients can attend classes to maintain their wellness.
“Just as a physician treats one patient at a time because no two cases are alike, years of experience have taught me that identifying the root cause of the disorders and administering the Vedic therapies are most effective when working with one individual at a time.”
Since one of Rakhshani’s specialties is prenatal and postnatal yoga therapy, he plans to have a midwife on board at the center as well, along with a team of physicians who will attend the more acute situations. He’s also collaborating with the medical and holistic heath community here in Asheville. MAHEC, for example, has added the Yoga Wellness Center to its list of chronic pain resources for patients.
So what exactly inspired Rakhshani to open a wellness center in Asheville?
“I just want to serve,” he says. “ And especially Ashevilleans, because I’m in love with them. I really am.”
A native of Iran, Rakhshani left his home country in his early 20s and spent much of his adult life in Florida working as a software engineer and publisher. But he and his Nicaraguan wife, Nubia del Carmen, always felt most at home in the Blue Ridge Mountains. In 1995, they purchased land in Hendersonville with the intention to build. But then India called to them and they spent 13 years there, studying and training in yoga as a body-mind therapy. Now Rakhshani has returned to Western North Carolina to serve the community he loves.
But again, why Asheville?
“It has to do with the people,” he says. “We communicate with each other before we even speak a word. Even with people walking the streets, they contact you before they even say hello. You are in communication with everybody around, and you feel you understand them. People recognize the divine in each other and greet it. I have exchanged some of the most beautiful hugs in this place. Delicious hugs.
“Clients come in here. They are in pain and I can feel it,” he says. “I can feel their thoughts. It’s so easy to work with them in here. There’s a collective consciousness here, and this is an incredible asset when it comes to a therapeutic business such as ours.”
The Yoga Wellness Center is still very young. Yet Rakhshani’s one-on-one practice is beginning to thrive — perhaps because of his attentive and compassionate presence.And let’s not forget the delicious hugs.
For more information, visit TheYogaWellnessCenter.com or call 774-5150.