Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Yoga Centered with Hilo’s Molly Masaoka

Masaoka in Reverse Table

Exercise is one of the key elements to living a long, healthy and productive life, but there are so many different elements that need to be considered besides physical movement.

If we can unite our spiritual, mental and body into one it could lead us to the most overall benefit towards a healthy lifestyle.

In downtown Hilo there is a young woman, Molly Masaoka, which is trying to share the benefits of good health through yoga.

“Every person has different reasons why they come to their mat and do their practice every day,” Masaoka said.  “Some say it’s the workout or the physical benefits they experience, while other say it’s the feeling they have from doing yoga as they come to relax and de-stress.  A third group will practice yoga for spiritual reasons.”

Masaoka grew up on a farm in Iowa where she stayed active and fit doing a variety of activities.

“My parents are active people so we were always taking walks, going hiking, playing catch, swimming at the pool, and just moving our bodies,” she said. “I can distinctly remember waking up early with my mom and doing aerobic workout videos with Jane Fonda.” 

During junior high Masaoka played softball, swam on the swim team, ran track and played volleyball.  In high school she ran cross country and during her sophomore year she discovered and began practicing yoga.

“I graduated high school at 16, then moved to Santa Cruz, California where I continued my yoga and began to surf,” she said.

The adventurous teenager moved, on her own, to Maui at 18 where she eventually met her husband, Nohea Masaoka, while catching waves.

“I came to Hawaii on a vacation by myself when I had just turned 18,” she said.  “Two days later I called my mom to let her know that I would be staying here for the rest of my life.”

Masaoka fell in love with the islands, its land and its people and 30 months after moving to Maui she and her husband moved to the Big Island.

“My husband’s family is from the Big Island and once we moved here I went to the University of Hawaii at Hilo where I got my degree in Political Science and later did an internship with Senator Lorraine Inouye.

At age 20 Masaoka opened her own business, Yoga Centered Studio and Boutique where she has been teaching 8 to 10 classes each week.

“Owning a small business takes a lot of hard work, commitment and long hours,” she said.  “But I absolutely love my job and feel so fortunate that I get to follow my passion as my career.”

Masaoka in Ustrasana

Masaoka’s fitness schedule includes either taking or doing a yoga class every day of the week and she will surf three times a week, depending on the waves.

“I also like to do stand up paddling and I’ll walk once or twice per week,” she said.

Even when Masaoka doesn’t have the time to do all of her fitness activities she will find other things to do to fit into her very busy schedule.

“I make a conscious effort to walk instead of drive, do some yoga while sitting at the computer, or just take a minute to put my legs up the wall and relax,” she said.  “I always find ways to integrate physical fitness into my day in a variety of ways.”

Masaoka will also make a conscious effort in eating, choosing to honor what works best for her.

“For me, I try to eat organic, and/or local as much as possible.  I also avoid processed foods and I do not eat any fast foods,” she said.

Instead Masaoka will eat a lot of vegetables, fruit, whole grains and fish.

“I’m not picky because my husband is the cook, so I eat what he makes,” she said.  “Everything in moderation and balance as I will just listen to what my body tells me and makes me feel good.”

Masaoka will also cite a variety of benefits derived from doing yoga, from increased flexibility and strength to lubrication of the joints, ligaments and tendons.

“Yoga provides a wide variety of health benefits both physically and mentally as it reduces stress, improves concentration and helps with depression and mood swings,” she said.

Masaoka will practice a variety of styles of yoga depending on how she is feeling that day.

“Vinyasa and Ashtanga are yoga styles that connect the flow of the breath to the flow of the body with a strong focus on cultivating strength, stamina and power while remaining comfortable and at ease with the challenge,” Masaoka said.

When she is feeling tired and stressed out she will choose to practice a restorative, yin practice, which allows her to relax her body and rejuvenate her soul.

Molly Masaoka

Masaoka received her certification as a yoga instructor in 2007 from the Nosara Yoga Institute in Costa Rica and she continues to further her education and certifications through a variety of workshops and retreats that are hosted by Yoga Centered.

“I try to have a positive attitude towards everything in my life and remind myself that I live in abundance,” she said.  “I hope to continue the practice of yoga, surf, and walking while keeping an open mind so that I can enjoy life to the fullest.”


December 14, 2010 Posted by | Yoga | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Christine Wolf lacing up her shoes to run Hilo Marathon

Christine Wolf prepares for Hilo Marathon

Sometimes in sports, as it is in life, just a few words can open the doors to equal opportunity and fairness for all of us.

   In 1972 a 37-word law provided half the American population with the same health and fitness opportunities as everyone else.  It stated, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

   The Title IX Educational Amendment, written by our own Congresswoman Patsy Mink, opened a new era of equal opportunity for women in this country.

   “During the ‘60’s I wrote a letter of complaint to our local school board that girls were denied many opportunities,” Christine Wolf said.  “I was informed by our geriatric high school principal that as I matured I would find out that fitness just wasn’t very important for girls.”

  Wolf was just one of more than 100 million Americans that were denied the same opportunities that boys had while growing up.

   “Looking back, there was an ongoing theme in my life, insofar as trying to live an active, athletic sort of life, but feeling that my options for that were limited by my gender,” Wolf said.

   If there were any organized competitive sports offered to girls during the 60’s, when Wolf was in middle and secondary school, she would have wanted to participate.

   “I wanted to be a jock,” she said.  “I wanted to be involved in many classes and extracurricular activities that were only offered to boys in our little backwater school district of Annawan, Illinois.”

   In high school Wolf did take a proactive approach about physical fitness as she began to practice yoga.

   “I became self-taught in yoga by reading whatever books on the subject that I could find,” she said.  “I thought yoga was ‘groovy’ and I actually managed to structure myself a daily routine and stick to it for a few years.”

   During her college years Wolf attended two art schools in Michigan and in Manhattan, respectively, neither of which offered any physical education requirements or sporting activities.

   By the time Wolf finished college Title IX was in full bloom and this Midwesterner fitness fortunes took a positive change for gender equity.

  “I moved back to Illinois after college and found a Nautilus Gym that recently opened near my work place and they had announced that they were going to allow membership for women,” Wolf said.  “The novelty of the idea, engaging in a male sport, enticed me to join and eventually lifting weights every morning before work was part of my normal routine.”

   Wolf’s job as a graphic designer led her to accepting a position at a print shop in Waipahu, Oahu in 1983 where she eventually met and married John Luchau.

  “John was an avid runner with many marathons under his belt,” she said.  “He soon had me out pounding the many bike and pedestrian trails on Leeward Oahu.”

   Wolf maintained a frequent presence in a local gym and dabbled in running on occasion; all the while thinking that someday she should give a marathon (distance of 26.2-miles) a try.

   “I kept saying I will run a marathon before I reach the age of 35, then it was 40, then 45,” Wolf said.  “As each birthday passed I just pushed the goal further back.”

   Wolf and her husband moved to Paradise Park in 1992 where they spent several years building their home together. 

   “As I approached my 50th birthday I was just about to give up on the whole ‘I wanna be a jock’ dream and toyed with the idea of just sinking into a sedentary old age,” she said.  “It was during this period that I saw a flyer for a new yoga studio just opening in HPP called Wisdom Way Yoga Center.”

   The first yoga session renewed Wolf’s vigor in wanting to be active again as she took the more strenuous form of yoga called Ashtanga. 

   “Ashtanga is a high energy practice emphasizing vigorous, continuous movement, which elevates heart rate and body temperature.”

   The new form of yoga introduced to Wolf provided her with the discipline and physical fitness level that she was looking for.

   “I can honestly give Ashtanga yoga the credit for bringing me to a renewed relationship with my body,” Wolf said.  “By 2007 I had the confidence to once again attempt running as I tried a few 5K’s (3.1-mile) races along with the Volcano 10-mile Rim Run that year.”

   In 2008 Wolf was looking at running her first marathon, a dream that she had since college, and set her goal to just finish the beautiful 26.2-mile course of the Big Island International in Hilo.

   “My goal was just to finish one marathon just to prove I could and then retire from running,” Wolf said.  “But once I finished the Hilo Marathon I began feeling competitive and began planning to run it again the following year.”

   Wolf did her second Hilo Marathon in 2009 and crossed the finish line in 5 hours and 13 seconds.  This year Wolf is lacing up her shoes again and will take on the Hilo Marathon scheduled for March 21.

   “Last year I barely missed breaking 5 hours so this year I’m hoping to take about 15 to 20 minutes off my time to finish around 4:45,” she said.

   To prepare Wolf is now running around 45 to 50 miles per week with varying daily distances. She will also cross train by doing a 10-mile bike ride on the days she doesn’t run and she enjoys a love hate relationship with her workouts.

   “I still don’t really enjoy training, though I have my moments when the mood and the motion come together and I feel great,” she said.

   Soon we will see how Christine Wolf will do on her third marathon race.  In the meantime, if you’re women, let’s give thanks for the foresight and inspiration given to your gender by the late Patsy Mink.

March 8, 2010 Posted by | Marathon Running, Profiles, Running on the Big Island | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment