On a recent trip to Pune, India, I attended a yoga intensive held by the daughter of BKS Iyengar, Geeta Iyengar. While there, I had the honor of meeting Mark Zambon. His story is inspiring to say the least.
Zambon served in the United States Marine Corps and was a part of a bomb recon squad. About three and a half years ago, he was on a mission in Afghanistan when he stepped on a pressure-detonated bomb and lost both legs. Zambon now continues his life with the help of prosthetics. A couple months after his injury, a trusted friend and Vietnam War veteran introduced him to Iyengar yoga in San Diego. He then attended his first Iyengar yoga therapeutic class and has not looked back since. He remembers going into an assisted Shirshasana (headstand) in his first class, when the phantom leg pain sensation that he had been experiencing disappeared instantly. He also remembers how strange it felt to be upside down. He felt like he was discovering a whole new side to himself and his body. Zambon continued to work hard practicing yoga and getting used to his new life with prosthetics.
His days were full of training with his prosthetic legs, mountain climbing practice, learning to walk with his new legs and adapting to his new lifestyle. He believes that the alignment emphasis in Iyengar yoga helped him strengthen his body, relieve stress and adapt more easily. The practice was mentally demanding as well. He needed to be alert in all parts of his body and keep his senses sharp, something that he connected with deeply from his Marine Corps days.
With the help of Iyengar yoga, he successfully met his first therapy goal: to climb Mount Kilimanjaro a year and a half after his injury. Zambon advocates the practice of Iyengar yoga to all who want to maintain their physical and mental health. He also believes that through the practice of Iyengar yoga, one can develop better body awareness and make the journey to better health.
Zambon continues to practice, learn and grow everyday. He hopes to one day become an Iyengar yoga teacher and help others like himself benefit from the practice of Iyengar yoga, and make yoga more accessible to people all over the world. He is currently training for the Paralympics. More information at www.markzambon.com
Interview originally published in Seattle Yoga News
Photo by: Frank Richard