Jan 9 2013

Hometown Yoga Heroes Series

Megan

In 2004, I visited a friend in Seattle, Washington who had gotten into “yoga” and couldn’t wait to bring me to a class.  My only prior yoga experience had been a do-yoga-at-home video that my spine doctor had recommended to help my scoliosis.  I did it twice, got bored, and decided that I didn’t like “yoga.”  Since my friend really wanted me to try her class, I went.  I figured, how could a bit of stretching hurt at all?  However, just a few minutes into the class, I was shocked to learn that this “yoga” was nothing like the video version.  I felt like I was going to pass out and die the entire time- I was miserable- and decided that “yoga,” whatever it was, wasn’t for me, again.

A year after college I moved down to Charleston and was spending a lot of time on the beach.  I still hadn’t lost my freshman 15 (plus the sophomore through senior 15) and I needed a new workout.  My good friend, Ali, suggested I come with her to a “yoga” class.  I remembered my first two attempts and told her I didn’t like “yoga.”  She somehow convinced me to come with her to a class, and I was surprised once again.  Her class was very different from both the video and my Seattle venture.

I ended up trying a dozen other classes over the next few months and realized that even though the titles contained the word “yoga,” they were all incredibly different.  Even when the subcategory names were identical, each teacher created a different experience.  There was one class that I found myself attending every week.  It kicked my butt to the level I needed, mentally and physically.  At the end of the class, the teacher always seemed to have the perfect message that was exactly what I needed to hear to conquer my issues at the time.  I loved it.

A few years went by and yoga had changed my life in remarkable ways.  I would try to influence everyone I crossed paths with to try yoga.  Most people would say they had been to a class or two but didn’t like it.  I would explain how there were many different styles of yoga and tell them that it took me trying at least a dozen different classes before I found what fit me best.  This is what motivated me to start CharlestonYogi.com.  With teachers writing about yoga from their unique perspectives, it gives practitioners (and non-practitioners) a chance to see the wide range of options available in Charleston.  My hope was that it would help people find their style before giving up on yoga- as I did several times.

As it turns out, there are others who share my vision.  Local yoga teacher and writer, Erica Rodefer Winters shared a similar desire with me recently.  In an attempt to get to know some of what Charleston has to offer yogis from all walks of life, she decided to interview some of the biggest movers and shakers in the yoga community and understand what makes them tick.  And she wants to share their stories with the community, too, so we can all benefit from their collective wisdom!  She’ll be posting the interviews on her blog, SpoiledYogi.com, and we’ll also share some here.  It is a bi-weekly series all about Charleston’s hometown yoga heroes.  We hope it will inspire your health and fitness goals, and maybe even entice you to mix up your practice by trying a new class or two in spirit of the New Year!

Wishing everyone a very happy, healthy, and peaceful New Year- with lots of sweating!

Megan

 

 

Hometown Yoga Heroes:

Andrea Boyd

Interview by Erica Rodefer Winters

 

Jivamukti Yoga is known for its dynamic classes including chanting, lessons from yoga philosophy, and challenging poses set to music. Jivamukti Yoga Charleston founders Andrea Boyd and Jeffrey Cohen have a close relationship with Jivamukti Yoga founders Sharon Gannon and David Life. And one of the things that makes this studio so special is that Jivamukti Yoga Charleston is the ONLY Jivamukti Yoga School outside of New York City. You won’t find anything quite like it anywhere else!

I caught up with Andrea to learn more about her, the studio, and the yoga scene at Jivamukti Yoga Charleston. Here’s what she had to say:

What’s one thing you wish you had known about yoga when you first started practicing?

I wouldn’t change a thing. I guess if I had to say something it would be knowing about a compassionate diet sooner.

What’s your favorite pose at the moment? What are you learning from it?

At the moment, I am lying down on my teacher’s daybed, which is indeed a favorite pose. I like being with my teachers. What am I learning from it? The details.

A vegan diet/lifestyle is an important part of Jivamukti Yoga, correct? Can you briefly explain why?

Yes, that is correct. Vegetarianism is an important part of yoga, period. Not just the method that we teach. The yoga scriptures state very clearly to avoid eating animals. Eating clean and gentle food is wise if interested in having health of the mind and body—skin, organs, etc., a healthy earth, and earthlings.

It is a feeling decision. Yogis strive to live harmoniously with all other beings to the highest capacity. Limiting the amount of suffering we cause to all—humans included. Kindness and compassion for animals can lead one to feel their own essence, which is the same as that of the animals. It brings great joy and peace to oneself and the atmosphere to not kill gentle, innocent animals. Love has no limits or boundaries, unless we create them.

To read the rest of the interview visit: http://spoiledyogi.blogspot.com/2013/01/hometown-yoga-heroes-andrea-boyd.html


Aug 9 2010

Banana?

Mark Knowles

This may upset you.  Or you may have never heard of any of this before.  You may not believe any of this.  You may not like any of this.

Good

There is a story in India about how they catch monkeys.  It seems they would take a coconut, cut a small hole in it and nail it to a tree, with the hole pointing out, parallel to the earth.  Inside it they would put a tasty treat.  A monkey comes along, sees the nice delight and sticks his hand inside, closing his fist around the morsel.  The hole is large enough only for the hand, not the closed fist, the monkey is trapped!!  He’ll remain there for days perhaps thoroughly baffled as to how he’s not able to have both this treat and his freedom.  Soon some trappers will come along, release the coconut from the tree and take our simian friend off to be sold into a circus or some other such fate.

See something here?  Sound like you?  Well it is, it’s all of us.  This idea of enlightenment we’ve been sold sounds great.  But can someone tell me exactly how tree pose will lead me to enlightenment?  And better yet, show me someone who it has worked for.  Come on, any idiot in a white coat can sell this acne cream, where are those 9 out of ten dentists, and why do lawyers use paid actors dressed up as lawyers to tell us we need them.

Ya want to know why.  They’re selling us something.  Yoga classes, books, prayer beads, peace of mind, all this stuff to lead us to non-attachment!

 ”Take it off the mat” they say.  Take what off the mat?  Exactly what?  And why?  And where did I get this, did I not have it before?  And where am I going to keep it in these little tight yoga shorts?

The minute we decide to take something off the mat (I’ll say apply a “Spiritual Concept”) we invest an interest in it, we have an expectation of the outcome an ATTACHMENT.  Practice, let things play themselves through without orchestrating every little aspect.  Quit TRYING to be enlightened, you’ll miss it when it happens.

We have an amazing knack of accessorizing the practice of Yoga.

Not too long ago I was subbing a class for another teacher.  A student came barging up to me and demanded, “Where’s—–, is she not teaching this class?”  “No”, I said.  She stormed out.

I stayed, taught the class and got paid.  I don’t know what she did, I know I didn’t suffer any.

Do you want to know how addicted you are to your attachments?  Use the other hand for a day, brush your teeth in the opposite direction, put your keys in the opposite pocket. 

I taught a class recently to illustrate this point.  I had the students, many of them dedicated regulars, switch sides of the room, and then switch rows!!  There was definitely some tension.  But, many of them almost immediately recognized the purpose of the exercise (remember, they are dedicated regulars) and laughed at their own discomfort.  I was ecstatic.  I encourage everyone to try this, it can change your life.

We have an amazing knack of turning a liberating practice into a binding one.

Yoga teaches that without practicing non-harming (अहिंसा ahiṁsā) realizing the goal of Yoga (samādhi समाधि) is much more difficult.  Notice I didn’t say “Jivamukti” or “Anusara” or some other style?  It’s because the idea is a fundamental and universal one, not particular to a certain style.  It’s expounded upon, made into sutra, verse, chapter, story, allegory, and even the qualities of God Himself are associated with it, it forms the BASIS of Yoga fundamentals and yet…. Don’t like it?  Shop around, you’ll find a teacher/class that will re-enforce your attachment.  A good example is if a student says “What about this vegetarian thing?”, the teacher may say “Well, I think it’s a personal decision, so I don’t teach it.”

Go to a driving instructor and see if when asked about the need to use a turn indicator they say the same.  When you put two of us together with our attachments-LOOK OUT!! 

We have an amazing knack of re-enforcing and justifying our attachments.

Darwin tells us we’re evolved from primates.

I think that may be true, bigger bodies and brains-more advanced thought capacity.  Bigger more complex attachments.

If our simian friend had it to do again from a different perspective, do you think that little scrap of food is worth more to him than his freedom, he had alot of time to think about it while he stood there.  All he had to do was let go, though.  Not analyze the hell out of it.

We have an amazing knack of complicating simple matters.

लोकः समस्तः सुखिनो भवन्तुः

lokaḥ samastaḥ sukhino bhavantuḥ