1) How did you start practicing Yoga? Tell us about your early yoga experiences.
I started practicing yoga in my early post graduate depression. I was 21 years old with a BFA in drama and no job or structure to my life. I started doing yoga for fun, purely for the physical practice but I also loved how it helped me to focus.
2) When was the moment you knew that Yoga was different or special – more than just another “exercise” or way to be physical?
I had an experience in a yoga class a long time ago that felt transcendental, I felt a deep connection to “something” that was so strong that I actually lost a bit of time. That was the moment that I realized that the physical practice was just the tip of the iceberg. I have been cultivating a spiritual, emotional, meditative personal practice or Sadhana ever since.
3) What is your favorite and least favorite pose, and why?
My favorite asana is Adho Mukha Vrksasana which translates to downward facing tree pose or handstand, it took me some time to figure this one out but I listened very carefully to my teachers and now I love being upside down to change my perspective and to challenge myself.
My least favorite pose is Agnistambhasana or Ankle-to-knee. Its not actually that I don’t like it, it is just very uncomfortable for me at this point in my practice, I look forward to encouraging my hips to open to the point where it feels a bit more natural. Its also a good reminder for me to practice sitting down every once in a while.
4) What practices do you use to feel more peaceful, present and content?
I like to start every day with a slow sun salutation and then just let my body “free play” flow on my mat. This gets me ready for my day mentally and physically and it helps to inspire me creatively for my class sequencing. It makes me content to feel prepared.
5) What Yama or Niyama do your find most helpful in your daily life, and why? (Yamas are “observances” that are recommended for relating to the outside world, and Niyamas are observances for dealing with internal struggles)
Ahimsa or non violence is a principle that I do my best to use in all of my daily interactions. There are so many ways that we can pay attention and be present in order to avoid hurting people; friends, strangers, and enemies alike. It’s important to create good energy in order to harvest good energy.
6) Tapas, the third of Patanjalis Niyamas, is derived from the root Sanskrit verb ‘to burn’, and is often described as discipline, passion, or commitment to burn away impurities and spark our inner fire. What practices do you do in order to help spark your own inner fire?
As a teacher, son, brother, manager, friend etc. I feel a lot of responsibilies on a daily basis, I recognize that it takes a lot of strength and energy to fulfill my duties and follow my dharma. I keep a strong physical practice going always in order to keep my flame burning bright, to keep my energy up and make sure I’m physically and emotionally capable of handling my daily stresses. This is why I love vinyasa so much.
7) Tell us something what is different about teaching at Harlem Yoga Studio