Casual Conversation

This is a project that I have had on my to do list for years. Yoga students/teachers talking to each other in a laid back style about the practice of yoga….nothing formal, nothing scripted, nothing expected…..not your standard yoga interview situation, more like a wee cit chat that I get to experience whether I am in Mysore for the long haul or a pop-in to Miami, Philly or Edinburgh.

I thought it might be fun to hear from an Ashtangi that isn’t doing full vinyasa’s through intermediate, or a raw foodist-yogi-hippie chic, but from someone who really struggles with finding time to practice and has for about 10 years been struggling through 1/2 primary.

I first met Adam in 2004 while he was taking my yoga classes at a very popular and posh gym in center city Philadelphia.  Over the years we have grown close through the power of practice  and have become great friends.  I was honored to not only be in attendance at his wedding last winter, but to participate.

I love chit chatting with Adam about practice and process, about family and fortune.  If you have been to a class with him you’ll see his very silly side any as a busy CPA in Rittenhouse Square…..I think it is OK for him to let it out every now and again.

How did you discover Ashtanga Yoga?

Before stumbling into trying this ashtanga yoga I have been doing various vinyasa classes for about 6 years, and then I did a week morning with David Keil at Wake Up Yoga (Fall 2005.) I flirted with ashtanga for about 4 years with going to an occasional led class with Dee Silver at YogaSport in Ardmore, taking some of Phil Milagrese’s led classes, doing David Keil’s mornings when he made it to the wonderful city of Philadelphia. During all this time I was also investigating Buddhist practice and meditation. I was noticing that the asana practice brought the mind and body together in a way that worked for me. What really brought me to ashtanga was a 5 month commitment of morning Mysore practice at Zoe Mai’s 4th story walkup apartment. From there my commitment to practice kicked in again when a shala called YogaSquared opened in Philadelphia in 2007.

What is the biggest obstacle to a daily practice?

The biggest obstacle is me. Usually really basic stuff, like being really tired in the morning, those words that make me sound like a 4 year old “I don’t want to”, the seeming imperative of those very important other things to do (including the need to finish watching the movie till 11.30pm at night). Also I need community, sangha, to do this practice. How do you scale those? Willpower basically. Sometimes I consider that trying to control Myself is like taming a wild angry hungry elephant. Getting enough sleep is the biggest help. It is a constant work in process to conform my life so that I can do some practice. Like the Buddhist Chappana Sutta

Who have been your most influential teachers?

Of all the questions I find this the most challenging. What I want from my teacher is steadiness, competence and kindness. Over time my perception of teachers (who I have looked up to) has become to see them as more fully human with their strengths, weaknesses and imperfections. I have worked with many teachers, and in some ways I find it easier to just find who I am working with now the most influential, David Garrigues. I often feel that the other students are also my teachers.

Define practice?

The discipline of a structured wholesome activity that brings the mind/body together to generate a holistically more healthy self.  For ashtanga practice that is from a set of sun salutations to a short practice to a long practice. It depends on what fits with the nature of what the body needs. A very internal looking with working with what is there for the betterment.

As an old school Philly Ashtanga Yogi, what are some of the changes you’ve seen in the yoga scene?

Yes there were a lot of changes in the world of AshtangaPhilly. One biggest thing I noticed is that it is really not about the where or the who of the practice. It is really about me getting on the mat and practicing. The drama is just a sideshow. And now: So many more practitioners. More choices for morning ashtanga. More serious yoga teachers and yogis gravitating to ashtanga. More stability of studios.

We just passed Guru Purnima a time to reflect on the teacher, the lineage, and the past year…what would like to manifest in coming year?

More the accepting of what is, and what I can do. Letting go of a type of harshness of striving. I want kindness with strength.

Do you have any desire to go to Mysore?

I am a bit curious yet not much.

They say that yoga is an ocean…I defiantly feel waist deep at this point…how far in are you?

As Johnny Cash sang it “Five Feet High And Rising” no escaping the flood my little boat has many leaks and I am not safe from living my life fully I am up for the adventure.

17 Responses to Casual Conversation

  1. Christine says:

    Sure! Why not?! 🙂

  2. Christine,
    I am finally settled for three weeks at home in Central Virginia and ready to fill this page with some great conversation. I would LOVE for you to be the first for many, many, reasons….let’s up a phone/skype date. email me and we can talk about timing!!!

  3. donutszenmom says:

    Best reason to go to Mysore! ❤

  4. Christine says:

    Thanks again for doing this Jill…such fun! …and thanks Karen…loved your posts from Mysore this past spring. I’ll probably be in touch about the place you stayed while you were there…it looked nice! 🙂

  5. diana says:

    love this!

  6. wanderingmb says:

    Great interview with a great teacher!

  7. jaywiese says:

    I do so do asana!

    Well, a little bit…

  8. jaywiese says:

    I’m sitting in half lotus *right now* 😉

  9. What a wonderful post! My second yoga video was Rodney Yee’s yoga for strength. At the time, I thought he was a knockout! Full vinyasa to vatayanasana. Wow!

    • Christine says:

      Thanks! When David asked me to start doing second with full vinyasa, he told me to try it for 3 weeks before I decided I hated it…sure enough, I HATED IT for exactly 3 weeks…lol! By week 4, it started to feel like a more balanced practice for me. Now, it just feels “normal”. I guess we can adjust to just about anything that we do consistently. 🙂

  10. wanderingmb says:

    Hehe, add me to the list of proud owners of the Yoga for Strength video… on old-school VHS, mind you! I arrived at yoga probably how many people in the West do- as a form of exercise. It took a bit of time and skillful teaching (big thanks to Christine and David here) to get me to focus on the internal practice. Or, as Christine mentioned, maybe the practice is the real teacher… 🙂

  11. Sinead says:

    Just reporting that Sue was spotted in a pair of bum shorts at the last led primary. Apparently they *can* be found in Edinburgh.

  12. I knew she’d be rockin’ the Bum Shorts!

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