Back in February of this year, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Jay Brown to interview him for my monthly yoga newsletter where I feature a different yoga teacher or wellness expert each month. I love getting different views on yoga teaching because I really feel like we all learn from others experiences at different times and with different takeaways. The newsletter also includes a mouth watering colorful recipe each month, a funny yoga meme, a write-in column, and some yoga tid-bits from around the world. After having lived abroad, I feel like culture impacts the expression of certain things that may have the same name but the interpretation has been varied.
For those of you wondering who Jay Brown is-he is a yoga teacher, former studio owner in NYC, blogger/writer, podcast host and from what I could gather all around down to earth yet wildly at times philosophical dude. He doesn’t seem to sugar coat anything and wants to bring issues to the forefront that exist in the yoga teaching world so that we can better bring yoga to the West. In our talk, he feels that something has gotten lost a bit.
Enter the big pause that we are in now. I think it has become apparent that Americans especially, like to be busy. We are a country built on freedom, opportunity, convenience, and consumption. These are all amazing things when kept in check but I think one can stand to argue that when out of balance can lead to burn out, addiction, mental health issues, planet issues, and a lack of true human connection because our spirit has fallen.
During the interview, I asked him if he had noticed a change in his classes from when he started teaching and he immediately said yes. He said when he was teaching at his studio back in NYC that in a class of 10, you would find about 3 solely there for a workout and the rest were there to experience all that yoga is and all that yoga offers or at least curious and open to the entire experience. He said that number now is reversed. And I said do you think this corresponds to a larger issue and again referenced Mark Manson’s book “the world is fuc*ed” where Manson speaks of his opinion that what America has is more of a spiritual issue, a loss of self, and a loss of connection to a higher purpose. He said that he would agree – that what he was finding wasn’t just in the yoga industry. His wish and his goal in his current teachings of yoga is to bring people back to the fundamentals. He feels the breath has been lost in an effort to strive for an end goal or maybe a pretty Instagram picture or maybe to punish our bodies for the 4 slices of Papa John’s we had last night. We aren’t operating at a rate that is natural and neither is our practice. If we can find that union of breath to movement, then we can move back to the roots of a yoga practice. Enter his new slogan – SLOW is the next sexy.
Yoga isn’t about the need to prove anything to anyone about how wanted or busy your life is, or how advanced your practice is, or how amazing your body is because you do yoga, one of the limbs of yoga is to be able to sit with yourself and honor your body,mind, and your inner world and witness them in harmony and peace so that you can always come back to “HOME” and so that you can be more present in your daily life and relationships. Another one is the movement and exploration of the physical self so that you can understand your patterning and help move the energy around inside the body while staying in the flow.
Yoga wasn’t meant to be something you crammed into your day and “sweat it out” on the mat or pushed your strength to it’s maximum so you could lay in stillness on the mat after for a few moments of bliss. The entire practice is supposed to be a dance with your body and your internal world with the discipline and grace that if the breath isn’t there – then you aren’t ready to go further. Yet, it feels like we have created a society that says if the breath isn’t there -you need to work harder, or slurp back a coffee or energy drink, or PUSH THROUGH, or go get a massage or consume something or some service in order to feel “well” again. When maybe, we just need to sit still and feel shitty for a bit? Maybe we just need to step off the wheel more often. Have a few more holidays where you actually SHUT DOWN. Having a few more days to become a parent or to grieve a loss or to take care of yourself.
I feel that one can get energy from physical exertion and keeping the body moving and can use stimulants and food for energy but that if they never experience SLOW and they never experience SIMPLE and they can’t be STILL without anything in their system- there is a deeply rooted internal issue going on that needs to be addressed in order to truly LIVE WELL. This is the hard work I think we are being asked to do. How do YOU feel about making slow the new sexy?