REBELLIOUS YOUTH . CREATIVE DIRECTOR . TRAVELLER . YOGI.
Name: CHAD DENNIS
Hometown: COOPERSTOWN, NY, USA
Current City: LOS ANGELES, CA, USA
What’s your story? I have always pushed boundaries; always been a dreamer, a mover, an artist and creator - for me, yoga is just an extension of all of these things. I’ve been practicing yoga for almost 30 years, and teaching for 20. Creating and designing a new class is not much different to creating a new work of art. It requires real focus, and I become completely absorbed with the task at hand.
I was literally out of control as a teenager. I'm often surprised I survived! My demons got the better part of me and yoga in many ways saved my life.
Yoga’s taken me to some incredible places. I was on tour with Maroon 5 as their personal yoga teacher for 8 years. I recently stopped to spend more time with my wife and son, as well as taking up the position of the Director of Yoga at Wanderlust Hollywood. It was an incredible experience to travel the entire world - to see and be a part of so many beautiful cultures - but I'm happy to be home in LA, spending more time studying and teaching, and training other teachers.
What did you want to be growing up? When I was younger, I wanted to be a drummer in a rock band, then as I got older, I liked the idea of being a professor and psychologist. These days I just want to teach yoga and be an inspiring father to my 3-year-old son.
How would you describe yourself? Complex.
How would others describe you? Complex.
How would your mother describe you? Creative.
What do you most value in others? Integrity and self-confidence without ego.
When did you last cry? What was it over? It was a few months ago, when I saw a photo of a 2-year-old boy who drowned attempting to flee a worn-torn country. Thinking of my own three-year-old son, I was completely overcome with an immense sadness.
Is there anything you preach but don’t practice? Having patience whilst driving in LA…
We’ve all done a few things we aren’t too proud of, care to share one? There’re way too many!
Favourite meal? Mexican food. Enough said.
Favourite drink? Coconut water - yummy yummy in my tummy!
Favourite book? A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole. Any book that can make you laugh out loud non-stop is pure genius.
Ok, let’s talk about yoga, how’d you get into it? I had my very first experience with yoga when I was about 10 years old growing up, oddly enough, in Texas. We practiced on thick shag carpets and it seemed more like interpretive dance than yoga. Ahhh the 70’s..!
I reacquainted myself with it when I was about 18 and in college in San Diego. It was here that I took my first Ashtanga and Vinyasa classes. It made a deep and lasting impression as I had a very unfocused monkey mind and this was one of the first things that actually got my brain to, for complete lack of better terms, shut the f*ck up. It wasn't until I lived in NYC when one of my teachers said I should think about becoming a yoga teacher that the thought ever crossed my mind. I had been practicing at this studio for years when one of the teachers called in sick on short notice and I was there to take a class. The studio owner (my teacher) said, “Chad, you are going to teach the class today." I instantly fell in love. That was around 1998 and that’s basically all I've been doing since then.
What was the biggest challenge when you first started practicing? Balancing poses and, because I was a long-distance runner, all hamstring stretches.
Why do you keep coming back? At this point, it’s completely interwoven into the fabric of my life - it’s up there with eating and sleeping. Yoga helps bring me - my body, my mind, my breath and my emotions - back into balance. If I didn't do yoga I would probably go crazy. Or at the very least, be a complete asshole to be around.
What would make you skip practice? (e.g. a girl? A hangover? A match?) All of the above.
Do you teach? What’s that like? Yes, I do. Teaching others is an honour and a privilege. As yoga teachers, we truly have the capacity to help shape and shift peoples’ lives. I don’t take that for granted.
Other than yoga, what keeps you busy? Mason Roux, my son.
What advice would you give to someone stepping onto the mat for the first time? Don’t take it too seriously - after all, it’s just yoga.
Tell us about a time your yoga practice came into play off the mat? Every moment of every day. There’s the yoga practice (the hour or so we’re on our mat) and there’s the application of that practice that happens throughout the other 23 hours of the day.
What does the BOYS OF YOGA project mean to you? BOYS OF YOGA is providing an opportunity to help change peoples’ perception of the yoga world and men’s roles in it. The good news is that yoga, and the general perception of it, has changed greatly in the last 15-20 years. When I first started practicing in the 80's it was definitely mostly women practicing yoga. For instance, if there were 40 people in a class 35 of them were women. Now this paradigm has dramatically shifted. Yoga used to be seen as this soft form of stretching and breathing. Now men are starting to see it as both a dynamic and vigorous [yet hopefully safe] form of movement thats an indispensable part of their life. Interestingly, most of my private clients are high-profile men...
If you could hang out with any of the other BOYS this weekend, who would it be? I Taught a BOYS OF YOGA class a few months back at Wanderlust with MJ and Yancy. It felt like we didn't get to chat long enough so would love to sit down again with those guys for a spot of tea(!)…or a pint, and shoot the shit. They seem like genuinely cool dudes and people I would like to hang out with.
What’s your favourite pose? Why? Because my plate is so full with teaching and directing at Wanderlust, I would have to say Savasana: lay on your back, close your eyes, enjoy.
What pose do you fucking hate? Why? Camatkarasana a.k.a Wild Thing. Besides the stupid name, it’s a made-up pose that doesn’t feel safe for the shoulder joint!
Yoga is… Not about crazy acrobatic poses. It’s the relationship you have with yourself and your body before, during and after the asana practice. So, in essence, yoga is how you choose to live your life.
Your quote or mantra: Contrast is the essence of being.
Interviewed: November 14th, 2015
Photos by @michaeljameswong and property of BOYS OF YOGA Ltd.