PRO SURFER . BJJ ROLLER . NINJA MASTER . YOGI.
What’s your story? In a nut shell: I grew up on Kauai (heaven on earth) surfing every day and living the surfer lifestyle. I then moved to California in my twenties. After a few years the stars aligned and I packed my bags and started traveling the world and surfing professionally. As fate had it, I met my wife, Nova, in Melbourne, Australia. Melbourne quickly became home. Winters were cold so I soon needed a new sport other than surfing to keep me active. A Hawaiian friend introduced me to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu - needless to say, I was instantly hooked! My love for yoga came a few years later – my body was sore from BJJ and my wife convinced me to go to a class with her. She was right, I loved it and felt it complimented my surfing and grappling. My wife and I opened our own yoga studio in Melbourne in 2015 and I am now expressing my passions through teaching Jiu Jitsu and yoga every single day. Life’s good.
What did you want to be growing up? I dreamed of being a pro surfer who travelled the world.
How would you describe yourself? I am passionate, loyal, dedicated, respectful and humble.
How would others describe you? I would hope in the same way!
How would your mother describe you? A good son, gentle, strong and obsessed with my passions.
What do you most value in others? Why? I value an open heart and an open mind. I love honestly, humility & strength of the body, mind and spirit are values I try to embody myself, so I really admire them in others.
When did you last cry? What was it over? I just returned from leading a retreat in New Zealand (Aro Ha) and after teaching a yoga practice I looked out the window to see possibly the most beautiful landscape with a perfect rainbow. It was a beautiful moment and I was so overwhelmed with gratitude that I may have shed a tear of happiness.
Is there anything you preach but don’t practice? Definitely not! I teach from my own experiences. If I don't practice it, I don't pretend that I do.
We’ve all done a few things we aren’t too proud of, care to share one? When I was 18 I had a relationship with a married woman. The drama that unfolded was stressful and painful. Even though it led me to where I am today, if I could do it over again, I would have avoided the entire situation. Needless to say it was a nightmare and not one of my finest moments.
Favourite meal? Breakfast at Monk Bhodi Dharma. The whole menu is WOW - vegan, organic, epic meals – it’s what I crave when I’m overseas.
Favourite drink? When its hot and tropical - Coconut water. Cold rainy days – Almond Chai. Evenings at home with my wife – Red wine.
Favourite book? ‘Power of Now’ by Eckhart Tolle. This book changed my perspective in a very positive way.
Ok, let’s talk about yoga, how’d you get into it? My wife convinced me to try a hot yoga class after completing a 30 day challenge herself. I was quite sure I would hate it. After one class I knew I had found what my body was craving for a long time. I have been practicing every day ever since.
What was the biggest challenge when you first started practicing? Learning to respect where my body was physically and changing my mentality. I went from pushing my body and competing with other people to instead listening to my body’s feedback and working with that.
Why do you keep coming back? Every time I show up to the mat my mind and body thanks me. Yoga has completely changed my perspective of life as well as my relationships with others and myself. It's never-ending and always evolving, allowing me to give back to myself. When you come from a place of self-love and self-acceptance, only then can you truly give your best to others.
What would make you skip practice? If my body is really run down… or a natural disaster! I try to practice daily even if it’s my twice-daily mediation practice.
Do you teach? YES! I teach yoga 7 days a week at my studio in Melbourne. I find that teaching helps me deepen my knowledge of yoga. I love to share my own experiences and see how I can help others connect to themselves to fall in love with the practice.
Other than yoga, what keeps you busy? I’m a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt so I train everyday and teach my team of students in the evenings. Running the studio, Warrior One Yoga, with my wife also keeps me out of trouble. When I’m not working (I can’t really call it ‘work’, as that’s definitely not how it feels!), I am exploring the world with Nova and Ninja (our dog).
What advice would you give to someone stepping onto the mat for the first time? Yoga is a journey of the self, through the self, to the self. There is no competition with others. You don't need to be anything but you. The goal of yoga isn’t to control your thoughts, it’s to stop letting them control you.
Tell us about a time your yoga practice came into play off the mat? Every day - and especially on the Jiu Jitsu mat! Yogic breathing has significantly helped my performance in brazilian jiu jitsu; I have more control of my breath to think more clearly and execute moves effortlessly sharpening my awareness in my focus.
What challenges or issues have you experienced being a guy who teaches/practices yoga? Not many, in fact I feel it’s quite the opposite. I love that I bring a strong male energy to a female-dominant industry. Our yoga community has embraced me as a teacher and studio owner. Now more than ever men are realising that yoga has so many life changing benefits and I am thankful I embody this.
What does the BOYS OF YOGA project mean to you? Its empowering and inspiring to see men around the world share their stories and experiences. I want to help change the stigma that yoga is easy and just for women.
If you could spend some time hanging out with some of the other BOYS, who would it be, and why? M.J. – he has an epic style and practice. Octavio – would love to learn, hang out and go surf in Bali! And Anwar - would love to train BJJ with you, dude!
What’s your favourite pose? For me, it’s gotta be Handstand. There's nothing better than the feeling of complete effortlessness of a perfect handstand. I love the work involved and the presence that handstand training requires. It is something that I work on daily and am always trying to improve.
What pose do you fucking hate? Why? I fucking hate padmasana (lotus). My body doesn’t agree with this pose. I always thought it was the shape of my pelvis that blocked me... But I'm just really tight in that area.
Yoga is… me, you and the true essence of our beings. Yoga is ugly, beautiful and confronting. Yoga is the journey of a lifetime.
Your quote or mantra: My daily mantra is “I'm a student of my mind and body”.
And my favorite quote right now:
Don't go back to sleep
The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don't go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don't go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the door where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don't go back to sleep. - Rumi.
Interviewed: May 18th, 2016
Photos by @michaeljameswong and property of BOYS OF YOGA Ltd.