PROFESSIONAL BASKETBALLER . VEGAN . HUMBLE WARRIOR . YOGI
What's your story? Professional Basketball Player turned Professional Yogi
What’s Calmtivity? It’s a Vinyasa-style practice with an emphasis on solid grounding and graceful movement. It’s about realizing the illusion of fear, experiencing the release of that fear and accepting the shift to what I call ‘the brighter self’.
How would you describe yourself? Tall, Dark and Handsome. Haha! Seriously though, I'm a gentle and quiet soul within a strong physical build. A loyal friend to those who are a loyal friend to me. Focused. Talented. Moody. Both secure and insecure. A fast learner. Courageous and fearful. Creative. A lover and a fighter. Graceful. Composed. A loner but not lonely. I don’t like wearing dress clothes. I love girls that do yoga. Disciplined. Vegan. I like to hug. A teacher and a student. Adventurous. Accomplished. Observant. Imperfect. Protector.
How would others describe you? Depends who you talk to.
How would your mother describe you? Spoiled yet respectful. Talented, and dedicated to whatever I put my mind to.
What’s the best job you ever had? BBC Martigny, my rookie basketball contract in Switzerland. I had the time of my life! Great teammates; a coach who’d party with us. No pressure. Time to explore; there was a ski resort twenty minutes away called Verbier - and a hip hop club - I was up there a lot! I love Martigny and I felt the love was reciprocal.
What’s the worst? I worked at a constructions site one summer. My mother actually made me, I would have rather worked on my game full time. The job took place on a huge open field of red clay, it was crazy hot and the labor was brutal. I would work on my game after work. It definitely showed me to pursue my dreams and not settle for things. Still the worst job ever!
Favourite meal? Rice penne, grilled mushrooms, steamed cabbage, avocado, sesame oil and garlic salt mixed up together. The combinations of flavors and textures are outstanding.
Favourite drink? Pomegranate/Ginger Kombucha. It’s the closest thing to soda without being actual soda, and it tastes really good to me!
What is one fact that most other people wouldn’t know about you? That I’m the youngest of 7 siblings and I’m the only male.
If you could do it all again, what would you change? Everything is as it should’ve been and should be.
Ok, let’s talk about yoga, how’d you get into it? It all began in Lisbon, Portugal, while playing professional basketball for Atletico de Portugal. Right before that, I’d been cut by my team in Montevideo, Uruguay and was really doubting myself. I was in a low place. Then my agent calls and asks me if I want to go to Portugal and I was like “Hell Yeah!!!”.
A great friend of mine gave me two Egyptian Yoga books to "help me prepare". I read them on the plane. They discussed all this stuff about Yoga Nidra and positive visualization that really caught my attention. Then, when I arrived in Portugal, everything just seemed to be in my favor - I had the best coach, the greatest team, and a club that embraced me and were excited that I was there. I just had to play my part. I instantly changed my habits: eating a cleaner diet, no more booze and hash, quit partying, got proper rest, and stimulated my mind with these yoga books.
Every morning and night I would practice Yoga Nidra - visualizing myself playing at the highest levels and not allowing anything less into my head. This set me on the path to a clear mind and serious focus on my craft. It woke up the dormant Yogi within that had been with me since the beginning! It wasn’t until a year after that I actually got into asana practice (the physical poses) and began my path as an all-round student.
Do you teach? What’s that like? Yes. I absolutely love teaching yoga. It's like choreographing a rhythmic dance to the ballad-like flow of breath. Teaching yoga or leading a class is very empowering. It sparks philosophical dialogue, imagination and creativity, and leads to beautiful interaction with others.
Why do you keep coming back? I never leave! It’s my lifestyle now. I do my best to practice the Yamas and Niyamas on and off the mat. It keeps me disciplined and balanced.
Best yoga story? I would have to say the practice of Yoga Nidra with positive visualization. I’d lay down on my bed and picture myself playing basketball at the best possible standard, then go out and actually do it! The power of the mind is amazingly effective.
Most embarrassing one? I was in a very intense Power Yoga class in a small, crowded room. Hot too. Remember I'm like 6'6". During a standing forward fold the instructor gave the option of tripod headstand. I saw others going up side down and decided to do it too, without having ever practiced it before. Long story short, I fell out of the pose on top of three people - and someone’s glasses. Luckily, nothing but my ego was seriously damaged!
What’s the biggest challenge or issue being a guy who teaches/practices yoga? Being taken seriously - as opposed to being seen as some object that just wants to get with all the girls! When I teach yoga to basketball players, they’re initially put off because they are used to petite bendy girls teaching the practice. I guess the challenge is my appearance: I externally appear one way but there is depth to me internally. It’s a paradox people have trouble with!
What’s your favourite pose? Garudasana (Eagle pose)
What pose do you fucking hate? Virabhadrasana I (Warrior 1) - that pose is not for everyone. Instructors, please give the modification of crescent lunge for those that need it. Thanks!
Yoga is: An Odyssey through the vast ocean of consciousness that allows me to watch my currents of feeling, emotion, sensation, thought and memory instead of becoming them.
Your quote or mantra: If I can expose the fear, let it go and expand in the space it leaves behind, well then I understand the illusion of it and I am left a righter purpose of reason.
Interviewed: October 9th, 2014
Photos by @michaeljameswong and property of BOYS OF YOGA Ltd.