TRUE GENTLEMAN . STYLE ICON . CREATIVE DIRECTOR . YOGI
Where is home now? Stockholm - has been for the last 20 years.
What’s your story? I grew up in a socialist ghetto with academics and political immigrants from all over the world. My parents were true idealists and I sat on my father’s shoulders in every political demonstration march during the seventies. Now, having just turned 40 and looking back, I realize that this time formed my life in more ways than I can (or sometimes want to) believe. I can see now that all political views can be dogmatic and narrow-minded. The rebel in me meant I had to challenge my parents’ beliefs and become a ‘successful' art director working in advertising. But on the other hand, I believe that I have a solid foundation in understanding and believing in the equality of every human (and animal!), everywhere.
My life has been defined by great pendulums - from socialist to capitalist; from big wall climbing to chess playing; from Patagonia to Prada; from all you can eat buffets to organic vegan raw food. The great swings started to seize when yoga came into my life. Now I’m a father of two children, which I guess defines me more than most other things. It might be a cliché but oh-so true. These two minions are my yoga today. Challenging me, grounding me, making me unconditionally me.
What did you want to be growing up? A writer. I loved the escapism of stories from an early age. I just had one problem: I couldn’t read or spell that well. Instead, I came up with alternative words to go around those I couldn’t spell correctly, which, in retrospect, broadened my language quite a bit.
How would you describe yourself? Jonas as a bumper sticker: “cool head, warm heart”.
How would others describe you? If someone said “kind, true, passionate, creative and present” I would be very happy.
How would your mother describe you? A small boy in a big man’s body.
What do you most value in others? Why? Kindness. That trumps everything. Someone once said; "kind people are the best kind of people”. Cheers to that.
When did you last cry? A few weeks ago I realized that my kids will eventually grow up. Da! It just became clear to me that at a certain point they won’t need me any more. I was crying because it was both beautiful and terrifying at the same time.
Is there anything you preach but don’t practice? “You are what you do, not what you say you are”. Because I can always do so much more for so many more people. I constantly challenge my thoughts, words and actions. And too often I don’t live up to my own standards.
What’s the worst job you ever had? I was looking for the big adventure and was offered a commission job with “great potential” in NYC. I ended up sitting on a chair in a shopping mall outside a small town in Connecticut. For two months I tried to sell rocks that cool your whiskey. It turned out that most people in the area where Mormons…
And the best? I have the two best jobs in the world. I share the teachings of yoga and I lead the creative work at my agency.
Favorite meal? All-you-can-eat vegan raw food buffets.
Favorite drink? In the morning: fresh mint tea. For lunch: Stockholm’s finest tap water. At night: a Negroni.
Favorite book? I’m a bit like Andy Warhol: “I never read, I just look at pictures”. Ask me about my favorite movie and I will spend hours talking about different genres and titles that have changed my life. If it has to be a book; “A Million Little Pieces” by James Frey. Biography or not, it’s a kick-ass transformative book.
Ok, let’s talk about yoga, how’d you get into it? I was literally standing on a bridge trying to decide weather I should start playing tennis or start with yoga. I kind of liked the fashionable aspect of tennis and how you could mix business and pleasure. It seemed like the smart thing to do. On the other hand, there was an indescribable force pulling me towards another more complex feeling. Instead of business and fashion I sensed an expansive energy towards consciousness and love. I chose yoga.
Why do you keep coming back? I feel so darn magic after Savasana. That larger-than-life experience is addictive.
What would make you skip practice? If I have cleared space in my calendar for a yoga class, wild horses couldn’t drag me away. Morning self-practice, now that’s another thing…
Other than yoga, what keeps you busy? Once a year I take to the mountains for a long trek, carrying everything on my back, sleeping flat on Mother Nature and most important, putting my phone on flight mode. It’s a way of re-booting the system and to really appreciate the small things in life that you take for granted.
What advice would you give to someone stepping onto the mat for the first time? You are not the first and you are not alone. We have all been there. We have all felt the insecurity and the inadequacy. Just do it, and do it again and again. I know a smart dude who once wrote; “some guys think that yoga makes you less of a man, the truth is it makes you a better one”…
Tell us about a time your yoga practice came into play off the mat? I have been in the advertising business for many years. When I started to teach yoga I found myself saying to my students; “you are what you do, not what you say you are”. I realized that I couldn’t live up to that myself. I started another agency, The Good Guys, with the sole purpose of making the world a better place by inspiring and helping companies, organizations and philanthropists to harness the potential in sustainable development.
What does the BOYS OF YOGA project mean to you? The best go-to place for loving connections with other like-hearted guys.
If you could spend more time with one of the other BOYS, who would it be? Ryan CM seems like a cool dude. Would be fun to have a play date with our kids. By the pool at Soho Beach House in Miami would be the preferred place to hangout, if I were to decide.
What’s your favorite pose? I love twists. Maybe because of my long arms or the fact that I’m good at forgiving myself for those who I have hurt...
What pose do you fucking hate? I just hate back bends. Maybe it has something to do with my short legs - or the fact that I’m terrible at forgiving those who have hurt me...
Yoga is… a transformative nectar.
Your quote or mantra: Lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu. May all beings everywhere be happy and free. May my thoughts, words and actions in some way contribute to that happiness and freedom for all.
Interviewed: November 29th, 2015
Photos by @michaeljameswong and property of BOYS OF YOGA Ltd.