BEACH BOY . MANTRA MAN . MUSICIAN . YOGI
What's your story? I was born in Texas and grew up in North Carolina, where I started meditating at the age of 9. I worked in the entertainment business for a while before discovering yoga then, after a near-death experience in Kauai, Hawaii, things really started to shift for me and I began to dive deep into all things yoga. You want the full Hollywood-worthy story? Okay, here goes; settle in...
It was the first day of my first ever yoga retreat. I was hiking along the remote Nepali coast and decided to take a dip in the ocean. Little did I know, this move would be life-changing. Suddenly, I was sucked into the middle of an enormous Hawaiian surf, trapped in the waves, repeatedly getting engulfed and dragged under water. I was soon completely broken and worn down by the water's force and was utterly powerless as the current took me to the edge of the bay that was lined with jagged, black rocks. Over and over, I was thrashed up against the rocks. As if that wasn't enough, the ocean then took me further out to sea, further from the reach of rescue. There I struggled against the current until I was finally rescued by another yogi on the retreat, who happened to be a surfer and lifeguard. Miraculously, I walked away from this incident with only a few scrapes and gashes. The rest of the retreat became a week of celebration through yoga, song and chanting!
Pretty dramatic, right?! After that, I started teaching yoga in Thailand until the Tsunami of 2005 brought me back to LA. It was quite a shift but it didn’t stop me. Ever since then it's been an amazing ride - from first setting up in Santa Monica to where I'm at now, teaching all over the world. I also love to sing kirtan (those years in entertainment put me in good stead!) and just released my first CD, The Meaning of Soul.
How would you describe yourself? Centered, steady, passionate - and sometimes very silly.
How would others describe you? Compact and very good looking..!
We’ve all got a few stories that we aren’t the most proud of, care to share one? There're a lot of them! One that stands out its this one time in middle school where me and a few friends figured out this crazy trick where you could put clear packaging tape on the edge of a $5 bill. We would put the bill into a soda machine and then just after the machine registered the money we would yank the $5 bill out the machine. It would let us buy a drink and then gave us the leftover change. We thought we hit the jackpot! In hindsight, not very smart since, as Thomas Jefferson once said, "honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom”!
What’s the worst job you ever had? The worst job I’ve ever had was when I was 16, as a server at The Blue Armadillo. I was such a terrible waiter! "Fake it till you make it!" was my recurring slogan.
And the best? Outside of being a yoga instructor, it'd have to be working on a movie called "Domestic Disturbance" with John Travolta, Vince Vaughn, and Steve Buscemi. I started of as a wardrobe PA but then got promoted to a 'teamster' a couple of weeks into the shoot. I had just graduated from college and was having the time of my life!
Favourite meal? Jackfruit tacos with guacamole, salsa, lettuce and a little sour cream.
Favourite drink? Fresh coconut water.
What is one fact that most other people wouldn’t know about you? My first concert was a Motley Crue show.
If you could do it all again, what would you change? I would consider very carefully who I choose to do business with...
Any regrets? None. Everything happens for a good reason.
Ok, let’s talk about yoga, how’d you get into it? I was working at The Ritz Carlton as a banquet server. This co-worker kept trying to get me to come to yoga but I wasn't buying it! After about a year I finally went to a class at Santa Monica Power Yoga with Govindas (aka Ira Rosen) and fell in love with the practice immediately.
Do you teach? What’s that like? I do teach and it's just amazing. It's full-on, but i'm grateful!
What was the biggest challenge when you first started? Figuring out where to go after Warrior II!
Why do you keep coming back? Because yoga is one-stop shopping! It takes care of every facet of who we are as human beings and enhances every aspect of our lives.
Best yoga story? The best yoga story is happening right now! I'm sitting at a retreat center in Costa Rica, high on top of a mountain, overlooking the pacific ocean and the rain forest. I'm in the middle of an international yoga teacher training with students from all over the world. All day we are practicing yoga, meditation, pranayama, mantra and much more. We are eating incredible food, drinking amazing fresh teas, and on our breaks we are stand-up paddle boarding, zip-lining, hiking, swimming and surfing. There are tears of transformation and there is laughter for days. And I can’t help but think how incredibly blessed I am…
It’s a pretty good story!
Most embarrassing one? One time this guy came to take my yoga class... He showed up 15 minutes late and stripped down butt-naked right at the back of the room. There were a lot of ladies in the room and I just felt he was being so inconsiderate. I got upset, barraged him with some pretty harsh words and threw him out of the class but, afterwards, I was so embarrassed that I’d lost my cool.... although maybe sometimes we need to get fierce!
What’s the biggest challenge or issue being a guy who teaches/practices yoga? In LA lots of guys practice yoga so it's become pretty normal, which is so awesome to see. But sometimes when I travel for a workshop it's almost all-female and, although I have no problem being around a bunch of ladies, I can see how guys get put off by that. They think it's just for the girls! I understand because I had the same initial resistance. But once you can get past that stereotype, you can see that yoga is open and beneficial to everyone; a lot of my friends/students are professional athletes and they all do yoga. I think the key is to find the right teacher and the right vibe of a class for you.
What’s your favourite pose? Twisting Triangle.
What pose do you fucking hate? Headstand.
Yoga is... freedom. Every human being is looking for freedom. Some do it through negative means and others do it through positive means. But we all want to be free. And yoga helps us achieve this.
What's your personal quote or mantra: Much health, wealth, and love.
Interviewed: October 7th, 2014
Photos by @michaeljameswong and property of BOYS OF YOGA Ltd.