How long have you been teaching yoga?
I have been teaching yoga for about one year, since completing the teacher training with Kathy and receiving my RYT-200 registration.
Why did you become a yoga teacher? Who and/or what are your biggest influences?
I decided to register for the teacher training with the objective of establishing a solid foundation in the principles of yoga and to deepen my practice. I had been practicing for 10 years but was interested in better understanding alignment, practicing safely, and extending yoga beyond the mat. I had been a youth hockey coach for 10 years and really missed teaching, sharing, and learning alongside my players. When I finished the training program, Kathy really inspired me to take the next step and teach.
Who and/or what are your biggest influences?
As it relates to yoga, I have two: BKS Iyengar – I have practiced different forms of holistic health for over 20 years and one day picked up BKS Iyengar’s book “Yoga, The Path to Holistic Health.” I was absolutely amazed at the breadth of what yoga could provide in terms of healing and wellness. In addition, my dad has practiced and taught meditation for more than 40 years, and hearing the stories of how meditation influenced people’s lives has really touched me.
How has yoga helped you to be a better person?
First of all, I learned that yoga is much more than asana. We studied the Yamas and Niyamas in teacher training and they have become a guide for what I strive for: Non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, non-excess, non-possessiveness, purity, contentment, self-discipline, self-study, and surrender. One of the practical ways I try to apply these principles on a daily basis is focusing on how I can be of service instead of what I can receive. And when I fall short of these ideals, I realize that our beauty is in our imperfection and strive to better.
What is your personal mission statement as a yoga teacher?
To spread joy, happiness, and peace through the community practice of yoga.
What do you think constitutes an excellent yoga instructor?
Authenticity – being yourself, teaching what you know, being prepared yet flexible, and most importantly being kind.
What was your most challenging teaching experience?
The most challenging experience is still in front of me. I was asked to do a workshop at a studio I visited last summer on Long Island, Hamptons Healing Arts. I’m working on a theme, content, and music and feel a little intimidated as the guest teacher.
What do you recommend to the beginner student? To the seasoned student?
Be open to the experience and try not to have any expectations. And to the seasoned student: Share your gifts!
How do you take your yoga off the mat?
I try to be kind and giving. It’s one thing to be all Zen when inside the studio, but the real reflection of progress is how you treat others.
What is the one pose you are most proud of getting into?
Astavakrasana, or Eight Angle Pose. I first saw this pose in one of the many yoga books I have and thought it was completely beyond my physical abilities. When I stopped trying to muscle my way into the pose and used my breath and just relaxed, one day it just came.
What is your favorite time of day to practice yoga?
All times of day! In the morning I enjoy the peacefulness of yoga; in the afternoon, it’s a time restart and re-energize; and practicing in the evening provides an opportunity to leave the chaos of the day behind. I also love to do mini yoga’s throughout the day. Whether it’s a brief pranayama or a quick forward fold, taking a few seconds or minutes is so refreshing.
Where is the best place you have ever practiced yoga?
On the beach in Westhampton Beach, Long Island.
What is your favorite music to listen to while practicing yoga?
I curate different playlists for all my classes and try to match the music to the theme of the class. My playlists include classic rock, reggae, classical, kirtan, jam bands, and live Grateful Dead shows.
What else do you want students to know about you?
I enjoy teas from around the world (come to one of my Saturday classes – I brew tea for each class), all kinds of sports (hockey, golf, skiing, tennis, etc.), and love being at the beach. I have a passion for live music (nothing like Ravinia on a summer evening) and have attended well over 100 Grateful Dead Shows.
Why do you love teaching at Pulsation Yoga?
Jim and Kathy have built Pulsation into a real community. It is a safe and non-intimidating environment that is grounded in the principles of yoga. Many of the students and teachers I practice with have become true friends. A really cool example of the essence of Pulsation is one recent Saturday morning, when a student brought in fresh herbs and flowers from her garden and shared them with everyone at the studio (thanks Susie!).
Rob Murray teaches at the Pulsation Yoga studio in Lake Zurich. Check out the class schedule to attend his classes.