Everyday Life Lessons from Yoga: A Conversation with Baron Baptiste
Jun 01, 2010 03:00AM
By Linda Sechrist
For 20 years, Baron Baptiste, founder of Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga, has served as an inspirational yoga teacher, author and leader in the realm of personal transformation. He has influenced the lives of hundreds of thousands of people around the world and across cultures. Here, he comments on yoga’s life-changing benefits.
What is Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga?
Baptiste yoga focuses on what creates results for people on the physical, mental and emotional levels, so that they can feel more empowered and at ease in their everyday lives. I developed this style of power yoga over many years of working with men, women and youths. It adapts to an individual’s level of ability and encourages students to integrate universal timeless and spiritual principles into their daily lives.
Why should yoga students feel part of a global community?
Yoga means union, and is practiced throughout the world, regardless of language or cultural barriers; in a sense, we are all connected via our humanity. Just as with the effects of the universal language of music, people feel the rhythm and power of yoga in their bodies.
How has yoga helped you?
Yoga is an anchor in my life. It’s hard to imagine what life would be like without yoga. Physically, it’s always been there for me from childhood. In my teens and early 20s, I surfed and participated in martial arts competitions. Yoga not only gave me a background for all the sports I participated in, it provided a platform for my athletic training and helped heal and rebuild my body after injuries.
In my 30s, and now my 40s, yoga has been my pillar as I enter new phases of life. In challenging times, yoga has been like a friend that helped me work through stress and emotions. It’s a tool that continues to help me find peace and freedom, as well as personal power.
Which yoga skill is the most useful in everyday life?
In Baptiste yoga, we emphasize being present in the moment by connecting with the body, which we consider to be an anchor for the mind. For example, when an individual who lives largely in their head is asked to connect with their breath, foot or leg while holding a yoga pose, they immediately come into the present moment. This is a strong tool to take off the mat and into everyday life.
When we take the time to connect again and again throughout the day to our breath or to our body, we are drawn away from the mental concepts and imaginings of the mind and back to our center. This simple act empowers us in all situations and in our relationships.
How have yoga disciplines bettered relationships within your family?
The true effectiveness of yoga shows when we take our practice into life situations. I have three sons, ages 17, 14 and 10. Teenagers communicate on a different level because they are trying to make their own way in the world and find their sense of self; I now find myself interacting with my two older sons on a new level. When they were younger, I called the shots, but now they want to do that, which results in a back-and-forth dance of communication. When I am practicing yoga, I find that instead of reacting to their challenges from a position of control, I am centered, calm and less reactive. Rather than giving them something to rebel against, I am able to respond more consciously.
Overall, when I am centered and grounded in my body and breathing, I’m not in my head, intellectualizing about what is happening. Rather, I’m connected with my heart center. Immediately, my perception shifts from thoughts of the past or future into the present, which is the best place to be, because I’m with “what is, as is,” and I can respond from a place of compassion. I like that I feel more complete when I’m engaged with my children.
What advice do you give someone who wants to begin a yoga practice?
An all-day immersion experience is a great way to start. Then, practicing yoga daily for at least 20 to 30 minutes is better than practicing for one hour three times a week A regular yoga practice has cumulative results: The body changes and becomes stronger, deals better with stress and benefits from enhanced energy flows; practitioners enjoy an overall feeling of well-being and a sense of ease within their own body.
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