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After an epic El Niño sunset surf session in Santa Barbara, I decided to wind down with some yoga. Being new to area I ventured to the DiviniTree studio having no expectations. It was there I met the inspiring souls of James and his partner Krista who were in town preparing for Lucidity Festival. James was subbing the class I attended, and in that moment it was just what I needed. Come to find out, we all have a lot in common; enjoying a life of purpose and growth while living nomadically and home free. Grateful for the opportunity to catch up with James as he shares some of his insights, knowledge, and experience as a roaming yoga teacher… 

Cover Photo: Setareh Vatan Photography

What life events led you to become a traveling yogi?

I became a traveling yogi out of a desire to participate in creative opportunities and fun adventures that present themselves, from festivals and snowboarding, to workshops and exploring new places. Instead of spending a lot of time working to pay rent and having to say no to invitations to create and engage with life, I chose to open my world and hit the road. It didn’t make sense to be paying rent somewhere I wouldn’t be at half of the time anyway, and I wanted to experience more freedom and availability for projects, people and spontaneity. Living nomadically means following my path and being in the flow. I’ve realized if you give space, have trust and allow, there is so much potential for life to show up for you, things reveal themselves if you give them time.

What has allowed you to continue to live nomadically?

I am able to be a nomad by needing little, being frugal, having lots of community support and continuously developing relationships and skills. There are great resources already in place to experience the world “outside the box”, such as Craigslist rideshare, couch-surfing, Yoga Trade and mostly having a strong network of others who live alternative life-styles, including yogis, festival goers, earth guardians, and those not seduced by the typical American Dream, of consumption or ownership through acquiring debt. After all, it’s all borrowed anyway, the more things you own, the more your things own you.

 

What are the benefits of being a nomadic yoga teacher?

I am free to follow my intuition and be guided by Spirit because I’m not committed to a job. It’s like having an “open relationship” with employers; we can work together, rather james5than me working for them. I have more opportunities for collaboration and co-creating events; offerings become more a choice than an “obligation”. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing people show up that I wouldn’t connect with if I was just staying at “home”. I don’t have a boss. I am empowered to share the message my way. I get to spread yoga, particularly yin, in different environments, like at studios and transformational festivals, to out-reach yoga through collaborating with organizations, like teaching yoga in prisons and free yoga in the park. Creating different events and offerings stretches my creative and organizations skills.

Another benefit of being a nomadic yoga teacher is my expenses are low, which allows my life-style to be sustainable; I make decisions based on inspiration, creativity and choice rather than finances. I have the opportunity to enjoy fun free activities and experiences, like going to the beach, park or a hike, and being able to say yes to things that arise. People wonder what they’ll do when they don’t have a job, but consider all the things that show up that you have to say no to because you have to go work. I love the freedom to explore and say yes, to connect and share inspiration.


Any hardships you deal with being a nomadic yoga teacher?

It’s more challenging to create certain types of routine, you have to be more innovative, creative and have foresight with things like food, laundry, showers and basic necessities that are easily provided with a home. Also, like in most industries or careers, it is easier to build students (clients/customers) when you are still and consistent. I have been able to build a student population that appreciates my teachings and respects my life-style choices. Everything takes more work when it is a single offer; creating titles and descriptions, negotiating price and percentages, scheduling and marketing. When you are a teacher that has regular classes it is more of a routine to go to work.

There’s a challenge for me with some people because when they know I am transient, they are less inclined to engage with me, be vulnerable or build relationships. Some people have trouble comprehending where you live when you’re a nomad and there can be judgments from that. On the other hand, I meet a lot of folks who are inspired and interested, they share my excitement and love to be connected to what I’m doing. I’ve learned my quality time with people is often better because I’m either coming or going, there is a recognition the time we spend together is valuable, maybe because of it’s rarity.

How does your partnership with a fellow yoga teacher inspire your teachings and life?

My partnership with KristaLove is inspiring because of the level of accountability we hold. We are committed to honesty, transparency, authenticity and clear communication. We support each other to continue to practice this way of being in our partnership and other realms of life. We are in an Open-Relationship; for us this meansjames6 rather than denying our thoughts and feelings to ourselves or hiding them from each other, we openly share what we are thinking and feeling, and openly receive the other’s thoughts and feelings without reaction and with compassion.

Our relationship is uplifting because we share similar aspirations, particularly in spreading the power of yoga. We share values of how we want to live in the world, dietary practices and a commitment to enhancing our individual connections to Spirit.

I enjoy witnessing Krista’s growth in her practice and teachings. I love receiving her teachings because I know she has intelligent sequencing and a deep knowing of the practice that comes from years of experience. Krista reinforces my alignment with myself, in my asana practice and in romantic partnership. We create opportunities to unpack life, to be curious together and to teach each other things we’ve learned before we were in partnership; it’s amazing to be a teacher and a student for each other. A perspective we both share of partnership is the chance to have a mirror, someone to hold a clear reflection to receive and integrate feedback. We love having fun, sharing emotional and physical intimacy, and celebrating personal and collective growth. We choose to see relationship as spiritual practice, a space for true presence, a catalyst for healing and growth. Even if there are moments we need space from each other, we give that space to support the Love that is there.

Implementing partner yoga as part of our practice has been a potent avenue to assist and support each other. Our offering Connect: Partner Yin Yoga Massage goes beyond yoga for both of us; it incorporates the necessity and benefits of touch and affection. Krista’s interest in conscious sexuality and responsible relationships has allowed me to reflect on how little people get touch, particularly outside of family or romantic relationships. As affection advocates, we are inspired to create a culture of affection and connection. We’ve learned platonic and romantic touch and affection support our health and well being, the neurochemistry of affection is fascinating! Check out our blog “Home Free Yogis” to learn more. I love being a Yoga Ambassador with her, co-facilitating workshops, assisting each other’s classes and educating others on how to teach yoga safely, effectively and creatively.

 

Tell us more about your current projects…

One of my biggest callings and passions is being a Yin Yoga Ambassador, spreading the transformational power of yin yoga, along with teaching many other styles of yoga. I james4have multiple offerings for sharing yin yoga, from specialty seasonal classes, introductory workshops for those new to yin or wanting to learn more, and teacher trainings that concentrate on sequencing, meridians and creating well-balanced classes.

My partner Krista and I are excited to share our offering Connect: Partner Yin Yoga Massage. This practice uses the power of yin yoga to open and balance the body and move chi, while applying elements of Thai Yoga Massage to increase stimulation and enhance the practitioner’s experience by supporting their unique shape. An important element of Yin Yoga Massage is sharing touch through teaching people to assist and massage each other with compassion.

I am also thrilled to be a collaborator with YogiTunes, an affordable online resource for yoga teachers and studio owners to play conscious music, with the profits going directly to artists because the rights are owned by the organization (which is becoming more of an issue as far as legality of rights and playing music in classes). I am a YogiTunes DJ with multiple themed playlists made by incredible producers and musicians I find inspiring.

I am the creator of the Sac-Sierra Yoga Pass, a multi-studio passport good for a single drop-in at over 40 studios from the Sacramento area to Lake Tahoe. This was inspired by my desire to create a bridge for the yoga community to share offerings, rather than being competitive or individually business-minded.

Another major collaborative project I’m a part of is Lucidity Festival, a transformational gathering in its 5th year in the hills of Santa Barbara, CA. The folks who produce the event are raising the bar as far as conscious festival production. I am inspired by their integrated way of working together which is highly effective and forward thinking with the systems in place for alternative conflict resolution to help the community thrive. They are moving towards larger aspirations, including and not limited to, supporting artists and artisans, offering alternative education opportunities, acquiring and creating sustainable community and shared land projects. Festivals are a play-ground for experimentation as we move towards re-establishing a village. Lucidity is an incredible experiment I am grateful to be a part of.

And I am always seeking ways to continue to network the yoga highway as a yoga ambassador, through supporting transformational festivals, conscious artists and continuing to share and teach. I’m excited for upcoming creations, like downloadable yoga classes and Yin DVD’s to reach a broader audience and more!

 

Why do you think we are seeing more wellness events and yoga as an aspect at transformational gatherings?

Transformational gatherings by nature are supporting people’s conscious evolution through personal and collective transformation. This culture is growing because people are acknowledging they want more out of a gathering than just a party. There is a genuine desire to connect and experience community. There are more spaces for elders to come and teach, and for families with children to experience music, art, education and creative expression. This demonstrates a recognition that community means multiple generations and lenses of perspective.

Wellness offerings are increasing at festivals as well as contributions in art, yoga, massage, permaculture & sustainability, do-it-yourself workshops, professional education, and a more holistic understanding of intimacy and relationships through offerings and human relationships. These festivals are a space to re-establish the village, the collective perspective. The stereotypical options we are given by mainstream culture are less attractive to people. We are waking up to the knowing that there are more options than what we’ve been told, rejecting the limited view of ways to be, and awakening to their authentic, unique and creative truths.

 

Who or what have been your greatest teachers?

Reading the Tao Te Ching has been one of my greatest teachers. This simple yet profound text encourages a contemplative way of being, to be a witness and observer of life. It gives examples of the watery, fluid like quality of existence, and I try to use that example in my life by creating fluidity and freedom.

Ram Das is another of my favorite spiritual teachers. He is an incredibly accessible, james1funny, and non-dualistic Western teacher who is a bridge, bringing Eastern philosophy and wisdom to the West.

Thich Nhat Hanh, a Zen monk and international peace activist, revealed to me the Truth behind Buddha’s message on the lack of independent origination, he calls it inter-being, which means nothing arose independently, nothing is isolated. Everything you identify with has been influenced by others or something before you, you are connected to everything in the realm of form: physical, thought energetic, emotion. And we are all one in Spirit.

Finally, my puppy Stitch is one of my favorite teachers because he take nothing personally, is unconditionally loving, is happy to see every living thing he comes into contact with and his natural disposition is to be playful and curious.

Life and its series of trial and error, pitfalls and successes, has taught me that as you move with your own flow, sometimes against the current of “traditional culture”, truth will always support you.

 

If you could share one sentence that the whole world would see, what would it be…

Trust your Intuition.

 

Anything else you would like us to share…

Festival culture, collaborating in the yoga world and learning about sustainability, and conscious relating allow me avenues to be a bridge builder and thread weaver, to create a more supported, connected and authentic world. I invite you to step into your unique expression of life and do what you love and are called to. It is through this that you will offer your best to yourself, humanity and our planet.

james3

James Kapicka is a yoga ambassador and event producer with a passion for bringing together community in a way that supports acceptance and forgiveness as we learn to evolve as beings. Through sincere and heartfelt expression, he creates an environment that empowers students to stay in their integrity and trust their intuition. James offers sacred ceremonies intended to facilitate personal growth and healing through the unconditionally giving of authentic self in a way that protects innocence and promotes creative play and expression. His classes, workshops, and events center on profound re-evolutionary change both within and in how we exist in society and in our relationship with Mother Earth.

Why to Get Yin With It

All right, I feel you sister (or brother); you don’t want to slow down. I, too, have heard that sweet little voice that can transform into a booming drill seargant, “Run faster, bitch.” You immediately build walls at the suggestion of taking a rest day or offer that your mind cannot focus in even momentary meditation. Moving slowly for an hour? Pshhhh, not a chance. Filling your precious workout time with a Yin yoga class is the road less traveled… that you would rather leave untraveled.

While the benefits of a sweat crunching, power-style yoga classes are endless, all exercise and no recovery is a recipe for injury and breakdown. Moving through a class where there is no goal of sweating or strengthening allows your body and mind to practice releasing, or in yogi speak, letting go.

So what exactly is Yin yoga? In Chinese cosmology, the yin-yang theory describes how everything has a dual aspect. While yin and yang seem to be opposing forces, they IMG_3967complement and interact with each other to form continuous balance. One can see the polarities by simply looking into his or her life and surroundings, such as hot and cold, day and night, and feminine and masculine.

While our yang practice stimulates and encourages our dynamic vinyasa practice or even activities like running, Yin yoga is a practice that focuses more so on the connective tissues of the body, such as the ligaments, tendons, fascia and bones. These systems in our body respond best to slow, steady load, and in return, they will begin to relax and release when given the time to do so.

While connective tissue can be found in each bone, muscle and organ, it is most concentrated at the joints. By not utilizing the full range of joint flexibility, the connective tissues will, over time, shorten to the minimal need required of the body’s activities. Gently moving into a pose and holding it for what may seem as an eternity, a yin practice can help to rebuild and restore a normal range of movement.

Yin yoga is often accompanied with props, such as blocks, blankets and bolsters. By practicing at a slower pace and only moving through a handful of postures, the class will often be a sequence of poses that open the chest for breath work and dive deeply into the hips.

Now that we have discussed the benefits of Yin yoga to your super-hot, yoga body, how else can practicing slowly quickly help your yoga practice? Let’s roll out your head and heart. Through reading this article, perhaps you have either uploaded a picture to instagram (and labeled it #yogaeverydamnday), asked the dog to be quiet, checked your facebook notications, glanced at a text message, felt stressed in determining how to respond to said text message, thought that you should do the dishes, realized you left the dish soap in the car with other groceries, wondered if a yoga studio near you offers Yin yoga and started to plan your next meal.

Hopefully you didn’t engage in all of them.

It isn’t surprising that most people are resistant to incorporating rest. The culture that we live in rewards those who hold workaholic, stressed-out, type-A behaviors. Scant value is placed upon recovery until tendonitis creeps in, joints uncontrollably pop, debilitating pain radiates from one’s lower back and we are so frazzled and bombarded by our own lives, that we have catastrophic freak-outs.

If you are consistently choosing recreation that mimics a jam-packed life, the body will break itself down.

Being softer, slower and more mindful, a Yin yoga practice will encourage an opening IMG_5733within the energetic pathways of the body and mind. Through moving stagnant energy, vitality within the body will blossom: organ function improves, immunity levels rise and emotional well-being is renewed. It is about turning inward and growing a peaceful awareness within oneself. This intimate practice requires preparation for a heart-to-heart with sensations and emotions, a discussion usually avoided by most.

From an outside perspective, Yin yoga may appear to be seen as lounging in comfy poses on one’s mat. Being still breeds ground for a straying mind, and it takes practice to deliberately stay with the rough or unsettling emotions and thoughts that may surface. Mindfulness is like a muscle; it must be exercised, and it needs practice.

Yin yoga offers the space to develop the skills needed to stay with and process those dark areas within. As I have been working through a physical imbalance within my body, embracing Yin yoga has started to grow greater attention towards my body’s abilities and signals.

For you to-do list makers and task-oriented folk, here are ten benefits of Yin yoga:

* Restores balance in the nervous system

* Regulates and improves energy vitality within the body

* By lubricating the joints and increasing synovial fluid, greater flexibility and mobility is inspired

* Opens up the fascia within the body

* Helps to balance hormones

* Encourages good posture by stimulating the entire spine

* Releases tension in the lumbar spine (low back)

* Massages and tones the bowels, aiding in improved digestion

* Offers a deepened state of relaxation

* Complements and enhances a yang practice (vinyasa, bikram, etc.)

This mini-list is only a taste of what a delicious Yin yoga practice can begin to produce. Take time to settle in stillness, reach your mental edge and listen to what your body, heart and mind are trying to tell you. Just as the day bleeds into the night, and the moon lingers in the morning sky, Yin yoga will shine light onto those dark, untraveled pathways.

 

morningyogapic

 

Patty Blake is cycling, mountain climbing, animal loving and plant crunching VEGAN! She is registered Yoga Instructor, licensed Massage Therapist, certified Reiki Practitioner who loves to laugh and smash goals. www.thepattymelt.com

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