Posts

Yoga Journal: Live Be Yoga Tour

Just as Yoga continues to evolve itself, Yoga Journal has surely come a long way since it’s creation in 1975 by the California Yoga Teachers Association. In 2016, Yoga Journal created the Live Be Yoga Tour. The aim of the tour is to send out ambassadors to shine a light on the real talk, real issues, real work, and real fun taking place in yoga’s diverse communities, large and small, across the United States. In April of this year, Lauren Cohen and Brandon Spratt embarked on the cross-country journey together to forge new conversations in yoga. We had already connected with Brandon thru Yoga Trade and wanted to learn more about this inspiring journey! Here, we catch up with both Lauren and Brandon to get an insight to what life is really like on the road, to catch a glimpse of their experience, and to hear the modern day yoga wisdom they are learning along the way. May we all continue to show up for every part of the voyage with open hearts!

Can you briefly tell us about your yoga background?

Lauren: I started practicing yoga during college in Cleveland, Ohio during an extremely challenging time in my life. I grew up as a competitive figure skater and when I stopped skating I had a major identity crisis at the age of 17, wondering who I was without the sport. When I walked into the yoga studio that day, I was at an ultimate low – emotionally, mentally and physically. Over time, the mat became my savior and the practice brought me home to myself. To this day it continues to do that very thing.

Brandon: Yoga truly found me – in every way possible. When I was very young, my mom would take me to meditation gardens and yoga classes. Looking back on my life I can see that this seed that was planted would be paramount for my journey ahead. Yoga and meditation was always something I practiced here and there, until my entire life felt like it had an atom bomb dropped onto it. In the midst of incredible challenges, yoga found me again and asked for its deepening and devotion. Over the past couple years I have worked towards integrating a daily practice, which has now become my anchor and rock in this world. Incredible healing took place when I took on this commitment and as a result, all I cared about and wanted to do was share these tools to help repair people’s spirits and bring them back hOMe. Over the past couple years, I have lived nomadically sharing yoga wherever I may be. Most recently, I have become a brand ambassador, alongside Lauren Cohen, for Yoga Journal magazine and have embarked upon a 6 month yoga tour exploring the state of yoga in America today. 

How did you connect to the Live Be Yoga Tour and what is the mission?

Lauren: I had a friend that did the tour last year and got to hear about his experience. The idea of combining three of my greatest  loves – yoga, travel and writing – seemed like an amazing opportunity. My mission with the tour is to provide meaningful and inspiring content about how yoga is impacting various communities around the country.

Brandon: It had been a while since I was on Yoga Trade’s website and I went to go explore some opportunities. I had just gotten back traveling internationally for a while, was visiting my family and figuring out what was next for me. Also, after living with your parents for a while reminds you of how much you love them and then why you left home in the first place! I was starting to get antsy and ready to embark upon the next adventure. I saw an opportunity on Yoga Trade for the Live Be Yoga Tour by Yoga Journal Magazine and I immediately lit up inside and just knew that this was going to be that “next thing” for me. So, I went through the application process and after quite an extensive interview procedure, I got the gig! The mission of the tour is about building community and having important, relevant conversations within the yoga community today. It is a very general intention and mission, however, it gives us freedom to really explore a variety of topics as we travel from city to city. 

How do you define seva and why do you feel it is important on the path of yoga?

Lauren: I think of seva as selfless service and I view it as a huge component of yoga. The deeper we get into our personal practice the more we begin to care for and know ourselves, which then allows us to more readily and powerfully be there for others. In this way, yoga truly has a ripple effect. We are all connected and yoga is about union in every sense of the word.

Brandon: Seva is when you serve through the heart selflessly. You take such great care of your Self that your cup is overflowing. When that happens, your heart is open, without effort. You effortlessly want to just help, give and share whatever you can with others. It is a humble act of kindness and can be done in many ways – offering to clean a yoga studio for free, giving your lunch to a homeless person, just doing any kind of good deed without expecting any kind of reward or return. Simply doing it because it’s the right thing to do.

What have been some of the most inspirational tour experiences yet? 

Lauren: For me, so much of the tour has been about the relationships I’ve been able to cultivate. Meeting Brandon and finding a close friend and support system in him has been such a gift. As far as actual tour content goes, my favorite interview was our very first interview with Richard Freeman and Mary Taylor – they set the bar quite high in our conversation about what it means to really “live” yoga and to take the practice off the mat. 

Brandon: Getting to sit down with Santosh Manikur when we were in Salt Lake City was refreshing and helped Lauren and I to feel jovial again. The tour has its challenges and we were at a bit of a low point before meeting Santosh. I wrote an article here about our experience with why meeting him was so inspiring. 

What are some of the challenges you face while on the road?

Lauren: Being away from those I love and not teaching much!

Brandon: Being on the road sounds like a lot of fun – and it definitely is! But there is another side to the coin. Traveling constantly takes its toll on you, mentally, emotionally and physically. There are also new kinds of pressures having to be “on” all the time for events. Plus, being in a new city every week is very ungrounding. We have had to learn to simplify our lives as much as possible so when we pack and unpack every week it’s not completely overwhelming. While it has been challenging at times, it’s also taught us to compartmentalize our emotions in a way that is healthy. We’ve learned to put our own issues aside and focus of service and doing the best we can.

Who are the yoga teachers and what are the practices that spark you up right now?

Lauren: I have done quite a bit of training with Jason Crandell and Janet Stone. Right now, I am most excited about Tias Little and diving more into the subtle body and meditation.

What types of big and important conversations are you hearing currently from the U.S. yoga community? 

Lauren: 

*How to make yoga feel more inclusive and accessible to all. 

*What it means to take the practice off the mat and make it a life practice.

*How yoga brings people together in community and why that is such a powerful and important thing.

*Skepticism around where yoga is going; that it’s all about the physical practice and part of a trendy workout. 

What does ‘with great privilege comes great responsibility’ mean to you? 

Lauren: Know your impact, be in integrity and stay humble – we must take responsibility for ourselves and know that what we say and do has great impact, even if we can’t see it at first. And, the more we are in a leadership role, the more impact we can have.

If you could express one sentence to every new yoga teacher, what would it be?

Lauren: Remain a student above all else. Stay curious and humble and trust the teachings to guide you.

How can people get involved with y’all and the tour?

Feel free to follow us on social @livebeyoga or check it out online at: 

https://www.yogajournal.com/livebeyoga

To connect directly:

www.laurencohenyoga.com

@lc_yoga

www.brandonspratt.com

@brandonspratt

 

GO W/ THE FLOW

Meet Tori Reynolds and Ben Rivet. If you haven’t heard of them already, you will want to familiarize yourself with their amazing project, GO W/ THE FLOW (GWTF). I was blown away when I took their class this summer at Wanderlust Festival Squaw Valley, as I realized it was the most inspiring class I had taken in a long time. This charismatic duo from Ohio is on the road spreading joy to yogis by sharing their playful vinyasa and creative live musical sequencing. Their classes are original, uplifting, and their love of life is contagious. Here they share their story with the Yoga Trade Community:  

How did you find yoga?

Ben: I took my first yoga class in college at University of Dayton’s rec plex. My uncle had raved about yoga when I was home between my junior and senior year, so when I got back to school I found out they had free classes, and there seemed to be a lot of cute girls.., so it thought I’d give it a try for a while. I soongowithflow4 began to realize the tremendous benefits it provided my mind and body, and I’ve been practicing in some form or another for the last 7 years. After school I started practicing (via trade) in exchange for graphic design and web work for a nearby studio in Dayton.  All this time connected to a studio community greatly deepened and nurtured my practice and love for yoga in a more holistic sense of the word. That’s where I met Tori, and the GO W/ THE FLOW project was born, and we’ve been able to use the project to practice and “study” yoga around the country since 2012. Taking classes at some of the best studios in the country with such a wide variety of teachers, has shown me how flexible and perfect yoga can be for my life and anyone else who finds it.

Tori: When I was studying at Wright State University in Dayton, feeling a little uninspired, I took a 6 week summer yoga class with a couple of friends and ended up absolutely loving it! After the 6 weeks were up I developed a home practice until I found some classes I really connected with. Needless to say I was completely re-inspired down a path I never knew existed. A little over a year after that initial course I taught my first yoga class.

What does the word “flow” mean to you?       

Ben: For me flow is presence. Whether it happens on accident, during a yoga class, or performing music, I find my “flow” when I’m able to drop the past and future noise of my life and be exactly where I am. When my body, mind and emotions are directed at the same focal point, I find that the rest of the world falls away. I’m able to apply all of my attention, skill, experience, knowledge and love to one single task. It makes me feel like I’m a super hero. Like time slows down and I can give whatever or whoever is in front of me 100%. It’s a beautiful thing, and Im grateful that yoga has helped me tap into that state much easier than I have.
Tori: I agree with what Ben said, “presence”. I’m a visual person, so when I hear flow I imagine someone dancing in the middle of a room, completely present and enveloped by the sound of the music playing, inhibitions released, worries aside… in that moment your body responds to every little shift and change to the music in a very easy, free way. So ultimately this presence allows our whole spirit, mind, and body to connect to whatever situation the universe gives us, no matter what shifts or changes happen, we adapt and groove right along with it. You could even say flow is a form of freedom from the overstimulated mind. In my example, dancing, but this could be anything from a small mundane task you need to tackle to running an ultra marathon. We just happen to try and make this connection during a powerful asana practice.

What do you love most about what you do? 

Ben: The people. Tori and I have traveled over 100,000 miles and taught over 250 GWTF classes in the past
gowiththeflow32 and a half years, and the thing I’m most proud of is how many people we’ve connected with along the way. I love finding the bond between people, places and ideas, and when we travel for these tours, I’m able to dive into the lives of all the people we meet along the way. Their families, their homes, their stories and their passions. It gives me so much context as to how I live my life, and motivates me to immerse myself into new projects and adventures with each stop along the route.
Tori: Creating an experience for people where they can feel that freedom! I truly believe that the steady pace of the breath we present people with can alter their state, mentally and physically. And honestly just like anything you do over and over for a while, it’s good to check in with the foundations. Remind yourself why it worked and made you fall in love with it in the first place. Breath to us is one of those ultimate foundations.

Do you have any tips for keeping a consistent personal practice while on the road/traveling? 

Ben: Don’t force it! Yoga is so much more than a 90 minute hot power classes 3 times a week. Yoga is about an awareness of your body, and its interaction with the world. When you travel, you are putting a lot of unusual stress on your whole being, and the more you pay attention to that the better you’ll be at taking care of yourself. If you can go take a class while traveling, then AWESOME! Go, experience new communities, styles, and teachers. It will do so much for your understanding of the practice. BUT, don’t worry that you aren’t able to hit your yoga mat as much as you do at home. Sometimes the most yogic thing you can do for yourself is rest. I try to spend a decent amount of time stretching my hips, lower back and legs while I’m in bed. I also try to find a good place to lay on the floor with my legs up the wall to help release the tension from my sacrum after driving for hours… Whatever you do, know that it’s better than nothing, and that just taking note of how your body is responding to the travel is all the yoga you need in my book.
Tori: Ask yourself what you need, like really… what do you NEED? I am totally guilty of getting caught up with the pressure I put on myself to keep a routine, cardio, a strong asana practice, and eating super healthy on the road, but sometimes I have to realize that my body gets a little tired and I need to rest. Those are the moments I have to drop the often unrealistic expectations I’ve set for myself and say what would make me a better, more grounded version of myself today? Maybe it’s a yin class, maybe it’s a long walk, or maybe I need that 3 mile jog and a hot power class! Whatever it is, don’t do it just because you think you should and make your body resent you.

Where is one place you dream about traveling to teach? 

Ben: I would LOVE to travel abroad to teach our GO W/ THE FLOW around the globe in the near future. I have always wanted to go to Australia… and think I would jive well with those cats down under!
gowithflow2
Tori: Overseas! (Can we just count that as one place?) We’ve spread GO W/ THE FLOW love all over the United States and a bit in Canada the past 2.5 years, so it’d be amazing to push our edge a little further, really get outside of our comfort zone. Right now I feel like I want to a be a little scared, in awe, and have my perspective shifted. I also believe what we’re sharing is really universal, it’s all about connection, ain’t never a bad time or place for that!
Check out the GWTF Tour Schedule, to connect with Ben and Tori and to experience the FLOW.
GO W/ THE FLOW

Events

Nothing Found

Sorry, no posts matched your criteria