Join TJ and I for what was meant to be 5 questions each but we already think we need another round… Maybe 3… Interviewing across oceans 🙂 Here are my questions and TJ’s answers!
1 Tell me more about your silent experience. What was the process like?
Its tricky to summarize the experience of the retreat itself. I wrote a lot of poetry that sums it up fairly well. I also spent time during the retreat translating my own version of the Tao Te Ching (which I may have completed in time for the Yin training at Wild Wolf). The logistical process though was interesting in trying to prepare for something that was so different from my regular life. Originally I wanted to take part in a 60 day retreat guided by a teacher I am interested in studying with. That turned out to be far outside of my budget but the seed was already growing in my brain. I was mentally committed to trying this new meditative adventure, to feel the experience, so I decided to simply create a self guided solitary retreat. From that point it was just a matter of finding an appropriate Buddhist center with retreat cabins to host me. The Milarepa Center in Vermont turned out to be a wonderful choice and I am so grateful to that beautiful place. Packing and planning the schedule I would adhere to was next and that was kind of a loose intuitive practice since I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from my body and mind for something like this.
2 ~ How did you feel after you came out of your 30 days of silence?
The silence wasn’t as much a factor as simply dealing with the time in general. The way time effects you changes when you know you have so much of it to work with. It becomes very natural to move slower and do everything with less urgency. Coming out of that is very similar to coming out of a single meditation session: you maintain the calm for as long as you maintain that slower perception of time. It is like the world is a moving train and you get off of it to meditate or go on retreat. Coming out of retreat or meditation you have to be careful not to try to get back on the train by just grabbing it as it speeds by, you have to match its speed slowly. I didn’t consider this so I hopped right back onto the train (literally since I took Amtrak home to NY haha) and much of my stillness evaporated. Deep down however a lot had accumulated but on the surface I was right back into the world.
3- What does your martial arts experience mean to you now in relation to yin yoga?
Shaolin Kung Fu is what truly opened my eyes to Chi. I had read a lot about it but like most people I think it remained a kind of mystical concept. My teacher Sifu Shi Yan Ming has a presence and intensity that is infectious and each class the energy of the students was palpable. I started to realize how that energy moved into me and how I gave it back to the class through the intensity I put in. This of course was very Yang training but I felt what Chi was in its riled-up state and so this translated into understanding what Chi is in a Yin practice, how to feel it, how to work with it and what all those books were talking about.
4- After our Yin training that we shared you went very much into the forest of yin, why?
What that first training helped me know (that Bernie’s book made me suspect) was that I was already pretty deep into the Yin forest most of my life. I learned Yoga from a book over a decade ago and always practiced in a slow stretching way (I never liked Vinyasa), even my Sun Salutation cycles were very stretched out, softening into many breathes in each position. Once I realized my way of practicing had a name AND it was informed by Taoism (my fav) I just decided to go all in, it felt so right (like Yin usually does hehe).
5- What drew you to bring your first teaching programme to Wild Wolf’s?
I research A LOT, its one of my favorite things to do. Once I began developing my YYTT I started researching studios around the world looking for unique spaces. A Yin training or immersion is a very special thing and having the right spaces for it is very important for creating the best possible experience for the students (something we will talk about in the training). I had seen your posts on social media popping up in the time since we trained together and always enjoyed your story-centered approach to writing. Once I saw what you were creating with your studio it just fit all of the boxes I was looking for: beautiful minimal branding, a cozy space with character, a community that appreciated the YINside of life balanced with fun Yang offerings, owned by a kindred spirit and with the coolest Yoga studio name I have ever seen