By Chelsea Roff
This month at Intent Blog we are featuring interviews with yoga practitioners on how the practice of yoga has transformed their lives. The series is sponsored by Manduka, and this week’s interview features Waylon Lewis, founder of Elephant Journal.
Chelsea Roff: Thanks for taking the time to chat with me Waylon. Many people know you as the founder of Elephant Journal, one of the most well-known publications out there covering yoga, mindfulness, eco-living, and conscious consumerism. I wanted to start by asking you a little bit about your personal journey… how did you come to yoga and meditation to begin with?
Waylon Lewis: Well, Elephant just turned 10. So my direct relationship with yoga dates back exactly 10 years, I guess. I was dragged into it, rather unwillingly, by the strange fact that (due to my writerly and business and Buddhist background) I wound up partnering in a little regional yoga publication called Yoga in the Rockies.
I think my first ever yoga class was at Corepower — hot yoga. I literally, literally crawled outta there. Then I did Bikram, then Richard Freeman’s Yoga Workshop, where I stayed and continued to practice forever.
As part of my work I was traveling around the Rockies, doing yoga at various studios… it was an amazingly diverse, both-feet-in introduction to yoga. Something I’d always viewed at arm’s distance as a sort of weird, love n’ lightey, airy-fairy kinda spiritual-lite community. But in Richard I found someone who cared about breath, meditation, lineage—he was humble, literally bored by any sort of special attention, and funny as f*ck.
CR: Haha. I can totally see a very hot, sweaty, and shirtless Waylon Lewis crawling hands and knees out of Corepower.
WL: Yah. I sweat buckets. Being reborn as my yoga mat would be pretty much the worst punishment known to humankind.
CR: (laughs) Do you remember what thoughts were going through your mind during that first hot yoga class?
WL: ”This is so hard.”
It felt like staying in a sauna too long—way too long. It wasn’t fun, particularly. I’ve always been somewhat athletic—basketball, baseball, swimming, now cycling, climbing—those are all fun. Yoga was hard. Humbling.
I still rarely enjoy it. One of the things I love about doing yoga with real pros like Richard or Billy or Seane Corn… with the best teachers…is that yoga is tolerable. And, of course, post-yoga is heaven.
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