Health Tips from a Wanderlust Yogi
Schuyler Grant, director of Kula Yoga Project in New York City, is co-creator of Wanderlust– the ultimate nature, music and yoga festival. Schuyler developed a popular style of vinyasa called Kula Flow, which is known for its emphasis on intelligent alignment and high creativity, she has been singled out by the New York Times as the go-to teacher in New York for advanced-level practice.
Schuyler will also be teaching at the kick off Wanderlust event for 2011 – Wanderlust at the Standard Spa in Miami Beach next weekend from March 17 – 20! Below she answers some questions and gives some insight into the health benefits of yoga.
How did Wanderlust begin for you?
The festival has so many beginnings that it’s hard to nail down just one. But I’ll give you a few.
1) Down in Costa Rica circa 2006, I was leading a retreat that my husband [Jeff Krasno] who runs a music label [Velour Music], happened to be at, and he said something like, “It would be really cool to bring this retreat vibe to a huge music festival setting, merge these two worlds: the intimate world of the yoga retreat – conscious, healthy, relaxed people, who are willing to go off the grid for a week – and the collective experience of a music festival – powerful, ecstatic, boundary pushing, collective.” My response was something like, “Yeah good idea. Sounds like a LOT of work.” Then he and his partner Sean made it happen. (I get to do the juicy bits – like programming the classes and making sure there’s still a little bit of Costa RIca in everything we do.)
2) July 2010, Jeff and I stepped off the cable car up at 8,000 feet at Squaw and there were 2000 people listening to Andrew Bird, dancing and hula hooping and jumping in a lake of snowmelt – and I looked in Jeff in total awe and realized that this thing was FOR REAL.
Who is yoga for?
Yoga is for anyone with discipline. I’d like to say that ‘yoga is for everyone’, but that’s just not true. It’s not called a yoga ‘practice’ arbitrarily. You can’t wish yourself into a dedicated yogi. I don’t personally know anyone who was born a yogi. You have to practice. And that takes nothing more than discipline. You can be tight, you can be old, you can be strong, you can be sick, you can be young, you can be depressed, you can be anything – but you have to be openminded and willing to practice.
What advice can you offer to those curious about starting yoga?
Try different styles of yoga. You need to find a practice that truly resonates with you. You will never put the hard work in that a real yoga practice necessitates if it’s not a methodology that speaks to you. Go to as many different studios and teachers as you can in your local area, and seek out traveling teachers who will inspire you.
At the same time, you need to make it reasonable and convenient. It’s crazy to spend more time traveling to a class than being in class, or stress yourself out financially to practice yoga. Ultimately, my best advice is to cultivate our own practice. This is the genius of yoga: It can be practiced anywhere; all you need is your breath and your attention; for asana, all you need is a 2×6 ft space; if you’re laid up in the hospital, you’re practice comes with you. Free your mind, and your ass will follow.
There are so many benefits of regularly practicing yoga, can you share some that you have experienced or seen yourself?
Relief from chronic, debilitating back pain. The desire to be on a path, not at a destination. Community. Hitting 40 and feeling just as good as I did at 25, if not better, on the inside anyway (crows feet be damned!).
How does your yoga practice affect your everyday life, outside of the studio?
Well, that’s complicated because I have three kids, two studios, one husband and this festival – and there isn’t a whole lot of separation between the seven (and then there’s trying to have friends!).
My studio life is really my work life, and my yoga practice happens in snatches between naps and playdates. Every once in a while I get to go to one of my studios and take class and just be a student – and it’s heaven – and at Wanderlust, I get to take a few classes, and it’s a blast. But the truth is that in being a studio director there really isn’t a whole lot of differentiation between ‘work life’ and ‘home life’. My kids run around at my work and make balance beams out of the blocks, and I’m at home at 11pm responding to this interview! It’s a great blessing and a great challenge: Your work is your life and your life is your work. I wish the same on my three daughters.
What is the best piece of health/wellness advice you’ve been given?
My Dad passed along this Native American story:
A boy went to his old Grandfather with anger at a friend who had done him an injustice.
“Let me tell you a story,” the Grandfather said, “I too, at times, have felt great hate for those who have taken so much, with no sorrow for what they do. But hate wears you down, and does not hurt your enemy. It’s like taking poison and wishing your enemy would die. I have struggled with these feelings many times. It is as if there are two wolves inside me. One is good and does no harm. He lives in harmony with all around him and does not take offense when no offense was intended. He will only fight when it is right to do so, and in the right way. But… the other wolf… ah! The littlest thing will send him into a fit of temper. He fights everyone all of the time for no reason. He cannot think because his anger and hate are so great. It is helpless anger, for his anger will change nothing. Sometimes it is hard to live with these two wolves inside me, for both of them try to dominate my spirit.”
The boy looked intently into his Grandfather’s eyes and asked, “Which one wins, Grandfather?”
The Grandfather smiled and quietly said, “The one I feed.”