Community Member Profile: Jay Gertz

Why do you practice yoga?
Yoga marks an endpoint of a long search and a new beginning in my life. For far too many years, I was seeking an elusive something that would fill that nagging emptiness inside. Yoga has provided a spiritual contentment and a physical nourishing that really sustains me. This transformative power of yoga is nothing short of miraculous. I am stronger and more supple. In executing asanas, I have come to not only appreciate my strengths, but accept my limits, feeling a greater sense of peace and shedding self-consciousness. I guess this is what is meant by moving towards authenticity. Becoming comfortable with who I am and finding a true sense of belonging in this yoga community is so wonderful!

What is your favorite yoga pose?

I must admit that my favorite pose is savasana because this is when the cumulative effect of the practice blossoms into a radiant blissfulness. Side Crow is one that I am really hoping to learn some day.

How long have you been practicing yoga?
I have been practicing yoga for over ten years. During a period when I had been fighting personal demons, a good friend, waxed eloquently about the curative power of yoga and told me about a wonderful teacher at AYC, Julia Taylor. I was very hesitant about making a commitment, but just then she walked into the UNCA library where we were talking! This moment of synchronicity was too powerful to ignore, so I gave yoga a try. I fell in love with the practice from the beginning and was a worker member to boot for several years!

Describe yourself in three words.
Just three? Cynical bohemian transforming. Or perhaps, work-in-progress.

What is your favorite/most inspiring quote?
“[…]the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’”  Jack Kerouac from On the Road

What are you reading now or your favorite book?
Jack Kerouac has been on my reading menu for fifty years. His poetic prose still blows me away (and led me astray.) More recently, I stumbled across the Neapolitan novels of Elena Ferrante…four volumes I absolutely could not put down about two strong, independent women and the fascinating tale of them growing up and older in Naples, Italy.

What are some of your favorite songs on your playlist?
I never seem to tire of listening to Bat for Lashes, especially “Daniel.” “Resignation Superman” by Big Head Todd and the Monsters gets me dancing. “Sometime Around Midnight” by The Airborne Toxic Event is great. “Set Fire to the Rain,” by Adele, wow, what a voice! Gotta also mention “Waiting Game” by Banks, “L.E.S. Artistes” by Santigold, “Monster” by Meg Myers and “Levi Stubbs’ Tears by Billy Bragg. As a recent arrival to the digital age, I have discovered so many great songs!

What is the last movie watched or favorite movie?
My all time favorite movie is “Amelie’.” I’ve watched it seven or eight times! It inspired me to go to Paris! I’ve recently enjoyed “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl,” “Wild,” and “Looper.” An undiscovered little screen gem is “Safety Not Guaranteed.”

What inspires you?
The natural world is the source of much of my passion and wonder. I live on four acres of forested land that puts many parks to shame. My wife has encouraged native plants and created a botanical paradise. I am constantly filled with awe by the morning symphony of bird song. Springtime out here is beautiful beyond words. The Earth Mother is strong, resilient and powerful, but I often fear for Her health by the onslaught of human kind.

– JAY GERTZ
(Cynical, Bohemian, Transforming)

5 Reasons Steph Loves Ashtanga Yoga

1. Strength Building

I have the genetics for flexibility, which makes Yoga a dream job. Except that flexible people get injured in Yoga three times more than non-flexies. We apparently go too far into the stretch, injuring the tissues around our joints. Yup, I see it all the time. But lucky me, I “found” a style of Yoga early in my Yoga career that complemented my flexibility and built the much needed strength around my joints called Ashtanga Yoga. It was in Santa Barbara, CA in 1992, in John’s danky basement with space heaters. I would later drive to Encinitas to study with Tim, and it was also a danky basement with space heaters. These were definitely the low-budget days of Yoga! But the benefits of strength building Yoga practice are beyond protecting flexibility. I am building bone density, I am comfortable in my strong body (long periods of sitting or gardening for example don’t “kill” me), and I am a strong woman. Not just muscular, but strong in spirit, and in Yoga. Body-mind-spirit are all connected.

2. Pranayama

I had been practicing Yoga for several years before I found this style of Yoga, and besides the incredible strength it required (which humbled me to my very core), I was blown away by breathing deeply. At least it felt like this was the first time in my life that I ever even noticed deep breathing and how it made me feel. It was incredible. I am talking one of the top 5 moments of my entire life! Somehow, I awakened to the realization, while doing the traditional closing seated pranayama (Ujjayi- throaty breathing), that the breath wasn’t just “air in, air out.” It was energy, and I could literally feel it beyond my lungs, filling up my body. I could feel where the energy was stagnant or depleted and could use the Ujjayi to help heal and re-inspire that area. Oh yes, life transforming, like a million times more exciting than downward facing dog!

3. Heat

For me, I like intensity and excitement. Not only is this practice intense and exciting (incredibly hard and challenging postures!) but the environment is intense and exciting. At least “back in the day” in those basements. I was told by John and Tim that they were trying to recreate the heat they found in Mysore, India, the birthplace of this practice. I loved it. As most of us Yogi-heat-seekers realize, the detoxification happening is definitely not just physical toxins but emotional, spiritual, and psychological as well. That heat combined with the practice itself can really transform things (cells, muscles, bones, thoughts, emotions, etc).

4. “Practice, Practice, All is Coming.”

This was the mantra of the founder, Pattabhis Jois. He wasn’t very fluent in English, but he sure chose his words succinctly! His verbatim teaching matches my own personal philosophy of life, which is highly influenced by Zen. About the same year I “found” Ashtanga Yoga, I also discovered Zen meditation. The main messages are so parallel: It\’s not about the goal. It’s about the journey and every single thing we do and think along the way. So wake up. Keep practicing. Every moment.

5. Amazing Lineage

This particular style of Yoga has one of the most amazing lineages of dedicated practitioners. It starts before Pattabhis Jois with Krishnamacharya, but then quickly finds many American devotees: Bryan Kest, David Swenson, Tim Miller, Kino MacGregor, to name a few. And ALL of these fabulous and kind people were influenced by one main American: David Williams. He is from Greenboro, NC and often comes to visit family and friends, and – being super blessed – I am one of his friends! This crew of devoted, old-school ashtangis are the best. I feel honored to call them my friends. And David will be at Asheville Yoga Center Sept 3 – 6, so if you want to try what Steph has used to sustain herself for almost 30 years, please come! All levels welcome. Register here.

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Instructor of the Month: Sara Levine

Why do you teach yoga?

Teaching gives me the opportunity to be joyful with those around me. As humans, we aren’t always able to be present and kind to ourselves and others, but when we’re on our mats, we are all equal – we are all graceful, clumsy, learning, falling, succeeding and showing up.

What is your teaching history?

I taught in San Francisco for 6 years before I moved to Asheville. I started my career teaching 20 classes a week at 5 different studios! That didn’t last long…Now I’m happy to have been teaching solely at AYC for the past 2 years.

What is your favorite pose at the moment?

My favorite pose is, and always has been, half moon (ardha chandrasana). It makes me feel beautiful, strong, balanced, open and feminine all at the same time!

What’s your sign? (astrological)

Sagittarius

What is your most challenging pose?

Funny enough, my most challenging pose is revolved half moon (parivrtta ardha chandrasana). My upper and mid spine don’t like to twist too much so I’ve always found it challenging to stack my hips and rotate my shoulders at the same time in those opposite directions.

How long have you been practicing yoga?

12 years

Describe yourself in three words:

grateful, compassionate, easygoing.

What is your favorite quote?

“and though she be but little, she is fierce” – Shakespeare

What is your favorite word?

Eloise (my little girls name)

What are you reading right now? (or your favorite book)

Middlesex

What are some favorite songs on your playlist?

La Belle et Le Bad Boy – MC Solaar

Walking in the Sun – Fink

Ohpa-Me – Dechen Shak-Dagsay

What is your favorite food?

My mom’s lasagna

What is the last movie you watched? (or your favorite movie)

I watched Boyhood recently. It was fascinating and so well done.

What inspires you?

Now, it’s my daughter. Before I had her, it was my strong and intelligent friends – taking on the world.

Sara’s class schedule:
Monday 8:30am – Slow, Power Flow
Tuesday 7:00pm – Slow, Gentle Flow
Friday 8:30am – Slow, Power Flow

Download AYC’s 200 RYT Training Guide 

Instructor of the Month: Denise Daneck

Why do you teach yoga?

Yoga is amazingly healing on all levels. It is a gift to share and anyone who feels called to should!  What an incredible opportunity to dissolve boundaries, connect unconditionally on a soul-level, and explore the power of collective group energy with sacred intentions! I love all of the possibilities that teaching offers.

What is your teaching history?

I began reading the Yoga Sutras, the Bhagavad Gita, and all kinds of texts on yoga/meditation in college before developing any sort of consistent asana practice. I moved to asheville while dabbling in various spiritual practices with the intention to learn yoga and have been teaching here now for about two and a half years.

What is your favorite pose at the moment?

Warrior 2! Lately I go into it and feel almost instantaneously empowered, energized, and focused.

What’s your sign? (astrological)

Sun in Virgo–Moon in Pisces

What is your most challenging pose?

Handstand in the middle of the room.  It reveals to me some limitations and work I need to do.

How long have you been practicing yoga?

About six years.

Describe yourself in three words?

Peaceful, grateful, active

What is your favorite quote?

“Be the change that you want to see in the world.” – Ghandi

What is your favorite word?

Ethereal

What are you reading right now? (or your favorite book)

Reading now: The Empire of the Summer Moon by S. C. Gwynne, The Shamanic Way of the Bee by Simon Buxton, and Learning to Silence the Mind by OSHO.

What are some favorite songs on your playlist?

Changing Waters by Lis Addison, Nataraja by jai Uttal and Ben Leinbach, Fear of Falling by James Murray, Shyama Bolo by  Jai Uttal and Ben Leinbach

What is your favorite food?

Smoothies & Green Juice!

What is the last movie you watched? (or your favorite movie)

Last watched The Princess Kaguya and Still Alice

What inspires you?

Nature, conscious evolution, Light-workers & Difference-makers

Denise’s class schedule:
Friday- 4-5 AYC
Saturday- 12:15-1:45 AYC

Download AYC’s 200 RYT Training Guide 

 

Instructor of the Month: Rich Fabio

Why do you teach yoga?

It agrees with me.  Every other line of work I tried I wasn’t very good at.  I used to work so I could be a yogi in my off time.  Now, I see work as a contribution to society and my community. It is an extension of who I am.

What is your teaching history?

I have explored many styles and facets of yoga.  I first started teaching meditation as that was my first interest.  My body was weak so I took up asana.  I taught vinyasa flow sequences in college.  When I decided to teach yoga full time I was initially an alignment teacher and now I offer a fusion of all my past teachers and methodologies including other wisdom studies like Qigong and Kaballah in The Roots Moving Meditations.

What is your favorite pose at the moment?

Kneeling One Legged Blue Moon pose as my teacher calls it.  You have to see it to know what it is.  But it is really cool and fun.

What’s your sign? (astrological)

Aries sun

What is your most challenging pose?

Dropbacks

How long have you been practicing yoga?

12 years

Describe yourself in three words:

Happy, honest, and free

What is your favorite quote?

“You already have it!” – Lee Rothstein

What is your favorite word?

Gelfling

What are you reading right now? (or your favorite book)

Vivekachudamani by Swami Dayananda, Dune by Frank Herbert, Foundations of Tibetan Mysticism by Lama Anagarika Govinda, and The Principles of the Greater Kan and Li by Mantak Chia

What are some favorite songs on your playlist?

Pure Imagination by Willy Wonka and Celebrate by Madonna

What is your favorite food?

Pizza

What is the last movie you watched? (or your favorite movie)

Being There

What inspires you?

I find Chi and understanding Chi very inspiring as well as when people consciously try to be better at living their life.

Rich’s Teaching Schedule:
Fridays and Sundays 12:15-1:45pm Align and Flow

Download AYC’s 200 RYT Training Guide