Tuesday, February 7, 2012

aging gracefully {interview with baxter bell}

credit {here}
i've come to realize that a big part of yoga is engaging with your community - reaching out to fellow yogis and teachers to get their perspective on the practice.  recently, i had the pleasure of interviewing baxter bell, yoga teacher and MD, regarding his yoga philosophy and teaching style.  on his blog, yoga for healthy aging, baxter offers yoga advice and information to help individuals age gracefully using the practice of yoga.  his background in medicine combined with his yogic knowledge provide him with a holistic perspective that is undoubtedly beneficial to his clients, students and fans.  keep reading to find out even more about baxter's perspective on yoga. 

cailen ascher: what does yoga mean to you?

baxter bell: As my blog name implies, I see yoga as an amazing tool to aid us as we age.  In addition, I ask the applicants to my teacher training program this very same question each year-and as you can imagine, the variety of answers is almost endless, from quotes from the Bhagavad Gita and the Yoga Sutra, to personal distillations of yoga's effects in their lives.  For me, it has been an almost 20 year companion, both a discipline I practice, and a lens through which I see and experience the world.  Its also an almost endless, infinite course of study and inquiry that continues to capture my  attention and interest after all these years.

ca: what style of yoga do you teach/practice?  why?
bb: I like to joke with my new students when they ask me this by saying that I teach "Generic" yoga-you know, comes in a brown bottle, saves you a bit of money, but seems to do the trick!  what that really means to me is that I practice and teach a distillation of all the powerful influences my various teachers have taught me over the years, from Rodney Yee, Richard Rosen, Mary Paffard, Patricia Walden, Erich Schiffman, Judith Lasater, Donald Moyer, and Kaustab and TKV Desikachar.  I suppose there could be a downside to studying with many teachers and not just one Guru, as was the case back before Krishnamacharya opened the door to us householders, but its the way my path has taken me.  And of course I am also exploring new ways of doing things, so that makes it into my teaching as well.  If that doesn't tell you enough, drop by a class next time you are in Oakland and let's practice together!

ca: do you have a favorite yoga sutra?
bb: Depending on what my focus is an a given day, I have bunch of favorites.   One that I feel is so helpful in everyday interactions is 1.33, where Patanjali suggests we adopt certain attitudes toward our fellow human beings, in order to maintain an inner tranquility of mind: Friendliness for the happy, Compassion for those suffering, Joy and Honor for those doing good works in the world, and Equanimity and Neutrality for those who's actions don't align with our own.  Practical advice I try to put into action each day!

ca: what is your mission statement as a teacher?
bb: To safely and joyfully take you to places you have never been before! (or to take you back to incredible states of inner peace you've visited before!)  But, let me add that, like any "mission statement,"  this is inherently limiting.  I am also involved in training new yoga teachers, training yoga teachers interested in yoga therapeutics, and also educating yoga practitioners on how to do asana for maximum benefit and minimal risk of injury.  I try to get my ideas out locally in classes and workshops, and nationally via my 2 blogs, Yoga for Healthy Aging and Doctor's Orders at Yoga Journal blogs.

ca: what inspires you and your practice? 

bb: My inspirations are varied, but they seem to cluster around a few concepts: 
Setting time aside to be quiet and introspective
Connecting with Beauty: via nature, music, dance, poetry
Connecting with other teachers who are still investigating all yoga has to offer
Reading about yoga philosophy,which I find very fascinating!

baxter bell

a huge thanks to baxter for making the time to answer my yoga questions.  for more information about his yoga teachings, be sure to visit baxter's blog {here}.

namaste : )

and mavens, check out my new mission for lifestyle maven {here}.


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