On Friday May 24th, join IYISF Faculty Member Janet MacLeod for a two-hour benefit class open to all levels in celebration and acknowledgment of the 16 year commitment of IYISF AS/TT alumni Tony Eason (2002) to AIDS/Lifecycle. The 575-mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles brings together 2,500 cyclists each year for to raise funds and awareness to support the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center and San Francisco AIDS Foundation in their work to reduce new HIV infections and improve the quality of life for people living with HIV/AIDS. Each year, participants pledge to raise funds for these beneficiaries; in his past decade and a half of riding, Tony has not only pedaled over 8,000 miles, but has also raised over raising over $64,000.

We caught up with Tony to ask him a bit about his experience and impressive accomplishments with ALC as well as it’s synergy with his yoga practice. Read on for his inspirational interview!

IYISF: Can you tell us what inspired you to first start participating as a rider in ALC and what has kept you going back for 16 years?

Tony: In 1994, At the age of 32, a friend suggested, “sit in the nude & stare into a mirror.” So, I did. And after staring (for 10 minutes) at my face, arms, stomach, eyes, feet and legs, I realized the mirror reflection did not match up with the words pouring out of my mouth. I realized that I was a cocaine addict and that I had no “real” purpose. Days later, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a flyer for California AIDS Ride.

Then a light bulb went on in my head. I decided: “I CAN DO THIS!” I decided to use physical activity as a way to regain my focus and make some life changes while simultaneously being “of service.” Therefore, in May 1994 [after 1 year of training] , I participated in my first 545 mile, 7 day bike journey from San Francisco to Los Angeles in the fight against the AIDS Pandemic.

What has kept me going back?

I believe “the best way to teach is by example.” And therefore, I continue to participate in the AIDS/Lifecyle Event as a way to empower & encourage others to become the refection they want to see of themselves while simultaneously being “of service”.

Presently 18 years later, on occasion, I stare into the mirror. And instead of viewing selfishness, vanity, illusions, cocaine, lies, and ‘Jack’, I see a yoga student of 17 years. I see an Iyengar Yoga Teacher. I see a San Francisco Marathon Runner. I see a road cycling AIDS Activist. I see a 50 year old man with a vision & purpose. I see a philanthropist. I see a positive addition to humanity.

IYISF: How do you train for a 575-mile ride and maintain your yoga practice and an instructor? Are the two harmonious or do you find there is discord?

Tony: The practice of hatha yoga can not bring discord to one’s life.

By bringing awareness of the physical body, the regulation & control of the breath, and creating a stillness of the mind, the continuous practice of Hatha Yoga strengthens and brings harmony to the athlete. One’s personal practice & yoga sequences can be altered [if needed] to assist in the athletic training recovery process. Perhaps instead of doing a rigorous yoga sequence, one might consider a restorative sequencing. Instead of Sirsasana, perhaps it’s a day for Viparita Karani.

A Senior Iyengar Yoga Teacher once told me, “teach what you know.” Therefore, I use my athletic training experiences to enhanced what hatha yoga knowledge I can share with my yoga students and/or offer during my yoga classes.

IYISF: Do you have any words of wisdom for those who are interested in taking on the challenge of an endurance sport?

Tony: Whether training for a endurance athletic event; preparing for the 2yr Advanced Teacher Training Program of the IYISF; or striving to become President of the United States – the training formula is the same. “Vision. Focus. OWN IT!”

Vision comes when a light bulb goes on & the seed is planted. Focus develops when one sets a course of action – a plan. And to Own it: one executes the plan with “discipline & perseverance. ”

Most individuals can find ‘vision.” [we can all ‘talk the talk’].
While some can find ‘focus.’
But the one who will prevail is the one who has ‘the courage” to OWN IT!

IYISF: Can you share with us one of your most memorable and/or meaningful experiences from your years as an ALC rider?

Tony: My most memorable experience was my very first AIDS Ride. I arrived at the starting line with $3.00 in my pocket, no idea of how I was going to return to San Francisco, no place to stay in Los Angeles, a questionable bike, and the fear of failure. And although I was completely broke, I refused to let a financial challenge stop me from achieving my goal. Therefore, I surrendered to my destiny – allowed things to fall as they may.

Seven days, 575 miles later, I arrived in West Hollywood. At which point, I realized it is possible to step outside of one’s regular routine. I realized it is possible to empower yourself while assisting others. I realized I was not alone in my ideas of creating a better world. And I realized that miracles can occur. After all, I made it back home to San Francisco with $3.00 in my pocket.

For more information about Tony’s ALC Benefit Class taught by Janet MacLeod or to register click here!

About IYISF

One of the first yoga schools in San Francisco and the first Iyengar teacher training program in the US, the Iyengar Yoga Institute of San Francisco (IYISF) has trained thousands of students and teachers from around the world since its establishment in 1974.

Yoga to the Children!

By March 22, 2013

More and more teachers are incorporating yoga into their classrooms as a way to help their students relax, focus and tap into the inner calm.  While the words “inner calm” and “elementary students” may seem oxymoronic,  but an innovative company called Yoga Calm has developed a unique curriculum specifically for use within schools.  According to the Yoga Calm website:

“The program is a unique blend of the traditional yoga practices of mindfulness, physical activity and nervous system regulation with social skills games and counseling techniques. Integrating fitness, social/emotional and cognitive learning into 5 to 40 minute processes, the program includes more than 60 activities specially designed for use in school and therapeutic settings.”

Teachers around the country are attending YogaCalm workshops, just like the one recently hosted in Michigan seeking the benefits that it can provide within their classrooms.

Meanwhile in California (!): the Encinitas Union School District is being sued by the National Center for Law & Policy for  “civil rights violations resulting from its inherently and pervasively religious Ashtanga yoga program” that they have begun incorporating into their physical education classes.  Read all about that here.

About IYISF

One of the first yoga schools in San Francisco and the first Iyengar teacher training program in the US, the Iyengar Yoga Institute of San Francisco (IYISF) has trained thousands of students and teachers from around the world since its establishment in 1974.