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Joey Robinson

What is your back­ground and the bio­graph­i­cal pro­logue to your Yoga expe­ri­ence?

I was born in Texas and grew up in South Car­oli­na. When I was younger, I was drawn to inquiry and the idea of truth and liked to talk about phi­los­o­phy. Dur­ing my last year of uni­ver­si­ty, it start­ed to dawn on me that Truth might be big­ger than my mind, that all my intel­lec­tu­al­iz­ing might be like watch­ing the shad­ows in Plato’s cave. So I branched out and start­ed read­ing about spir­i­tu­al­i­ty, and the basic claim there, that ‘This isn’t just an idea. It’s an expe­ri­ence.’, got me excit­ed. Soon after I gave Yoga a try, and the effect was so strong and imme­di­ate that it pret­ty quick­ly became a major focus in my life.

 

How did Joey and Yoga come togeth­er?

While I was get­ting into spir­i­tu­al lit­er­a­ture in 2006, I ordered a Yoga book online that a friend had told me about. I taught myself three asanas a day from it until I could do the sequence it rec­om­mend­ed, which took about an hour over­all, and then I did that every­day. At the time, I was poor, I didn’t have steady employ­ment, and I was  try­ing to teach myself self-dis­ci­pline, so asana was kin­da the fixed point in my day. After about 9 months, it dawned on me that learn­ing from some­one else might be a good idea, so I vol­un­teered at Kri­palu Yoga Cen­ter for two months where they taught a pret­ty straight­for­ward mix of hatha and flow. After that I returned to home prac­tice for about a year before wind­ing up in New York where my uncle took me to a sha­lah that offered Anusara Yoga. As a style, Anusara is real­ly ground­ed in bio-mechan­i­cal align­ment, and this knowl­edge of how to put the body togeth­er blew my mind. For the next two or three years, I got more into align­ment, took some work­shops and read the Bha­gavad Gita and Yoga Sutras. I also explored oth­er styles and west­ern ‘Yogas’ like Feldenkreis and Alexan­der Tech­nique. Dur­ing this time, I began teach­ing, very infor­mal­ly first, giv­ing class­es on my roof to my friends and fam­i­ly. In 2012 I came to Vien­na and became a full-time teacher.

 

What effects did Yoga have on you pri­mar­i­ly?

It made me feel bet­ter – clear­er, more relaxed, more open – but it also seemed to be ener­giz­ing my life some­how. It was like I’d been sit­ting on an island and sud­den­ly real­ized that I had a boat and could go out on the water and ride the cur­rents. In some way, this jour­ney was an expe­ri­ence of how my body, thoughts, emo­tions – even my life – were all con­nect­ed, and prac­tic­ing asana was a space to explore this. As I invest­ed more time in this, I became more aware of my body, its sen­sa­tions and what was hap­pen­ing in asana on a more sub­tle lev­el. Beyond the phys­i­cal stuff, I was also deal­ing with my past and get­ting into touch with who I real­ly was beyond the myth I showed the world. That was hum­bling and pret­ty intense at times, but it was also lib­er­at­ing and it empow­ered me to cre­ate a life that I could nev­er have envi­sioned in my ear­ly 20s. Over­all, I think these expe­ri­ences have giv­en me a strong foun­da­tion, not only to teach asana, but also to sup­port peo­ple on their hero’s jour­ney: accept­ing vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty, fac­ing their truth and step­ping into their pow­er.

 

What kind of mind­set should your stu­dents show up with?

Any­thing goes, but obvi­ous­ly the more open they are to the process, the more they stand to gain. But if some­one isn’t that open because they’re new or afraid or ‘know it all’ or what­ev­er, that’s fine too. I’ve been all of these things. Over­all, I just try to let peo­ple have their expe­ri­ence and do my best to sup­port them when they invite me into their process.

 

What can stu­dents expect from your class­es, if they are of the expec­tant kind?

On the sur­face, a mix­ture of flow and holds, accom­pa­nied by a steady stream of align­ment instruc­tion, aware­ness cues, and some humor. Phys­i­cal­ly, we’re try­ing to learn to dif­fer­en­ti­ate the parts of the body and then put them back togeth­er in ways that enable us to cre­ate more free­dom in the body and to move more con­scious­ly. Doing this requires both tech­ni­cal knowl­edge of align­ment and a refined aware­ness of the body, so learn­ing these things is kind of the big­ger pic­ture.  And if you want to go beyond that to the Big Pic­ture, to embrace what Yoga offers you on a deep lev­el, I will cer­tain­ly encour­age that, but my class­es don’t fore­ground this. We’ve got an hour and a half togeth­er, and every­one in the room has a dif­fer­ent sto­ry. My goal is just to get every­one to smile, to con­nect to the moment and to leave lighter than they came.

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