Bad Yogi #nofilter Interview: Wanderlust Teachers
Chances are you’ve heard the term “wanderlust” once or twice. And chances also are, if you spend the amount of time that I do trying to find out about all cool things related to yoga, you’ve started to think of the word “wanderlust” in a bit of a different light.
The Wanderlust Festival or 108 Mindful Triathlon has been taking the yoga world by storm for the last few years. Last summer, I packed up my Jeep and drove the eight hours from New Jersey to a mountaintop in West Virginia to attend the festival after successfully convincing my friend that it wouldn’t be a bunch of granola-crunching and third eye-gazing. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) I mean, after all, I’d first heard about Wanderlust through Erin, so I already knew it was Bad Yogi-approved!
The few days I spent on top of that mountain were transformative and inspirational—and delicious. (You guys, they have a craft beer and wine section and a giant locally-sourced dinner event. Bad Yogi-approved, indeed!) I finally caught up with three of the awesome teachers who made my Wanderlust experience so great—Gina Caputo, Elinor Fish, and Sage Rountree—and asked them a few questions about yoga, mindful running, life, and everything that makes them all so great.
Tell us who you are and what you do in a few words.
Gina Caputo: I’m Gina Caputo, aka the Yogini On The Loose. I’m a Change Agent who relentlessly pursues the opportunity to serve others with the powerful practices of Yoga!
Elinor Fish: I’m a runner, writer and leader in helping runners of all levels end chronic injury, overcome fatigue and other obstacles on the path to healthy running. I teach mindful running techniques to people around the world through retreats, workshops, books and articles.
Sage Rountree: Sage Rountree—I work at the intersection of yoga and sports, as a teacher, coach, athlete, and writer.
What would you say is your “signature” when it comes to teaching?
GC: The two things I hear the most are that I’m “so accessible” and that I’m “really funny”. So I guess my signature would be that I’m approachable in every way, all inclusive and that I’m far more sincere than I am serious in my offerings.
EF: The people who come to my running workshops are looking for a better way to run. In some cases, they’ve been striving, pushing, forcing their bodies to work more and perform better, which often leaves them broken and exhausted. So my “signature” is bringing them back to present-moment experience of running at its most basic form. Forget pace, technique and race goals for a minute and just focus on how running feels in your body in this moment.I believe running’s biggest rewards come from what happens inside you.
SR: Food analogies. I can’t help myself. Food analogies are the basis of my sixth book, EVERYDAY YOGA, which presents designing a yoga practice—for at home or to teach in a studio—as a project similar to designing a meal.
What’s the best and worst thing about your work?
GC: The best thing is when you see someone’s limited perception about themselves expand. The worst thing is the lack of diversity in Yoga. It is a universally applicable practice that can serve all people. We need more diversity amongst teachers, leaders, in advertising, everywhere. We must make everyone feel welcome to the practice.
EF: The best thing about my work is sharing trails and practicing mindful running with amazing women in beautiful places like Costa Brava, Spain, Iceland, Moab, Utah and the Canadian Rockies. The worst thing is having to say goodbye at the end.
SR: The best is getting to help people feel and perform better, and to feel more connected. I’m hard pressed to think of a worst thing, but the converse of the best thing is feeling sorry for athletes or practitioners who are coping with injury or underperformance.
Who or what inspires you?
GC: WHO are the people that have a tenacious enthusiasm for what they do and the discipline and focus to stay with it and persevere, no matter how hard it gets because anything worth doing ALWAYS gets hard. WHAT is always the same, Nature. Nature is how we can fully comprehend our interconnectedness; it transcends everything specific to culture or nurture, she’s the source!
EF: I’m inspired by people are able to put boundaries on those things they know deplete them in some way. Which means, instead of saying “yes” to everything, having the strength, confidence, self-knowledge, what it takes to say no. In our hard-charging culture, we wear our busy-ness and stressful lives as badges of honor. How often do you say to a friend when they ask how you are, “oh life is so crazy busy right now!’ I’m still trying to break that habit.
SR: People who do things wholeheartedly, even when they aren’t perfect. My friend Ivy Pointer is a pediatrician who produces public-service rap videos for parents as Young I.V. I think she’d admit that she isn’t the world’s best singer, rapper, or dancer, but she does it with her whole heart, and it’s beautiful and inspiring.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
GC: Relax around the process. This can be applied to anything. Everyone is going at the speed they can handle and assimilate, its not the same for everybody and you’ve got to relax around the process, however long or winding the road may feel.
EF: You don’t have to do it all. It’s tempting to believe the thoughts that I have to do it all myself, but at the end of the day, nothing is worth wearing yourself out. So I try to approach business—and life—as a marathon, not a sprint.
SR: The second yoga class I ever taught was a spur-of-the-moment fill-in for a teacher with car trouble—I was there to take the class. Instead, I taught it. The next day, two of the students, both schoolteachers, offered me some wonderful advice: “We could tell you weren’t Bryan,” they said, “So you didn’t have to apologize for not being Bryan.” From their feedback, I learned early on to do things my way, unapologetically.
If you only have time to do ONE thing in a day, what do you choose?
GC: Meditate. It touches every single other thing you do and every relationship you’re a part of.
EF: Going for a run is always my first choice, though that’s not to say I run every day, which I believe can be counter-productive. Days I don’t run I do yoga, especially yin yoga, because on my non-running “recovery” days, I like to really rest.
SR: One thing? Run or hike in the woods. One pose? Savasana!
What’s something a Bad Yogi could look forward to at Wanderlust?
GC: When it comes to teaching at yoga festivals, I’m all about celebrating community so I create thoughtful classes that are fun, all inclusive and emphasize our impact on one another and what a wonderful power it is to have to teach by example. I love it when people bring a reluctant newbie to my classes because they feel like I won’t scare them or turn them off to yoga. Its a badge of honor to be a fun landing place for hesitant boyfriends!
EF: Outside of classes, they can look forward to some quality time immersed in nature. The Wanderlust festivals in mountain towns especially offer wonderful opportunities to explore the natural environment, slow down, get mindful and breathe fresh, clean air.
SR: A great time. Energy is high, people are having fun, and the evening entertainment is a blast.
It can be kinda intimidating going to a festival or yoga class where DOZENS, if not hundreds, of people are in one class. What’s the best advice for yoga newbies coming in to that environment?
GC: Since this is Bad Yogi I guess I can just say – remember that EVERYBODY POOPS! Seriously, its really easy to blow “others” up in our minds and then get intimidated by all that imaginary stuff we created. Every single person in a yoga room are all humans that suffer from the same things: fear, doubt, insecurities. We all have days we feel great about ourselves and others we feel like failures. I have found that when you approach people with an open smile and a willingness to share and listen, it’s hard to find that stuff we’re scared of. Not to mention, I think seasoned yogis LOVE to see people just getting started with yoga. Its incredibly endearing in every way.
EF: It shouldn’t matter if you’re only doing it for you. It doesn’t matter what the person next to you is doing. Focus on making your experience in that class or in that race the best it can possibly be and you can’t go wrong.
SR: The more people are in a class, the more you can feed off each others’ energy, and the more anonymous you can be (which is nice if you’re self-conscious). Don’t overcommit—choose a schedule that has downtime and mellow practices, and rest liberally.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with Bad Yogi, ladies! Bad Yogis, don’t forget to say hi and ask your own questions to Gina, Elinor and Sage in the comments!