Today, I took an Ashtanga Vinyasa class with the incredible Chrissy LeFavour at her Grateful Yoga studio in Montpelier, VT. A transcript of our conversation appears below:
Bryan: How did you get into yoga? What is your story?
Chrissy: My story around yoga started with Pilates. I got into Pilates in high school because I had a lot of spasms in my lower back. It was really the only way I could exercise and feel comfortable in my spine. But there were many more studios around the world dedicated to teaching yoga compared to Pilates. I started dropping into classes in the Caribbean, in places like St. John, as well as studios in Europe. After graduating college, I wanted to do something other than waiting tables, so I took out a student loan to participate in yoga teacher training at Yoga Vermont. And that pretty much takes me to the end of my story. I fell in love with Ashtanga and our mutual teacher, Kathy McNames. The rest is history.
Bryan: Do you recall the moment you first met Kathy? Is there a clear memory associated with your first encounter?
Chrissy: The day I met Kathy was the Saturday she was doing the handstand workshop. I actually have the notes from that first session. I still enjoy reading Kathy’s class quotes. Ever since, I recall feeling so sure that this was exactly what I really wanted to be doing.
Bryan: It’s funny how my first clear recollection of Kathy also involved a handstand workshop. She’s one of a kind.
Chrissy: I totally agree. I love her!
Bryan: I love how she brings everyone in class closer together. The guru is a recurring character in many enchanting tales. What are your favorite inspirational books?
Chrissy: Lately, I’ve been reading poetry in savasana. Today I read Hafez. I especially enjoy reading Rumi and Pablo Neruda. At the end of class, I will sometimes recite passages from the Bhagavad Gita or the Yoga Sutras. I really like the book written by Iyengar’s daughter called Gem, which is a book about yoga for women, it’s one of my new favorites. I also enjoy the Yoga Makaranda and the Yoga Mala, probably because they are written by Krishnamacharya and Pattabhi Jois. Those are the two which I revisit again and again.
Bryan: Those last two books you mentioned are really meaningful to me too. I truly enjoy the twentieth century yoga classics. I know that you enjoy hosting yoga trips to the Caribbean, can you tell me a little bit about what’s happening in the near future?
Chrissy: I’m currently working to run a teacher training trip to an eco-friendly hotel in the Dominican Republic. I started learning more about the people there. The culture of the north coast is incredible and the people there are some of the most physically active people you’ll ever meet. They use their bodies every day for horseback riding, hiking and kite surfing. And they are also really interested in yoga. So the more I talk to the people, the more I revisit the country. I’ve really fallen in love with them. My personal goal is to teach yoga classes in Spanish.
Bryan: Wow, I love that idea too. I’m one of these uni-lingual people. Learning a second language would open up worlds for me.
Chrissy: Yes, so we are currently excited to be hosting a trip in April and then another one in November. I’ve been watching yoga videos of teachers speaking in Spanish and teaching in Spanish. When I make an effort to use the vocab at the market, even if it does not sound perfect, I get a lot of respect for trying.
Bryan: That reminds of how Kathy always likes to say, “You can’t do it wrong, you can only do it again.”
Chrissy: Exactly, I’ve learned that you have to be unafraid to fail in order to eventually succeed. In that way, it’s exactly like yoga. Also, if you look at the formulas in the Romance language structure, the skills towards progressing in a language like Spanish really builds on itself. It reminds me of how advanced series builds on intermediate series and intermediate series builds on a strong primary series foundation. It takes a lot of work too.
Bryan: While we are on the topic of language and yoga, I’m wondering, what does your life philosophy entail? What does philosophy mean to you?
Chrissy: Those are really deep questions. I think of myself first and foremost as a yoga student, and teacher / business owner secondly. That’s because, in my view, simplicity is the most fundamental philosophy. Through simplicity, I also find myself returning to love. Love is the purest of all emotions. And the more I simplify my life, the easier it is to love the people we share the universe with.