Monday, August 30, 2010

Interview with 27 Things to Know About Yoga Author Victoria Klein

1. Tell me what inspires your yoga practice? Why did you take your first yoga class?

I took my first yoga class when I was still in high school – either in 2000 or 2001. My mum was actually the one who suggested I try it; she had taken a class at the new local fitness center and thought it was really fun. The class was an Anusara/Iyengar-style that focused on alignment and the room wasn’t heated. After just one class, I was hooked. My mind was quiet, my body felt strong and capable; my posture had never been so straight!

Since then, my yoga practice has been a bit inconsistent, but I restarted my regular (at-home) practice a few years after my first class. At the time, I was suffering from crippling depression and anxiety – I was so nervous that I couldn’t leave the house to check the mailbox. My yoga practice helped me to gain inner confidence and overall mental clarity. Over time, my practice has helped me grow in ways I never could have imagined, including moving across the country twice, ceasing my psychological medication, and getting married.

2. What inspired your book? Who did you write it for?

27 Things to Know About Yoga is inspired by all the basic questions that I’ve been asked about yoga. The minute that someone knows that I practice yoga, the questions begin. Don’t get me wrong – I am delighted to talk about yoga, but folks usually ask about things that I thought were common knowledge. After working at a San Francisco yoga studio for a year, it quickly became clear that yoga knowledge is not common. My goal is to change that.

The book is for anyone and everyone. I know that sounds a bit hokey, but it’s true. It's for men, women, young, old, tall, short, heavy, skinny, or anywhere in between--yoga can help us all in ways we can’t foresee. The key is to get people to just try yoga. I wrote this book to help regular people get an honest, easy-to-understand look at the basics of yoga, including the often-misunderstood spiritual principles.

3. The first sentence of your book says: "Yoga is not a cult, a religion, an overnight sensation, hedonism, self-torture, or magic." To me, sometimes it does feel like self-torture (and sometimes it feels like magic, too). Which pose feels most like torture for you, and what do you do to help yourself through it? What's your favorite pose?

I’m right there with you! Nothing worth doing is easy and pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zones is a key part of a happy life. A few poses that really tax my body: Revolved Triangle Pose (will my back leg ever be straight!?), Plank Pose (tell my arms to stop shaking), and Crane Pose (face, meet the floor). To get through these poses, I focus on my breath. Yes, they are difficult and I can’t perform them with technical accuracy, but I try – and I keep on trying because I won’t get better without practice.

My all-time favorite pose is Tree Pose, closely followed by Triangle Pose and Half Lord of the Fishes Pose. My personality is naturally a bit flighty, and Tree Pose helps me calm my mind and stay focused, grounded. Triangle Pose and Half Lord of the Fishes Pose both feature a personal favorite: twisting! Nothing makes my back feel happier.

4. What's the most important thing you want people who read your book to learn?

Ninety-nine percent of what you’ve heard about yoga is bull crap. Approach yoga with an open mind and willingness to experiment until you find what style and teacher is just right for you.

5. What's next for you? Are you going to write another book?

I already did! :) My second book, 48 Things to Know About Sustainable Living, will be released at the end of October 2010. I’m also in my second year of college, working towards an Associate Degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences. My husband is heading for Marines Corps boot camp on September 13th, so I see a lot of moving in our future.