I am not sure where the sweat ends and the tears begin, but the salty liquid travels down my temples in little rivulets finding the path of least resistance to my mat. Class must be nearing the end, because we are in shoulderstand. We have been in shoulderstand for what feels like 30 minutes, and just as I decide it is probably time for ME to come down, because this is really hard for ME, I hear him say in a gentle but strong, heartfelt voice, “I know it’s challenging, sometimes we feel like we are the only ones in the heart of the challenge, but we are in this together. When it gets really hard, when I don’t know what to do, or which way to turn in my life, I just get on my mat. Just start moving on the mat. And we have to trust, just trust the practice. Just be with it.”
And these simple and few words seemingly spoken directly to me in a roomful of 20 people give me the resolve to stay and in the next breath the tears start to flow as I touch that place of trust in my own heart. The tears flow from a very physical place, but also because I see how this moment on the mat in so many ways defines who I am as a human being. It is as if an energetic floodgate has been opened and suddenly I can be in shoulderstand forever, letting go of anything and everything that is holding me back. And I am not alone- we all feel that Brent is speaking directly to us.
Brent’s ability to speak to his students’ hearts comes so naturally, seems to just flow out of him. To me, this gift is not something you can fake, and might be the highest goal of sharing yoga.
But his talents go even further. Brent brings a strong alignment background from his training with Tias Little, YogaWorks, and from his training as a massage therapist. His assists often resemble Thai Massage, and his alignment cues always help me get a deeper grip on my practice.
I have had the good fortune to teach and train with Brent over the past year in Savannah. Being in his classes and being with him in classes, I have learned alot about being true to my own heart and having the courage to follow my dreams. It’s funny- the seeds of courage to begin this website were watered by the sweat and tears from that shoulderstand last summer.
A couple of weeks ago, after class Brent told me that he had made the decision to pursue his long-term dream of becoming a certified Jivamukti teacher. All of the wisdom his classes have imparted to me just seemed to shine out of him as he shared this goal with me- he had no idea how he would afford the extensive residential teacher training, but he set the intention with faith. The next day, along with co-op teacher Christine Glover, he sent out a call for donations throughout the Savannah yoga community, and the donations started to roll in. The support for Brent and Christine has been phenomenal, but they still have money to raise, as the deadline for tuition payment is in March.
Jivamukti is a perfect fit for Brent. The combination of wisdom from the ancient scriptures, powerful music, strong assists, challenging asana, and deep connection that he brings to his classes belie the fact that he has not already attended their rigorous training. I can only imagine what he will bring to the world when this training is done!
If you are ever in Savannah, please run- don’t walk- to Brent’s classes. Your life just might be changed. Check out Brent’s schedule at The Yoga Co-op and Savannah Power Yoga. If you are inspired to donate to the training of this amazing teacher, you may do so by going to the Yoga Co-op’s homepage, clicking on “Events/Workshops”, and scrolling down to “Send your teachers to Jivamukti training”.
How did you find yoga- or would you say yoga found you?
I was introduced to yoga at fitness center of all places. The class wasn’t particularly special but savanasana (corpse pose) was something I had never experienced before. For a few minutes NOTHING mattered. War, disease, unhappiness…..all of those things disappeared from my world and I knew I had to share that with others.
Tell us about your journey into teaching.
I taught my first “yoga class” to one of my good friends. She believed I had a gift to heal and inspire. I was doubtful. But after more encouragement I enrolled in my first teacher training with Tias Little in Sante Fe, NM. When I returned I started teaching regularly. The rapid growth of my classes evaporated any doubts I had, and I knew I was doing something special.
Your classes have a potent way of immediately piercing right through my walls and speaking directly to my heart. Who are your biggest teaching influences, and how did they help you awaken this powerful teacher within?
My biggest influences have always been all the people in the world that seem to work in the backgound, but are truly the ones making all the differences. I have many guru’s but to list a few the Co-Founders of the Jivamukti Yoga Method David Life and Sharon Gannon, Entrepreneurs and Philanthropists The Tisch Family of New York, and Oprah!
Why Jivamukti Yoga?
For me, Jivamukti Yoga helps create a bridge from my heart to my head. Allowing me to move away from selfish tendencies and toward a more universal way of living. It is a modern practice with ancient roots that makes me feel at home in the world.
Can you talk a little about the relationship between alignment, breath, and flow? There seems to be a magic intelligence to the way you combine asana in a class. Sometimes I feel like the sequences and your alignment cues are almost masterfully planned for some greater purpose. Do you see alignment as a strict set of rules to keep us safe, or is the alignment more about getting the energy pathways lined up to maximize the flow of prana?
BOTH! Ultimately yoga heals the body in such a way that the flow of prana is able to move through and around the body without interruption. But because as yogi’s we practice yoga over our lifetime and do many of the same movements over and over, it is important to work mindfully and safely so that over time we don’t cause injury. Yoga is the opposite of injury!
What do you think about the exponential growth of yoga in America over the past 10 years? How do you see this having ripple effects in our culture?
I think the growth of Yoga in America only speaks to our culture’s need of it! The beauty of yoga is that is has the ability to transcend time and culture and mold to the needs of its practitioners.
What is your greatest joy in teaching yoga? Your greatest challenge?
My greatest joy in teaching yoga is the mutual nourishment it provides to the student and the teacher. My greatest challenge is my own self doubt and self judgement. At heart I am a perfectionist and often can be the biggest barrier to my own success.
Well, Brent… all I can say is get on the mat and melt that self doubt away, because you have a rare gift and I predict it will take you as far as you want to go. Hari OM!