Yoga & Meditation
Bringing Mind, Body, & Spirit Together
Along with movement-based functional training, Elliott is a yoga & meditation instructor with over 16 years experience in both practice and instruction. He intertwines physical Yoga postures and Tibetan Buddhist meditation to create a practice that is physically challenging, energetically grounding, and spiritually authentic. Yoga is a practice, pure and simple. The only goal of yoga is to practice regularly in order to achieve maximum benefit. What are the benefits? A profound sense of ease in the body, and greater presence of mind & spirit.
how did I get into this?
I was always pretty driven, but part of that was because I was angry. I was a gay kid, and for whatever reason, some people could not leave well enough alone. I dealt with a great deal of bullying growing up, and while I put up a good fight, I oftentimes felt pretty upset at the world. Like a good alchemist, I took that frustration and turned it into motivation. I was driven to do well in school and in my favorite sport: swimming. It's what ultimately led me to graduate at the top of my major at UC Santa Barbara, become a US Fulbright Scholar, work for a Fortune 500 company, and launch my own business.
A life filled with personal frustrations, social exclusion, ambition, and the need to always succeed takes a certain toll. While I had many ups, the downs included anxiety, intense stress, very tight muscles, and a few complete breakdowns. These are the tougher things to admit, but I've learned that they are apart of my path. Around my senior year of college, I was introduced to yoga through Gaiam's series of yoga DVDs by Rodney Yee. I thought it was cool, but I wasn't quite convinced. It was shortly thereafter, though, that I took my first public yoga class with Eddie Elner of Santa Barbara's Yoga Soup . . . and from thereon, I was hooked.
Within a year, I pretty much flipped my lid. After graduating from UC Santa Barbara, I went on to teach at an inner-city Berlin high school with the US State Department's Fulbright Program. This was also the year the Second Iraq War broke out, and the school where I taught had a sizable immigrant Muslim population. Being the smiling face from California in a deeply skeptical classroom was no easy task. In between class lessons on the National Parks and the structure of the US Government, I took regular hatha yoga classes and deepened my philosophical knowledge by practicing Bhakti Yoga (the yoga of devotion) with the devotees of Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. It was after my year there that the school introduced a regular yoga class for the students.
After my year in Berlin, I returned to Santa Barbara for graduate studies in German Literature. It was during this time that I lived in a Tibetan Buddhist dharma house run by the Vairotsana Foundation. It was community living at it's finest. Our house included a shrine room in what normally would have been the living room, a live-in lama (Tulku Orgyen Phunstok), and weekly practices where pilgrims traveled from near and far to hear the teachings of the head lama, Bhaka Tulku Rinpoche. Graduate school is more or less designed to make you crazy, and the sangha (community) provided me with a much needed island of sanity. After a couple of years, Bhaka Tulku Rinpoche bestowed on me my Bodhisattva vows and gave me my spiritual name: Tsering Dorje (Tibtean translation: "Jewel of the Buddha Wisdom"). I am forever grateful for his teachings, the meditations, and how it transformed my yoga practice.
I left Santa Barbara after I completed my graduate studies in 2005, and headed back home to the San Francisco Bay Area. My first few years in San Francisco found me working for the nation's oldest bank, BNY Mellon, as a hedge fund specialist. Working there taught me the lesson of "Right Livelihood," or living/working in alignment with who you really are. My yoga practice was my refuge during this stressful time, particularly when the Financial Crisis of 2008-09 struck. It was my commitment to the yogic pricinple of Satya (truth-telling), that led me to write my first book, "Betting Against America," based off my time working for the bank. I exposed in this work exactly what the 1% does with their shadowy accounts in the Cayman Islands.
I deepened my hatha yoga practice with many well-known teachers in The City, and in 2010, I became a Registered Yoga Teacher myself. In the years since, and through many twists and turns, I taught more yoga than I thought imaginable, met many wonderful beings, and learned too many lessons to count. It's not been completely smooth sailing, but the ride's been worth it overall. Yoga now informs my other practices, like cycling and suspension training, and I can't imagine a life without it. I begin my days with sun salutations, and end them with headstands. I breathe into uncomfortable and scary poses on the mat, as well as in odd situations in life. It's because of the transformative effects I've experienced on the yoga mat that I seek to spread the good juju to those around me.
Breathe, stay present, and stand strong. Life's worth it, and don't let anyone convince you otherwise. Things might get tough, but the tough can get going. If you haven't tried some yoga yet . . . go out there and give it a whirl. You don't have anything to lose . . . in fact, you have plenty to gain.
Om. Namaste. Rock on.