The exact point at which the journey into yoga begins for each individual is unique. For many, it helps them to find relief from pain; whether physical, mental, emotional, or otherwise.
J’s relationship with yoga began over 20 years ago as a way to reconcile the unresolved grief and pain over his mother’s death: “yoga was one of the only things that I could find that made me feel better”.
His journey ultimately lead him to create a ‘yoga my mom could do’ practice, called Gentle is the New Advance.
But don’t let the name fool you! This style is not necessarily easy. It’s about looking at yoga from a personal point of view and adapting it to the individual needs of each person.
I recently caught up with J to talk about the yoga styles that established the foundation for his practice and teaching and about what lead him to create a style that challenges the modern concept of ‘advanced’ yoga.
YT: While I understand you ‘gravitated towards an Ashtanga, power vinyasa style’ of Yoga, was this style your first experience of yoga, or did you try out a few styles beforehand?
J: My first ever class was Iyengar method. I first started having a dedicated practice at Jivamukti on 2nd Ave, NYC which was a mix of several different traditions. The aspect of that practice that appealed to me most at first was the harder-edged influence of Ashtanga. I ultimately got hurt and went back to studying Iyengar but still had a lot of pain. Eventually, I found my way to the teachings of T.K.V. Desikachar and was able to figure some things out for myself.
YT: What change occurred that led you to create ‘Gentle Is The New Advanced’?
J: Opening a yoga center in Brooklyn was a bubble that I created for myself. I lost quite a bit of touch with what was happening outside of my own circle. When I finally did stick my head out, the scene had changed. All the classes were shorter and “advanced” meant being able to do big poses. When I started out, “advanced” meant inner peace. So, when it came time to put out what I was doing to a wider audience, I came up with this title: “Gentle is the New Advanced.”
YT: What styles of yogas do you predominantly draw your teaching from?
J: I don’t know if it is right to call it a style but…I am drawing upon a combination of teachings, predominately from T.K.V. Desikachar, with a U.G. Krishnamurti influence.
YT: How is this approach different?
J: Firstly, it is entirely breath-centered. Secondly, it has a mindset or philosophy where the challenge is not to see how far you can go or what you are capable of doing, but rather to establish the discipline of being able to set boundaries and work within them.
YT: Why do you feel a deep breath-centered practice is so important?
J: The fact that I am breathing is the fact that I am alive. It’s normally an unconscious function in me. But when I make it a ritual of intimate participation then I merge with the experience of my own wonder.
YT: Who would this approach suit and why?
J: Anyone who is interested. Because it is entirely personal and adapts to the individual needs of each person.
YT: What do you hope to achieve (for want of a better word!) through sharing yoga in this way?
J: I do not wish to achieve anything. I hope that it might be helpful to others. In doing so, I feel that I am being of some use.
YT: Why do you teach yoga, what is your drive?
J: It is both the healing of myself, the people around me and the planet. What could be more important? What could be more urgent?
Interested to know more about J. Brown? J lists his upcoming workshops, online offers, articles and Podcast details via jbrownyoga.com.