One of my heroes is coming to Nashville. East Nashville, in fact, coming to our very own studio! Esak Garcia is a legend in the yoga community. He was a legend before Instagram or smart phones even existed. In fact, you won’t find many filtered, Photoshopped photos of Esak out there, although you might find an inspiring video of his posture demonstrations at various workshops he leads around the world or at the USA Yoga Competition where he won the world championship. But Esak himself will tell you himself, it’s not about the best-photographed posture or the depth of your own postures, nor about winning a competition; it’s about learning from yoga, throwing out false conceptions that hinder us, and understanding that yoga means union within ourselves and with others. “You don’t need to push yourself to extreme depths to realize that.”
But Esak would also say that if pushing yourself, training for a goal or finding new depths in your postures, flips that switch for you, as it did for him, then go for it! He’s here to help.
Esak has been devoted his life to yoga for the last 22 years. His mother, a lifelong yogi, introduced him to yoga and to the Bikram practice when she attended the first-ever teacher training in 1994. While studying political science at Yale, Esak often practiced the classic 26 postures he had learned from his mother to supplement his football and martial arts practice, finding a small room on campus with a strong heater! After Yale, he went on to become a certified teacher under Bikram’s training and began teaching in San Francisco in 2002.
After reading the book, Hell-Bent, I indeed became hell-bent on meeting Esak. I was all-out obsessed with this “Jedi Fight Club” – the affectionate name given to Esak’s famous back-bending retreats. Author, Benjamin Lorr described his pain and struggle over 7 days of attempting upwards of 50 “wall walks” per day. I was enticed, while simultaneously fearful of Jedi Fight Club. From one page to the next, I both want to sell anything and everything to go to the 7-day retreat and/or close the book and never think about it again! But reading the final paragraph of the Esak chapter, I regain an obsession with back-bending and with Esak: “The next day, driving back to New York, I find myself doing wall-walks against the aluminum siding of a rest-stop gas station. There is a moment, where I wonder what I’m doing… But I just shrug my shoulders, roll my eyes at the sky, and arch back to meet the pain like it’s a moral obligation. When I’m done, my shirt is off and I’m smiling like a fool.”
Lorr also describes the person, the mystery – Esak Garcia. “In many ways, Esak feels like a shining example of the promise of yoga. He rarely sleeps, yet he never seems tired. When faced with a problem, his reasoning always begins with the communal. He has a diffident energy surrounding him. I understand that on a fundamental level, his body hums in a different way from mine… I want to know what he knows, learn what he’s learned.
And so we will. See you August 7th!