The Root Yoga Studio

I went and took a Yin Yoga class at The Root Yoga Studio this past Thursday. Robert Leal is the co-owner of the studio and was the yoga teacher for this beautiful and wonderful session. I can tell you that I had tried Yin Yoga before you can read about that experience here, and I was a bit anxious knowing what was in store. To my wonderful surprise, I loved, loved, loved his class. I came out of there feeling refreshed, light and happy. The one thing Robert said that stuck in my ;

20121106-212609.jpgmind, “Don’t let your mind fool you into thinking you’re in pain. Follow the peace and realize that you can choose to follow the peace or the pain.” This was just an example of the wisdom that he bestows on his students in his class. I encourage you to try one of his classes at The Root Yoga Studio. Thank you Robert for a wonderful class and a very inspiring interview. I hope you enjoy!

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EP Yoga Magazine: Tell me how you got into yoga and how did you start your studio up?

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Jose Tevarez (co founder and business partner) and I have been friends since elementary school and went to Eastwood high school together. We went in different directions for college and we ended up running into each other, randomly, in Mexico. We always had this connection. When I moved back to El Paso, about three years ago, I ran into him again and we started catching up. I was telling him what I was into. I wasn’t into yoga until I had finished college. I was actually into meditation my sophomore year of college and then all of a sudden I found myself doing some postures. Almost automatically, I ended up in a yoga class. The rest is pretty much history. That first yoga class, I pretty much decided that that was what I was going to do for the rest of my life. So back to Jose…on the rooftop of his apartment, I gave him a class and up to that time, he was a fitness trainer and this practice, this discipline, he really fell in love with it. He said it resonated with him. Shortly after that, we searched El Paso for a studio and we came here to the San Carlos building. We came down to the basement of this building and it was filled to the ceiling with all types of old stuff. Tables, doors, windows, they used it as a storage unit for 30 years, so it was filled with everything you can imagine. It was filled with all these antiques, and it was very interesting clearing it out and finding old things, it was really nice. So we cleaned it out, it took

20121106-213132.jpgabout a month, and we fell in love with it. We feel it carries a yogic feel. Its down in the basement, so that’s why we call it “The Root” because its in the earth, it’s the root of the building, and “root” is a common term in yoga. We say “root down” in yoga poses, we have the “root” chakra and you should be rooted, we should be grounded. It kind of correlated with what was going on in my life.

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EP Yoga Magazine: What was going on?

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For a long time I was exploring a lot, I was going to other countries and I was living pretty freely. I moved back to El Paso and I felt like I needed to share what I learned, with my brother, with my family. I lived in Los Angeles, about 6 years and I would save money and then I would travel. I also lived in Watsonville, CA. I was living in a tent and pretty much immersed in nature. That was when the practice really started healing me. That’s also where I got certified, Mount Madonna Institute. It’s a mystical place. It right in the Redwood Forrest, it overlooks Monterrey Bay so every morning the fog rolls in. The fog wakes you up at 5:30am and the daily practice is really easy to get into.

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EP Yoga Magazine: How beautiful! How long ago did you get your training?

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The training was pretty intensive. It was 6 weeks long. I chose to stay there another 2 months. This was 5 years ago.

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EP Yoga Magazine: I want a deeper training, but I haven’t been “called” yet.

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I was waiting myself. I was waiting to be called and that place definitely called me. I loved it. I love my experience there.

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EP Yoga Magazine: How long has “The Root” Yoga Studio been open?

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It’s been open for 3 ½ years, we get about 5-10 students per class, sometimes 15, 20…we’ve even had up to 30 people in here. The website posts the schedule every month and on The Root Facebook page.

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EP Yoga Magazine: I find it very interesting, you being a guy, are so into yoga. As a man, what is your perspective on yoga?

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I really can’t tell anyone how to heal themselves, it’s a personal choice and it has to come from within. If you want to heal, you need to want to. I can only share my experience and I feel I was blessed to cross paths with certain teachers that I felt truly cared, truly embodied the practice. My healing really started with meditation and really listening to the heart and getting out of the subconscious junk. When I started meditating, I felt an opening. I felt like I was letting go of emotions that I was holding on from the past. Those emotions weren’t allowing me to be present and be who I truly was. So every time I finished a meditation, I felt a relief, I felt balanced, and I felt good. So meditation is what helped me.

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EP Yoga Magazine: When I started meditating, I was in a darkness that I never experienced before. So I started doing poses and meditating and then weird things started happening. I had this weird feeling, like almost feeling like a bird. I started calling it my “Birds eye life view”. I started seeing the flow and rhythm of things. Did weird things start happening to you?

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Yes. Growing up I was really active and my parents put me into sports, to harness that hyperactivity. When I was in elementary school, my parents were told that I had ADD and so I was put on Ritalin. As time went on I thrived in sports, it was my sanctuary, whether I was shooting baskets by myself, in a game with friends, basketball, soccer or football. Throughout those years, all those hits, causing trauma to my body and I developed a lot of tension and pain in my body from all the impacts. So there was a lot of limiting thoughts inside my mind, and at the same time there was a lot of confidence but this confidence created a false ego. I had a false sense of myself, a competition mindset. I was always trying to better than everyone, always trying to control the situation, always manipulating to be the best. So those were the things that I was dealing with when I started meditating. I was holding on to all those things, like a big bag I was carrying them around on my back. So when I started meditating, I felt a lot of that just pour off. Just clear out. I was opening up and my intuition opened up. There was no longer this false sense of self, there was a truth that was really clear. I felt free, like you said, like a bird …it was very much like that. I was not controlling anything anymore. I realized that I was awareness that I was able to observe. I didn’t have to let my thoughts take me for a ride and be caught up in this false sense of identity. I really got hooked! During the meditation there are moments when you feel this abundance of energy and you feel this beauty, this presence that is so vast and unexplainable. In my mind, that was weird. There were times that I shed tears because it was so beautiful. It was such a different state of mind, and it’s not a common thing in our society to experience this type of thing. They are such intense moments.

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EP Yoga Magazine: What advice would you have for people who haven’t tried yoga?

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I haven’t faced a lot of resistance; I’m not trying to convert anyone. My teachers have always told me that it has to come from the individual. The best advice that I’ve gotten was to observe your life.

20121106-213331.jpgObserve you breath. Become mindful of your thoughts, your words, and your actions. The best way to do this is through meditation, through breath work, through controlling your breath. Pranayama and asanas. That’s the way for me. Just being kind and being nonviolent and really listen. This is what has helped me, to really listen. To know that there is a heart within our heart. It is where our intentions are and where everything comes from. That is what connects us.

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EP Yoga Magazine: I haven’t done much of breath work, and I get very anxious. What can you tell me about that?

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Breath work is what connects us, it connects us to life. Without the breath we’re not here. We can only go 3 minutes without our breath. So it’s our first fuel. A lot of us breathe shallow, like only 13% of our breath capacity is normal for our society. When you start tuning into your breath and start getting into breath work, you learn how to purify your nervous system, through your respiratory system. So your whole body breathes. The universe is breathing. So when you start getting deeper into breath work, you start to realize that we can breathe through every pore in our body, breathe deeper than we can imagine, and it becomes very sweet and nourishing. It’s a way of clearing out the subconscious junk, it’s a way of clearing out traumas, and it’s a way of renewing the mind and a way of renewing the physical body. We should do breath work as much as we meditate. If you break it down, you should do 40% meditation, 40% breath work and 20% asana. The asana should be a small part of your practice. As you grow older, the asana should lessen and the meditation and breath work should increase. So for example, I’m 28, so I should do 28 minutes meditation, 28 minutes breath work and 6 minutes asana. We need to purify our physical body more and more as we grow older. Breath work can show you that we are limitless, and that we are boundless. We are free, we are open and we are whole.

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Thank you Robert, you blessed me. Namaste.

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