I met Jason for the first time in 2017 during one of his yoga classes at UDAYA Live yoga festival and I really really enjoyed his yoga practice because it is a balanced mixture of physical and mental challenge. It was a sweaty but introverted experience; meditation in movement; synchronised breathing. It's not a surprise that he called his practice "calmtivity yoga". I have shared more about his class here.
So you can’t imagine my surprise when a year later Jason messaged me on Instagram to say that he is coming to live in my home town Varna, Bulgaria, because he fell in love with a gorgeous Bulgarian lady and together they are expecting their first baby! Now he is teaching yoga in several locations in Varna and I am so happy each time I go back home to practice with him. His classes are truly hypnotising, you just get in the slow flow of movement, connected to your breath and totally muting the monkey mind.
I am excited we finally got the chance also to do this yoga talk with him (it was planned since long ago) and I hope you find it expiring and motivational for your yoga journey and practice:
When did your yoga journey started and what did it give to you?
My Yoga journey started 11 years ago after a collegiate and professional basketball journey. Yoga gave me the peace of mind that the true competitor or my egocentric presence lives inside of me and has nothing to do with anything or anyone outside of me. He or my ego is the one I must deal with, go into battle, refine etc. and once this is realized, put into practice, achieved etc. any “so called” external opposition will be obsolete or novice at best. This is the greatest gift from yoga has offered me and I’ll accept it. Thanks.
Why more athletes need to adopt yoga into their routine?
Athletes need to adopt yoga, for a few MAIN reasons yet there are many others. One, to counter their already rigorous training regiment. Allowing yoga to serve as a Yin or Lunar to their Yang or Solar (training, sport). Two, to realize who their truest competitor or arch nemesis is and to conquer him to eliminate the idea of external competitors. Three, to strengthen one’s life force and utilize it to become greater or realize one’s greatest potential.
Would you share more about your new beginning and moving to Varna?
My new beginning, truly begins with my connection to UDAYA. I came to Bulgaria 5 years ago as a student in classes by Andres Solcedo, whom I met in Santa Monica after attending his class. He invited me to come to Sofia to be a student in his classes with UDAYA and the rest is history. Thereafter, I filmed 2 of my own series (GameDay Yoga & Meditative Vinyasa) in the following 2 summers and taught at the Yoga and Music Festival in Pravets in the 4th consecutive summer, where I met my now wife and the mother of my soon to be born son. So, I moved to Varna in December of 2018 to 360 degree life change and I feel as my life has just begun. I’m teaching a modest public class schedule at Maxi Fit Varna and Aqua House Thermal and Spa while my son is preparing to join us in the phenomenon.
What are your first impressions about Bulgaria and about the yoga community here?
My first impressions about Bulgaria was and is a breath of fresh air compared to the USA. People can’t believe that I’d rather be here than there, but it’s true. I love the change as I desired change and the energy to physically take my yoga concepts beyond America. The Yoga community is cool as I’m going back to the basics asana wise while teaching the art of meditation within the asana and it is well received. I am also making it a point to teach my classes in Bulgarian as to learn the language, respect the country. Although not fluent yet, teaching in Bulgarian has already make me a more refined teacher of the art.
Can you tell us more about yoga for pregnant women?
Yes, my Mommy Yoga classes are designed to bond mother and child through life force. For Mommy to create an energetic, spacious, and nurturing world for herself surrounding her baby while cleansing her world of illusion or that which does not serve her world and teaching relaxation and greatness not only to the baby but mommy too. Highly effective and totally safe and available for all trimesters. MaxiFit Varna @2pm Monday’s and Wednesday’s for 60-65 minutes.
How do you live yoga off the mat?
I live yoga off the mat exactly how I practice on the mat. Lengthy, spacious energetic - cleansed (nutrition, grooming) relaxed, strong, extended, deep. In moments and with direction. Realizing the illusions that dwell within me and that they are illusions and that they block my potential and I can remove them and realize my potential. Responsibly and aware. Poised and patient. Self validated. Effortless and authentic.
Since when are you vegan and what were the difficulties you faced?
I started 11 years ago during teacher training thanks to “Light on Yoga”. It as easy due to changing my mind set. Such as nutrition first and flavours of my tongue second. I am big on self discipline so the transition was without difficulty. I found the Vegan lifestyle fits me. I’m 6’5 and 220 pounds of muscle yet I feel light and graceful. Another example of balance and harmony as Power (physical makeup ) and Finesse (presence). I feel very clean. People can’t believe I’m vegan. It’s funny. One has to find what works for them. There are sooooo many opinions on lifestyle that it can be confusing and inauthentic to the individual. Perhaps external pressure could be a challenge if one is affected by such an influence. Another challenge would be not doing the proper research and getting the correct information on nutrients.
What are other people’s reactions about being a vegan athlete?
When I played basketball, I ate everything. Once I stopped playing I got into asana yoga and teacher training “Light on Yoga” told me that I would eventually turn to a vegetarian diet and this is what started my transformation. People are surprised about my lifestyle considering my appearance. Perhaps this is because of many external opinions floating around.
Can you share more about your meditation practice, please?
My meditation practice is simply observing my egocentric activity without reaction or attachment while keeping a one-point focus and stillness. Sometimes I’ll use music and other times I won’t. Sometimes I’ll use imagery and other times I won’t. Sometimes I use affirmations in the form of mantra (internal voice) and sometimes I won’t. Most of the time I’ll lay down and other times I’ll sit.
What classes are you going to teach at UDAYA Live 2019?
I’ll be teaching two Meditative Vinyasa classes focusing on what it takes to Go Pro at whatever you sport (basketball, business, relationships, parenthood, etc.) you choose. Life is a game and we are all life athletes playing many different sports and games. Why not go pro at them and capitalize spiritually, mentally, physically and materialistically.
What is your key advice on building a regular yoga practice?
My key advice is.......put meditation first in all yogic journeys. Put meditation first in asana based practices. Allow meditation to open up your asana journey. Elude the illusion of commercial yoga so to promote self ahimsa (non violence) and not delusion. To show you contentment. To not chase but allow.
If you are interested to practice with Jason, you can follow him on Facebook & Instagram. He is also organizing a yoga retreat in the first weekend of September in Bourgas.
Peace and Love
Self-love and courage! Yeah, all that!