Welcome to the third interview in the Gaiam/Yoga and Body Image Coalition “Yoga for Men/Men in Yoga” series. We’re excited to introduce readers to the founder of Detroit Yoga, Jason Schramm. Detroit Yoga offers Ashtanga and Vinyasa classes daily without loud music or entertainment – just practice. In the last 15 years of teaching, Jason has accumulated over 15,000 hours of classroom teaching experience and credits his practice for, far above and beyond anything else in his life, continuously having a positive impact on his head and heart.
Unlike so many today that become acquainted with yoga through the incessant buzz that has made yoga imagery commonplace in the media, Jason was turned on to yoga at time when it was still obscure and viewed as something “strange.” Unlike the countless people that discover yoga in the context of their local gym or are introduced to the physical practice in a studio environment, Jason began his practice alone at home with a VHS tape that a friend had recommended.
“An ex-girlfriend of mine got me one of Bryan Kest’s old VHS tapes so I started practicing at home. I didn’t actually go to a yoga studio. In fact, prior to that, I was living and working in Ann Arbor, which is a kind of a liberal, hippie town and I thought yoga was just kind of hippie bullshit. But when I got the VHS tape, I really dug it because I found it to be physically and mentally challenging.”
Yoga has a tendency to surprise us the first time we practice, challenging us in ways we’ve never experienced before. And as a result of the challenges we may face on the mat, we’re opened to the gift of new insights and perspectives.
“I was in decent shape the first time I tried Bryan’s yoga tape. I was doing a lot of mountain biking and a fair amount of weight lifting at the time. But, physically speaking, I experienced brand new things with yoga. For example, my posture improved pretty quickly – I was standing up taller and carrying myself better. I also remember becoming more aware of things around me. It may sound cliché, but I’d pay more attention to the sounds of leaves, wind, and birds when I was outside. They may have been little things, but it was a start. I hadn’t transferred that awareness to people yet, but this was the start of things falling into place and, eventually, I was able to get outside of myself and become more in tune with others and their feelings.”
|It’s not uncommon for people to have misconceptions about the practice, only to be pleasantly surprised and deeply moved by what the practice offers. And that first experience, with the ways in which yoga leaves us feeling, often leads the newbie practitioner on a wonderful and unique journey of self-discovery full of the unexpected but absolutely perfect opportunities to create life anew.
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By sharing stories with one another, we can inspire even more yogis to get started with their yoga practice, and empower one another to keep coming back to the mat. Regardless of who you are, how old you are, what size you are, what color your skin is, and how much experience you have, you are a yogi if you want to be!
AUTHOR BIO: Melanie Klein, M.A., is a writer, speaker, and professor of sociology and women’s studies at Santa Monica College. She is the co-editor of Yoga and Body Image: 25 Personal Stories About Beauty, Bravery + Loving Your Body (Llewellyn, 2014) with Anna Guest-Jelley, a contributor in 21st Century Yoga: Culture, Politics and Practice (Horton & Harvey, 2012), is featured in Conversations with Modern Yogis (Shroff, 2014), a featured writer in Llewellyn’s Complete Book of Mindful Living (Llewellyn, 2016) and co-editor of the new anthology, Yoga, the Body and Embodied Social Change: An Intersectional Feminist Analysis with Dr. Beth Berila and Dr. Chelsea Jackson Roberts (Rowman and Littlefield, 2016). She co-founded the Yoga and Body Image Coalition in 2014.