At times, the most elusive aspect of yoga is our practice. Read this interview to get a peek inside John Schumacher's yoga practice and discover what inspires him and what his daily practice is like.
John, why do you have a yoga practice?
There are a lot of reasons to practice. One is, I feel really good when I practice. A second reason is that I have a responsibility to my students to refine my own practice and my understanding to better convey the value and benefits of yoga to them. Many days, I practice for my students. I practice problems that arise in my class that I would not think of on my own, that students present to me. I practice for questions that they raise. I practice because the yoga sutras say that practice is one of the essential aspects of doing yoga and reaching the state of yoga. Practice is really the cornerstone of my teaching, provides guidance in my life, and is what I love to do. It’s pretty much all encompassing.
Why do you emphasize the importance of having a consistent personal practice?
The first thing that the yoga sutras says about practice is “sa tu dirghakala nairantarya satkara asevitah drdhabhumih” [Sutra I.14]. For practice to work, it must be done for a long time, with reverent devotion, and without interruption. Consistent practice is at the heart of learning about and understanding yoga. Like anything, you get out of it what you put into it. Therefore, consistency in one’s practice develops and deepens the benefits and skills that come with practice. Without that, people mostly stay on the surface. They certainly get some benefits, but they are just skimming the surface of what can be a deep and important understanding of themselves.
Describe a typical practice for you within a day / week?
Within a week, it is varied. I practice on average about 3 hours a day.
Almost every day my practice is as follows:
- I get up.
- Practice Pranayama for 45 minutes to an hour.
- Reading, reciting, or studying the sutras for 10-15 minutes.
- Sitting practice for half an hour.
- Then I take a 45 min or so break, pull weeds, get the newspaper, or putter around the house.
- Asana practice for 1 1/2 or 2 hour.
In the course of week, I will cover most of the asanas I am practicing: arm balances on a day, back bends on a day, fwd bends on a particular day, inversions almost every day. In the course of a week I cover a wide range of asanas.
What are your guiding principles for practicing yoga, teaching yoga, and life? And what is the difference between all of them?
Well, there aren’t many differences between them actually. The guiding principles of practice, teaching, and life are to wake up. To be present. To be in this moment fully alive, fully conscious. I don’t do all that well with that frankly, but I try, and I work at it. I have my moments. It’s true for my practice, true for my teaching, and it’s true for the rest of my life as well.
*If you have comments or additional questions and want to learn more about my practice, please contact me. To hear more about practice, tune in to my yoga download where I open up the conversation of practice with students.
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