In a world of go, go, go and how far, fast and high can one jump, pride can sometimes present itself in how quickly one can ramp up from zero to 60. Our world is transforming at an incredible pace; as soon as you master the latest app downloaded to your phone, there’s a new one to latch onto. It can feel never-ending. Do we know why we are doing it? Does it feel good or does it feel awful? What does it take to slow down, and how quickly can we do it? What does it take to go from 60 to zero?
Welcome to “Gentle is the New Advanced,” an opportunity to meet yourself on the mat and find out what it takes to regulate your thoughts, behaviors and actions. Described as therapeutic and breath-centered, this Namas Day program by presenter J Brown aims to (re)introduce the yogi to a convergence of thought and practice between “old world styles” and the current day. What does that even mean?
In his blog, “Gentle is the New Advanced,” J shares that “the main distinction between old and new school yoga is the mentality around the physical work of practice.” His opinion on the yoga industry and approaches to practice paint a vivid picture about how widely interpreted yoga is today, and how the nonstop scrolling of yoga imagery, consumerism and selfie-culture result both in infatuation and self-questioning about the practice. It’s this area of introspection that J wants to take up. J flows to the side of the mat suggesting that “challenging yourself on the mat means slowing down and getting away from the achievement-oriented nature of other pursuits in life, so we can learn how to take care of our subtle and sometimes ignored inner workings.”
It’s humbling to hear J interview yoga teachers, scholars and students of all types from which he gathers varied points of view. From the “yogalebrities” such as Tara Stiles and Sadie Nardini to activists Jivana Heyman and Anna Guest-Jelly challenging the status quo, listeners can tune in and form their own conclusions from J’s widely popular podcast J.Brown Yoga Talks. (Guests have included Namas Day presenters Mike Huggins, Alex Auder, Faith Hunter and Dianne Bondy.)
J (short for Jason) came to yoga decades ago following the death of his mother. It was through his mother’s passing that he discovered yoga, and yoga graced J with a deeper appreciation for life’s blessings. Even in mourning, he “could not deny how it seemed to make me feel better.” He liked that “it was ancient and sacred, and about things that are important.” And so J embarked upon his own personal transformation, moving through the disciplines of Ashtanga, power vinyasa, and Iyengar to discover accomplishment and gratification, and unfortunately, a great deal of physical pain. It was when he found the TKV Desikachar/Krishnamacharya tradition that he learned to cultivate patience, ease and the joy to just be. J may not be pain free, and he might not believe that there is such a thing, noting that “pain is an integral part of existence and not something to be shunned or ashamed about.” He does, however, seem to be finding a greater sense of peace through gentle practices and offering this style of integrated breath and down-regulation to students both in person in Allentown, PA as well as through his virtual programs.
You can get to know J through his lecture and practice workshop at Namas Day on October 26.
“I didn’t know it when I started but the course of my yoga practice has been the process of reconciling my mothers death. It’s difficult to explain how doing breathing and moving exercises can, inadvertently, carry with them the weight of facing mortality. Something about bringing careful attention to my breath and body, the most tangible expression of the fact that I am currently alive and the very thing that will be taken away from me in death, provides an experience that lessens the burdens I carry and illuminates life’s inherent worth.” ~J Brown