André Foisy plays guitar in Locrian and is a certified yoga instructor who teaches in Chicago, including a monthly candlelit yoga event set to dark ambient metal. You can find his yoga teaching schedule and more information about him on his website, Facebook page, and you can find past instructional videos on his YouTube channel. In this post, he talks to Brittany McConnell (Wolvserpent) about her yoga teaching, her practice and what she listens to while doing yoga. You can find out more about her yoga practice on her website.
André: What led you to developing a yoga practice?
Brittany: I started practicing yoga because of a back injury as a teenager. I was working on a farm and threw my back out. A friend suggested I try yoga, that it might help. I started on my own with books and a few classes. Soon, I found a good class with a knowledgeable teacher and began going once a week for instruction. I saw improvement with my injury so I became more regular with my own practice at home.
André: Has your yoga practice changed the way that you think about and play music? If so, how?
Brittany: Over the years, playing music has come to feel like one of the yoga practices. Music, like yoga, operates on many levels - the physical, mental, emotional, instinctual, intellectual, energetic, etc. So, the practices have been very helpful in a practical sense - the physical practices tend to my body so that I am healthy and can play more efficiently with less pain or injury. The other practices tend to the other layers of existence. They have helped me to grow more sensitive to the way that music affects me. Practicing yoga has also made me more aware of my aim in playing music. Music has become, like yoga, a tool for gathering my fragmented, scattered attention and consolidating it so that I can direct that attention to what I will - in this case, a creative endeavor. Practicing yoga also reminds me of the need for community - for like-minded people to be together and feel free to express themselves. This has changed how I experience the music community as well.
André: Do you have any suggestions for Decibel readers who are interested in developing a yoga practice?
Brittany: Yes, do it! If anyone has that urge to investigate a yoga practice and what it might do for them, follow that urge. Find a good teacher, read some books, talk with friends who practice and ask to practice together. One of the best things to do is start by learning a few basic poses and incorporate them into your daily life. Develop a consistent practice for best results.
André: Do you think it’s important to find a good teacher?
Brittany: It is important to find a guide, someone who has been through some of the difficulties that comes with practice. A good teacher can help bypass some of the pitfalls of practice like injury, breakdowns, discouragement, etc. This person should be trustworthy so that you can confidently progress in practice.
André: Do you have any suggestions on how to find a good teacher?
Brittany: Sure, I would suggest to first ask around. If you know people who go to yoga classes, ask them about it - what they like/dislike about class. A good recommendation can be really helpful in finding a teacher that fits your needs. It might also be helpful to consider what you are looking for in a yoga practice. Make a list of why you want to try yoga (stress reduction, strengthening, flexibility, spiritual practice, self-inquiry, healing an injury, stamina, etc.). Or, you may not have a clear idea of why you want to try yoga and that's okay. A sense of curiosity is very helpful in finding what you are looking. Search for yoga studios in your area. Browse websites - see how their presentation, language and mission statements fit with your views of the world and what you are looking for. Call the studio and ask questions. Tell them you are new to yoga and wanting to try it out. Most places will be so happy to talk to you and help you find a class that is appropriate. Many studios have classes specifically for beginners to introduce students to the practice with little or no previous experience.
And be brave - go try some classes. Grab a friend, if you can find a willing accomplice, and head to a class. Try a few teachers to see what different people have to offer. It's helpful to attend class with the same teacher several times - they may be having an "off day" and it might be a different experience another time. A lot of finding a teacher is intangible. It's like other relationships, in my experience. A lot of what makes things "click" cannot be spoken. There is a sort of rapport or there is not. You know when you have found your teacher.
André: How would you describe your teaching style?
Brittany: My teaching is anchored in the lineage of studentship, supported by intelligent alignment and offered up with humor and humility. I utilize both form and flow in my teaching: held poses, core work and vinyasa (moving from one pose to the next in succession). My teaching is rooted in a Yogic philosophy of intrinsic goodness which holds that the physical body is a vehicle for transformation, devotion, creativity, expression and service. I aim to honor each student and their needs - to meet each person where they are and see how these practices can serve them most effectively. I place an emphasis on the practice as sanctuary to create a safe and supportive space. This includes an emphasis on "good company" to build a sustainable community for practice.
André: Can people passing through Boise take a class with you? How can they find out about it?
Brittany: Yes! Please come to class whenever you are in Boise.
André: What are your top heavy albums to listen to while practicing yoga lately?
Brittany: I have not been listening to music when I practice lately. But, here are some albums I've enjoyed practicing with in the past:
Mammifer - Mare Decendrii Yob - Atma Jex Thoth - Jex Thoth Budhist Monks of Maitri Vihar Monastery - 7 Hundred Years of Music In Tibet - Mantras & Chants of the Dalai Lama Menace Ruine - Alight in Ashes Black Boned Angel - Bliss and Void Inseparable Asva - Futurist's Against The Ocean Om - Advaitic Songs (in no particular order)
Here’s a yoga pose for everyone to work on to keep your neck strong and loose:
I suggest that you stay in this pose for about as long as the first track, “Threshold Gateway,” on the most recent Wolvserpent album available here.