12 Mar Author Q / A || 365 Daily Meditations for On and Off the Mat
On a recent episode of It’s Your Health with Lisa Davis, our fellow yogi and author Scott Ginsberg was interviewed about his new book, A Year In Hot Yoga: 365 Daily Meditations for On and Off the Mat.
Listen to the interview here, or read the transcript below:
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Lisa: Welcome to the show.
Scott: Thanks, appreciate it.
Lisa: First of all, I’ll start with this name tag situation because that is so cool. How many days are we talking?
Scott: 6,331 consecutive days of wearing a nametag, which is about 18 years. I started as an experiment when I was in college. That’s pretty much what college is for. Instead of trying drugs and alcohol, I made this decision, well I’m going to do this every day for the rest of my life. I had no idea it would become a business. That sort of happened later on, but at the time, it was just a cool thing and later a publishing empire that became my career.
Lisa: It’s really phenomenal. And tell us your experience with yoga and then we’re going to jump into some of these great meditations from the book.
Scott: I had a collapsed lung at twenty six. It’s called a sporadic pneumothorax for all of our medical professionals. And when you spend a week in the hospital with a tube breathing for you, you definitely reconsider your relationship with your breath and your body and your mind. That was the beginning of what would become a sort of holistic recovery process, including everything from meditation to therapy to yoga. Not too long after my hospital visit, a friend of mine told me, hey, you know, you should try hot yoga. It’s amazing and it’s hard and everybody’s half naked. And I’m like, well, say no more. You’ve convinced me.
Lisa: What was it like for you when you first started hot yoga?
Scott: It was hardest thing I ever did. I was never a yoga person. I wasn’t against it, but I was more of a swimming, running, biking kind of guy. And so, I tried it. And I recall specifically after my first class of hot yoga, I went out to dinner with my family. My mother, who is a personal trainer and a fitness instructor asked, so how was it? I said, well, that was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I can’t wait to go back tomorrow.
Lisa: That’s the right attitude. Well, I want to jump into this book of yours again, A Year in Hot Yoga: 365 daily Meditations for On and Off the Mat. Let’s talk about how a lot of us make judgements in yoga. We try something once and we’re like, nope, don’t like it. Never do it again.
Scott: That was always my mindset. Writing something off because the first time or the second time or the tenth time didn’t work out. But something I’ve discovered as a writer is to stick with stuff even if it doesn’t work. You have to trust the process and trust yourself that, hey, maybe in a couple of weeks, it’ll turn out to be really great. And that’s certainly what happened with yoga. That’s the essence of this book. It’s not a book about yoga. I think people will learn that very quickly. It’s the idea of what a practice is and how everyone has some kind of practice. It doesn’t have to be every day. But there are things that we all return to because we get something out of it. And that’s why I love yoga so much. It’s the same posture, the same dialogue every time, which means that the variable is you.
Lisa: Yeah. That is true. Another question you ask is, “When was the last time you took time off to recharge?” That’s important.
Scott: It is. Especially for a workaholic like me. It’s difficult to take time off and to give that gift to yourself. I’m doing that right now. I just had hernia surgery, so I’m off yoga for a week because my body needs rest. I think it’s important that we listen to what our body is trying to tell us because it’s always talking to us. We have to be an advocate for our body because no one else will be. If we’re able to forgive ourselves for not being perfect and if we can have compassion for ourselves, we win.
Lisa: Yeah, it definitely can be a struggle, but it is really important. Can you give us some examples of a positive addiction instead of workaholism?
Scott: Any practice we have that we return to on a regular basis. I’m a meditator, I’m a journaler. I do all that stuff. And when I don’t, it’s just not that great of a day. I’d encourage people to redefine what an addiction means and then get an understanding of what types of positive addictions are out there and how we can use them to our advantage in a way that’s healthy and not dysfunctional.
Lisa: Letting yourself be fooled by appearances during yoga it’s tough. How do we avoid judging ourselves and others?
Scott: It’s got nothing to do with social media and everything to do with shame. That’s what we’re talking about here. And we compare ourselves to other people. I do it almost every day and I’m in there and I see these amazingly fit dudes and then I look at my flabby stomach and imperfect posture and berate myself. It’s really harmful. Yoga gives us the chance to love ourselves and to do asana and look at ourselves in the mirror and see how sexy we are. It’s really fun in class to kind of get into that and just lose yourself and the love that you have for your imperfect body.
Lisa: How do you make injuries in yoga a gift?
Scott: Well, I think the first thing is to forgive ourselves for being human and forgive our bodies for not being perfect. The next thing is to start looking at what the gift might be within the injury. I had a back injury last year. A muscular issue. And what it told me was, oh wow, my core is really weak. It really forced me to step it up from an abdominal standpoint and to do some other exercises on a regular basis to help strengthen that area. Because I remember how much it hurt to have my back sore. Thank god I had that back injury, because now I don’t mess around with my core. I’m also trying to eat better in a way where I’m not feeling as bloated, i.e., no carbs, no eating when I’m not actually hungry, and so on. And all these ramifications of that injury are examples of the gift.
Lisa: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. It gets you to look at the bigger picture. I also like in the book when you say savasana in yoga is harder than it sounds. Talk to us about that.
Scott: It’s something inspired by Arianna Huffington. She said that the reason that people have such a difficult time with sleep is, sleep is the highest form of surrender. That was really powerful for me when I heard that. Savasana is surrendering.
Lisa: Talk about how other students affect you during class.
Scott: There are a lot of annoying people in yoga. And I’m one of them. Some people are gross and messing and frustrating. But when we’re in class and the person next to us is posing in the mirror for a fashion show in her new yoga gear, we have to let it go. I catch myself judging others and try to think about what I can learn from this person who appears to be triggering me.
Lisa: How are you compassionate to your body?
Scott: One way is to just stop, take a break. There’s a great mantra we can say to ourselves. I love the part of you that _____. Insert part of ourselves that disgusts us in the blank.
Lisa: What are some other things you want people to take away from the book?
Scott: Well, the yoga industrial complex exists right now and there’s a lot of shaming. You have to do it the right way and be the best. But it’s not about that. It’s about enjoying the process. There are no winners. Or losers. Just players.
Lisa: Is there anything you want to add before we end today?
Scott: I would say if anyone is going to do any kind of yoga, the most important guidelines I can give you is my philosophy applicable to yoga and life. Expect nothing.
Lisa: Scott, thank you so much. I had such a great time, loved having you on the program.
Scott: My pleasure. Thanks.
Scott Ginsberg is the author of 35 books, a TEDx speaker, the world record holder of wearing nametags, and the author of the forthcoming book, A Year in Hot Yoga: Daily Meditations for On and Off the Mat. Scott is a Community Leader at Yoga Tribe Brooklyn, where he is a daily practitioner and the Managing Editor of their award winning blog. Learn more at www.nametagscott.com