Off The Mat: An Interview With Tony Maniscalco

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Off The Mat: An Interview With Tony Maniscalco

Welcome to Off The Mat, a student spotlight series where we interview experienced practitioners about how yoga has equipped them for (and had an impact on) their non yoga lives. Today we sit down with Tony Maniscalco:

1. What type(s) of yoga do you practice? How often? Has that cadence changed over the years?

At this point, I am only practicing the 26/2 (beginner series), though I periodically drop in and practice other methods, such as Vinyasa Flow. I do my best to practice 3-4 times a week, with variable/lesser success during the last 2 years, in particular.

2. Can you tell us a bit about your life when you’re not doing yoga?

I work at the crossroads of higher education and politics, in three different capacities. I am always on someone else’s time when I’m not practicing yoga. Stresses attend to this scope of responsibility, naturally. Off the mat, and outside of work, I play tennis, I do my best to feed myself and my personal relationships. My passions include travel, live music, film, walking, and visiting public spaces.

3. What skills have you learned on the mat that have been applicable to the rest of your non-yoga life?

Breathing! Pausing and recognizing that over emphasizing the past and the future in any moment requiring me to be present is a source of pain and suffering. Perhaps the most important skill I’ve learned on the mat is allowing myself to be imperfect. The imperfection isn’t the skill, the allowing is. Along with giving myself a break when the chips are down.

4. Can you think of any memorable moments in life when you thought to yourself, “Wow, I’m sure glad I’ve done yoga to help me through this experience”?

Yes, however, the people in my life and around me have had more occasion to celebrate the fact that I practice.  Seriously, when I give myself permission to breathe through stressful situations, I notice yoga practice in me. Also, letting other people have their…whatever…and not getting too attached to it is a sign of yoga practice. These things happen everyday, and routinely, so it’s tough to tease out one instance.

5. How has your yoga practice evolved as your life has evolved?

As above, I am finding more room for myself to trip, slip, and fall. I’m getting older and have yet to become “Gumby,” so my practice has evolved in the sense that I just show up, do my best, and leave things behind as much as possible.

6. If you could invent your own style of yoga, what would it be? (Assuming no budgetary constraints and a guaranteed target market of eager students!)

Let’s have more international yoga. I would keep things physical and communal, as in the 26/2, but song and singing would be a central component of the experience.

Thanks Tony!

Scott Ginsberg is the author of 40 books, a TEDx speaker, the world record holder of wearing nametags, and the author 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

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