05 Integrating Mind and Movement Through Yoga With Chris Calarco
This week my guest is Chris Calarco. Chris has been studying and teaching yoga for over 10 years. He teaches vinyasa, hatha, and an “advancing asana” series. His teaching style is rooted in the Anusara and Iyengar methods, but he combines elements from many different styles and encourages his students to do the same to find what fits. Using music to set the mood and rhythm is a big part of Chris’s classes.
All the Fans Want to Know…
I’ve been going to Chris’s classes for about a year, so I’ve gotten to know some of his other regular students. Before he and I sat down to chat, I asked his students (you’ll hear me refer to them as his “fan base”) what they might want to hear him talk about. Some of the questions that came in were:
“Even though I’ve been practicing yoga several times a week for over ten years, my life is not perfect and my brains still stirs up turmoil! What gives?”
“What are things that you still struggle with in your practice, both physical (asanas) and mind (meditation)? Sometimes I just like to be reminded that my yoga peeps aren’t superhuman.”
“Tell us about the evolution of your practice from student to teacher and where it might take you in the future.”
“Thoughts on working to achieve a particular pose? What is to gain by going deeper into an asana?”
The Journey from Student to Teacher
In this episode, Chris takes us through his journey from mental health therapist to yoga teacher. You’ll find the answers to the questions above woven in throughout the episode. He talks extensively about the influence his teachers had on him and what he learned from them. Lotus Seed is where Chris did his first 200 hour teacher training. Goli Gabbay was also one of his first teachers in California. The second 200 hour teacher training he did was with Jeanmarie Paolillo at Yoga Works, a studio chain with locations in several different states. One of the teachers that had a deep impact and influence on his teaching is Sianna Sherman, who he assisted in classes and workshops for a year in 2012, and is still touring around the world. Starting in 2015, Chris did his advanced, 300 hour, teacher training with Christina Sell, who is now based in Colorado but also travels all over teaching workshops. Christina is in Portland a couple times every year – I highly suggest checking out her workshops. She also offers a online classes on her website at a pretty low monthly subscription rate and I can attest that they’re excellent! Last, but certainly not least, Chris mentioned his teacher in Portland, Todd Jackson, who is known for his inner body yoga methodology.
Because it had such a profound impact on his practice, Chris mentions Anusara yoga quite frequently. Anusara yoga was founded in the late 90s by John Friend, and it means “flowing with Grace” or “following your heart.” The practice is grounded in its Universal Principles of Alignment used in each pose.
Poses Chris is Working On
In answering his students’ questions about what poses he is working on, Chris mentioned a couple of poses. The first was eka pada raja kapotasana, or one legged king pigeon pose, and second was the transition from eka pada koundinyasana 1 to 2. Below, Chris is in eka pada koundinyasana 2. If you’re curious as to what the transition looks like, check out this cute video a teacher named Cathy Madeo, based in Princeton NJ, made of practicing it over two months!
Chris’s Alignment Tips on Extended Side Angle Pose
Those are some pretty hard poses! However, Chris’s classes do focus on refining the basics, making it accessible for a lot of people. As an example, in the video below, Chris teaches us how to get extension along the side body in Utthita Parsvakonasana, or extended side angle pose.
Check out Chris’s schedule to take a class with him and follow him on Instagram @calarcoyoga!