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6 QUESTIONS FOR A MARKET STREET YOGI


Jason Aviles has office space inside the coIN Loft on Market Street, but he practices yoga on the fly, anywhere he can lay a mat. “We've done yoga on gravel at a construction site,” he says. That's how crazy it has gotten.” His company, FLYOGI, takes yoga out of the studio and into places where people live and work – office buildings, community centers and schools. How does he stay centered in midst of the whirlwind? We have six questions, including one about how even very inflexible people can get involved. (We’re just asking for a friend.)

What was going on inside your head in this photo? “I was definitely meditating there. From what I remember, that was a very long day. I literally had just parked my car and came across the street. That was the first time that whole day that I had an opportunity to just sit and be still. So at first, of course, all these thoughts are going through my head, just reviewing my day. But eventually those just started to wither away and I just felt this silence come over me, and I started to just relax and bask in that.”

Where did you learn that? “Iowa. I attended a consciousness-based university, the Maharishi University of Management. And this school was basically an academic, accredited university that incorporated personal growth and development into the curriculum. We actually got credits for meditating. You medicated at the school twice a day, every day that there was class. And that was the beginning of my understanding this whole new world. And while I attended this school, I met a gentleman from India who said that I would be a good candidate for learning yoga. After two or three months after trying it, I lost my first 45 pounds. At the time, I was 265 pounds. And now I'm 175 pounds.”

Do people call you looking more for the health benefits or spiritual benefits? “It's a little bit of both, actually. The definition of yoga is split between this eastern understanding, which is more holistic, spiritually based, and the western understanding, which is more physical activity, being able to be more flexible, and weight loss. I get a really good mix of both, it just so happens that both come along with the experience.”

How did you start teaching in Wilmington? “It wasn't even teaching at first. I would leave my house early in the morning, roll up my mat and I would go to the Riverfront. One of the first places I started doing yoga was under a pavilion right next to Firestone. And I would just go out there every morning because it was nice, and I wanted to be outside, and I would just do my own personal practice. People would watch me from the AAA building. It got to the point where every morning you would see people looking out of their office window at me doing yoga. And after some time, people started joining me. “

What does a typical class look like? “It usually takes place around the lunch hour, at least twice a week, and during that class we cover a brief meditation exercise in combination with some physical stretches, poses and postures. There's some mild physical activity. You may break a little sweat, but it's a very well balanced experience. Some groups are like, hey, listen, we want more of a workout than a meditative experience. OK, we're fine with that. We'll focus more on the workout and on the breathing. And they still get the meditative experience along with it. Somewhere else, they really want to put a focus on the meditative experience.”

What do you say to the guy who’s interested in the meditative aspects of yoga but can’t even touch his toes? “’I can't practice yoga because I'm not flexible.’ That is probably the number one statement. My response is this: If you were flexible, you wouldn't need to practice yoga. It's because you're not flexible that you need to practice yoga.

“This is the dilemma. Western culture has painted this picture, this image of what yoga looks like, and it looks like this middle-aged woman or man, healthy and fit and flexible and strong, and they look good in their yoga gear and their leg is behind they head and they're sweating while smiling. What that does is that it really intimidates people.”

“I started at 265 pounds. I couldn't touch my knees and it was frustrating as hell. And my yoga teacher would keep telling me ‘Wherever you are is where you're supposed to be.’ ‘Wherever you are is where you're supposed to be.’ Everyday. ‘Wherever you are is where you're supposed to be.’ Just keep going.”

“Yoga is a process. It's a journey. And no matter where you are, you fit in it.”

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