In 2002, I worked for a New York City book publisher doing a job I hated. I drank seven nights a week, abused drugs, and smoked a pack of cigarettes a day. For food, it was pizza and takeout—anything quick and easy to keep me going.
No one consciously decides to destroy their health, but over the years, that’s exactly what happened. I was bloated and flabby, unable to sleep without alcohol. My eyes were red and puffy, and I struggled to get excited about anything. I had so much potential, so many opportunities, but when you’re sick and numb to the world, everything feels impossible and uninteresting.
Enter yoga. A friend dragged me to a yoga studio, where I suffered through one of the most uncomfortable experiences of my life. In that first class, I was sweating and dizzy, unable to do even the most basic postures. I was the youngest person there, but the way I moved, I felt like I was 90 years old. I couldn’t bend forward, sit cross-legged on the floor, or balance in a tree pose. Looking at myself in the mirror, I remember thinking, “How did I end up in such bad shape?”
I hated that first class so much, I knew it was exactly what I needed—so I kept going. People assume yoga classes are meant to be wonderful, peaceful experiences. This is not true. A good class should be the most challenging and uncomfortable hour of your entire day. When you push yourself on the mat, real-life problems become lighter and more manageable almost immediately. Hard yoga = easy life.
For the next 380 days, I practiced yoga every single day. While traveling, I used audio or video recordings. If I was in a new city, I’d go to any studio I could find. When my teacher told me to take a day off to rest, I’d ignore the advice and go to a class at another studio. The same way I’d fallen in love with things that were killing me (drugs and alcohol), I’d now fallen in love with something that was feeding me and fueling my growth.
And it worked. In six weeks, I lost 41 pounds (18 kg) and had to replace my whole wardrobe. I quit drinking and smoking altogether, and most importantly, I found a renewed passion for life that is truly priceless. I remember walking around New York, still dripping with sweat from class, with a big, stupid grin on my face as if I’d unlocked a special secret. My life was changing.
Within six months, I’d quit my job and moved to Thailand. Within a year, I was teaching full-time to packed classes in Bangkok and later, Hong Kong. I opened my first studio in 2006 and that same year began training teachers. To date, I’ve taught more than 30,000 students and trained more than 4,000 teachers in 41 countries. I love my life and my work, and as a result, I’m in better health mentally and physically than I was in my early 20s.
YOGABODY was built on practice, sweat, and struggle. It’s the physical manifestation of everything I care about in life, and my greatest hope is that some of my passion for this practice and lifestyle rubs off on you when you walk through these doors. Nothing worth doing in life is easy. Movement is more powerful than meditation. And practice is everything.
See you in class,
Founder / YOGABODY