Have you been able to take a class with our Michael Gould yet? He is a dedicated, conscientious, and humble yogi whose lighthearted and melodic delivery is disarming, lulling, and motivating all at once.
We asked him a few questions recently about what makes him tick.
Q: What initially drew you to the practice of yoga?
A: I have always been interested in physical fitness, and for years I was an avid runner, biker, and swimmer, and found these activities to be very beneficial. But as a criminal defense lawyer doing trial work in New York City since the early 80’s, I realized that I also needed a way to reduce some of the stress in my life. In the later part of the 1990’s, I was getting lots of hip pain and knee pain from my workouts, and was told by orthopedists that I would have to think about hip and knee replacements, and I was not trying to hear any of that! so I tried yoga, first Yogazone VHS tapes of Lisa Bennett and Charles Matkin, and Bryan Kest’s Power Yoga tapes, because I was afraid to show my face at a live yoga class. Once I got hip to the lingo and the poses I finally went to a class in Brooklyn with my good friend Laura who already was an experienced yogi, and I was hooked. I loved the flow from one asana to the next, sometimes speeding it up to make it more cardio, get a real sweat, sometimes moving slowly and mindfully, making it so strong, paying attention to the breath and the intricacies of the pose. I saw the great value in both approaches. I found myself getting so much stronger and in control of my body, and found a natural flexibility that was so cool and inspiring, and I found my stress level going way down to help me in my crazy work. And guess what? no more knee pain, no more hip pain! Inevitably I moved to the more spiritual aspects of the practice, and to a regular meditation practice, which has helped me be comfortable and calm, regardless of the “vicissitudes of the hurlyburly” (as Iyengar has put it).
I found my stress level going way down to help me in my crazy work.
Q: What are your intentions for your students when you’re teaching?
A: Teachers are so important to us in yoga, as in life. We are all products of all of the teachers we have had in our lives, so I recognize that being a teacher is a great responsibility. My greatest teachers have found a way to gently push me to my full potential while allowing for my need to modify and hold back to avoid injury. I could think that I’m as completely in a pose as I could be, and still be taken further, extend out further and strengthen, and help me to open my heart all the way up to the heavens. This is what I aspire to do as a teacher. I have found so much joy in the practice of yoga, and that is what I want to share with my students.
Q: What are some of your favorite asanas to teach and/or practice and why?
A: My favorite asanas to teach and practice are heart-opening and backbending, moving in a courageous way forward, overcoming fear of the unknown. I enjoy working on flexibility, which is so essential for all of us, especially those who like to run and climb, and bike, to offset all of the strengthening and contracting of muscles, to stretch and eccentrically lengthen, to strengthen while stretching at the same time.