Who are you? How long have you been part of the PG Family?
My name is Joshua Wise, and I’ve been climbing at PG for just coming up on seven years now. PG is kind of my home for a lot of things — it feels like a second home for climbing, and it feels like home for Yoga, and — we say “climbing, yoga, fitness” here at PG, right? And really, PG is my home for all of these. I started my practice of yoga here at PG, too. I think many members might see me as kind of a fixture here — I’m here most days of the week, except during ski season!
So you’ve been climbing here for several years and you started your practice in yoga here. How long have you officially been teaching yoga?
I’ve been teaching for about 2 and half years. In fact, I did my teacher training with Jillian, who also teaches here at PG! Getting to teach here myself really brings yoga, and the PG family, full circle for me — I feel like I get to contribute back to the PG community that’s brought me so much.
What do you teach? Emphasis on a specific type of yoga?
I teach a Slow Flow class in the morning. That’s a lot like a Vinyasa Flow class, except we spend a little bit more time working on alignment, and instead of spending lots of time moving from pose to pose, we drop in and explore what poses feel like. We work on figuring out what it feels like in your body, and also, what it feels like in your mind. And that’s really what we’re getting down to – giving you space to find how the practice affects you. So I think Slow Flow is a great way to explore that – a way to use your practice as a laboratory.
What benefits can Slow Flow lead to if done routinely?
The Slow Flow class allows you to be a lot more present. It gives you a chance to take a more participatory, active role in understanding how the practice — the physical movement, the challenge of a pose, and even some of the work of mindfulness that we do — affects you, and gives you new tools to take with you to meet the challenges of the rest of your day.
It’s great for climbers, too! As climbers, it’s great to get an understanding of what it feels like to meet a challenge from a space of awareness and presence — and how we can harness that to make things easier or harder for ourselves. It’s nice to have the tools when you’re standing on the fourth draw and scared about making the next clip to understand that it’s just another challenge that you can handle. A Slow Flow class helps us cultivate this thought process on the mat, and in our climbing and out the rest of in our lives.
How has practicing yoga benefitted your climbing and you personally?
Yoga as a whole system has been an incredible change in my climbing, and my life. Yoga is another tool in my toolbox for when things get difficult, either on the wall, in my professional life, or in my personal life. The physical difficulty of holding a pose gives me an experience of meeting challenge, and accepting it; the work of returning to my breath can be an anchor when I run into trouble; and the mindful nature of the yoga practice has helped me to see situations that I find myself in as clearly as possible. So when I find myself run out over a #6 nut and scared, it really is the case that yoga really is practice for life!
How do you keep your yogis motivated during class?
I use a variety of tools to keep people motivated, but maybe the primary one is to provide an honest challenge, and give them space to take an assessment of what’s going on, and how they’re reacting. It’s very easy to let your mind run away, and say “okay, I can’t do this” — but when you look at what your body is physically capable of, you’re actually capable of much more than you think you are. By taking the opportunity to learn the difference between what the body is saying and that the mind is saying, the challenge can be its own motivation. Our goal in a Slow Flow class is to see more clearly what’s really happening and how you respond to it — and once you get a glimpse of that clarity, it, too, becomes a powerful motivation.
What is your favorite pose or stretch? Why?
My favorite poses are the simplest. It can be fun and exciting to twist yourself up into knots and arm balances, but one of my favorite challenges is in simplicity. Even poses that seem “easy” can be very challenging if held still for a long time. For many experienced practitioners, downward facing dog feels like a rest pose — it can be simple and easy, but if you hold it for 3 or 4 minutes, then it suddenly becomes a challenge. That’s a perfect way to see how your body, breath, and mind start to change over the different levels of a challenge.
What experience should a yogi have before coming to your class for the first time?
My slow flow class is designed to be available to all practitioners — from those who have never set foot on a mat before, to those who have a daily practice on their own. I hope that yogis of all levels can get something from my class. For beginners, I invite you to come and explore your body, and build strength and flexibility. And for those who have practiced for years, I invite to explore more subtle challenges of the mind.
What advice can you give someone who either has never taken your class before or has never taken a yoga class before?
Be willing to come and explore. The poses are only a small part of what we do, and making “perfect” shapes isn’t the goal. There might well be someone in class who will be able to touch their toes; maybe you will, and maybe you won’t, and either of those is totally okay. It’s not just about the poses, but how you react to them. Come join me and a wonderful group at 6:30am on Thursday mornings for a great way to get ready for your day!