We crossed path with Yuval Boim as he was teaching Yoga and starting his own private practice in Brooklyn. His teaching was so inspiring and humbling, we had to ask him a few questions and he obliged.
I first discovered yoga in college, when I was in acting school. My movement teacher recommended we take yoga for strength and flexibility but also for focus. I responded to it from the first class — I had never experience that kind of well being before.
I can’t live without yoga! I get pretty crabby when I don’t practice. Practice grounds me. It makes me present and available to my life and the lives of those around me. It also feels really good. The feeling of ease and energy and calm is a great one. You can’t beat it!
Hmmm. That’s a difficult one. After a while, yoga gets integrated into the rest of one’s life, so it’s hard to separate. I can remember coming up into a difficult backbend that I was struggling with for a while, and the sense of space I experienced.
I remember when I was in teacher training, I was pretty blissed out after a long restorative session. I walked home and found myself standing and staring at some flowers in somebody window box. For a long time. And when I realized what I was doing, I was like, “dude, yoga literally makes you stop and smell the flowers!”.
Also, looking around the room after savasana and seeing the peace and contentment on people’s faces. That’s pretty great.
I trained to teach yoga in 2007. My family and friends encouraged me after I taught them private lessons. For me teaching them was a spontaneous thing, I just enjoyed sharing what I was learning.
I was resistant to becoming a yoga teacher because I had so much respect for the practice and for my teachers, and I didn’t think I would do them justice.
I taught all over NYC -- at YogaWorks where I trained, at Greenhouse Holistic in Williamsburg, at The Yoga Room in LIC and a bunch of other studios. I recently consolidated my offerings under one roof in my own space in Williamsburg.
What is Yoga?
For me it is very much a practice. A tool for expanding one’s awareness and capacity for presence in relationship with themselves and with the world.
Yoga, by definition, is a state of union. What separates the practice of yoga from exercise is that hatha yoga uses the body as a means for creating that union. The body becomes the point of concentration for the mind. In that way, integration and a sense of oneness or unity is created. We feel less fragmented and less separate from our true nature.
-Atelier: Is flexibility the overarching goal/benefit of yoga?
No! Some flexibility, sure. That’s important. But so is strength. You need both.
Yoga is so much about the balance of the two sides of this dynamic. You need to be able to go with the flow in life, but you also need some kind of ground, some firmness and stability. If you have too much movement, you get lost. If you have too much stability, you are stuck. You can’t progress.
-Atelier: So what would you consider to be the goal or benefits of yoga?
Well being. An increased sense of space, and the physical, energetic, and mental power to take action within that space. I explore that in my show Sexcurity. I am obsessed with how we can discover and cultivate that space.
It’s not about how flexible you are, or how long you can hold a pose, or how difficult the pose it. When people focus on that it makes them less present. It gets their mind agitated. Sure we use timing to trigger a nervous system response or to work with the mind. But those are used specifically and strategically to calm and focus the mind.
Even though there is a natural progression in yoga, from my perspective, we are not trying to get anywhere in yoga. Like Iyengar said, you can just practice tadasana and still get all the benefits of the practice. It might get boring though…
Let's get started
I would say just try it! Don’t overthink it. Take a class. It’s always good if a friend recommends a class or an instructor. But if you stay open and approach it with fun and a sense of adventure, you will find the right teacher and the right style that works for you.
I love to practice on the beach. It can be tricky with the sand (and the occasional passerby) but I love all that space. Aside from that a nice sparse space. The middle of my living room usually does the trick. And a piece of open wall — I use the wall a lot.
Be patient. Take it easy when you first start. A lot of beginners get really excited when they first start practicing. And they can overload on classes and tax their bodies. I meet a lot of beginners with injuries. When I ask what happened they say, "I tried to do headstand", or "I hurt my shoulder or my wrist from chatturanga." You have to acquire the tools to practice safely so that you walk out of class feeling better, not worse! That sometimes takes time.
Last word of wisdom
Yuval is an avid yogi, a staunch recycler and an aspiring underwear dancer. He offers individual coaching and professional development workshops. As a Yoga instructor, his semi-private sessions are intimate, deep and fun, with lots of individual attention to focus on what one needs most. Following a different theme every month, each session is a well-rounded practice.
Contact him at email@example.com.