Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.Unknown author
Undoubtedly, this quote refers to the happy moments that leave us breathless. But, then there are moments we forget to breathe, for instance, stressful moments at work or even holding a challenging pose in a yoga class (thank goodness for teachers’ cues and reminders!). Even though breathing comes naturally to us (all living beings, really), practicing can be invaluable for surviving those – and even more challenging times.
Next week, we’re thrilled to welcome renowned Yoga Teacher Richard Rosen back to Breathe Together Yoga for a pranayama intensive. Pranayama, which is sanskrit for “life force,” is an integral part of yoga that Rosen has been studying since 1982. He’s even written two books on the subject: The Yoga of Breath: A Step-by-Step Guide to Pranayama and Pranayama: Beyond the Fundamentals. Ahead of his visit, we caught up with Rosen to see what he’s like on and off the mat. Read on for fun facts you might not know about the infamous yogi.
Katie Davidson: Describe your morning routine.
Richard Rosen: My morning routine depends on the day of the week. On four days, I teach morning classes, so my routine is limited to some breathing time and a hot chocolate for breakfast. On the other three days, I prefer to write in the morning – though I don’t skip the hot chocolate, and save practice for late afternoon.
KD: Are you a morning bird or a night owl?
RR: For much of my life I put the night owl to bed. Since being diagnosed with Parkinsons in 2002, I’ve had to deal with insomnia. So, right now, I’m a little of both. I’m still a night owl, but some nights I can’t sleep much, so I’m also up early, chirping hoarsely with the morning birds.
KD: What’s your favorite meal of the day? – and favorite food?
RR: I don’t eat “meals,” usually, except maybe dinner, if my wife has cooked something up or I’m out with friends. Otherwise, I’m a cow-like grazer – a nibble here and a nosh there. Pizza is hands down my favorite food.
KD: Any guilty pleasures?
RR: As long as I’m not hurting anybody physically or emotionally, I never feel guilty about pleasure; it’s an essential part of a happy, productive life.
KD: What advice would you give your younger self?
RR: Get into real estate before it’s too late? No – probably to “lighten up.” Negative emotions ruled my early life, and I would have warned Richard Junior that they’re poison, shorten your life, and cloud your mind. I doubt, though, my younger self would have paid me any mind because “I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.”
KD: How do you spend your free time?
RR: I spend way too much of it on my iPad, watching the current news, [listening to] music clips from the 60s and 70s, and doodling with “art” projects. I also read a good deal – mostly books on yoga, but also sci-fi (Iain Banks, Stanislaw Lem, Gene Wolfe) and magical realism (Marquez, Borges, Pynchon, Saramago). Right now I’m trying to learn Toki Pona, a constructed language with a vocabulary of 120 words. Mi tawa! Good-bye.
KD: What is your favorite place you’ve traveled to and why?
RR: This is a tough one. I’d say in Asia, Kathmandu, Nepal. In Europe, London; in North America, Montreal and Sag Harbor, LI.
KD: Where is somewhere you haven’t visited but would love to?
KD: Who were your biggest yoga influences?
RR: There were so many. I’d be afraid to leave someone out if I tried to name them all. I will say, though, that the one person who showed me the right way to be a yoga teacher is Rodney Yee. I shudder to think who I’d be now if he hadn’t been a part of my life for the last 38 years.
KD: What are your most treasured objects?
RR: All objects are just borrowed for the time we’re alive. But, I’ll admit, my Martin guitar is the first thing I’d grab to save from a fire.
KD: In this moment, what are you the most grateful for? What brings you the most joy?
RR: My daughter, Taleen.