Andrea Borrero can be found teaching Vinyasa, Ashtanga, and Hot Power, which she says are all powerful aspects of yoga, all over town, but her most interesting class is probably Yoga Fight Club at Om Factory. Can yoga exist side by side with a fight club? Lisa Dawn Angerame had her doubts so she tracked Andrea down to find out just what this was all about.
Lisa Dawn Angerame: When did you start practicing yoga?
Andrea Borrero: I started practicing in 1997 at Integral. A friend dragged me with her to class. I can’t even remember what it was like but it was enough for me to sign up for a beginner’s series and then I was hooked.
LDA:Tell me about your yoga journey.
AB: it’s had some dips and turns and pauses; for the first few years, I took random classes at Integral, trying everything. I stopped going eventually, because I couldn’t find one teacher to study with consistently and, actually they kind of discourage that there, which caused me to lose interest.I was a hard-core runner, but ended up injuring myself while training for the NYC marathon and that’s what brought me back full force to yoga – I wanted something gentler. Little did I know it would make me stronger than I ever thought possible.I finally found a teacher and, just like that, I was passionate about yoga again. She was amazing, kind, thoughtful, powerful, healthy, and present – unfortunately I can’t remember her name. I was religious about going to her class twice a week, though, because it made me feel so settled. It tamed me, and set me down on a path. I finally started walking in one direction.
LDA: When did you start teaching?
AB: Six years ago, but became a full time teacher just about 3 years ago. I left my ‘dream’ job in filmmaking to teach because I knew intuitively that this would allow me to be more of who I wanted to become. It was the toughest decision I ever made up to that point. Film is still my art and my passion, but yoga gave me the space to accept that without having to be on a ‘career’ path that was draining me.
LDA: How has teaching affected you?
AB: The more I teach; the more I want to learn. Being allowed to guide other people through a similar process, and to see them break open little by little in a safe place, is an incredible honor to me. In whatever way that means for them because for some it’s breath, for some it’s peace, for some it’s body awareness, for some it’s working through an injury and getting to the other side. I mean simple breakthroughs, no fireworks necessary. To find a teacher to connect with is such a powerful experience, it’s like coming home. And I think it’s my job to hold that space for students and give them room to thrash about and then finally settle into themselves.
LDA:Ok, so what in the world is Yoga Fight Club?
AB: Hah! Good question. It’s a combination of yoga and kickboxing. Talk about stilling your mind! Kickboxing is an intensely vigorous activity. Kickboxers don’t have the time or the will to think about anything else while you’re doing it. But with the yoga, we work on managing energy, breath and the endurance so it becomes a meditation, an art form.
A Fight Club class starts with yoga poses to warm up the body and then continue throughout the class in between kickboxing drills. The class is designed to build stamina with attention toward body mechanics and the anatomy of moves. The yoga piece offers focus because kickboxing is so fast paced. We teach yoga breathing to calm the heart rate and we use the Five Tibetan rites to strengthen the core and balance the energy. And inversions are used to discipline the mind. Every class ends with a meditation practice that helps the body digest the physical workout. Overall, it is the perfect embodiment of hatha, sun and moon because as we train the body to fight (ha) we balance with breath, mediation and savasana.
LDA: I would not have thought the two would go together, but now I get it. Hatha! What is One Verse Yoga?
AB: One Verse is the idea that, behind all the bullshit, we’re all really saying the same thing: we want peace of mind and clarity. We’re all singing the same song; we just have to realize it.
LDA: Hmm, I like that. Last question: What is the one verse that sums it up for you?
AB: “To be ready at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become.” W.E.B. DuBois