ince sweeping into the New York Yoga scene 25 years ago Dana Flynn has often been called the “Janis Joplin of yoga.” She is all heart and full of soul, so much so that her classes often feel like a celebration.
YogaCity NYC’s Dar Dowling caught up with her early one morning to get the scoop on her home practice and Dana was definitely up for it. “Having a daily practice is hard work, but it's the stuff of creative incubation and a direct link to GOD!”
Dar Dowling: When do you usually do it?
Dana Trixie Flynn: Every morning I run to my mat no matter what no matter where I am. It could be in my little tree house apartment in New York, down by the river, or here in Austin. It gives me a way to connect to the deepest part of myself - the movement is my medicine.
DD:How long have you had a home practice?
DTF:About 25 years. I was pretty lost in the beginning, and I would stand at the top of my mat and nothing was in sync, so I would do what I learned in class. After a while I wanted more, and it took five or six years for me to unlearn what I already knew, in order to create a fresh canvas and be open to the shapes that were inside of me, waiting to come out.
It's really important for me to have one, and its something we emphasize at Laughing Lotus, because just like a dancer needs to dance, a yogi needs to practice yoga. I teach from my practice and it's new each day.
DD: How do you decide what your going to do before you start?
DF: I don’t really know what it's going to look like when I'm standing at the top of my mat. I open myself up to the divine, and ask myself what is it that I need to focus on. Over time its become a truer expression of myself, like making art every day with my
body. I actually embrace everything in my morning practice – asanas, breathing techniques, prayer, dance and poetry - everything.
I embrace the challenge of staying on my mat, the resistance in my mind and in my body and the freedom that comes with a daily conscious spiritual practice. It's hard work and requires incredible discipline. But we know the alternative...so our suffering is the motivation for our practice, SO I KEEP showing up, no matter what.
DD: Are there certain poses that still give you a hard time?
DTF: Backbends! OMG, I feel like I am dying every time I do them, like I'm have a near death experience. When I'm doing Wheel I could just about scream out loud. I really go through it with backbends, but if I am in a really warm climate it's a little happier for me.
DD: You had shoulder surgery a while back how did that affect your practice?
DTF: I had to do a different practice than what I was used to, since I couldn’t use my arms. It was a slower, quieter practice. Part of the healing was letting my body repair itself, asking what it needed, and being receptive. Chanting, pranayama, praying and using Mudras, were all a part of my practice, along with poetry and dance. I felt inspired and while I moved shapes were born, incorporating poses that didn’t involve my shoulders, including my signature pose “OMG”, along with Trees, Eagles, and others. Doing them in ways that felt right for my body.
Yoga makes the impossible possible – if you can't touch your toes with practice you can, if you can't stand on one leg, with practice you can do that too. Yoga gives you confidence in your Self. Go rock that next interview, blind date, new project with more clarity and consciousness, less fear. Yoga asks you to be bold, innovative, to get to know YOU through the practice, it's a mirror for self discovery and self understanding. Its the Rx for SELF LOVE and acceptance.
DD: Do you have any suggestions for people who are looking to start a home practice, or add something to one they already have?
DTF:If I never taught yoga, my home practice would still give me time to have a sacred communication with god through the body, allowing me to dance with the divine and my own divinity. Starting a home practice takes dedication, and a longing to have more peace, less suffering, more happiness, a better life, or a creative inspired life. When we create, we feel close to God. God is creativity.
I would say commit, have a cup in the morning, roll out your mat, and get started. If you don’t know what to do imitate before you innovate, and do the poses you've learned in class. Start with what you know, bust out those amazing warriors pose, blow open into a camel and breathe into what is infinite, boundless and unlimited.
With effort comes grace – if your patient and remind yourself to stay open to the mystery, over time these shapes that are already in you will emerge, along with wisps of bliss.