Javier Alecksky Vergara, 41, the youngest of 10 children, was born and bred in Cuautla, Morelos, Mexico. At the age of 25, he moved to Nashville to work for Dell Computers and hated it. After 5 quick months he decided NYC was the place for him.
Javier embodies the grace and kindness of a great yoga teacher as well as the indelible resiliency of somebody who has clearly dealt with and overcome difficult issues. One assumes that life wasn’t always easy for him but you don’t feel that in his classes, which are fun and challenging. He introduces interesting sequencing and poses and with his raspy growl of a voice makes it all very Present. Plus, there’s this gorgeous earnestness and generosity to what he offers. Isn't that what we are all looking for in another human being, not to mention a teacher?
Gina De La Chesnaye: You have an obvious birthmark. Did this affect you growing up? What are your thoughts on this and what would you say to those of us that struggle with how we are perceived by others?
Javier Alecksky: Of course it affected me. Being a teenager was the worst. But then I did six years of therapy and it helped me so much. I got three very risky surgeries and was tired of being in so much pain that I quit my plastic surgery treatment. So I grew up feeling ashamed that I was "different and gay." I wasn't having fun, like the rest of the people I knew and got sick and tired of it.
I wanted to live but live well. Lisa Apatini and many other people like you saw beyond my red birthmark and treated me like another person, and I love it. Michael Hewett and most of my classmates were awesome. In yoga I found no judgments. I found out that it's ok being different. It's ok being a little bit crazy as long as you don't affect someone else, of course. I got over my birthmark and even though sometimes it still affects me, I am trying every day to not let it. Most of the people I know from yoga see the real Javier and love me and respect me and that's great. My point is that no matter who you are or how you look you can do whatever the fuck you want, and be content.
GDLC: What tools were you able to use?
JV: Be aware of everything, first with your mind and body then the things around you. I found myself happy and I am not going back. I want to teach people that. It's not difficult and it is possible. I want to do that through yoga. And I think I am able to do that.
GDLC: When did you start practicing yoga?
JV: I was a gymnast when I was a kid and I thought yoga was for babies until I took Michael Hewett’s class. And it kicked my ass. The balancing poses were the most difficult. After that I did Sarva Academy with them. And eventually the Sarva Academy Teacher Training.
GDLC: If you thought yoga was for babies, why take classes?
JV: Because I was totally wrong about yoga. After my first class with Michael Hewitt - he put together very challenging poses that I couldn't do at the beginning - it took me more than one year to get the scorpion pose and hold it without falling. This was a lot longer in yoga than in gymnastics. It is much more difficult.
GDLC: Aside from kicking your ass, what made you stick to it?
JV: I was drinking every day and partying every day. It’s really hard to do yoga with a hangover (he laughs). I started with Lilia and Michael and what they said resonated with me. It kind of purified me. At that time I didn’t know what I wanted. But I knew what I didn’t want and so I stopped doing that and everything was easier for me. I was in a bad relationship...Physically and mentally I felt better doing yoga. I came to see that yoga was what I really wanted and it’s good for me. In many, many ways.
GDLC: What other ways that we don’t normally think of did you discover that yoga is good for you and others?
JV: I realized that most yoga people are harmless and are more aware of everything. They are content and that’s what this world needs right now. It may sound very silly but happy people don't hurt others, they just don't.
GDLC: What style do you like to teach?
JV: Vinyasa. I always like to push people and to do something different every day. I want them to experience the same thing that I experience when I really concentrate. To make them feel that there is a possibility through yoga to be content. Because it is possible. When I get “it” and my mind releases, I feel happy. That’s amazing. I want them to feel that, to be happy.
GDLC: What are your favorite and least favorite poses?
JV: My least favorite are karnapindasana and halasana. I haven’t figured them out. Or, I can’t do them. Yet. My favorite is Warrior 3. Because you work everything there, the whole body.
GDLC: How do you see these poses as being metaphorically relevant to you?
JV: Warrior 3 makes me feel balanced and concentrated and strong. It makes me feel really happy and powerful. Like I’m fucking superman. And when I went from shoulder stand to plow to karnapindasana it used to make me feel fat and I hated it. I felt ashamed that physically there was something wrong with me.
GDLC: Do you have a favorite quote or saying from a teacher that would be helpful to someone experiencing the same thing?
Javier currently teaches “Burnasana” a Jivamukti style community open class at Gallery 151 and an Intermediate/Advanced class at The Three Jewels a community outreach center that specializes in Dharma, Meditation and Yoga.