Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Interview with Rev. Sam Rudra Swartz

Accessible Yoga Blog: Where do you teach? Who is the population?

Rudra: I teach at Integral Yoga Institute in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village. The population is a wide variety of New Yorkers. The regulars in my classes are generally older than your typical yoga student and some have physical difficulties. I like the variety; it challenges me to come up with a unique class each time based on who is attending.

Accessible Yoga Blog: Can you share an experience that stands out?

Rudra: One time a student told me that after our practice her pain went away. I was taken aback by her comment. It’s wonderful when something like this occurs, but in adaptive and accessible classes as well as in my own practice I’m not trying to ‘fix’ anything or anyone. I hope the physical aspects of yoga and its healing capabilities will be felt, but I realize I can’t go into class expecting a positive result.

As a person with accessible needs, I have gained a great reverence for the concept of vairagya, or non-attachment. This concept, from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and the teachings of my Guru, Sri Swami Satchidananda, has shaped the way I share my practice: I observe with curiosity, without expecting specific results. My goal is to teach a set of poses that moves the body in different directions so the students feel good enough to meditate.

Accessible Yoga Blog: Why do you teach this group or this population? What made you choose this specific group?

Rudra: Teaching accessible and adaptive yoga seemed to choose me. In my tradition, Integral Yoga founded by Sri Swami Satchidananda, we don’t teach anything, instead, we share our practice and I wanted to share my accessible practice with others like myself.

I also teach standard classes where the population is mostly able-bodied, and I’m always struck by how much easier it is to teach “prescribed” poses with limited modifications. These standard classes are the basis for my adaptive class, where I have to formulate a class that works for everyone who attends. I’m inspired by this type of creativity.

Accessible Yoga Blog: What are you excited to do next with your students? 

Rudra: What excites me most is showing up to each class not knowing what to expect. Sometimes a new student arrives and, due to a limitation, I get inspired to offer something I didn’t anticipate like warming up in the chair instead of on the floor. Shifting everything I had intended in order to allow each student to have a beneficial practice is always exciting.

Rev. Sam Rudra Swartz is an ordained interfaith minister and certified in Integral Yoga as a Hatha Yoga, Meditation, and Raja Yoga Teacher. He received his Bachelor of Music in Brass Performance, Tuba Concentration from Boston University’s College of Fine Arts Music School in 1996. In 2004, Rabbi Joseph Gelberman from the All-Faiths Seminary in New York City ordained him as an interfaith minister. He holds additional certifications from the Integral Yoga Institutes in Hatha Yoga in 2011, having participated in Integral Yoga Institute of San Francisco’s program called Accessible-Yoga Teacher Training, Meditation Teacher Training from Satchidananda Ashram Yogaville Virginia, and Raja Yoga Teacher Training from IYISF in 2012. In 2016 Reverend Rudra was also ordained into the Integral Yoga Ministry. Additionally, Rudra serves as treasurer on the board of Accessible Yoga. 

This post was conducted and edited by Kathleen Kraft.

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