An Interview with Joy – Philosophy, Practice, and Hopes for Her Community
We can all agree that we love Tribalance, but it wouldn’t be Tribalance without its lead teacher, Joy. You may have heard her shouting, “Do it because you can!” during a Saturday morning hot class. Or maybe she was a shoulder to lean on during a dramatic Mercury retrograde. Whatever your reason, if you are a member of the Tribalance community, you have at least heard whispers of Joy. If you haven’t, this excerpt from an interview I conducted will give you insight into Joy’s philosophy, practice, and the hopes she has for her community.
Andrew: So we can start with a simple question. If you had to pick your favorite yoga pose what would you choose and why?
Joy: I used to love to do transverse lunge even before I knew it was a yoga pose. I love the stretch and the feel of it. But there are so many poses I love. Triangle, pigeon, half-moon.
Andrew: You’ve been doing yoga for a while so you know these poses and their significance, but for others yoga can seem intimidating. What would you tell someone coming into a class for the first time. And what can yoga do for them?
Joy: I feel like people come to yoga for so many different reasons. Some people come for a physical injury, and they know yoga will help them. Or people know that yoga can help prevent injury, or get them more loose. Some people come to yoga because they hope it will help them to relax and de-stress, and the amazing thing is that yoga does all of that and so much more.
Andrew: And what is that ‘so much more?’
Joy: The ‘so much more’ is the space that yoga provides for you to peel off the expectations, to peel off the labels, to put everything you’re carrying aside for an hour and then when you try to pick it back up, it doesn’t look the same. Whatever you were carrying that felt so heavy, whatever was stressing you out, that felt so big… isn’t so big, and it isn’t so heavy. We put life back into perspective. The beauty is that simplicity. The more profound thing as a yoga teacher is to watch yoga change people, by changing how they treat themselves. The more kind and gentle people are with themselves, the more everything starts to shift and fall into place.
Whatever you were carrying that felt so heavy, whatever was stressing you out, that felt so big… isn’t so big, and it isn’t so heavy. We put life back into perspective.
Andrew: Nicely put. Now we have the space to move on to a racy question, and get a little scandalous…can you tell us a little about your tattoos?
Joy: Andrew! (both laugh) ….No
Andrew: Okay okay okay, I thought I’d try. You seem to be so passionate about yoga, but has teaching always been your dream job? How did you get to this place in your life?
Joy: I think I was in high school, I had an eating disorder, and I was always into health and wellness… but I wanted to create an environment where it was a fitness or wellness center of some kind where we could do community outreach. So we could reach out to kids who had self-esteem issues, to kids who didn’t have a healthy environment to plug into. And we are still trying to create more and more of that here. We do work with kids, teens, and special populations but there is such a big need. We have barely scratched the surface of it. But that’s always been my dream. And when I took my first yoga class when I was 24, I thought, yoga is the way to reach out to people.
Andrew: And you have reached out so much. Obviously you do a lot of work, and that hard work pays off. Yoga is a complete practice that focuses on the mind, body, and spirit. When we think, we use our heads. When we feel, we use our hearts. And when we are being, we use our belly and our breathe…at this point in your life, where would you say you spend the most time?
Joy: Hmm. Well, I think you live between all of them. You try and control your thoughts as best you can, because otherwise they will control you. I try to breathe. One of the best things I ever read was in Iyengar’s Light on Life book, where he said that when you exhale, especially when you are stressed, you release your ego, and you can connect to your heart. So as soon as that emotional reaction wants to occur, you just breathe. You take those ten deep breathes that your mother told you to take and you release your ego. All of a sudden you plug back in to your heart and you can make a better decision. So I feel like yoga has helped me to really slow down, and not react so much.
Andrew: And that seems to be the key to healing, the connection between all of the parts.
Joy: You stop carrying the burdens of the world. You do all you can, and then you just listen. That’s another great line in Krishnamacharya’s book, if you remember. When the student comes to you and they’re like, “can you help me with this”, “can you fix this” , “can you help me with that”, he says the only response you can truly give is, “I can care.”
Andrew: I can care. Its up to the student to do the work and heal.
Joy: I can care. You can care, and you can listen. You can’t fix things for other people, because that’s stealing from their journey. You give them the tools to heal themselves, and you care.