Matthew Remski is a teacher and leading thinker, author and journalist in the yoga world. I am pleased to count Matthew as a friend, and am always struck by his intelligence, kindness and extraordinary facility with language.
My engaging first interview with him here at FreedomBecomesYou touches on the fascinating topics of:
* His WAWADIA (What Are We Actually Doing In Asana) project
* The “open-ness bias” in yoga with regard to extreme flexibility being linked to ideas of spiritual attainment and psychological well-being
* The legacy of ascetic attitudes toward the body, corporal punishment in the formative years of yoga as a trans-national practice, and
* The emergence of a new paradigm in mind-body psychology that is neuroscience driven and about interoceptive embodiment.
Here is his official bio:
I have been practicing meditation and yoga since 1996, sitting and moving with teachers from the Tibetan Buddhist, Kripalu, Ashtanga, and Iyengar streams. Along the way I’ve been certified as a yoga therapist and an Ayurvedic consultant, and have maintained a private practice in Toronto since 2008. From 2008 through 2012 I co-directed Yoga Festival Toronto and Yoga Community Toronto, non-profit activist organizations dedicated to promoting open dialogue and accessibility. During that same period I studied jyotiśhāstra in a small oral-culture setting at the Vidya Institute in Toronto. I currently facilitate programming for yoga trainings internationally, focusing on yoga philosophy, meditation, Ayurveda, and the social psychology of practice. In all subject areas, I encourage students to explore how yoga practice can resist the psychic and material dominance of neoliberalism, and the quickening pace of environmental destruction.
I’m the author of eight books of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. Of Threads of Yoga: a remix of Patanjali’s Sutras with commentary and reverie, scholar Mark Singleton writes: “I don’t know of any reading of the yoga sutras as wildly creative, as impassioned and as earnest as this. it engages Patanjali and the reader in an urgent, electrified conversation that weaves philosophy, symbolist poetry, psychoanalysis and cultural history. There’s a kind of delight and freshness in this book that is very rare in writing on yoga, and especially rare in writing on the yoga sutras. This is a Patanjali for postmoderns, less a translation than a startlingly relevant report on our current condition, through the prism of this ancient text.”
Of the forthcoming What Are We Actually Doing in Asana?, Buddhist teacher and author Michael Stone writes: “Matthew Remski’s WAWADIA research digs beneath the statistics of yoga injuries to examine the stories we tell ourselves about our bodies, perfection, inadequacy and freedom. We all know that repetitive strain or too much flexibility creates the conditions for injury. But what we haven’t brought to light yet are the consequences of the narratives we tell ourselves—how they set us up for physical trouble in practice and how they influence the way we go through life. This research will help you pay attention to the strange unconscious intentions that get all mixed up in a life-long practice, so you can clear out unhelpful motivations and follow through on what’s truly good for you.”
As a Ayurvedic consultant, I try to hold space for people as they integrate the shadows of flesh and heart. In the background of any meeting, I stay aware of whatever experience I’ve gained through ayurveda, yoga therapy, and yoga philosophy. Often, these disciplines provide useful lines of inquiry and protocols. But I try to be careful to not let what I think I know encroach upon the person, their unique growth, or mine. I try to hold my tools lightly, because they change.
I live in Toronto with my partner Alix Bemrose and our son Jacob.