A few weeks ago I wrote a post about Mobile Yoga, the latest yoga hybrid which fuses together yoga and inline skating. I had actually been approached by a publicist at a PR company about the new style and I couldn’t resist questioning the validity of this hybrid (and, looking at the comments on that post, it seems that many yogis were unconvinced as well). After the post went up, the publicist contacted me again and offered an interview with Kris Fondran, the founder of Mobile Yoga. Of course, I had to take this opportunity to ask her all my burning questions, which she so generously responded to.
From what I understand from your bio, you have a long and deep relationship with yoga, having trained in the Satyananda tradition and received mantra initiation. Do you feel that the practice is compromised by blending it with another form of physical exercise? And what do your teachers think about this?
On the surface, Mobile Yoga looks like anything but a traditional yoga practice. However, through my studies and experiences I have found that to be a true practitioner of yoga you need to take what you are doing on the mat off into the world. Since much of my “world” is made up of skating it was not difficult for me to recognize and assimilate yoga elements while skating or teaching skating.
The traditional approach to yoga helps us manage our lives and can inspire many different activities. The Mobile Yoga concept will hopefully attract some people to explore yoga that might otherwise be put off by the classical yogic concepts of linking breath to movement and doing meditation. In turn it may also bring others to skating because they are looking for a way to improve their overall cardiovascular health in a way that is gentle on the body.
I came to yoga to learn stress reduction techniques and to improve my overall physical flexibility. Through study and practice, I have not only managed to reduce the amount of stressors in my life and improve the condition of my physical body, I also managed to enhance my skating ability as well.
Being yoga purists so–to–speak, my teachers are a bit skeptical of many of the “fusion” practices out there as the connection between yoga and whatever activity, seem to be quite weak. However, as long as my teachers have known me they have known me as a skater who has found ways to bring my understanding of yoga to other skaters. Sometimes it is important to meet people where they are and to provide them with techniques and choices that will bring awareness and balance into exploration of fitness in unsuspecting ways. This is the inspiration for Mobile Yoga.
At first glance, it appears that Mobile Yoga was the product of Rollerblade marketing efforts – but the publicist told me that you actually approached Rollerblade with the idea. What inspired you to do that?
My experience teaching a variety of health, wellness, and teacher education classes at Cleveland State University has exposed me to hundreds of students who are seeking ways to improve their physical health and reduce stress in their increasingly time-challenged lives. My recommendation has always been “more skating, more yoga,” so you could say my students were the inspiration.
Do you think that Mobile Yoga would have more appeal to people who practice yoga or people who inline skate?
Actually I think it could appeal to both equally because I believe that each group may be missing what the other “activity” has to offer. My overall goal is to appeal to anyone seeking ways to improve their overall physical health and reduce stress in their life. Skaters, non-skaters, yogis, yoginis, it doesn’t matter.
The personality, or body type for that matter, that comes to skating may not be the same that comes to yoga. Therefore giving the exposure of one to the other can be mutually beneficial. Yoga postures can prepare the body for activity and encourages the body and mind connection. Skating with body and breath awareness facilitates mindfulness. It is a win-win situation.
Exercise is kind of like religion. What works for some may not work for others but in most cases gets us to the same place. The Mobile Yoga Workout is just another option for those seeking to reconnect body, mind, and spirit.
The post on my blog received many comments from yogis, most of which were skeptical and derisive. I’ve also noticed similar conversations on other yoga blogs. How do you feel about this? Does it surprise you?
Given the number of “fusion” concepts out there it doesn’t surprise me. Having the opportunity to explain the concept and inspiration behind the workout through various magazine articles, blog posts, etc. I believe that the authenticity of my intention behind developing this workout will shine through. While I will not be able to convince all detractors of the merits of giving Mobile Yoga a try, my explanation should answer some questions and provide insight into the impetus of putting skating and yoga together.
And just a technical question: how many yoga asanas can actually be done while wearing skates? Have you seen many injuries in the classes that you’ve taught?
Doing yoga asana on skates is not a main component of the Mobile Yoga Workout. While it makes for some interesting “eye candy” it isn’t my goal to see people rolling through the park doing Lord Shiva’s Dance pose! A complete asana practice is comprised of a variety of forward and backward bends, twists and balance postures. Since skating is “balance in motion” just moving forward on skates provides the opportunity to practice balance within the workout. However, for those who have mastered the basics of moving, stopping, and turning on skates and have successfully accomplished various yoga balance postures with their feet firmly planted on the earth, they may want to give a rolling version of some of their favorite postures a try. Skating ability and experience in doing various standing postures will determine the number and difficulty of postures that can be accomplished while skating. In all my classes yoga, skating, and otherwise, I always encourage my students to “honor their limitations.” This basic yogic precept has kept my students thus far injury free.
Om tat sat