more mobile yoga: exclusive interview with the founder!

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.

Mobile Yoga founder Kris Fondran rocks the asanas & the skates.

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 sotospeak, 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

Earlier: yoga + rollerblading = mobile yoga: the next fitness craze?

  1. personally I’d pay money to see someone put the skates on their hands and do titibasana: http://www.houseoflucas.com/Rob/new%20site/asanas/seated/Titibasana%20D.htm

  2. Thanks, girlwarrior & Kris, for the interesting interview.

    Just for the record, I just thought it sounded dangerous. Otherwise, as a Yoga universalist, I don’t have a problem with it at all.

    Bob Weisenberg
    http://YogaDemystified.com

  3. i wrote a post on this, too, and questioned the marketing of yoga aspect of this. good to hear the other side.

  4. You know, I’m usually pretty skeptical about all this stuff…

    but after reading this interview- sigh- I dunno. sounds dangerous, but at the same time she’s right in one sense; since when do we have to be solely yogi/nis? She’s also right that many people who may feel yoga isn’t for them would be attracted to this kind of activity/fusion…

    i am a bit tired of hearing the “whatever brings people to yoga” deal… I’m actually starting to move to: “you know, yoga may NOT be for everyone, and that is just fine with me”. I’m tired of reading between the lines about how we should just convert everybody to yoga. Or if someone doesn’t like yoga it’s not “really” because they don’t like yoga, they just haven’t tried the right one/hard enough/right teacher/ etc etc etc.

    maybe they just don’t like yoga. and that is alright with me.

    sorry for the little tangent, but i really don’t see her mobile yoga as a way to reach out to a different crowd. i see it more as a fusion of two things she happens to love. albeit dangerous (for myself anyways cuz i’m clumsy), but there you go.

    thanks for bringing us the other perspective Roseanne 🙂

    • hey eco, thanks for stopping by! i had a feeling you’d find this interview interesting… 😉

      i have to say that i am so with you on the “whatever brings people to yoga” thing. i just can’t buy into the argument that more people will do yoga if you add some cardiovascular activity… remove the sanskrit… are able to do it with your dog… or incorporate some naked women. (these aren’t specific criticisms of Mobile Yoga, btw, but how yoga is marketed/presented in North America in general.)

      yoga isn’t for everyone. and i’m not interested in “yoga evangelism” or trying to convert people by appealing to their other interests.

  5. Very very interesting.

    Eco and Rosanne – I think the best way to put it is this: everyone can do yoga. Certainly not everyone can do all asanas, but everyone can benefit from aspects of the practice. But not everyone will want to do it.

    I hate math, but I don’t say I can’t do math, I say math is terrible. And that’s okay.

    As long as people feel yoga is accessible to them if they are interested in it, I’m fine resting there.

  6. This was certainly an interesting read, although I find myself still rather confused by what, exactly, is being achieved through this fusion. The advertising videos indicated that Mobile Yoga is based on yoga asanas performed whilst skating, but here we are told that doing the asanas on skates is not a huge part of this process. So why is it Mobile YOGA? Isn’t it closer to something like ‘yoga for skaters’?

    I realise it’s a little nitpicky but the chosen name for this just seems misleading and kind of confusing. I still don’t really have a clear understanding of what is really being achieved here.

    (I love your blog, btw, girlwarrior!)

    • thanks for stopping by, gemma! i think you’ve brought up a really good point: what is being achieved through this fusion? it’s clear that kris has found the common elements between yoga and inline skating, and as ecoyogini has pointed out, they just happen to be two things she loves and wants to offer to the world. perhaps the next question is: why?

  7. I am so with ecoyogini and roseanne….I got over the “yoga is for everyone” phase in my yoga teaching a long time ago. no, it’s NOT for everyone, just like [fill in the blank] is not for everyone. I am also with ecoyogini on the “whatever brings people to yoga is ok” yada yada.

    As I once asked in my blog, “why isn’t JUST YOGA good enough anymore?”

  8. For me “mobile yoga” is something that I believe we should be doing every minute of everyday as we walk, talk, eat, drive, etc. So why not skating as well? As my study of yoga has grown, so has my definition of what makes up true yoga. If you have been practicing or studying yoga for a while you know that asana alone cannot define yoga, nor can sitting cross-legged on your mat. The definition of “yoga” is much bigger than asana, pranayama, and meditation, although practicing all three will surely make you and your life experiences more yogic.

    The byproducts of a yogic lifestyle; peace, health, and happiness, is what motivates me to bring people to yoga by whatever means possible. So the premise of “Whatever brings people to yoga” works for me. Through my own experiences, and those relayed to me by my skating and yoga students, both skating and yoga (asana, pranayama, meditation), together and individually, can be empowering, healing, and life changing.

    I am a happy, healthy and relatively sane 42 year old mother of 3 children ages 17, 16 & 4. Since giving up marathon running over 20 years ago, ironically enough due to inflexibility, skating and yoga have been the way I have kept physically, mentally, and emotionally balanced. The Mobile Yoga Workout is my way of sharing my understanding of skating and yoga with those who are searching for ways to improve their health and overall well-being.

    A friend once described his skating experience to be a “moving meditation.” Since we agree that meditation would be included in the definition of yoga, then why not skating as “mobile yoga”?

    • hi kris ~ thanks for stopping by again and offering more of your perspective. it’s great to hear more of your story. i can tell that your love for yoga is sincere and you are committed to sharing the practice. and really, i’m relieved that Mobile Yoga was created by an informed and passionate yogi, and not some corporate exec at Rollerblade as a way to broaden their market.

      the beauty of yoga is that it lies beyond definition, that it’s expansive and all-encompassing. it’s also interesting that there are different ways of interpreting yoga “off the mat.” for me personally, it means getting involved in my community, being a conscious consumer, fostering authentic relationships, and stimulating discussion on my blog. for others, it might mean inline skating, or horseback riding, or racecar driving. that’s all cool.

      in the meantime, i’m going to keep my asana practice on the mat (i still have so much to learn that i don’t need the added challenge of skates; also, i have no skating ability, as i documented in my flirtation with roller derby: http://itsallyogababy.com/2009/08/31/roller-derby-boot-camp-dropout/) and my meditation practice on the cushion. but it’s good that there’s something for everybody.

  9. Whoa, late to the discussion. Yes, I’m with R as far as coming from a sincere place w/o too much corporate placement. I need to think more about the “yoga for everyone” and “by any mean necessary” parts. It’s a really interesting topic–one I’ve touched on a bit as far as yoga-can-be-everything–and worth closer consideration (challenge to all the blogistas…)

    My initial reaction to “by any means” is initially a snort, as it is when kids and reading is under consideration. Does it matter what kids are reading, as long as they are engaged? Part of me thinks it’s cheapening the practice (reading or yoga) and part of me thinks, “well, why the hell not?” These hybrids can always act as a gateway drug to the stronger stuff.

    Thanks, Kris, for your thoughts. It’s always good to hear from the source.

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