Off the Mat with Aaron Washington
Where do you teach?
One Tree Hot Yoga, Davenport, and Scott County YMCA, Utica Ridge
Indulgent munchies: Little Debbie Brownies, Pringles, flavored almonds
One thing many people don’t know about you?
My best friend and I sing at weddings. We’ve done more than a dozen in past few years.
What did you find challenging about yoga at first?
I played football and volleyball in college, and then arena football and semi-pro for six years after college. Due to my lifelong competitive nature through sports, my initial challenge in practice was to let go of competition, judgment, and frustration. It took years to find balance between life’s trials and tribulations and the opportunities to be present.
Even now, it still takes a few breaths to overcome everything that happens in a single day, but knowing a single breath can produce a positive emotion has made the practice and my life more meaningful.
What makes your style of teaching unique?
I practice and teach with the belief that health and fitness require a strong physical body and mind. Strength in all aspects of life requires experiencing the muscles of the body through asanas and the “muscles” of the mind through pranayama and meditation. My instruction is grounded in my experiences in the medical field, personal training, and athletics. I work to find ways to embody everyday experience into a practice that allows students to move at their own pace and allow their bodies to work with them, not against them.
What inspires and motivates you?
Integrity and the ability to affect others in a positive way. God and my family inspire me to find personal growth daily. Most of the members of my family are educators or medical professionals, and have encouraged me throughout my life to lead, inspire, and motivate others.
How does the yoga philosophy resonate with you?
My personal mantra is “fear of failure is a self-imposed limitation” and comes from not having control of everything at all times. Yoga gives me an opportunity to get comfortable in physical spaces normally never accessed. Some poses are expressed naturally; others can only be accessed with a connection of the mind and body that come with practice. Yoga resonates throughout my life, especially during the hectic times where I remember to take a deep breath and let go.
In what way do you define peace?
Peace isn’t just quiet or calm. Peace is control of stillness and the force behind a positive action. Yoga helps to accept change, celebrate facing challenges, embrace positive experiences, and be present throughout. It’s a physical and mental expression of “getting comfortable by being uncomfortable.” Peace comes with experiencing these daily life occurrences and not allowing them to disrupt your attitude.
I have two senior seminars scheduled at various Chicagoland studios this spring, and I’m working with newly established juice/kombucha company for a bi-monthly Whole30 campaign.
This article was originally published in YogaIowa’s Spring 2017 issue.