Interview with Adell Bridges – A Travelling Yoga Teacher
- The World
What motivated you to take up yoga?
I had always heard yoga was good for you, and always intended to do it but was never really exposed to it or lived anywhere that offered many classes. Every time I did try it, I felt pretty unmotivated to go back to another class. But it was when I started to have a lot of hip and knee pain from old gymnastics injuries that I was persuaded by a physiotherapist to work on fixing my body through yoga. And I’m still working on those imbalances in my body, but three years on, I feel fitter, healthier, and happier than ever before, all thanks to yoga.
How has yoga changed your life?
Well, as mentioned already, it has made me physically healthier and fitter than ever before, even more so than when I was training in gymnastics 25 hours a week. But more than that it has transformed my entire way of life and viewing the world. Yoga has this effect, even if we start practicing yoga in merely the physical sense. The asana teaches us to breathe, to be still, and to listen. This eventually seeps its way into all aspects of life, even when you’re not in a studio and doing Warrior 2 on a mat.
And I believe this is how it works: through yoga, you first become more and more aware of how your body feels and reacts to a deep twist or a hip-opening posture. You learn to breathe through discomfort and find stillness in a challenge. You become more in tune with your body and how your mind reacts to it, and so you also notice more how you feel when you’re stressed or angry, as opposed to how you feel when you’re grateful and forgiving. You notice you feel better when you approach a situation with love rather than with fear. It makes you become aware of yourself on every level, and you learn what makes you feel good. And of course we all want to feel good, so you keep doing the things that make you feel good and avoiding the things that make you feel bad. So you start to smile more, give more, share more, breathe more, love more. Because those are the things that make us feel good!
And this is how yoga changes your whole life, even though it may begin with just some movements on a rubber mat.
[Thats a beautiful explanation of the benefits of Yoga. It’s actually very similar to how I feel about trail running and the benefits I experience and see being enjoyed by others. Being surrounded by nature and beautiful trails is a wonderful thing that really humbles us all, in our own special way. – Alastair]
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You become more in tune with your body and how your mind reacts to it, and so you also notice more how you feel when you’re stressed or angry, as opposed to how you feel when you’re grateful and forgiving.
What compelled you to change your career direction and become a yoga teacher?
I feel like it wasn’t a choice I made, rather the choice was made for me. I went to India to do a teacher training course because I had had everything I loved about my life taken away from me. I found myself jobless, homeless, and heartbroken. I didn’t know what to do and for a few months, I would go from one yoga class to the next, just to fill my days and stay sane! And because yoga became the only constant in my life, I thought a Teacher Training course could be the next step. I went to India to heal myself, learn about myself, and deepen my practice. Then, unsure I wanted to teach, I kept having teaching jobs offered to me. So I taught. And I kept teaching, and with the intention purely to share this practice that has changed my life for the better and hopefully inspire others in ways that I had been inspired.
A few years back you took the decision to give up most of your belongings and live the travelling nomad lifestyle. What was the easiest / hardest thing about that decision?
The easiest thing about that decision was knowing that if nothing else, I was going to have an adventure. I think this mindset is so important no matter who you are, but especially if you’re thinking of going travelling. Know that even if things go horribly, at least it’ll be a chance to learn, grow, expand your comfort zone, and have a good story to tell later on!
The hardest part was the fear of failure. I was so afraid I would only last 6 weeks and would soon be at the doorstep of the studios I had left asking if I could have my job back. I made it past 6 weeks but, well into my travels, I still had this fear. I kept on having this fear for the first few months: this fear of “what if I can’t get work? What if I run out of money?” and one day I realized that I just needed to trust. That something always comes up. Every single time I have wondered where I will go or how I will manage, somebody or something comes along and helps me, offers me something, points me in the right direction.
Are you a runner yourself?
No, I’m not very good at running. I love walking along trails and hiking up mountains, but I’ve never got into running.
[never say never! :)]
The hardest part was the fear of failure. I was so afraid I would only last 6 weeks and would soon be at the doorstep of the studios I had left asking if I could have my job back…
Trail running and yoga seem to have many similarities, especially when it comes to focusing on mindfulness, movement and breathing. What can trail runners learn from yoga in this area?
I always like to remember that ‘nothing is permanent’. So, you can apply this when you’re in a pleasant situation, remembering to take it in and be grateful for it, because it won’t be around forever. Or when you’re in a challenging situation, to remember that this too shall pass!
A challenge a lot of runners face is tightness or limited flexibility in their hips, coupled with weak glutes! What yoga poses or flow would you recommend to help?
Honestly I never suggest specific poses for anything or anyone because the body doesn’t work in individual systems, rather as a whole single unit. So movement through the whole body in as many different directions as possible will add the greatest mobility to the body. I always like to suggest moving in new and different ways too, so you don’t get too stuck in the same patterns of movement (which can be good in a lot of sports, to develop that neuro-kinetic connection, but for someone practicing yoga as a supplement to running or another sport, I would suggest keeping the body moving in as many ways as possible!)
I always like to remember that ‘nothing is permanent’.
There are so many different ‘types’ of yoga out there, it can be a bit overwhelming knowing what will suit you best and which to choose. What styles/types of classes would you recommend to an active time-crunched trail runner looking to build their strength and mobility?
I would look for an intermediate level vinyasa class or power yoga class.
Something like Sun Salutation B could be a great place to start to open up both sides of the body, get the hips opened in the Warrior 1, the glutes switched on in chair pose, while keeping the breath long and deep.
…and cooling down / stretching post-run?
Forward bending poses such as uttanasana and downward facing dog, as well as perhaps a nice bridge pose, moving into some reclined twists.
I am nomadic and constantly travel the world teaching. You can have a look at my upcoming events at adellbridgesyoga.com/events to see if I’m going to be near you anytime soon!
[If you’re wondering what brand the yoga outfits Adell wears, as I was; its usually Alo Yoga.]
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Thank you, Adell, for guiding us into the world of Yoga, and for all the helpful tips that people who love trail running can benefit from. We will definitely look into Vinyasa as a way into yoga. It sounds like quite the challenge, something we love here at Trail & Kale 🙂
Have an amazing end to 2017, it looks like you have a very exciting schedule coming up, with Spain, New York, The Maldives, and Singapore on the cards!
And keep those amazing pictures coming on Instagram, they are so inspiring and beautiful to look at!