Tristan Rose - Yoga is a Weapon of Peace
Tristan Rose is a yoga teacher, military veteran and the founder of Blind Tiger Yoga. Blind Tiger Yoga focuses on helping members of the Military, Veterans, First Responders, and their broader communities, through yoga and meditation. Tristan discovered yin yoga, yoga nidra and meditation as powerful tools for managing pain from multiple injuries he sustained while on deployment overseas and he has trained with remarkable teachers such as Bernie Clark and Paul and Suzee Grilley.
In this conversation, we learn how Tristan became involved in the military, and how he completed two university degrees while maintaining a full time job overseas. We learn how Tristan discovered yin yoga after accidentally walking into the wrong class, and how it changed his life. We learn what lead Tristan to teach yoga and some exciting plans that he has for the future.
Warning: Some of the content in this episode may be disturbing or triggering for some listeners.
Tristan's website: https://tristanrose.com.au/about-tristan-rose/
Blind Tiger Yoga: https://blindtigeryoga.com/
Tristan's Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tristanrose.com.au/
Makarlu Masterclass: https://www.gardenofyoga.com.au/workshops/makarlu-masterclass/
Click on a timecode to play from that time in the recording.1:35 Makarlu Masterclass workshop
2:24 Tristan tells us about growing up in Newcastle, New South Wales
2:48 Rugby Union or League?
2:59 Rane heard wrong about the abundance of mangoes in Newcastle
3:15 How did Tristan become involved in the military?
6:38 Is it yoga’s ability to help you come to rest what appeals to Tristan?
7:23 How did Tristan discover yoga?
11:14 “Just don’t do yoga” Early non-inclusive experiences
12:23 “I went into a yin class by mistake. It was an amazing teacher - Rich Kelly”
14:01 What lead Tristan to wanting to teach yoga?
19:55 Does Tristan teach differently for different groups?
26:01 Blind Tiger Yoga
31:20 Does Tristan have advice on making classes more inclusive?
36:00 Midroll - About our Patreon Page!
37:28 How does Tristan find the “goldilocks position” when he may be navigating through a lot of pain in a particular day?
43:13 Yoga as a place of allowing
44:45 Does Tristan have any practices to help avoid burn out?
49:14 Has Tristan considered running teacher trainings?
53:10 A unicorn in the yoga world
64:00 Teachers that call themselves masters
66:55 What is the core lesson that Tristan would like to share with the world?
Please email us to report any transcription errorsRane Bowen: Hello, my name is Rane and this is the Flow Artists Podcast. Every episode, my co-host, Jo Stewart and I speak with inspiring movers, thinkers and teachers about how they find their flow and much much more.
I hope you’re having an absolutely wonderful day, I’m doing pretty well myself. It’s been a fairly busy week and it’s about to get busier for me I believe. I’m doing my CPR Refresher this Friday and I’m also covering all of Jo’s classes while she is off doing a trauma-informed training, so it’s going to be a busy week for me. I’m looking forward to it, though I bet I’ll be quite exhausted at the end of it. But that’s alright. <laughs>
So today’s episode. We are speaking with Tristan Rose. Tristan is a yoga teacher and the founder of Blind Tiger Yoga. Blind Tiger Yoga specialises in working with first responders, military veterans, nurses and other people that really could use yoga—well that’s everyone really I guess—but he is doing some really important work. In this episode, he talks to us a little bit about his history in the military and how he found yoga and the benefits that he found in his own life and just a really inspiring story. We were really excited to speak with him, so we are really excited to share this episode with you today.
But before we get onto our conversation with Tristan, I just wanted to let you know about an event we have coming up at our studio, Garden of Yoga. Carla Mullins will be in town to lead her Makarlu Masterclass. We spoke with Carla on the Podcast at the end of last year, and we talked about what an incredible, versatile tool that the Makarlu is. So come along to that one. It will be a great evening, that’s on Thursday the 13th of February at 6pm.
Alright, I think that’s all I have to share with you for now, let’s get on to our conversation with Tristan Rose.
Rane Bowen: Alright well Tristian, Tristan! Sorry! <laughs> So glad to have you here, it’s great to get the chance to speak with you. Perhaps we could just start with you telling us a little bit about your background and where you grew up?
Tristan: Awesome, well thanks for having me guys, I’m really happy to be here. Yeah I grew up in Newcastle, New South Wales, a little coastal town, some of the best beaches in the world but that’s a ah, that’s a personal biased opinion there <laughter>
Jo: Ah voice of experience though!
Tristan: Yeah that’s it! And grew up in Newcastle, born and raised Novocastrian, and then after school, completed high school and went over to the UK, um played rugby and travelled around the world for a few years and then came back home and joined the military.
Rane: Nice, so, sorry: rugby union or league?
Tristan: There’s only rugby union <laughter>
Rane: Nice nice <laughter> yeah I’m from New Zealand so …
Tristan: Yup! <laughs>
Rane: Yup nice. And I actually know a few people who’ve come from Newcastle. I hear there’s just a ridiculous amount of mangoes everywhere <laughs>
Tristan: To be honest I don’t, I don’t think I’ve ever seen one.
Rane: Oh really? Oh wow! <laughter>
Tristan: I don’t think I’ve ever seen a mango tree, yeah, um. I had plenty of them in Darwin but um no, none in, none in Newcastle.
Rane: Right, and so, how did you become involved in the military?
Tristan: After travelling extensively throughout Europe, Asia, parts of Africa, all around the world really, I felt like that I needed to go into a career that was more structured, more goal-orientated and also, I needed some discipline. I really did need some discipline; I was craving it. I didn’t really necessarily get any direction from my parents in regards to career or what you should do or where you should go, and they were really supportive of me exploring whatever I needed to do. And I wanted to join the military since I was a little kid and, so that’s what I did. So, joined the military from there. And ah, it’s interesting, when I came back from travelling I felt like that I had evolved as a person a lot more rapidly from people that were from my home town, that were still living with their parents and going about the same old same old, drinking at the same pub, doing the same thing and, I felt like I just needed that, to move on to a different place and to match my experience etc. And then, when I was the military, I remember sitting around going, ‘wow I thought I was moving forward and I feel like I’m standing still and I’m not progressing at the rate that I want to.’ And then a few deployments later, a few injuries later, many hospital trips later, <laughs> I realised that actually I didn’t have anything in common with my peers even more because I’d mentally progressed even further. So I feel like I’m an old man in a young man’s body, that’s for sure.
Jo: Because you’ve just lived through so much?
Tristan: Yeah, yeah. I was having a chat to a, a psychiatrist the other week and she was saying that every deployment that you go away, you actually age your mindset 5-10 years, and I see a lot of young men that are just burnt out, just fried. Seeing the innocence of boys deploying and then coming back as men really, is, is quite an interesting observation to see.
Rane: And how many deployments did you do?
Tristan: Don’t wanna go particularly into the number and the nature of the deployments but a few deployments to Iraq and both Afghanistan.
Jo: So you feel like it’s really aged you in some ways, but do you feel like there’s also an aspect of who you are and how you move through the world that you’ve had to focus on developing to catch up with that? Does that make sense?
Tristan: Ah I think I, I know where you’re going with that. I feel like I’m evolving quite rapidly and I always feel like I process things quite quickly. For instance, even just starting at university, I did two degrees whilst full-time service in my spare time, whilst probably being a full-blown alcoholic. And that was because I wasn’t mentally stimulated enough in the military, and I know some people were fried from their jobs in the military whereas I was like, well ‘I want more. I want more’. So I banged out two degrees in just under three years via distance, and I’m still keeping up with that tempo with education and knowledge as well. I’m just that, it’s almost inexhaustible and that passion I love, which is fantastic, but it also can be almost borderline obsessive as well.
Jo: Do you think that’s one of the aspects of yoga that have appealed to you – that ability to actually come to rest mentally and to slow your mind down?
Tristan: Oh definitely. Yoga and meditation has been one of the biggest saving graces in my life. It’s, it’s saved my life in many ways. Having that over-active mind that was just constantly in fifth gear, I can slow it down, I can really check in and be. Whereas before I was just burning the candle at both ends, and the light was just burning so bright. So I was happy doing it, but then I was forced to stop. If I didn’t have my injuries, which sustained through service, I would have been in a pretty bad place. So I look at my injuries that I’ve sustained as the best thing that ever happened to me coz I was forced to stop, forced to be…
Jo: That was a turning point…
Tristan: Yeah definitely.
Rane: And so how did you discover yoga?
Tristan: I got back from my last deployment in Afghanistan requiring numerous surgeries from injuries sustained through service. Multiple shoulder operations, ankle operations, knee and back issues etc. and all my physical activities were pretty much stripped from me as a result of my injuries. So I couldn’t play rugby anymore, I couldn’t do mixed martial arts at the same tempo, I couldn’t do any contact sports, surfing, sailing. All my go-to places of mindfulness and presence were all physical exertion and when I was going through the process of recommended treatment specialists and protocols through the military, you don’t really have a say in what you can explore and what you can go to. It was: ‘you’re going to this specialist for this duration of time’ and then, ‘we’re going to move you on, etc.’ and I was seeing all the right specialists and the amount of metal that I’ve got in my body etc. and everything really caught up to me. I was burnt out physically and mentally, and I didn’t have any way to redirect that energy, so the mind was still going and the body just couldn’t keep up with it, and the mind wouldn’t accept that the body wasn’t working anymore, and the specialists said, ‘the range of motion in your arms won’t improve, you’ll have these T-Rex arms and you won’t be able to move them properly ever again.’ And it was at this time that I was first told that, ‘be prepared that you’re going to be medically discharged from the military.’ So, I wouldn’t accept the diagnosis that this was my lot, this was my limitations. It’d been from people that didn’t know me as a person—physically, mentally and emotionally—and they were putting this restriction, and it felt like it was very clinical and it wasn’t open-minded enough. And I was taught to believe that ‘find a way or make one’. So, after seeing all the specialists that were available, I then walked past a little A-frame yoga banner outside someone’s studio saying, ’20 days for $20’ and I’m like, ‘well, hey, let’s, let’s do it! Like 20 bucks, that’s nothing, what a great intro offer.’ It got me. If any studio owners are out there, are thinking about a good intro offer, that’s a good hook line and sinker <laughter> but um, I went in and I had like, the hoody on, I was so self-conscious, and I was, yeah, I was really secretive about it, I didn’t tell anyone that I was going. And I thought ‘well, what have I got to lose.’ And I started in the greeny classes and then going into Vinyassa classes etc., and I didn’t tell anyone of my restrictions and limitations, and I didn’t want to go into the story, and dealing with various mental health issues as well. They knew that I was a member of the military but they didn’t really go into delving too far into what happened etc. They were really respectful and gave me a lot of distance which was cool. And it was a real massive blow to the ego, especially going from competing at a high athlete level and then being not even able to put a shirt on without pain, being in pain. Simple everyday interactions that you would do that, you just all of a sudden start taking for granted. And I remember just trying to do a Warrior 1 and a Warrior 2, and you can imagine this, 100+ kilo guy not being able to move his T-Rex arms anywhere, and I felt really humiliated and really, it wasn’t inclusive at all. Partly my fault for not going into the depth of, and the accountability on me, for not explaining the range of my restrictions and limitations, but I also remember teachers around that time, one particular teacher, who I won’t name, I asked for a variation on how to be able to access a pose differently, and he straightaway just said: ‘mate, just don’t do yoga.’
Tristan: And ah, I was like, ‘wow’. And I thought about quitting then and there, I had various moments of ‘quit’ in that first 20 days. And I walked out of my first three sessions actually, because it was the first time that I interacted with the mental stuff that had been blocking me for so long. The mental stimuli. It was the first time I actually listened to my body and my mind and it was screaming. And I walked out of my first three sessions, and it wasn’t until the third session, I got stopped in the middle of the hallway, and funnily enough, I’d served with this lady’s husband, and said, ‘look Tristan you can’t go into the gym and pick up weights and be good, ah be ripped the first time, you know, it’s a process, you gotta come back to it.’ And I was like, ‘nah I’m quitting, I’m quitting.’ And then the next day, I was like, ‘it’s a new day, I’ll go.’ Being still pretty mentally fried, I went into a Yin class by mistake, this amazing teacher by the name of Rich Kelly in the Yoga Loft in Newcastle, I looked around and just, the different people in the studio just blew my mind. There was rugby league players, there were boxers in there, there were surfers in there, and then there was a, a lady missing a limb, you know, and then there was elderly people, young people, it was just a real mixed bag, and I was like, ‘woah, okay’, still hesitant. And then he said to me, ‘what’s holding you up?’ coz I was sort of in, halfway in and out of the door, and ah <laughs> very sort of, not to know what to think about it, and yeah, and he just said, ‘close down your eyes man, take it inwards.’ And that’s been with me ever since, and then I was able to be, I was able to let go, I was allowed to be present with everything. And it was probably the first time in about 15 years that I let some stuff go. And it was just profound. The most profound experience that I’ve ever had. Really sinking into that place of being and I thought, ‘wow, if I’m feeling like this from one Yin session, how am I gonna be in three months, six months, six years, etc.?’ and then I just started getting more and more into it, and I was back there religiously a day, and then three sessions a day, and then fast-track and two to four hours a day, six days a week is, is me. So it became, it still is, a living breathing obsession. Yeah, so really interesting shifts.
Jo: Yeah, and so was it that first moment in that first class that you also realised that you wanted to teach people this practice?
Tristan: No, no, not at all. So the Yoga Loft in Newcastle became sort of, my place to be. I would spend most days there, religiously I’d be there. And when, I was there for the transition out of the military as well, and then I never even thought for a moment that I would teach the practice. It was something that I just kept for me, and I really kept it under my, my hat sort of thing, that I was doing the practice. I remember when I openly spoke to some colleagues that I was speaking to mental health professionals, and I was openly laughed at. That was the culture and still is the culture within the defence force. And I remember, think six out of those group of men all privately contacted me within the next three to nine months sort of thing, asking for help. And I still get that to this day people saying ‘hey can I talk to you about your mental health provider etc. or getting some help etc.?’ and they’re very doing it under the hush. And I’m like, ‘it doesn’t need to be that way’. And so, I never thought about teaching, it was still something that was very much for me. And when I transitioned out of the military I got into deep sea commercial diving, specialising in underwater explosives, still chasing that adrenaline and mindset that I’d been so attuned to. And I also wanted to prove that I wasn’t as broken as the stamp that was labelled to me. And I remember I was working, I was working offshore, and I heard about the thirteenth former colleague of mine that had taken his own life, and it was at that moment, I was just like, this overwhelming sense of guilt but also shame, came over me that I was always known for someone who spoke up for something that I didn’t believe that was right. I probably would have progressed a lot further in the military if I kept my mouth shut and chose my battles, but I would never let any members of my team or any of the boys be screwed over if I thought something was inappropriate or if it wasn’t just. And this feeling of shame that I’d kept this to myself and I didn’t share all these things that were working for me, and that’s when I said, started entertaining the idea of ‘hey you need to start sharing this, even if one skill that you had learnt through yoga and also meditating since 2004, before I started yoga, um would be able to help people.’ And um, it probably took a couple of years to actually start teaching, you know, I’d been going to teacher trainings, I’d been doing it but just for personal development. And then I finally stepped into the fray and went, ‘screw it, I’m gonna try it and see how I go. If I can be as passionate about it to myself, how can I not do that to other people?’ and that’s what led me down that path.
Jo: I can really understand the state of mind that you might have been in before you had that response, when this was like your sanctuary, so this was your you time, this was your self care time, this would’ve, I imagine, been a bit of a respite from that world and then to have go back into that world, like really driven by like, passion and, it sounds like you kind of took on the responsibility of helping everyone. Maybe you needed that time to fill up your own reserve first before you could step out into it and take on all of that.
Tristan: Yeah definitely! I mean, I’m not, I’m not too proud of my past, it is what it is. But I was, I was known as a pretty angry and violent man. I would never back down from a fight and, yeah I guess years in the Middle East and conditioning and a whole range of things that I was going through, yeah I wasn’t the nicest person. I was unbelievably loyal to my friends and my colleagues and anyone that would need it, but I also have such a short fuse. And I just remember that fuse just going, you know, going from a very angry man to a man of peace really. And ultimately yoga is a weapon of peace. Not to say that that man can’t turn on when required, but I don’t see any requirements for it anytime soon. So, using that time to let go of that identity of the uniform, taking that beret off, you know and, and transitioning into the next phase, I did exactly that. I needed to stockpile my reserves to then go, ‘oh you know what, I’m comfortable with where I’m at.’ There’s been some backlash from people going, ‘I remember you doing this and doing that and now you’re about peace, love and kindness,’ and I’m like, ‘yeah but a fool would think that a peaceful man is incapable of the opposite end of the spectrum as well.’ For me, I had to go to the extremes of anger and hate to fully appreciate love and kindness. For me to be a gentle man, I truly had to go through a lot of violence, and that’s where I’m at now.
Jo: I feel like it’s so powerful as well, the realisation you had in a Warrior pose in a yoga class, it seems like you’re kind of embodying that now, like the reason why there might be a Warrior pose in yoga, because we do have these two sides of our nature and yoga can be a way to navigate that skilfully.
Tristan: Yeah oh definitely, I 100% agree. There’s cross-pollination between service and a practice as well. It requires strength, it requires respect and it requires discipline. And whether you’re into restorative or Ashtanga, and everywhere in between, they both have those dual traits. And I think that just finding a way to relate that to the individual is a pathway for anyone accessing yoga.
Jo: And so, your interactions with different people when say you’re just introducing them to the concept of yoga and meditation for the first time, is it really different depending on who you’re talking to or have you got a strategy that just seems to be gold?
Tristan: Interesting question. How I teach with my company Blind Tiger Yoga versus how I teach to the public is very different. How I teach to corporates versus how I would to small groups etc.; you really have to tailor to your audience. But ultimately, I get in a lot of trouble for being the, calling a spade a spade and telling it how it is. I’m very relaxed, very not caring about physical aesthetics and what condition your body or your mind is in. I’m really, I just see everyone as neutral, wherever they are at. And it’s a very easy thing to say, but very hard thing to put in practice. I’m very casual about it all, even though that I do have a lot of respect and discipline for not only the teachings of yoga, the studies, but also the practice, I’m also very casual in ‘do what you need’. So, I know that for some people, it must, I get told all the time from my partner and other people that, ‘you look angry’ and I’m like, ‘this is just my face man, I’m sorry.’ I’m a big teddy bear and you know, I give anyone a hug or as soon as they start talking to me they go, ‘oh you’re actually pretty soft.’ And I’m just like, ‘yeah well, I can’t help my face’ you know, I’m either thinking of something or I’ve just got that resting, resting face. <laughter> So um, yeah I would say that I’m extremely casual in how I approach teaching of yoga and meditation.
Jo: Knowing that sometimes that expression on people’s faces doesn’t always reflect their inner experience is something I had to learn as a new yoga teacher …
Jo: .. ‘coz sometimes you just think ‘oh my gosh this person is hating this class!’ like, they look so angry and unhappy, and then at the end of the class, they’d be like, ‘oh that was just what I needed, that was great’ so …
Tristan: Oh I 100% hear you. I had this one particular gentleman, and I’m a big believer in, when I’m teaching Yin Yoga, of taking the practice in and shutting down your eyes and observing inwardly the sensations and stimuli that present itself and being with that. And this one guy would sit there and he would just stare at me, and he would just stare at me, and he would just stare at me, and I’m like, ‘wait this is my hang up with, how I’m reacting to this, why is this guy just staring at me?’ And then it was probably after about three months, people were packing up the class and I just said, ‘oh do you know such and such, he never talks to me, he just comes in, just nods and goes about his thing, he always looks really angry at me like I’ve said something wrong’, and he goes, ‘Tristan he’s deaf mate, he was lip-reading the whole time,’ and I’m just like, ‘oh my god, that was all me’ you know, and I just had to have a laugh and I was just like, ‘oh I felt so bad!’ but it was also hilarious because I was just like, ‘why is this guy not listening to what I’m trying to show him and be with?’ and I’m like, ‘why is he angry?’ and I’m like, ‘oh it’s got nothing to do with me, it’s probably what he’s just going through, he’s probably a lovely guy’ and everything …
Jo: Probably just like concentrating really hard to follow what’s happening!
Tristan: And he was! And I’m really into my philosophy which I laden in my classes as well so he was really staying present with it. And I ended up having a chat with him through writing down on, on a piece of paper and stuff, and what he was actually taking away from the classes coz he was so present was pretty phenomenal, which was really cool but also hilarious. He found it hilarious as well, which was good.
Jo: Yeah. <laughs>
Rane: You mentioned, is it Rich Kelly? I was just wondering if you’ve had any other key teachers?
Tristan: Oh, lots and lots of teachers. People who are frustrated teach me the most and that can be just from observing society in general, looking back at not only my own behaviours and responses to people; there’s teachings in everything and teachers in everything. I ultimately had this moment when I was hiking once, and I was just really thinking of that first sutra, you know, ‘the appropriate time when the student is ready, the appropriate teacher will appear and the practice of yoga will take place’ and I travelled round the world doing different teacher trainings and meeting people and reading different books and texts and home practice, and was real secretly hardcore into it and still wearing my flanno and riding my motorcycle and just you know, not typical yogi at all. And it dawned on me, ‘the appropriate time when the student is ready, the appropriate teacher will appear and the practice of yoga will take place,’ and I was like, ‘I’m the appropriate teacher. I’m ready. Now I’m going to teach myself about where I need to go and where I need to take it.’ And then it really changed the dynamic about how I started looking at teachers.
I would say the biggest influence in teachers, my mentor Paul Grilley, and every time I go back to the States every year, sometimes multiple times a year, I’m just constantly in awe and blown away, and if I had a grain of sand that is the beach of that man’s mind, I would be, you know, a very happy man and probably quench a bit of that knowledge that I’m constantly seeking, but just a phenomenal human being. His wife, Suzee, as well is also phenomenal. Their assistants, Joe Barnett and Jo Phee are also amazing people and their, their dedication to the craft is phenomenal. Bernie Clark, um, the text that he’s provided to the world is truly momentous. I would say that my colleague, Ross Walker, he’s taught me a lot about life and responses and reactions because not only does he understand the military man that is me, he also understands the me that is here and now, the path of being relatively broken to also progression. My partner, she’s a phenomenal teacher. And I would also say my psychiatrist, Dr Chris Walsh. He founded Mindfulness in Australia in the seventies and was pretty much looked at with a, a long pole sort of thing in, in the medical fraternity for bringing mindfulness in practices then, and has stayed with it throughout. I think it’s really phenomenal. John Vosler and his teachings of ah Yoga Nidra and sleep-based meditation, Kamini Desai, oh I could keep going, I could keep going <laughter>it’s um, yeah it’s phenomenal.
Jo: And so would you like to tell us a bit more about what you’re doing with Blind Tiger?
Tristan: Yeah sure! So, um Blind Tiger Yoga is ah my company that I founded almost three years ago. Haven’t done the deets this afternoon but on Monday it was 8,753 veterans and first responders that we’ve taught to, and growing. And we’re getting roughly 82-84% of that return. I started with the vision to just teach a couple of small classes to my community to pass on some skillsets and mindset mainly. On reflection, calling it Blind Tiger Yoga is probably my biggest regret. I wish I’d called it Blind Tiger Mindset, which would have been an easier sell. But we teach to military veterans, first responders, ah their family members, any support workers that work in that area. And I really started it because I wanted to make yoga as accessible to that demographic, coming from that background, being part of that, and there wasn’t really anything out there that I thought that was inclusive, that was workable. It wasn’t from a victim mentality mindset and it was really from a place of selfless service, and it’s really just blossomed. It’s been a phenomenal journey, ups and downs, some amazing lessons learnt along the way, in between. And we teach mindfulness, Yin Yoga and Yoga Nidra, sleep-based meditation. And we sort of fuse all of those practices in between, somatic movement, even though our teachers come from various backgrounds: Vinyassa, Arta, all sorts of lineages etc., that style, not only has it grown with me and I’ve used it to develop my life, it I believe is the most accessible to our clientele.
Jo: And so are all your classes at RSLs?
Tristan: No. So we have various locations around Victoria but unfortunately due to security reasons etc. like that, we don’t advertise all the classes that we, we undertake…
Jo: It’s just for that community…
Tristan: … it’s for that community, yes, but we all teach at public locations all around Melbourne and do a lot of events with emergency services etc. But you can imagine why we don’t advertise because you get some interesting characters show up to classes and also it’s that privacy as well when, if people are going through traumatic recovery, if they’re just going there for their own wellbeing and somewhere that they can just be, without being in the public eye: no photos being taken or videos being taken etc. It’s similar to if you’re overweight and you’re trying to lose weight, no one wants to take footage of you while you’re doing that process, you kinda wanna just keep that to yourself and, I love the fact that we’re at RSLs and we’re at locations that aren’t necessarily glamorous, you know they’re, it goes to show that, we just started up a practice at Hawthorn RSL, and it hasn’t been used as an RSL since ’84. Robert Menzies was the President there at one point, and they’re in a stage of refurb, so it’s dusty timber floors, no pokies, no gambling facilities, which we love, and it’s what an old RSL should be. And seeing guys that would never ever step into a yoga studio be able to come in, roll out a mat, practice, and I think some of the most phenomenal feedback that you get, for instance on Thursday just past, was ‘that was the first time I had 5 minutes of rest in last 10 years’, and it just goes to show, you don’t need to be in the most ritziest locations; you can practice yoga and meditation anywhere.
Jo: And perhaps that person wouldn’t even go into that fancy studio because they just wouldn’t feel comfortable there.
Tristan: I guarantee you that they wouldn’t, they wouldn’t go into a studio. You know I’ve had some quite interesting experiences, and I still have them quite regularly, when I go into a studio and I’ve had the, I’ve had the tap on the shoulder and the, ‘oh good on you for trying’ …
Tristan: … and everything and I’m like, ‘wow, okay um.’ <laughter> And you wonder why you can’t get straight blokes into classes you know. When you get through to people that yoga is a complementary modality for everyone’s life, and what yoga means to you and me and everyone else in between is going to be completely different. And I really focus that yoga is a form of rehabilitation, it’s a rehabilitation that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re recovering from something, but just rehabilitation from life. It’s a temporary pause, a tactical pause of just ‘sit, stop and be.’ And those guys wouldn’t go into a regular class because it’s just so far from their way of thinking and how they would be perceived as well. They have an element of ‘well, how are they going to look at me going into that class?’ We’ve got to get away from looking at ‘you have to be the most flexible person in the room’ for them to practice.
Jo: It sounds like you have had a couple of clangers said to you by yoga teachers in various classes, and having been on the receiving end of that, I’d love to know if you have any advice for yoga teachers out there teaching who may not have considered a lot of the stuff that you’ve spoken about: what can we do as teachers to help everyone feel welcome in our classes and to make our classes more inclusive so people don’t unintentionally say the wrong thing and turn someone off yoga for life?
Tristan: Yeah well that’s an excellent question. I guess just treating everyone as, you know everyone’s on an even slate you know, and just because a guy comes in that’s over 100 kilos sort of thing, or a woman for instance that might not look the typical mold of a yogi or whatever that’s supposed to look like anyway, I guess yeah, you really can’t, unless you’re a walking MRI machine, we can’t make these assumptions about what people can or can’t do with their bodies. Don’t assume that you know what’s best for their body. They know their body better than you do. And I’ve been blown away by some people that I would assume that they wouldn’t be able to move, and they move unbelievably well. I’ve seen people that are heavier than me, you know, do headstands and shoulder stands and advanced poses, and I would have never guessed it. And then I see some people that I would assume that a skeletal variation would be able to get them in certain positions and they’re not as accessible as I once believed. So I guess just having the open mind that if you want these people to come back, just treat them normally like how you would everyone else. No difference, no special treatment, don’t talk to them like they’re slow, because they might be your most dedicated client. I believe that most of the men that I’ve taught to, and we’ve taught over 98% of those figures to men, and they keep coming back, and they keep coming back, and they keep coming back. And they’re your most dedicated people because they’re actually putting in the hard work to be able to get them to a place of just being. And what does a place of just being look like? So, I don’t know if that’s helpful to anyone, but I’ll have to think about that and get back to you.
Jo: I think the advice in there of just not judging people based on your perceptions of you know, how they look and what they’re capable of from there is like great advice for yoga and life.
Tristan: Yeah well, one thing that really gets me, gets me sometimes and sometimes it can be quite exhausting is, ‘you look fine.’ When I go to a specialist or I talk about chronic pain and how I’m dealing with chronic pain, and they’re like, ‘you’re not even showing facial expression to that pain.’ And then when they see my scans or they see my medical history they’re like, ‘oh my god, I’m so sorry.’ I’ve had surgeries where you know, I’ve said ‘my pain levels are at this level,’ and the surgeon’s sort of paid it off, and then after the surgery they’ve apologised and they’ve gone, ‘wow, like you know, you had a lot of bone debris floating around there’ or ‘you had some free floating metal which would have caused a lot of intense pain but you showed no physical reaction to it.’ And you know, just because you look fine, doesn’t mean that you are. And I don’t want to cultivate that victim mentality; I’m very against it. But checking in with your strong people needs to really be adjusted, especially in a space where we’re offering these practices of yoga and meditation. We sometimes think that the strongest person is doing the best, and it’s not necessarily the case. So that ‘you look fine’ mentality, especially in regards to mental health, we need to really check fire on that and just put a bit of a stop and go, ‘woah, I’m just assuming,’ surface, surface level sort of thing. And that’s what I think a lot of the yoga industry is: is very surface level. People don’t necessarily want to experience the teachings from a straight, white male, um <laughs> you know, ‘tell it how it is’ bloke sort of thing. They want to go to the people with the amazing ranges of motion, the most following on their Instagram account, the most glamorous lifestyle and I think this is a poor portrayal of where yoga and meditation should be. Just an interesting observation.
Jo: I think that false positivity is something that we’re shining a light on more and more within yoga …
Jo: … like it’s not just pretending that everything is perfect when it’s not, like it’s actually looking at that stuff and delving into it.
Tristan: Yeah definitely. A big thing for me, that I don’t post any pictures in socials or anything like that of me practising because the type of person I’m trying to get into the class is just your average person. So me doing a headstand or a shoulder stand is going to turn away most of the people that I’m trying to access. Yes it’s cool to see a bigger dude doing those poses and I think that does break down some barriers, but for instance, very rarely will I portray those, the aspects of me, I keep that kind of private. I want to make it that ‘drop your vision of what it is in your mind away and come in with an open mind of, well this person’s practicing and teaching and being with it’ and keep that sort of private.
Rane Bowen: Hello, Rane here. Just popping in to talk about our Patreon page. Now, Patreon if you’re not sure what it is, is just a way that you can help support the Podcast for as little as $1 a month. The support we get from our Patreon helps us pay for our episode transcriptions. And speaking of transcriptions, the transcription of our last episode with Michelle Cassandra Johnson will be up on the website by the time you hear this episode.
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That’s more than enough from me; let’s get back to our conversation with Tristan Rose.
Jo: Feel free to stop me if this is too much of a personal question…
Tristan: No please go.
Jo: …but practicing with chronic pain I can imagine it must have actually been a bit of a journey and a bit of a challenge to separate out the sensations of the pose from the pain that is your everyday experience, and to not be in that mindset of pushing into pain when that’s kind of what you have to do to get through the day and feeling into what is productive at this moment and when do I need to back off?
Tristan: Yeah, finding the Goldilocks position, finding what’s ah, you know, ‘not too hard, not too soft, just right’ and ah, that’s a big part of my teachings and why I love Yin Yoga, is that I really play around with those fundamentals of the appropriate depth for where you are at here and now. Not going back to when you used to play professional rugby or do sports or when you did ballet or whatever your occupation was, and we all look back to where we were at one point in our life and go, ‘oh if I could do that again etc.’ and the reality is is that’s not going to happen, it’s here and now. So with chronic pain, it’s cultivating a mindset of really assessing constantly, an evolving of self-assessments of where I’m at, how I’m operating, what I can do. I give myself little ‘sit-reps’ – situation reports – little check ins that I call them, and I check in with how I’m at constantly, and I bring that into my teaching heavily – of just being present: positive, negative stimuli, being with it, observing it and then noticing that what’s coming is coming to go. So I may have fluctuations of intense pain where I won’t even be able to take my, my jumper or my jacket off and it’s just on for the day, I’m like ‘this is me, right now’. And then I’ll have movements that I’ll be able to be quite fluid and flowing, and in that state I’ve really got to take it as I am at that point. And that’s why I practice two to four hours a day is to keep my body moving. But that depth and choosing when to push myself and when not to, I think Yin Yoga in particular is a phenomenal exploration of where to push it too far, when not, where to back it off. It really taught me how to, not only manage chronic pain and my injuries, but also that teaching off the mat in life, and going, ‘okay, well I can take on board these projects and, and these, these things that are, events that are happening with my life’ but also well, when to reserve myself, when to stop out, when to engage and when to flow. But I got to a point with my, with my injuries that, I was taking like a box and a half of Endone a day.
Tristan: Every day. My tolerance just became more and more, not only to the opiods. And my GP was all for it, just going ‘yep, no worries, this is the damage that you’ve sustained and I’m happy to write it for you’. And I remember going off for a job and I had a shoebox, literally a shoebox of painkillers, and I remember looking at the shoebox and going, ‘no. I don’t want this’. And I went cold turkey. I um, didn’t have any ‘come down’ symptoms, I didn’t have any expected or anticipated issues with coming off pain medication at such a high quantity, but then when I was working, it really let the floodgates of that pain in. And I was like, ‘woah, I was using these to just get through the day.’ And I was at a place in my meditation particularly that I could literally sit back and observe the pain. Some days it’d be exhausting and I’d have to lie down. Sometimes the only way forward is to lie completely flat, which is what I say when I’m hungover sometimes <laughter> and I got to a point when I had my, I had a shoulder reconstruction, and the first part of the surgery they were just removing some bone debris and I took no painkillers
Jo: In your surgery?!
Tristan: … and ah … in my surgery and I passed out. I was watching them. The smell is what made me pass out, not the actual grinding and plucking and pulling, and I got to a point where I was like, ‘wow I can tolerate quite a lot than what I actually anticipated.’ And then sometimes the smallest of headaches will knock me for six. So it’s really a constant state of high highs and functioning and really low lows with that pain threshold. Sometimes the smallest thing could make me exhausted for an extended period of time. But going back to the practice, going back to the lessons learnt through the teachings of yoga and meditation has really made me transform that pain into the best thing that ever happened to me. My injuries were the best thing that ever happened to me, ‘cause I wouldn’t be where I am, right here and now.
Jo: And it absolutely seems like that has been the path for you helping so many other people.
Tristan: Yeah it definitely has. You know, we’ve got, we’ve got, I don’t know many members that or people that come to the practice with us that haven’t experienced injuries or some complication of some degree, whether it be physical or mental health, and we really don’t give power to the story. We really sit back and just go, ‘just be with it’. I don’t entertain the story of why they can’t do things or why they can’t do this or that. Yeah, I really just let them be with where they are at. And you see over time, it’s a phenomenal observation, a story going, you know, it’s really beautiful to see. Rather than be trapped in repeat mode of a particular incident or a situation, letting that dissipate, seeing that physically in their bodies, seeing that in how they communicate to people, how they talk to people, how they talk to themselves, you know, just interaction with what they’re having with their movements and their relationship to that, is, I’m, it’s profound, it’s absolutely profound.
Jo: And is this something that you articulate in a direct way in your classes or is this just how this practice unfolds for people?
Tristan: I believe it’s how it unfolds. I believe that. You need to be allowing, in a place of allowing, like all practices of yoga, particularly in introspective practices like Yin, meditation and mindfulness, we’re switching that belief, that hyper-vigilance long-term is a negative trait, we all understand that, but at Blind Tiger Yoga we’re teaching them those skills to flip that hyper-vigilance from arousal in your external stimuli to internal stimuli, making it a healthy tool. So: ‘rather than assessing everyone in the pub or in the, in the room of where you’re located etc. like that, I want you to relate that inwards, shutting down the eyes, focusing on what you can do and being with it’, and seeing that unravel naturally without any force and just observation is a weapon of peace.
Jo: And just from everything that you’ve told us, I can imagine that, hearing about how driven you are as a person as well, you probably want to reach everyone with these powerful practices but at the same time, you’d have to be pretty careful of your own energy reserves, not just that goes with teaching but every other aspect that goes with running a business, and especially like, creating a whole new avenue for people in different communities to experience these practices, is that introspection, that tuning in something that you have to do for yourself, everyday to not just burn out?
Tristan: Oh constantly, but to be honest I’ve had, oh, we’ve been going for three years and I’ve had three burnouts in three years, um…
Jo: Lifelong lesson. <laughs>
Tristan: Yeah and look, you know, I’m not immune from that, I haven’t got to a place even though that I may have developed skillsets to be with pain and observe pain, I still take on board a lot of stuff that I don’t need to and I’m still learning how to let certain things go to the keeper and not take on certain things, because I genuinely am so passionate about helping people that I almost feel, I feel like ah, there was this one point in my life that, when I started actually asking for help, when everyone said, ‘you know if you’re struggling, ask for help’ it’s, it’s what, you know, the textbook thing is if you’re struggling, put your hand up. And I got to a point where I was asking for help and no one took it seriously, no one took it seriously at all. And I hadn’t got a hold of how to deal with pain in that time, everything was really bad and I remember going quite a few days without sleep, and I was cleaning my rifle and I turned around and I put my rifle in my mouth, and I was like, ‘this is how I’m going to go to sleep.’ And then I stopped, like, it was only for like a second that I thought that, and I thought ‘what am I doing?’ unloaded the rifle, you know, and put it in the safe and gave the keys to my friend and said, ‘um look I need help, why is no one listening to me? Why is no one listening to me?’ And the advice that I had was just shocking. It was, ‘knock off, go drink a carton of beer and come back tomorrow morning.’ No one took me serious. And when I have people that come to me that are genuinely looking for a way to deal with how to go on physically or mentally, I almost feel obliged that I have to give them time and I have to give them like, as much energy as I can but without drowning myself in the process. That is something I’m constantly evolving and still learning with. And with the burnout, it’s been around about spreading myself too thin, you know. I was at a point of teaching 25 classes a week, you know, and 90-minute sessions a piece, you know, that’s a lot of time plus travel, my own practice. If I get three and a half hours sleep a night, that’s a good night for me. That’s how much pain that I’m in in my body. I’m not taking anything for pain at all um since, when I walked away from it years ago. And learning that capacity to be able to stop and step back and go, ‘wow I’m taking on too much’. My girlfriend’s always smiling and nodding and just going, ‘yup you only listen to, you know, stubborn stubborn Tristan’ sort of thing. That’s that male ego coming into play. But I do feel a lot of guilt around not being able to be accessible to more people, but with the same amount of passion and intensity, you’ve really got to be careful about how much energy you give to some people because I’ve had that abuse from a lot of people as well. Some people that are those ‘hungry ghosts’ that just want to come in and, and steal some of that oxygen. And when you don’t have any oxygen for yourself you feel like you’re giving life support to others before putting on yourself. Isn’t that interesting on a plane: ‘put it on yourself and then put it on others’. When every time that I’ve burnt out, I’ve been putting that mask on others before myself first. So little flight info tip there for life, um which always makes me smile when I’m on a plane. So, yeah being very reserved with who I give my time to and how I give my time to is constantly evolving. I’ve been burnt by some people that were very close to me that I thought were genuine in helping and getting them through some rough times, and they’ve taken ideas and then run with them or claimed them as their own or stolen intellectual property or even just being, I don’t know how to describe it, but just not a good human. And I’ve been sort of sucker punched by the sight of it, going, ‘well I let that happen because I was blinded by their intention and I thought their intention was to just get better and be.’ So there’s been various ups and downs but I would say 99% has been wins for the general population.
Jo: And so, this is probably a lot more work before it will lighten your workload, but have you thought about running teacher trainings and kind of setting up more of a support network so this load’s not all on you and Ross?
Tristan: Yeah so, at the moment there’s four people in our team for Blind Tiger Yoga and we look at the numbers that we’ve taught to, you know, and it’s been pretty massive in a very short space of time. And it’s not about the numbers, but it’s about the data showing to Department of Veterans’ Affairs, the Australian Government and the Australian Defence Force that people are looking for alternative modalities for their health and wellbeing. You can’t tell me that people aren’t looking for those figures alone, and imagine if there was 20 of us, imagine if there was 50 of us. So we have actually, haven’t publically announced it yet but here, hey let’s go for it <laughter> um so we’re running our first veteran teacher training that’s created by veterans for veterans next year…
Jo: That’s awesome!
Tristan: It’s gonna be the first of its kind next year. We’re really excited about it, I’m terrified as well, but that’s where I wanna go, I wanna go with teach the teacher, or train the trainer, however you want to call it. And I have all this knowledge that I want to be able to pass on to people and taking that mentoring role, and we aim to qualify 20 veterans on our first teacher training. It’s partly sponsored by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, which is fantastic that they’re starting to open their mind to, to these modalities. And we want them to go back to their communities with a standard of learnt experience. I think a lot of the teacher trainings that are out there, they’re phenomenal, however, they’re not competency-based, and this will be the first competency-based teacher training. If you’re qualified but not competent, I really don’t want you teaching in the veteran space. I want you competent. And I don’t care about your qualification necessarily, I care about your practice, I care about your dedication to your craft. And I guess we really want to drum that home in our TT. It’s going to be a 14-day intensive, plus an extensive online mentoring process etc. And this is just entry-level, this is bottom line entry-level you know, this is just, that grain of sand on the beach sort of thing. So we’re really looking forward to it, it’s going to be awesome. We’re really excited about it.
Jo: Yeah and like, really exciting as well to be able to pass on everything that you’ve learnt. I feel like you’re just going to change those teachers’ lives for them but then everyone else who they will interact with, that will just keep radiating out.
Tristan: Yeah, it’s gonna be, it’s gonna be a flow on effect, it’s gonna have a massive ripple effect. And it already has with our students getting other people, and bringing mates to classes and bringing mates to the practice and, and really expanding that. We don’t want anything in return. Blind Tiger doesn’t want anything in return. Our end state is to be able to get people to try it, from a bloke-friendly person from that background, debunking and demything what yoga and meditation is, and then getting them to practice with their local studio and their local teachers and then going back into the community and going, ‘yeah look, my idea of what it is has completely changed’. So, I do believe that that teacher training, if they go back and teach – fantastic, if they’re just using it for their personal development and themselves I’m personally stoked with that, really stoked.
Jo: And ripples will still radiate out from that person even if they’re not standing up the front of a room teaching, they’re still going to be living their lives in a different way.
Tristan: Their family, their friends, ah their colleagues you know, general members of the community are gonna feel it and experience it. And look, you know, it was interesting, I was talking to a social worker yesterday, I’ve been called many things in my life, and you know, and I don’t get offended too many things at all, and I just had to crack up laughing at this one, she goes ‘you’re a unicorn of yoga and meditation’ <laughter> and I’m like, ‘I’ve been called many different things, I’d replace that horn with a different thing <laughter> but ah, I’ve never been called a unicorn’ and she goes ‘oh you know, I’m finally meeting someone that is from this landscape that’s teaching in this, this ah community and it’s so refreshing.’ And I was still cracking up laughing about it this morning like ‘wow, a unicorn, my mates aren’t going to let me live that one down.’ <laughter>
Jo: Yeah everyone’s going to hear about it now from the Podcast! <laughter>
Tristan: But um, hey you know, that was ah, that was pretty funny, and I just thought ‘wow’. It’s interesting though, I did think that there would be more traction from people in the yoga industry with people getting in contact and going, ‘hey, like you know, we would love to collaborate or we would love to work with you’. I think a lot of them don’t know how to take even stepping into this area and, even though we do get a lot of support, we actually do get a lot of people just contacting us to unload on us, which we’re not designed for. And we had an email from a lady a few nights ago and it was about a post that I put on Instagram three months ago, and it was a four-page, A4 page, ah size 8 font rant about nonsensical dribble. And I was just like, ‘wow.’ I feel sorry for this person but this is also someone I don’t need to give my energy to, as we were talking about energy reserves etc. before. But I was really surprised and still constantly surprised that all the people that say that they want to break down barriers of connecting with this different demographic of people are silent. They like to appear to be helping, but I’m yet to see any evidence of them actually helping. When people talk about teaching to certain minority groups or different communities etc., yet what are they actually doing about it? What are they actually presenting to that, that population that they want to target? And a lot of people that I thought would be more engaging and proactive have been very silent. Very silent. And I’m interested to, to see why.
Jo: One thought that I’ve just had is: I wonder if people are afraid they’re going to say the wrong thing, like it’s not their world and while their intentions might be good, they don’t quite have the fortitude to put themselves out there and reach out?
Jo: What are some practical things that people who do wanna help, what can they do?
Tristan: Oh, I would say, that’s a great point, and I would actually say that, ‘do the opposite, don’t be afraid’. We’re so thick skinned, we’re, you know, I feel a lot of sympathy for that woman that contacted me about the Instagram post, and I wanted to refer her to various mental health issues, um mental health providers sorry, because the issue wasn’t with me or the post, it was just stuff that was happening in her particular space at that time. I think that whatever you’ve got to say, say it, coz we learn from it. I learn from negative input just as much as I do positive input. In fact, I learn more from the negative input than I do from the positive, because it’s great getting compliments from people and saying, ‘well done, you’re doing great work and the traction’s going pretty well,’ but it’s from the negative stimuli that we can truly change the dynamic in what we’re doing. Sometimes we don’t even know that we’re doing the wrong thing until someone, they go, ‘hey have you thought about it like this?’ And we’re approachable, we really are approachable. I think with the veteran community, a personal pet peeve is ‘get away from the sensitive title,’ not sensitive, it’s just, we’re not sensitive, you know, it’s <laughs> we’re, come from a trauma-informed background you know, but we’re so thick skinned, say what you want, and it’s completely fine, it’s an open space to do so. Positive or negative; go for it. Constructive. If you’re looking for someone to have a, <laughs> a four-page rant you know, maybe go somewhere else. <laughter>
Jo: Don’t you just write that in your diary: do some processes, take it to your counsellor perhaps. <laughter>
Tristan: Yeah yeah, look you know, everyone’s fighting a battle I know nothing about so I try and put the pause on the judge there, but there’s also an element of me going, ‘why did I even read that from start to finish?’ And then my ripple effect of energy for that day was completely depleted coz I’m like, ‘ah look, didn’t let that one go to the keeper, I took that on board.’ So, it’s easy to take that energy when you’re so passionate about something.
Jo: I think as well it’s easy to forget that you’re actually talking to a real person when you’re just venting online.
Tristan: Oh yeah, oh definitely. We have probably four to five people contact us in a, on a day that will be telling them about their story and where they’re at etc., which is phenomenal that they feel safe to do so, but also the capacity to be able to maintain that whilst teaching high amounts of classes, publicly and privately as well, there’s just not enough hours in the day. Hopefully with expanding our team and our community, we’ll be able to get people to be able to be in that role more efficiently, but it’s spreading ourselves too thin at the moment. What would your recommendations be for suggestions in this, this demographic?
Jo: Well not coming from a place of lived experience…
Tristan: That’s okay.
Jo: … what you said when you were in that class and the person who gave you space was so much more helpful than the person who tapped you on the shoulder and said, ‘oh you’re trying really hard, you’re doing great,’ and so I think maybe that could be a little sense of reading the room. If someone comes in and you get the sense that they need a bit of space, don’t try and push your way in there with what might be coming, like with encouragement, just you know, let that person know that you’re there, if they need help through the class, and then give them some space to find their own way through. And I think, shifting language from something that’s about achievement, where it’s, ‘this is the full pose, we’re all trying to get here,’ into something that’s more experiential of ‘what do we want to feel in this pose, here are some options depending on what you’ve got going on that might help set the, set up the architecture in a Yin practice where you can get what you need out of that pose that day’, and knowing that that’s going to be different for everyone on different days. So I guess that sense of meeting someone where they’re at without having a lot of expectation about the shape that you want to put their body into.
Tristan: Mmm. I like that, I really like that. And look, I see that as common sense.
Jo: Right?! <laughs>
Tristan: But everyone sees things differently you know, I think holding the space, what you said at the start there, that’s an art form in itself. You know, there should be dedicated teacher trainings for that, or guidance or mentoring for that because I’ve met some phenomenal teachers, yet holding the space is very difficult for them to do, and being comfortable in that environment to you know, read the room, learn to read people’s body language and their responses and, but not going too into it as well, and going, ‘hey I, you know, I’ve assessed this as this and, and this and this’ and um, but yeah, some great points there.
Jo: Oh thank you. I think if…
Tristan: What about you mate?
Rane: I guess I just have to echo what Jo said and I think what you said earlier about, ah I teach a regular and um, you know she’s in a larger body and she commented how in another class she went to the teacher, who would sort of come down, kneel in front of her and be, ‘are you okay?’ sort of thing and found that very, I guess you know, patronising and, and someone who’s already a bit um self conscious so, you know I obviously don’t want to, want people to have that experience in my class and, yeah I guess though, I don’t have the experience that Jo’s had so I’m still sort of navigating my way through this as well, so yeah.
Tristan: Awesome. Well that fact that you’re even open-minded to that is, is phenomenal and I don’t think it’s necessarily for veterans and first responders that I’m talking about, it’s just humans.
Tristan: You know…
Rane: Yeah …
Tristan: … just just general humans <laughs> just you know when you go to um Asian countries or even a foreign country in general and um people are not getting the message across so they start raising their voice, you know, they start … <laughs>
Jo: They say the same thing again in a louder voice …
Tristan: … and they’re shouting, they’re like, ‘It’s not deaf’ um <laughs> ‘it’s not understanding what you’re saying.’ And that sometimes, I observe in a yoga class and they’re just like, they’re saying it from a stronger stance but I’m like, if you know your craft you should be able to explain it in multiple ways, in multiple platforms. That to me shows the true knowledge of a teacher is that they can explain one subject in multiple multiple ways. Yin Yoga is repetition with variation you know, and constantly keeping that interesting and evolving is an art form in itself. But teaching to just general humans, I think we just take it all so serious, we all take it so serious and we just go… I take the piss out of myself all the time and I have a lot of fun doing it as well, and just going, ‘look it’s just yoga’. I mean, you look at yoga magazines and Instagram pages and stuff and everyone has this look on their face and it’s like, ‘oh come on man!’ like you know <laughs> you know, what’s with the facial? Just you know, <laughter> you’re just like, ‘you’re human mate, you’re probably going to go for some fish tacos and a beer afterwards … <laughter> so just get off your high horse of your spiritual unicorn.’ <laughter>
Jo: I think everyone’s farted in yoga class at one time or another. <laughter>
Tristan: Oh it’s um, someone asked me the other day, he’s goes, ‘oh what do I do if I’ve gotta fart?’ I’m like, ‘just go for it man.’
Jo: This is the place to let it out!
Tristan: Just go for it! I don’t even react to it anymore, and then seeing grown men, like giggle like little kids, I’m like, you know ‘boys will be boys’ <laughter>
Jo: Girls giggle at farts too <laughter> I think this is like a universally funny human action <laughs>
Tristan: It’s the international language, everyone knows what laughs cries, anger and happiness and farts are, yup.
Jo: I feel like as well, what you were saying before about people taking themselves too seriously, for me seeing someone on a so-called spiritual path who is taking themselves really seriously, it’s a bit of a red flag because when you actually see the most evolved and wise and compassionate people, they don’t take themselves seriously at all, and they also don’t take the world seriously at all, even though they can talk about some really powerful stuff, it’s always with humour.
Tristan: Yeah and, and that light-heartedness that, I, I get my back up when, you know, people self call themselves ‘masters’ so I always sort of, that’s a red flag for me, I’m just like, ‘oh self-proclaimed master, this is, this is gonna be interesting.’ And I just think, look we’re all novices in life, we’re all, no one’s got their stuff sorted. It’s okay not to know. It’s okay to be struggling. It’s okay to be, in any way, any state, any place of being. And you know, I’m quite passionate and very serious about certain subjects but I also am reminding myself constantly of just <laughs> ‘wow, just take a pause there, take a lil check in with where you’re at, recalibrate yourself and have a laugh you know, it’s just yoga and meditation, you know, don’t take it so serious.’
Rane: This whole life thing’s pretty ridiculous really isn’t it? <laughter>
Tristan: What I used to get hung up about and you know, what I get hung up about now I find quite hilarious and I’m like, ‘I know that I’m going to look back in five years about how I am now and laugh at that as well.’ And yeah, you know, we get so caught up in, especially in Western culture, especially in Australia: where do you live? What do you drive? What do you do? And people are assessing what, on those, basis of those three things, how much respect that they should give you, you know. It’s almost a pecking order of ‘well, based on those, those things, well how can I assess on, how much respect that I treat you?’ and I’m like, ‘hey, I don’t care if you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth or you have nothing, how you treat people, that’s true wealth, that’s true respect and kindness. Doesn’t matter where you are in the pecking order, there’s no excuse to be rude to anyone, there’s no excuse to be unkind.’ And yeah, it’s just life, you know.
Jo: And it’s like, respect isn’t pie. You don’t have a <laughter> limited amount, like a serve that you’re gonna give people that day, like …
Tristan: Yeah it’s …
Jo: … everyone can get that full serve of respect and there’ll still be plenty to go around.
Tristan: Exactly, you know, exactly. If we can go into a place where we can let people be without, yeah you can have some banter, I love banter. How I am around the boys is completely different how I am around a yoga studio. Being able to put that hat on and off is a great thing to do and to have. But also the communication when you know, it’s too much or to put the brakes on it, you know, um it’s all about balance.
Rane: Well, we may have already touched on this already and it’s sad that we’re coming near the end of our conversation, but if you could distil everything that you’ve learnt and everything that you teach down to one core essence, what do you think that one thing would be?
Tristan: Oh, I’ve been thinking about this for some time, even before you brought the question up, and I would just say that allowing is the essence of practice. Allowing’s the essence of the practice of life, really. Yeah, that’s what I would take home, that would be my take home. If you’re resistant to it, if you’re pushing back on it too much, what’s coming is coming to go, and you need to be allowing. Allowing to it to transform and to be, to laugh, to be and, yeah, evolve.
Rane: Well, that was fucking awesome. <laughter> Thank you so much for um speaking with us, it’s been amazing.
Jo: Yeah this has been one of the amazing things about doing this Podcast, like we get the chance to connect with awesome people like you, doing this great stuff in the world…
Jo: … and then like, settle in and have a good in-depth chat about it, so thank you so much ‘cause I know that your time and energy is, you know, you have to manage it like we all do so we really appreciate you giving it to us. Thank you so much.
Tristan: Oh, it’s been greatly used, thank you so much.
Rane: And that was our conversation with Tristan Rose. I’m curious to get your thoughts on that conversation. If you want, you can reach out to us on podcast.flowartists.com or you can join our group on Facebook, the Flow Artists Podcast Community, I almost forgot the name of our Facebook group. Great conversation, great guy and we were really glad to get the opportunity to speak with him.
Now for our next episode, I’m a little bit daunted to announce this. We’re doing an episode on adjustments or hands on assists. Now Jo and I didn’t want to just speak with one person about this because it’s such a big and nuanced topic, so we’ve actually got a few people lined up for this episode, such as Matthew Ramski Leigh Blashki, Amy Wheeler, Dominique Salerno, Mei Lei Swan and many more, too many for me to remember. And as I said, I’m a little bit daunted about this because I think we have around four hours of audio footage recorded which I need to cut down and put into an episode that makes sense. So, look out for that in two weeks I hope. <laughs>
Before I leave you I’d like to honour the traditional custodians of the land where this Podcast was recorded, the Wurundjeri People of the Kulin Nation.
Jo and I would also like to honour the elders of these wisdom traditions that we teach and share with the world. We couldn’t do it without this incredible history, this incredible background of knowledge and wisdom.
Thank you so much for listening. Jo and I really appreciate you spending your time with us. Arohanui, big big love.