Teacher Spotlight: Derek Beres
What inspired you to become a yoga teacher?
I started practicing asanas in 1999, but began studying yogic texts in 1993 studying religion at Rutgers University. Dance and martial arts led me to explore a variety of movement disciplines, and I found yoga to be the most agreeable for my temperament. I generally consider movement my practice, but the foundation of yoga philosophy, predominantly the yamas and niyamas, to be of utmost importance. I practiced for five years before deciding to get a better grasp of alignment and take a Teacher Training, with no intention of teaching. Things changed in the process and I've been teaching between seven and seventeen classes a week for eleven years now.
As a yoga teacher, where do you get most of your income?
I used to make all of my income from teaching yoga, when I ran teacher trainings at Equinox. Now it's part of my income; I am on faculty at a few studios teaching yoga philosophy, plus group classes at Equinox and online trainings. I also run a national neuroscience, yoga, and music program at Equinox called Flow Play.
How do you maintain your health and vital energy?
I work out six days a week, mixing cardio, high-intensity interval training with equipment like VIPR, sand bells, TRX, and kettlebells, hiking, swimming, and of course yoga. As a vegetarian I pay close attention to my diet as well, and meditation is key in dealing with my emotions.
How do you create healthy teacher/student boundaries?
I never speak about things I do not know or cannot verify. I have no interest in being perceived as a 'spiritual' teacher or even practitioner. Separating spirituality from daily life is one of the more damaging habits I've seen in modern yoga. You practice, you practice, you practice. Talking about all the perceived benefits sets you up for the weird relationships and power struggles that sometime plague studios and teachers. I would never call anyone a 'fan' or even a student, really. I'm sharing movement with people, many of whom become friends. If questions about anything, anatomy, injury, or metaphysics, are asked and I cannot give an honest answer, I tell them to look elsewhere, that I'm not equipped to reply to that. That said, as for difficult yogis, I learned early on to never lose a room. I'm very clear of the boundary when I'm at the front of the class and the work I've put in to get there.
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