- From Pranayama to Pedaling: IYISF Hosts AIDS/LifeCycle Benefit
On Friday May 24th, join IYISF Faculty Member Janet MacLeod for a two-hour benefit class open to all levels in celebration and acknowledgment of the 16 year commitment of IYISF AS/TT alumni Tony Eason (2002) to AIDS/Lifecycle. The 575-mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles brings together 2,500 cyclists each year for to raise funds and awareness to support the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center and San Francisco AIDS Foundation in their work to reduce new HIV infections and improve the quality of life for people living with HIV/AIDS. Each year, participants pledge to raise funds for these beneficiaries; in his past decade and a half of riding, Tony has not only pedaled over 8,000 miles, but has also raised over raising over $64,000.
We caught up with Tony to ask him a bit about his experience and impressive accomplishments with ALC as well as it’s synergy with his yoga practice. Read on for his inspirational interview!
IYISF: Can you tell us what inspired you to first start participating as a rider in ALC and what has kept you going back for 16 years?
Tony: In 1994, At the age of 32, a friend suggested, “sit in the nude & stare into a mirror.” So, I did. And after staring (for 10 minutes) at my face, arms, stomach, eyes, feet and legs, I realized the mirror reflection did not match up with the words pouring out of my mouth. I realized that I was a cocaine addict and that I had no “real” purpose. Days later, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a flyer for California AIDS Ride.
Then a light bulb went on in my head. I decided: “I CAN DO THIS!” I decided to use physical activity as a way to regain my focus and make some life changes while simultaneously being “of service.” Therefore, in May 1994 [after 1 year of training] , I participated in my first 545 mile, 7 day bike journey from San Francisco to Los Angeles in the fight against the AIDS Pandemic.
What has kept me going back?
I believe “the best way to teach is by example.” And therefore, I continue to participate in the AIDS/Lifecyle Event as a way to empower & encourage others to become the refection they want to see of themselves while simultaneously being “of service”.
Presently 18 years later, on occasion, I stare into the mirror. And instead of viewing selfishness, vanity, illusions, cocaine, lies, and ‘Jack’, I see a yoga student of 17 years. I see an Iyengar Yoga Teacher. I see a San Francisco Marathon Runner. I see a road cycling AIDS Activist. I see a 50 year old man with a vision & purpose. I see a philanthropist. I see a positive addition to humanity.
IYISF: How do you train for a 575-mile ride and maintain your yoga practice and an instructor? Are the two harmonious or do you find there is discord?
Tony: The practice of hatha yoga can not bring discord to one’s life.
By bringing awareness of the physical body, the regulation & control of the breath, and creating a stillness of the mind, the continuous practice of Hatha Yoga strengthens and brings harmony to the athlete. One’s personal practice & yoga sequences can be altered [if needed] to assist in the athletic training recovery process. Perhaps instead of doing a rigorous yoga sequence, one might consider a restorative sequencing. Instead of Sirsasana, perhaps it’s a day for Viparita Karani.
A Senior Iyengar Yoga Teacher once told me, “teach what you know.” Therefore, I use my athletic training experiences to enhanced what hatha yoga knowledge I can share with my yoga students and/or offer during my yoga classes.
IYISF: Do you have any words of wisdom for those who are interested in taking on the challenge of an endurance sport?
Tony: Whether training for a endurance athletic event; preparing for the 2yr Advanced Teacher Training Program of the IYISF; or striving to become President of the United States – the training formula is the same. “Vision. Focus. OWN IT!”
Vision comes when a light bulb goes on & the seed is planted. Focus develops when one sets a course of action – a plan. And to Own it: one executes the plan with “discipline & perseverance. ”
Most individuals can find ‘vision.” [we can all ‘talk the talk’].
While some can find ‘focus.’
But the one who will prevail is the one who has ‘the courage” to OWN IT!
IYISF: Can you share with us one of your most memorable and/or meaningful experiences from your years as an ALC rider?
Tony: My most memorable experience was my very first AIDS Ride. I arrived at the starting line with $3.00 in my pocket, no idea of how I was going to return to San Francisco, no place to stay in Los Angeles, a questionable bike, and the fear of failure. And although I was completely broke, I refused to let a financial challenge stop me from achieving my goal. Therefore, I surrendered to my destiny – allowed things to fall as they may.
Seven days, 575 miles later, I arrived in West Hollywood. At which point, I realized it is possible to step outside of one’s regular routine. I realized it is possible to empower yourself while assisting others. I realized I was not alone in my ideas of creating a better world. And I realized that miracles can occur. After all, I made it back home to San Francisco with $3.00 in my pocket.
For more information about Tony’s ALC Benefit Class taught by Janet MacLeod or to register click here!