Meet Alec Butterfield, Yoga Teacher & Youth Mentor
Why do you teach yoga?
Teaching has, for me, become a natural progression to constantly asking myself how am I best suited to serve others. This idea of coming together for a yoga class is a very modern one. On the mat, we all come from different places. In our yogasana, we go to so many different places. I teach in celebration of this!
What style/type of yoga do you teach?
At Supersoul, I lead moderate Vinyasa classes. Through sequences of deep hip, hamstring, and heart openings, we build on the foundation of modern Ashtanga (Eight Limbed) Vinyasa Yoga.
What is your biggest hope for your students?
I hope my students find for themselves over and over again that maitri, the practice of love and compassion for the self, is more important than the most advanced physical contortion. Who we once were, who we want to be, or who we can never be brings us to the most challenging yogasana of them all: being who we are, now!
Who have been your most influential teachers?
Sondra Loring, TJ Macchiaroli, and Raghunath & Brij Cappo have each impacted me profoundly, and they are my direct links to Sri Pattabi Jois, Sri Dharma Mittra, and Radhanath Swami, respectively. Along with these and many other public figures, I draw from BKS Iyengar, T. Krishnamacharya, Pema Chodron, Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Carl Sagan.
How has your own practice and teaching evolved?
Yoga has given me control in my life, not always to make the change I want, but allows me to be ok with who and where I am moment-to-moment. Once, I thought of yoga as a great way to get "in shape" or "fit." Now, years later, I see my practice as a perpetual cultivation of my spiritual self. I constantly look to apply my Self day to day, regardless of what I'm doing.
At first, teaching meant simply doing what I like to do. Then I started to weave in other subject fields, such as current events, or human biology. I love giving a dharma talk talking about cells and cosmology, and their relevance to yoga. Now, teaching is to me a joy in the personal journeys each one of us is on. Let us revel in coming together while we travel!
How do you stay inspired?
Our lives are inextricably physical. These days, just touching your phone the right way can make just about anything happen. This is a very heady experience. In fact, so can exercise, sports, making money and chasing success, pleasure, comfort and ease and so on. It's not our fault that we live such heady lives, it is all around us in New York and beyond. Herein lies a great inspiration: come home to the body. For me, it is paramount to turn my mind to my body and listen to it, and to engage in the mind/body conversation.
There are countless ways I stay inspired. All I have to do is look around me and look inside myself. It is a blessing that so many things in my life bring spiritual awakening. On the radio I hear about a scientific discovery backing up what is, in essence, an ancient teaching. I make a home cooked meal and share it with someone. I get into deep conversations in the supermarket and at the gas station. I sing and chant. I study human biology and the brain. I count my good fortunes. I ask myself the questions that all the great religions and scientific communities have always asked: Who are we? Why are we here? What are we supposed to do?
At the end of the day, what I take for mere consciousness, is really inspiration of a divine sort. I am looking for the me in you.