Yoga Guru Baron Baptiste Comes to Charlotte

Father, author, and yoga extraordinaire Baron Baptiste comes to Charlotte May 10 for his Personal Revolution All-Day Immersion hosted by Yoga One in Plaza Midwood. Baptiste aims to “change the face of yoga” and demystify it of religion to make it accessible to everyone. From teaching Hollywood celebrities to training the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles, Baptiste has truly pioneered yoga in the U.S. His books include Journey Into Power—How to Sculpt Your Ideal Body, Free Your True Self, and Transform Your Life with Yoga; 40 Days To Personal Revolution; and My Daddy Is A Pretzel, Yoga for Kids and Parents. We caught up withBaptiste before his visit to Charlotte. —Emily Brown

Tell us a little bit about the All-Day Immersion that you’re doing in Charlotte?
The title is personal revolution immersion. A revolution is a kind of revolt against status quo. In the sense that often people get stuck in a rut or they get stuck in a pattern of health or exercise, or patterns of thinking, patterns of eating. It gets you on a new track– a new track with your body. It helps with yoga practice and it really strengthens and gives you energy. And clears up all the stress from your body and mind, which creates more clarity.

When did you start practicing yoga?
My parents owned and operated a yoga center in San Francisco. They actually opened the first yoga center in San Francisco in 1955 before I was born. So I was pretty much raised around yoga and health.

Do your kids practice yoga with you
My three boys do off and on. They definitely know it and have been around it, so it’s a part of their life. I wrote a children’s book My Dad is a Pretzel and created a card deck for people who want to teach their kids yoga, which was really an outcrop of me having kids.

How has yoga evolved over the past years?
I think in the last five years it has really become much more a part of general fitness and health. I want to say consciousness. It’s kind of in the mind of most people now.

It has really grown into mainstream, American awareness. It is amazing how it has really spread out. It’s just everywhere.

Why should people practice yoga?
When it is taught well, it really works for people. Their life goes on and they feel so much better and so much of their stress and anxiety disappears and they physically feel more powerful. And a lot of their aches and pains disappear. And they have a new kind of energy. And that’s why I do these immersion weekends. It can have a huge impact.  When people come in feeling one way. They are sluggish or negative or burnt out and they really get put on a whole new track and that’s what I am committed to.

How do your studios differ from others?
I have a very unique approach and methodology. It’s really distinct in two ways. The way it is presented; the language is very straight forward. And a lot of times everyday people will go to yoga class and a lot of times they get Hinduism or something that can feel too disconnected and different from their way of life. I try to make is approachable and accessible by putting it into a form that really is great for anybody from any walk of life. The philosophy is really classical and the level of yoga is adaptable to anyone—whatever level you’re at.

What advice can you give to beginner yogis?
The first thing with any beginner is not to force it, and they want to work at their own level. Don’t feel like you have to do it perfectly or get it exactly right. It is a process. The first thing is to become committed.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about yoga?

I think most of the misconceptions are actually pretty accurate, and that is part of the problem. It throws people off when they come into a yoga class and there’s Hinduism and it can be kind of religious or really new age-y and the teacher is really spacey and checks out. I agree with a lot of the misconceptions, but I think my approach has stripped down the trappings and religiosity because it is a straight forward philosophy and practice.

Are you religious?
I’m more spiritual than religious. But I tend to be more Christian but not in a religious sense, in a spiritual sense. I love the biblical principles.

What’s your ultimate life mission?
It is really to bring transformation to people and to give them the opportunity to have access to tools that enrich or enhance their life, whatever area of their life that might be, whether it’s their physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual well-being.

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