Meet Jeremy Wolf! Since childhood, Jeremy Wolf has pursued the growth and development of both mind and body in what started with a deep interest in the martial arts. After reaching a second degree black belt in Taekwondo, he went on to teach as an assistant and many years later found Capoeira where he trained and taught with the American Capoeira Association in Boulder/Denver, Colorado. His yoga and meditation classes seek to incorporate the holistic practice of yoga illuminating the transcendental element of yoga’s deeply spiritual origin. His time off the mat is usually spent immersed in the beauty of the Rocky Mountains or in his musical passions of djing/producing ethnic-electronic music and the exploration of trance-dance as a method for healing, expression, and self-realization.
Our Creative Manager Julia Clarke caught up with Jeremy recently. Read on to get to know him better…
JC: You have a long history with martial arts. Do you feel those practices have shaped how you teach and practice yoga?
JW: Most definitely, although not so much in the way people might expect. Since I have a history with capoeira, I think some people come to my classes expecting more acrobatic and complicated poses. While I do very much enjoy and always include some more advanced postures, they’re not what shape my intention in designing a class or how I practice personally. Martial arts taught me a lot about mental focus and stability as well as discipline. I feel that those principles are what most come through in my yoga teaching and practice which tend to have an orientation toward “mental posture” as much as physical posture.
JC: In a time when yoga is increasingly fast-paced and there seems to less and less “real estate” available for the lunar art, you’ve been successful in cultivating studentship for Yoga Nidra and slower paced Vinyasa classes. What’s your secret?
JW: I think, in general, since we live in a time and culture where we can’t move much faster, the slower practices offer quite a dramatic contrast, which can get people’s attention. Our culture, at large, is quite neurotic, and we continue to pile our plates and fill our days with activities. We’ve forgotten the need for space. Space to breathe, relax, appreciate and just be. While most of us continue seeking active practices to perpetuate our need to stay busy and uphold the momentum of our daily lives, we realize, at some level, that it’s not working, healthy or sustainable. I feel that if you can offer someone an experience that shifts their entire perspective and awakens the body’s inherent knowing of the importance of slow down, it can have a dramatic impact. When you offer the body an antidote, it feels it and knows it at a deep physiological and psychological level providing a result that, though perhaps not initially sought, is simply undeniable.
JC: As an esteemed teacher of Yoga Nidra, how do you encourage people to come to class who don’t see the value in relaxation?
JW: It’s tricky, and in those cases presentation is everything. Some simply don’t have the desire to spend the better part of an hour lying down and doing nothing and can’t understand that there’s any value in it. When you talk about “an alternative to meditation,” a way to dismantle the causes of stress at the deepest levels, a way to tap into creative potential, and a way to remove psychological conditioning from the past in order to access the deepest levels of healing, you’re likely to strike a chord in some way, though it doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily see them in class the next week. Some will be curious enough to try it out, others will have to stumble into the class by accident, and in many cases it will only take one session for the practitioner to immediately know the importance of rest in a very real and personal way. For many, they’ll have to continue experiencing a life without relaxation until they reach the point where their body communicates to them that it can only manage that lifestyle successfully for so long. There’s deep wisdom in understanding why yoga is both an comprehensive system of active techniques as well as those that pertain to deep relaxation and internalization. Just like Patanjali says in the first sutra, “Now, the practice of yoga,” the implication is that once one is tired from seeking the things that haven’t worked to find lasting joy, health or fulfillment, etc., we’ll eventually seek the things that do.
JC: Last time we hung out, you were living in Evergreen with your family. Are you still there and how is life?
JW: We’re now in Coal Creek Canyon. We had the illusion that we’d conveniently be close to Denver and Boulder. The truth is now we’re not close to anything, including grocery stores. It’s beautiful though, and having a place retreat to out of the city has become a must. Still at 8,100ft, the herd of elk, fresh air, silent nights and star-filled skies provide the best medicine.
JC: What is your favorite hike in Colorado?
JW: Emerald Lake on snowshoes under a full moon.
JC: You are also a DJ! What is getting you stoked on the music front these days?
JW: Well, we’ve now entered an age where every style of music is everywhere and almost everyone is making it. While this is a wonderful thing, finding music that truly stands out or contains heart is getting harder to come by. I find these days, that I weave new music with old, sometimes even dating back over 20 years. Most of my listening, currently, is in the downtempo and ambient realm, primarily Ultimae Records and the like. I’m always looking for great ethnic sounds, and while there’s a good amount out these days, “unique” is still elusive. That being said, I don’t have hours to search for music like I used to, since having a son, and with so much more to sift through, I find gems aren’t as frequently discovered.
JC: Rod Stryker has been one of your main teachers. Do you have any valuable insights or lessons you’ve learned from him?
JW: Wow, so many. What I love so much about studying with him is that his teachings pull from both Classical Yoga and Tantra. To really move through the world gracefully, we must master our minds and our energy (physical, subtle, mental/emotional). We could say yoga, in it’s purest sense, is about ending suffering. There are endless insights and techniques offered through the tradition of yoga that steer us into the ability to do this. Rod made a point one time that “we all suffer, the question is how long we spend there.” How long we spend there is dependent upon how frequently we practice, whatever our practice may be. The importance of a daily practice can’t be understated.
JC: Do you have a favorite Yoga Sutra? (or other text). Why?
JW: Hmm. Perhaps 2.1-2.9 about the kleshas. For me, I find that knowing why I suffer or why I’m unhappy is the access point to being free from it. The more I can remind myself of these tendencies while they’re happening, the less time I spend under the weight of them. A good, modern counterpart at the top of the list would be Eckhart Tolle’s “A New Earth.” It, in fact, should be the handbook for the human experience.