On the Mat with Will Blunderfield | by Denise Ryan | Will's Bio & Upcoming Classes
“I discovered that all I needed was to let the oars go, just flow” - from The River, by Will Blunderfield
Step into a class with Will and be prepared to forget everything you think you know about yoga. He sings, he dances, he invents. He shakes his Asana.
On any given day with Will you might feel like you’re in an episode of Glee, you might find yourself shaking your booty like J.Lo, unleashing your inner Radio City Rockette, or simply smiling in a pose that once made you grimace. Is it yoga? Oh, yes.
“I look up to yoga teachers who aren’t afraid to be themselves,” says Will. Will began practicing yoga when he was a teenager, and an acting student at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City.
From the beginning, teaching was part of his practice. “One of our acting teachers said you have to do yoga, it’s very grounding. He also got us to teach our fellow students hour-long sequences.” At first, yoga simply helped him chill out. “I thought, oh this is really relaxing! New York is really stressful.”
But there was something deeper there too; it was as if he found a little more of himself each time he closed his eyes and breathed. “Not knowing what my mission was, I was still searching. I think, being that age, I was still susceptible to other people’s opinions. I didn’t really know what I was doing, where I was going.”
On the mat, Will found he could be himself. He also found inspirations, like Sadie Nardini, a New York teacher with a freewheeling style. (She’s been known to teach yoga in cowboy boots.) “I came to yoga feeling really insecure. I walked around with a root of shame. I was bullied in high school. When you’re different, you get picked on. Yoga helped me so much because I realized I am not that feeling.” “The mat is a place,” he says, “where we can observe our feelings as they come up, and realize that we are not them.”
Like so many students who come to the mat, Will found that what he encountered there stayed with him when he stepped off the mat. “It is a practice that helps us cultivate the ability to be loving in difficult and different situations.” He hopes every student that comes to his class find their own way of doing yoga, follows the path that works for them and sheds the rest.
“The basic message of the Bhagavad-Gita is your passion is your purpose.... follow your heart is one of the basic teachings of yoga to me.” There is no right way to practice yoga, and the reason for incorporating yoga into life may be different for everyone.
“Yoga means connection. Some people are connecting to their bodies; some feel like they are connecting to the non-thinking mind, to god, or source. Knowing that yoga means connection, I believe that there are over 7 billion ways of connecting to yoga.”
Anything that makes you feel wiser or more loving can be a yogic practice, says Will. Setting an intention is a central part of his practice, on and off the mat.
“You have to set the intention. That’s been a core teaching of mine. When I feel the ground shaking a little bit, it’s getting dark and getting cold, metaphorically or weather wise, I tried to bring myself back to my original effort, to stand for the highest version of myself, to stay positive and keep looking forward.”
Will isn’t looking for perfection in his practice — or in his students. “I just want to know how can we use these poses to love ourselves more deeply, to believe in our own being more deeply and more solidly.”
When we practice yoga, Will urges us to do more than practice a pose. “Let us practice embodying qualities that serve us and the world: self-love, tenacity and determination. Use this pose to embody something that will serve you today. Even when I fall out, I know that falling is inevitable. If you fall out of dancers pose, don’t criticize yourself. That’s not your inner being. That’s your inner gremlin. That’s not your true self according to the teachings of yoga.”
When a pose is challenging, he says, “Let us harness that challenge that is presented in this practice, let us ask ourselves are we going to close down because of this, or are we going to open up. If we focus on the intention, the universe tends to conspire to help us more often.”
Will’s debut album, Hallelujah is currently available at Lululemon, Yogapod and YYoga, will be released worldwide by Nutone/Nettwerk in 2011.
On any given day of the week, he can be found, eyeliner and all, teaching and singing his heart out in Vancouver at various YYoga locations. For more information on Will’s recordings and Shake Your Asana workshops, go to www.Willblunderfield.com