I got to interview Amy Ippoliti for Parvati Magazine, a yoga teacher who has dedicated her life to keeping people curious about themselves and conscious of the world around them.
Parvati Magazine: You discovered yoga as a teenager. What has kept you inspired on this path of yoga and spirituality?
Amy Ippoliti: It’s definitely been both my teachers and my students who keep me most inspired to stay on the path. My teachers have shown me that there is an infinite body of knowledge to tap into and my students show me time and time again that there are still people curious and interested in learning and growing.
PMAG: You are an advocate for eco-conscious living, and animal and marine conservation. How do you demonstrate interconnectedness in your teaching?
AI: Yoga in the West has a tendency to drift toward being strictly a physical practice. For me yoga has always been where I go to find myself, grow as a person, and try to understand even a fraction of the mystery of life. Life and nature have always fascinated me, and yoga literally means “connect” or “unite”. I believe that when you practice yoga you develop a deeper level of sensitivity and consciousness to everything and everyone around you. Naturally you become more patient, loving, and kind. You start operating with the big picture in mind, and you can’t help but care deeply about nature and preserving the planet.
PMAG: With all that has been happening with environmental issues around the world, how do you keep going with your commitment for a better future while maintaining some lightness, so it doesn’t get mentally and emotionally heavy?
AI: We are at such a threshold of intensity with these issues in ways I have never seen before in my lifetime. It is heavy. Most people need to hit rock bottom before they transmute what’s happening into something positive. I get depressed but it fuels me to go out and make even more of a difference.
PMAG: What advice would you have for students and yoga teachers to maintain joy through the journey on the mat?
AI: Set serious boundaries with your electronic devices like smartphones, tablets, and laptops. We are all spending far too much time looking at screens instead of each other, scrolling social media feeds instead of reading books, and taking photos of ourselves instead of spending time on our mats practicing. If we talked more to each other, read books, and practiced more yoga we’d be a lot happier, joyful, and present. And it would be much easier to cope with the tragedies happening in our world right now.
PMAG: You keep your classes fun and light. What advice do you have for people who take their practice so seriously, especially when they fall or don’t achieve something on the mat?
AI: I like to think of a tree analogy: When a tree is young, its roots are not established; so when a storm comes, it can easily be blown over and uprooted. An older tree is established in its ways, but is more brittle, so when the storm comes along it can break in half. It’s the tree that is middle aged that withstands the storm because it is both young and supple, but rooted in itself. In the same way when you practice yoga, you have to be able to roll with the challenges and not take yourself too seriously (like the supple young tree) and yet you need to be determined and have strong roots (like the older tree). When you remember that yoga is something you want to take seriously (devoting yourself to consistent practice and study) coupled with a fun-loving, even silly attitude you’ve found the magic recipe for a great practice!
Amy Ippoliti is co-author of the new book, The Art and Business of Teaching Yoga. She is known for bringing yoga to modern-day life through her intelligent sequencing, and engaging sense of humor. Amy advocates for earth and marine conservation and has partnered on underwater photography projects to raise awareness on overfishing and the extinction of marine species. Amy has studied yoga for over 30 years and has taught since 1997. She co-founded 90 Monkeys, an online school serving yoga teachers in 65 countries. Learn more here.