Although I love hearing about all of our amazing Yogis in the Community, there is something extra awesome about interviewing a man who practices. The intention behind Chelsea Loves Yoga has been to feature the voices and images we don’t typically see on the cover of yoga magazines or even in our local studios. Let me be clear, this blog is not to seek validation from these sources, it is more about offering a platform for folks to share stories we don’t often hear within the dominant discourse of 21st century yoga. So today my friends, I introduce you to Malik who is a certified Vinyasa yoga teacher and personal trainer based in his hometown of Philly. I hope you are as blown away by his words (and killer postures) as I am. Enjoy!
Name: Malik Wilson
Location: Philadelphia, PA
How many years have you practiced yoga?
My first introduction to yoga was through my martial arts teacher who was deeply influenced by B.K.S Iyengar. Yoga essentially became my stretching and warming exercises before practice. In Light On Yoga by B.K.S Iyengar he prescibes postures as preventive measures for dealing with ailments and overall health which was such a big emphasis of my teacher.
What led you to the practice of yoga?
I had an innate need for a deeper understanding of self, beyond the superficial and superimposed ideas that were being perpetuated to me. The ancient kemetic teachings of Know Thyself and As Above, So below, led me to the practice of yoga which is just an excellent medium and tool for the evolution of the human being.
How has yoga shaped you into the person you are today?
Since its introduction to me, yoga is the one constant in my life mainly because I can bear witness to its ability to transform. So often when transformation is spoken of, it requires the embrace of theory and dogma with yoga its practice, practice practice and all is coming as Sri Pattabhi Jois is often quoted as saying. Growth and development is determined by the effort that you put forth as in all things.
I never planned to teach yoga, I did however give up the illusion of being in control and in doing so I became open and receptive and followed my heart and passion. So often I tell people that the world is small and limited when you live between your likes and dislikes, the success you seek is outside of your comfort zone.It has been until recently that I really noticed that the following of my heart allowed me to step way out of my comfort zone without hesitation or thought.
What would you suggest to men who are apprehensive to practice yoga because of any gendered stigmas associated with the practice? For centuries yoga was dominated by men which changed as yoga came to the west. Mens apprehensiveness to try yoga is really based in a faulty perception, there is such a big difference from what something appears to be and what something actually is, if you are bound by perception rather than the knowledge that comes from your own experiences, you become your own obstacle on the path of growth,development and self realization, there isn’t much standing on your own two happening.
Can you think of a significant time in your life in which you practice helped you? An event? A period of time in your life?
One of the hardest things for people to do is to accept where they are at in life, sometimes I begin class off telling students if you were headed out of town and got lost, that the destination isn’t really of any importance until we find out where we are at, that is where the journey begins so you must honor where you find yourself in your practice and begin and grow from there.
Our journey in life is equally if not more important than the destination, every seemingly ending yields and opens into another beginning. We think that we are living in a lineal construct yet life is full of cycles and processes. I really dislike this notion that people have where they want to avoid the process and start off on top, they don’t want to come to yoga because they aren’t flexible, i would never offer the excuse to my children and say because you cant slam dunk the ball there is no use trying out for the team.
I love being an ambassador for yoga in the inner city where I was born and raised, so I am always volunteering and partnering with community groups to bring yoga to an underserved population and it is so fulfilling to see people make it to my classes and classes in general. I am so glad that I didn’t marginalize myself as a teacher the opportunities that I am continually blessed with are immense but most importantly is the fact that whatever I am blessed with always revolve around the sharing of those gifts with others.
Are you in the Philadelphia area and interested in practicing with Malik?
Tuesday& Thursdays 645am @Dhyana Yoga Rittenhouse, 1611 Walnut St, Phila. Pa 19104 (Center City)1 215 496 0770
Saturday 1030am @City Fitness, 2101 South St, Phila. Pa. 19146
1230pm Dhyana Yoga West Philly, 3945 Chestnut St, Phila. Pa. 19104 tel. 1 215 222 9642
Group, Private or Workshops
Specialty Workshops (Yoga For Weightlifters & Yoga For Golfers)
Tel. 267 997 5957