FEATURED TEACHER OF THE MONTH
Interview by Dharani Diana Diaz
Tom Brennan has been practicing Yoga for a decade and teaching for seven years; he has more than 500 hours of teacher training. He is certified to teach beginner, intermediate, and advanced Hatha Yoga. He is also certified in Gentle Yoga and stress management. Tom believes, as Swami Satchidananda has written, that “through the regular practice of Yoga one can achieve an easeful body, a peaceful mind, and therefore a useful life.”
What was your individual journey to IYI?
I was an avid road runner during the 1980s and ’90s. I enjoyed running, and it was a great way to relieve the stress that seemed to be part of the job of a stock trader. My knees started bothering me, and I thought that Yoga might be a way to be able to continue running. In 2004 I came to IYI because I knew my brother Joe had been a member. I liked Yoga immediately. At the end of class I felt relaxed and rejuvenated.
Early on, I read in Patanjali’s Sutras that “asana should be practiced very regularly, for a long time, with enthusiasm.” That resonated with me. You did not have to stand on your head or touch your toes in a forward bend; you only had to do your best. After about a year of practice I took the basic TT (a wonderful experience) and started teaching after completing the course. I continued to practice and took additional teacher trainings. I am certified to teach basic, intermediate, and advanced Integral Yoga. I have additional certifications in Chair Yoga and stress management.
What do you hope your students receive from your class?
In class I try to create a space or feeling where the students are comfortable knowing that they are in a non-judgmental place; a space where they can enjoy “the journey toward a greater union of the body, breath, and mind.”
One thing I appreciate about your class is that you encourage us to go to our true edge and not just to our autopilot comfort zone. What skills, expertise, or experience do you bring to the classes you lead?
As a boy, teenager, and young adult I enjoyed playing plenty of competitive sports. I know what it feels like to strive to give 110 percent. It was illuminating and enlightening to realize that in Yoga that was not at all necessary. In Integral Yoga you are encouraged to simply do your best, and “your best” can be very different one day to the next. It’s kind of “Do your best and leave the rest.”
What has helped you through the pandemic?
Certainly my personal Yoga practice has been helpful and keeps me grounded. Also, being able to share the benefits of Yoga through teaching has been rewarding and sustaining during the pandemic. Moreover, I am very aware that there are many others who are facing more and greater challenges than I am experiencing, so an attitude of gratitude is helpful.
What has surprised you about yourself during the pandemic?
I guess I’m a little surprised that I could go for more than six months without a haircut.
What is one of your hidden talents?
I make an above-average marinara sauce.
Is there anything you’d like to share about your little brother Joe? (Be nice.)
My brother Joe? He’s a sweetheart.
Is there anything else you would like to share about yourself?
Maybe just to say how grateful I am for IYI, for Swami Ramananda, Swami Ashokananda, and all the members of the IYI sangha.