Based in Placencia, in sunny Belize, Aaron Krohn is one of the popular teachers on the Global Collective You online yoga platform
What’s the one thing OM readers need to know about you?
I had never planned to teach yoga when I started practicing, but at some point that idea began to sprout in my mind and take root. Toward the end of 2015 I decided to sign up for an Ashtanga teacher training with Tim Miller. Three days before that training was scheduled to start I was riding my bicycle back to work, lost balance and took a pretty serious tumble. I heard a loud crack as I hit the pavement, felt rushing fluids going to my lower right leg, and the first thing I thought was “hmmmm…I wonder if this will be okay in the next couple days..” I spent three months in a full leg cast, and the number months or so after the cast came off regaining strength and mobility in that leg. It was a very challenging and humbling time. I was, however, determined not to abandon my Sadhana, and I maintained an upper body based and seated asana practice, and also began to explore meditation. Later that year I attended my first yoga workshops, both with powerful Ashtanga women, namely Alexandra Santos and Chandana Bhowmick. 2017 was my yoga year! Not willing to give up on my teacher training with Tim Miller, I signed up for the exact same course again. This time I managed to avoid breaking any bones and got a solid dose of Timji’s tough love! Immediately on the heels of that trip I began a two month 200 hour YTT with Agnes Balawejder Busch in Placencia, Belize. And in the midst of that training I flew to Dallas for a weekend workshop with the one and only Mark Robberds. I did not realise then the profound influence he would have on the way I now approach asana practice. Later that same year I hosted Jani Jaatinen (Gokulacandra Das) for a weekend of workshops, and I also met for the first time Yogi Charu. Yogi Charu has been my guru since that time, and I have learned almost everything I know about kriyas, meditation and subtle practices through him
What first inspired you to get into yoga?
It was a persistently cranky lower back which set me up on my first date with yoga. I vividly remember arriving at the home of a Belgian woman, completely unprepared for what awaited me. My first experience with yoga came in the form of the primary series of Ashtanga vinyasa yoga. It kicked my ass. I was sore in places I did not know it was possible to be sore. And I loved it, not only for the physicality of it (at the age of 23 I thought yoga was only for girls), but also for the deep sense of calm that comes with performing ujjayi pranayama for an hour and a half while moving from one posture to the next.
How would you describe your teaching style?
The way I teach these days is to meet people where they’re at. In classes with people of various levels I offer modifications that either increase challenge or make postures more accessible. My style tends to be slower, more traditional Hatha, though my Ashtanga roots are pretty plain in some of my sequencing. Rather than speed through postures I focus on alignment and breath. I also make time for pranayama and meditation toward the end of class.
How have you navigated the challenges of the last year?
2020 was the year of subtle practice. I had the good fortune of doing multiple meditation teacher trainings with my teacher, Yogi Charu, and more importantly, to make meditation a part of my everyday life and practice. Lockdown presented its challenges, but consistent practice and the ability to maintain a strong connection to nature helped immensely.
What does yoga mean to you personally?
Here at the start of 2021 I would be misleading anyone who has read this far if I said that yoga has magically made all of my physical, mental and spiritual maladies vanish. It has not. However, it has been one of the greatest supports, or alambana, during challenging times, and has been a crucial part of a slow process of introspection and removal of aspects of myself that prevent me being the best version of me possible. Today my practice is more about consistency and sustainability rather than chasing new asanas. Not that I don’t push, but I am very practical about my goals. I meditate in the early morning, practice asana after spending a little time with my son, then head off for my day job at a nearby hotel. Several times a week I have the good fortune to teach via the now ubiquitous Zoom, primarily right here on the GCY. I do plan to step up my online presence (and lose my social media shyness!) and share what I know with a wider audience in the coming year.
Any good life hacks for the rest of us?
Here’s some advice for yoga practitioners looking for depth and longevity in their practice:
1. Learn about your body — YOUR body. Adapt your practice accordingly. (Sidenote: functional range conditioning and building up your active range of motion will make your asana practice much more enjoyable and injury free.)
2. Move beyond asana and make friends with your breath. At some point I would recommend to anyone who is on this yoga path to explore the world beyond physical practice. Avoid teachers that say ‘my way is the only correct way!’ and find a teacher you really connect with and that you can respect not only as a teacher but as a human being. Books are nice, but a sincere and knowledgeable teacher is an invaluable treasure.
3. Connect with nature. Go for a hike, go for a swim, look at the stars on a dark night, go kayaking, go for a walk, do whatever is available to you to remind you of the wonder that is nature. Allow yourself to be awestruck by her beauty.
4. Strengthen your feet. Try this: in Warrior I press down your big toe mound while simultaneously lifting your inner arches. You’ll know if you’re doing this right if the inner part of your upper leg/quad (vastus medialis) starts to work a little harder.
Quick Q & A
Favourite yoga book?
Cosmos, by Carl Sagan (not technically a yoga or spiritual book, but it inspires such wonder in me that I count it among their number).
Favourite yoga quote?
We acquire asanas as we go through life, and one day we have to give them back. Remember that the process is more important than the visible end result.
Go-to health food?
Cacao, either as nibs or dark chocolate. Can’t get enough of the stuff!
If you had to take a yoga class, as a student, with any teacher ever, from any time or place, , who would it be with and why?
I would have to go with Krishnamacharya. I would be intrigued to see how the man who has arguably had the greatest influence on yoga in the West actually went about transmitting that knowledge.