Hey. I’m Griffin. I’m a Yoga teacher, but ultimately my mission is to help you be more comfortable in your own body and mind. I own a Yoga school in Chicago, and I’m always willing to answer questions by email.
The Long Story
When I started doing Yoga, I had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into. But as with many of us, it was a round-about road. Am I just naturally flexible, you ask? Nope, sure not. Am I just naturally strong? No, not really. Naturally healthy in any way? Not especially. This is the story of how I came to embody myself, not through the chance of holding the lucky genetic ticket or just “having the right body for Yoga,” but through reluctance, pain, and finally, persistence.
As a young adult, I wasn’t especially in tune with my body. I had grown up with terrible allergies and incessant pain in my joints. I spent most of my time reading and playing video games because all physical activities were painful. I learned only years later that I have EDS, a certain kind of collagen deficiency that makes joints prone to dislocation and is linked to early development of arthritis.
I did my first Sun Salutations at dark o’clock in the morning at college (where I studied politics and law), but after about half an hour, that was it for a couple years.
Traveling for a martial arts conference, I went to Hot Yoga with some friends. Just one class was plenty of that!
Another couple years passed. I became interested in Buddhist traditions, even going to Mongolia to study Tibetan Buddhism and tribal shamanism, and stumbled across a form of Tibetan Buddhist Yoga, which I practiced semi-regularly for a while. This while I was working out in southern Utah in wilderness therapy, offering support and healing to teens struggling with addiction & trauma. Working in the field of psychology afforded me an invaluable opportunity to study both Western & Eastern paradigms of mind, imbalance, and healing. My interest remained, first and foremost, the mind rather than the body.
That focus on the mind was shaken a bit when I was told my body was terribly out of balance (I could guess that much–the radiant pain was a good clue). I went to a healer who reset my hips (there was a 1.5” vertical difference) and told me not to lift my chin above horizontal for 6 weeks. Evidently the top few vertebrae were out of place/wearing out, a pattern only worsened by my Yoga practice.
Even after this course correction, I experienced great pain along the length of my spine — spasms seizing up my whole back, loud crunching and crackling with movement, and constant pain from incessant tension in my shoulders and neck.
This in addition to the pains in my joints that I’d felt for so many years that they had faded to a background noise: sharp pain through my knees whenever they were bent deeply, aching in my wrists, hands, and fingers, and feet.
What a mess.
OK. Message received: focus on the body a bit, too.
But how? I kept up my Yoga practice, kept at strength training, ran a bit. The how of the healing process stayed rather vague for quite some time. After all, I had been strength training and practicing martial arts for years, evidently to no great benefit.
Clarity came when I found Ashtanga-Vinyasa Yoga (quite by accident!). The strong, fluid alignment and intense sequences of movement brought flexibility, stability, and, at long last, ease in my body without pain. A planned trip to Nepal to further my studies of Buddhism shifted to an intensive study in India of traditional Yoga systems. I spent 4 months in India engaged in intensive study and practice, on an average day spending 5-8 hours immersing myself in the rich, insightful techniques of Yoga. It was hard work. It was painful work (mentally and emotionally as well as physically). And there was a lot of it. But I was willing to put forth the effort to be comfortable in my own skin, and so I kept at it. The moments of relaxation, the subtle realignment of a joint, the glimpses of profound peace were my motivation to continue. The payoff was one-hundred-fold what I invested. My body completely transformed as the process of Yoga took its promised course.
Lesson learned: the physical is just as an important piece of the puzzle as the mental, and cannot be ignored.
I’ve found a deep-seated respect for the complex, biodynamic systems of the body, and I focus extensively on anatomy and the process of creating supportive physical alignment. I’ve discovered that alignment and integrity of the body supports that of the mind at a profound level.
I continue to study the body and the mind, in my own regular self-practice, and in the practice of my students. I teach full-time in order to have the opportunity not only to help my clients meet their therapeutic goals, but to stay focused in furthering my own education by studying the biomechanics of movement and exploring how to further refine and most effectively support the healing process. Every day I see a new and deeper layer of the Yoga system. Thank you to my students, who are my teachers.
My own path continues without end. Even after so much progress, I still experience constant growth. That’s the process and the beauty of Ashtanga-Vinyasa that I appreciate so much. It will meet you wherever you are, and no matter how advanced you might become, still provides the drive and power to lift you upwards.
So if this story resonates with you, if you’re in pain and the way out seems unclear, if your own body has turned into your enemy, please reach out to me. Don’t accept it. You don’t have to live with it. I would be honored to be a guide on your path to healing.
My training with traditional Yogis in India has melded with modern scientific research – including anatomy and neuroscience – to create balanced classes that encourage growth on all levels, promoting mental clarity, healing, flexibility, stability, strength, and poise. I am lucky to count Richard Freeman, Mary Taylor, Ty Landrum, Matthew Sweeney, and Tim Miller among my teachers.
Please join me for safe, engaging, and challenging classes, or private sessions, designed to target your health and fitness goals.
I have over 1300 recognized hours of Yoga training.